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Williams v. Tazewell County State's Attorney's Office

May 14, 2004

RONALD L. WILLIAMS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
TAZEWELL COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, RESPONDENT, AND ILLINOIS STATE POLICE, APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit. Tazewell County, Illinois, No. 02 MR 42. Honorable J. Peter Ault, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Slater

PUBLISHED

The appellant, the Illinois State Police (ISP), appeals from the denial of its motion to vacate the trial court's order directing the ISP to issue the appellee, Ronald Williams, a firearm owners identification (FOID) card. On appeal, the ISP contends that the trial court's order directing it to issue Williams a FOID card should be vacated for lack of personal and subject matter jurisdiction. For the following reasons, we affirm.

I. FACTS

A. Procedural History

On February 11, 2002, the ISP sent Williams written notice that his FOID card application was rejected because he had previously been convicted of domestic battery*fn1. 720 ILCS 5/12--3.2(a) (West 1992). The letter from the ISP to Williams stated, "[Y]our application will not be processed at this time due to your 'yes' answer(s) to the question 'Have you ever been convicted of domestic battery' . . ." On May 29, 2002, Williams filed a petition in the trial court seeking a hearing on the rejection of his application. Williams named the Tazewell County State's Attorney's Office as the sole respondent.

In his petition, Williams alleged that on August 8, 1994, he had been convicted of domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12--3.2(a) (West 1992)) for which he had successfully completed a term of probation. Williams alleged that he wanted a FOID card so that he could hunt during the legal hunting season. He alleged that substantial justice had not been done by denying his FOID card application because: (1) the denial banned him for life from participating in a family pastime enjoyed by many; (2) he had never been convicted of a forcible felony; (3) his lack of criminal history and his reputation were such that he was not likely to act in a manner dangerous to the public safety; and (4) granting him relief was not contrary to the public interest.

On August 7, 2002, the trial court held that substantial justice had not been done by the denial of Williams' FOID card application and ordered the ISP to issue a FOID card to him.

On November 11, 2002, the ISP filed a special and limited appearance and a petition to vacate the trial court's order directing it to issue Williams a FOID card. 735 ILCS 5/2--1401 (West 2002). In its petition, the ISP stated that it not been served with Williams' petition or consented to a be a party to the proceedings. Therefore, the ISP argued that the judgment should be vacated because the trial court lacked jurisdiction over it.

On January 27, 2003, Williams filed a response to the ISP's petition to vacate. In his response, Williams alleged that the trial court had jurisdiction to hear his petition and direct the ISP to issue him a FOID card pursuant to Illinois law. 430 ILCS 65/10 (West 2002). He alleged that he was not required by law to notify the ISP or make them a party to that proceeding. Williams claimed that Illinois law only required that the relevant state's attorney be served a copy of the petition, which he did. See 430 ILCS 65/10(b) (West 2002). Finally, Williams alleged that the ISP had no legal standing to intervene.

On January 30, 2003, the trial court held a hearing on the ISP motion to vacate. At the hearing, counsel for the ISP argued that it was a legislative oversight that the ISP was not listed as a party to be notified and served when an individual petitioned the trial court for a FOID card. See 430 ILCS 65/10 (West 2002). The ISP insisted that the trial court must vacate its order directing the ISP to issue Williams a FOID card because the court did not have jurisdiction over the ISP when it had not been served with Williams' petition nor consented to be a party to the proceedings.

On February 4, 2003, the trial court entered an order denying the petition to vacate. The court noted that while it agreed with the ISP that the statute in question should have required service upon the ISP, it did not. See 430 ILCS 65/10 (West 2002). The court found that: (1) Williams had complied with Illinois law by providing service to the state's attorney; and (2) substantial justice had not been done in denying William's application.

B. Relevant Statutes

Prior to 2001, section 10 of the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act (Act) ...


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