THE VILLAGE OF LAKE IN THE HILLS, an Illinois Municipal Corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant,
DENNIS NIKLAUS, Defendant-Appellee
Appeal from the Circuit Court of McHenry County. Nos. 12-SC-2558, 12-SC-2559, 12-SC-2560, 13-LM-26, 13-LM-27. Honorable John D. Bolger, Judge, Presiding.
A hearing officer's assessment of fines against defendant, based on findings pursuant to the administrative adjudication hearing system adopted by the village under division 2.1 of the Illinois Municipal Code that defendant violated ordinances of plaintiff village, was enforceable in the circuit court; therefore, the trial court's judgment finding that no statutory authority existed to allow the village to enroll and enforce the hearing officer's orders was reversed and the cause was remanded for further proceedings, especially when the village's procedure of filing exemplified copies of the hearing officer's orders in the circuit court of the county in which the village was located was appropriate.
Jennifer J. Gibson, of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, of Crystal Lake, for appellant.
No brief filed for appellee.
Brian D. Day and Roger Huebner, both of Illinois Municipal League, of Springfield, amicus curiae .
JUSTICE HUDSON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Burke and Justice McLaren concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] Division 2.1 of the Illinois Municipal Code (Municipal Code) (65 ILCS 5/1-2.1-1 et seq . (West 2012)) permits a home-rule municipality to establish an administrative adjudication hearing system to adjudicate the violation of certain municipal ordinances. In the present case, an administrative adjudication hearing officer for the Village of Lake in the Hills (Village) found defendant, Dennis Niklaus, liable for various municipal ordinance violations and assessed fines against defendant. Thereafter, the Village sought to enforce the hearing officer's orders in the circuit court of McHenry County pursuant to division 2.1 of the Municipal Code. The court denied
the Village's petitions, finding that there is no statutory authority that would allow the Village to enroll and enforce the hearing officer's orders in the circuit court. Thereafter, the Village initiated the present appeal. For the reasons set forth below, we disagree with the trial court and hold that an order rendered following an administrative adjudication proceeding held pursuant to division 2.1 of the Municipal Code is enforceable in the circuit court. We further hold that the method attempted by the Village to initiate enforcement in this case--filing exemplified copies of the hearing officer's orders in the circuit court of the county in which the municipality is located--is appropriate under division 2.1 of the Municipal Code.
[¶2] I. BACKGROUND
[¶3] The facts relevant to this appeal are not disputed. The Village is a home-rule municipality located in McHenry County, Illinois. Defendant is a resident of the Village. The Village operates an administrative adjudication hearing system pursuant to division 2.1 of the Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/1-2.1-1 et seq . (West 2012)) and section 15 of the Lake in the Hills Municipal Code (Village Code) (Lake in the Hills Municipal Code § 15 (amended May 22, 2008)).
[¶4] Between May 3, 2012, and July 2, 2012, the Village charged defendant by complaint on an almost daily basis with violations of sections 6.04(A) and 6.06 of the Village Code (Lake in the Hills Municipal Code § § 6.04(A), 6.06 (amended Dec. 13, 2007)). Section 6.04(A) of the Village Code provides in relevant part that " no person shall erect or maintain any structure or thing on, over or under any street, alley, sidewalk, or public right-of-way except by permit from the Board of Trustees." Lake in the Hills Municipal Code § 6.04(A) (amended Dec. 13, 2007). Section 6.06 of the Village Code provides in relevant part that " [n]o person shall place any materials on or over any street, sidewalk, or public place without a permit from the Public Works Director." Lake in the Hills Municipal Code § 6.06 (amended Dec. 13, 2007). The various notices commanded defendant to appear before the Village's administrative adjudication hearing officer at certain dates and times to respond to the charges alleged in the complaints.
[¶5] On June 13, June 27, July 11, July 25, and August 8, 2012, the hearing officer presiding over the adjudicatory hearings entered orders finding defendant liable for the violations and assessing fines of $5,000, $5,000, $6,250, $13,750, and $17,500, respectively, plus costs of hearing. The orders entered on June 13, June 27, July 25, and August 8, 2012, were entered by default after defendant failed to appear on the required dates and at the required times. The order entered on July 11, 2012, was entered following a hearing.
[¶6] Thereafter, the Village sought to enforce the administrative adjudication orders in the circuit court of McHenry County. To this end, on July 23, 2012, the Village filed with the McHenry County recorder a memorandum of judgment with respect to each of the administrative adjudication orders entered on June 13, June 27, and July 11, 2012. On August 6, 2012, the Village filed with the McHenry County circuit clerk copies of the June 13, June 27, and July 11, 2012, administrative adjudication orders and a copy of the memorandum of judgment for each order. Each pleading was preceded by a " Foreign/Intrastate Judgment Cover Sheet" form provided by the McHenry County circuit clerk. The cover sheet instructed the ...