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Mayden v. Cook County Officers Electoral Board

March 16, 2006

MICHAEL E. MAYDEN, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT,
v.
COOK COUNTY OFFICERS ELECTORAL BOARD; DAVID ORR, COOK COUNTY CLERK; RICHARD A. DEVINE, COOK COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY; DOROTHY BROWN, COOK COUNTY CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT COURT; DANIEL P. MADDEN, DESIGNEE BY THE COOK COUNTY CLERK; MARY WILSON AND MICHAEL PRINZI, DESIGNEES BY THE COOK COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY; MARY MELCHOR, DESIGNEE BY THE COOK COUNTY CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT; DAVID D. ORR, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS COOK COUNTY CLERK; LANGDON NEAL, THERESA PETRONE, AND RICHARD COWEN, IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES AS MEMBERS OF THE CHICAGO BOARD OF ELECTION COMMISSIONERS; AND JOHN RITA, THE PETITIONER, PETITIONER-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, County Department, County Division No. 06 COEL 05. The Honorable Nathaniel Howse, Jr., Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'malley

Appellant Michael E. Mayden appeals from a decision of the Circuit Court of Cook County denying his Section 2--619 motion to dismiss, (735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(1) (West 2004)), reversing a decision of the Cook County Officers Electoral Board ("the Board"), and entering an order striking Mayden's name from the ballot for the March 21, 2006, primary election.*fn1 For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

BACKGROUND

On December 12, 2005, Michael Mayden filed nominating papers with the Illinois State Board of Elections, seeking candidacy for the Democratic nomination to the Illinois House of Representatives, 28th Representative District. In both his nominating petitions and his Statement of Candidacy, Mayden listed his name as "MICHAEL E. MAYDEN (THE COACH)."

On December 19, 2005, John Rita, the incumbent Democratic candidate for the aforementioned House seat, filed an Objector's Petition with the Illinois State Board of Elections. Rita alleged, inter alia, that Mayden violated Section 8--8.1 of the Illinois Election Code ("the Code") regarding the designation of a candidate's name on the nominating petitions. 10 ILCS 5/8-8.1 (West 2004). Rita's petition also alleged that Mayden's nominating papers were otherwise deficient; those other allegations are not before this court.

On January 6, 2006, the Cook County Officers Electoral Board ("the Board") convened a hearing to address Rita's petition. The Electoral Board members sitting at that time were Daniel Madden, Michael Prinzi, and Mary Melchor. The Board, again consisting of the same three individuals, conducted a second hearing on January 12, 2006. At these hearings, Mayden submitted pleadings which set forth his arguments as to why, in his view, it was appropriate for his nominating papers to contain the designation "THE COACH" after his given name. It is undisputed that Mayden has for years volunteered as a baseball coach and that some community members refer to him as "the Coach" as a result of this volunteer work.

The Board conducted yet another hearing on Rita's petition on January 30, 2006. This time, however, the Board consisted of Daniel Madden, Mary Scarlett Wilson, and Mary Melchor; Michael Prinzi took no part in this hearing. On February 6, 2006, the Board, consisting of the same individuals who conducted the January 30 hearing, denied Rita's petition and found that Mayden's use of the designation "THE COACH" on his nominating petitions did not violate Section 8--8.1 of the Election Code. 10 ILCS 5/8--8.1.

On February 10, 2006, Rita filed a Petition for Judicial Review of the Electoral Board's decision in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Rita's petition named, and Rita served, Michael E. Mayden, Daniel Madden, Mary Scarlett Wilson, Mary Melchor, Cook County Clerk David Orr, and the members of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners as parties. The petition did not, however, name and Rita did not serve Cook County State's Attorney Richard A. Devine, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Dorothy Brown, or Assistant State's Attorney Michael Prinzi as parties.

Mayden filed a motion to dismiss Rita's Petition for Judicial Review for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to Section 2--619 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/2--619(a)(1), arguing that the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the case because Rita had not served necessary parties. Specifically, Mayden argued that sections 9(2) and 10.1 of the Illinois Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/10--9(2), --10.1, required Rita to name Richard Devine, Dorothy Brown, and Michael Prinzi as parties. Mayden also submitted pleadings that explained why, in his view, his use of the designation "THE COACH" was permissible under Section 8--8.1 of the Code. The circuit court denied Mayden's motion to dismiss, asserted its jurisdiction, reviewed the decision of the Electoral Board de novo, and further found that the designation "THE COACH" violated Section 8--8.1 of the Election Code. As a remedy, the court ordered that Mayden's name be struck from the ballot.

On appeal, Mayden argues that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction over the instant dispute because Rita failed to name all necessary parties to the litigation. He further argues that the circuit court erred by reviewing the Board's decision de novo rather than with the deference required when reviewing a "mixed questions of law and fact," and that his use of the designation "THE COACH" on his nominating papers did not violate Section 8--8.1 of the Election Code.

ANALYSIS

Illinois courts do not possess "inherent authority" to resolve disputes concerning elections; courts exercise their jurisdiction over such cases only as provided by statute. Allord v. Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the Village of South Chicago Heights, 288 Ill. App. 3d 897, 900 (1997) (citing several cases so holding). If the party seeking judicial review of an electoral board's decision fails to comply strictly with the statutory procedures, Illinois courts cannot invoke their jurisdiction. Allord, 288 Ill. App. 3d at 900, citing Fredman Brothers Furniture Co. v. Department of Revenue, 109 Ill. 2d 202, 210 (1985). Section 10--10.1 of the Illinois Election Code describes those procedures as follows:

"Except as otherwise provided in this Section, a candidate or objector aggrieved by the decision of an electoral board may secure judicial review of such decision in the circuit court of the county in which the hearing of the electoral board was held. The party seeking judicial review must file a petition with the clerk of the court within 10 days after the decision of the electoral board. The petition shall contain a brief statement of the reasons why the decision of the board should be reversed. The petitioner shall serve a copy of the petition upon the electoral board and other parties to the proceeding by registered or certified mail and shall file proof of service with the clerk of the court." 10 ILCS 5/10-10.1 (emphasis added).

Mayden does not allege that Rita's service was untimely, in improper form, or conducted in an improper method. Instead, Mayden asserts that Rita failed to serve all necessary parties. There is no question that Rita named and served candidate Mayden, each of the individual Board members who voted on the underlying order, and the members of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. See Allord, 288 Ill. App. 3d 903--04 (the necessary parties are the candidate and the individual Electoral Board members). Mayden interprets the Code as making the Cook County Clerk, the Cook County State's Attorney, the Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court, and any designee who served at a Board proceeding considering a petition, such as Assistant State's ...


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