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Waicekauskas v. Burke

December 13, 2002

ROBERT WAICEKAUSKAS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
DAVID BURKE AND MICHAEL J. SCHULTZ, AS TRAFFIC COMPLIANCE ADMINISTRATORS, VILLAGE OF MIDLOTHIAN, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Honorable Christopher J. Donnelly, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Tully

Robert Waicekauskas brought suit against the Village of Midlothian ("Village"), David Burke and Michael J. Schultz, as Traffic Compliance Administrators, charging that Village's Administrative Adjudication of Vehicular Standing, Parking and Condition of Vehicle Regulation Violations Ordinance (the "Ordinance," Village of Midlothian Municipal Code, Ch. 17, §10-17-1 et seq.) violates the Due Process Clauses of both the United States and Illinois Constitutions. Petitioner further charges that the Ordinance violates the fair hearing requirement of Illinois Statute 625 ILCS 5/11-208.3.

Between April 5 and April 14, 1999, Petitioner was issued five separate tickets by the Village of Midlothian Police Department for various violations of municipal parking and vehicle regulations. The tickets were issued under the authority of the Village of Midlothian Ordinance 10-17-1 et seq. Petitioner requested a hearing on the violations and after a continuance, a hearing was held on June 17, 1999. At the hearing, Petitioner objected to the Ordinance and the hearing process as violating the Due Process Clause. Petitioner's objection was denied and a finding of liable was entered. Petitioner subsequently appealed to the Traffic Compliance Administrator and again objected to the Ordinance. The Administrator upheld the finding of the Hearing Officer. Petitioner then filed a Petition for Judicial Review in the Municipal Division of the Circuit Court. On September 7, 1999, the court entered an Order denying the Petition for Judicial Review and entering judgment upholding the Administrative Order. On October 4, 1999, the court supplemented its September 7 Order with specific findings that the Ordinance challenged by the Petition does not violate the Due Process Clauses of either the United States or Illinois Constitutions and further that the Ordinance does comply with the requirements of 625 ILCS 5/11-208.3.

This appeal followed. For the following reasons, we find the Village of Midlothian Ordinance to be in violation of the Due Process Clauses of the United States and Illinois Constitutions and we reverse the orders of the circuit court.

In 1987, Illinois authorized its municipalities to decriminalize parking violations and adopt a civil penalty system. 625 ILCS 5/ 11-208.3. In 1993, the Village of Midlothian adopted an Ordinance for the administrative adjudication of parking violations. 10-17-1 et seq. Under Section 10-17-4 of this Ordinance, the owner or operator of a "cited vehicle" may request a hearing to adjudicate the merits of the violation. The hearing shall culminate in a determination of liability or non-liability made by a hearing officer. The Ordinance provides that the Hearing Officer "shall, upon a determination of liability, assess fines and penalties in accordance with Section 9 hereof." Ch. 17, § 10-17-4(D). Section 9 of Chapter 17 of the Ordinance provides a Schedule of Fines/Penalties. For a "General Fine Amount," the Ordinance provides as follows:

Step 1a Upon service of a "violation notice" issued between the 1st through the 15th day of the month and paid by the 25th of the month, and no "request for hearing" has been timely filed, the fine amount owed shall be: $25.00

Step 1b Upon service of a "violation notice" issued between the 16th through the end of the month and paid by the 10th of the following month, and no "request for hearing" has been timely filed, the fine amount owed shall be: $25.00

Step 2 Having failed to pay the fine amount by the deadline date (either the 10th or 25th of the month) as specified in Step 1 (a or b) above, the fine amount, if paid after the deadline date in step 1 above but prior to the first hearing date, will be: $35.00

Step 3 Having failed to pay the fine amount specified in Step 2 prior to the first hearing date, the fine amount, if paid on the first hearing date or prior to the second hearing date, will be: $50.00

Step 4 Having failed to pay the fine amount specified in Step 3 prior to the second hearing date, the fine amount, if paid on the second hearing date or prior to the third hearing date, will be: $100.00

Step 5 Having failed to pay the fine amount specified in Step 4 prior to the third hearing date, the fine amount, if paid on the third hearing date or upon the finding of a liability for the violation, after failure to appear at the third hearing, will be: $250.00

The Procedure is set forth in Section 10-17-3 of the Ordinance and states that the Violation Notice shall contain a section entitled "Request for Hearing" which sets forth that the registered owner of the cited vehicle "may appear at the initial administrative hearing to contest the validity of the violation notice***." Section 10-17-3 further states that the Violation Notice shall contain the notice "That payment of the indicated fine and any late payment penalty shall operate as a final disposition of the violation."

The record also contains a "Notice of Parking Violation" issued by the Village of Midlothian. This Notice contains a payment schedule which states that the fine amount owed for a "General" violation, if paid ...


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