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Mabwa v. Mendoza

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division

October 7, 2014

ROSE MABWA, LORENZO PATE, SANDRA RAMSEY, MICHAEL QUINLAN, CASSANDRA CHERIF, DOMINICK CHEW, and MARION COLEMAN, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
SUSANA A. MENDOZA, Clerk of the City of Chicago, Defendant-Appelle, THE CHICAGO BOARD OF ELECTIONS AND ITS COMMISSIONERS, LANGDON D. NEAL, RICHARD A. COWEN and MARISEL A. HERNANDEZ, Defendants

As Corrected October 17, 2014.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 14 CH 13812. The Honorable David A. Skryd, Judge, presiding.

SYLLABUS

The trial court properly denied plaintiffs' complaint for a writ of mandamus to compel defendant, the city clerk of the City of Chicago, to certify defendants' petitions seeking to place on the ballot the question of whether the retail sale of alcoholic liquor should be allowed in a certain precinct of a certain ward, notwithstanding plaintiffs' contention that the petitions " substantially" complied with the Liquor Control Act, since plaintiffs failed to file with their petitions the attestations of the circulators swearing to the dates the voters signed the petitions, the attestations that were filed merely stated that the voters signed on " the dates indicated," nearly half of " the dates indicated" were missing, incomplete or wrong, there were various indications that some voters signed outside the time limit set by the statute, some of the circulator attestations had incomplete or inconsistent cross-outs, and at least one sheet had dates that did not proceed in chronological order.

James Shapiro, Robinson, Shapiro & Schwartz, LLC, Chicago, and Jeffrey D. Greenspan, Skokie, for appellants.

Stephen R. Patton, Corporation Counsel, Chicago (Benna Ruth Solomon, Myriam Zreczny Kasper, and Jonathon D. Byrer, Assistant Corporation Counsel, of counsel), for appellee.

JUSTICE GORDON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McBride and Reyes concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

GORDON, JUSTICE.

Page 1253

[¶1] On July 22, 2014, plaintiffs filed a petition with the Office of the City Clerk of the City of Chicago which requested that the voters of the 18th precinct in the 27th ward be able to vote in the upcoming November 4, 2014, election on the question of whether: " the sale at retail of alcoholic liquor be prohibited in this 18th precinct of the 27th ward of the City of Chicago (as such precinct existed as of the last general election)?" Defendant Susana A. Mendoza, the Clerk of the City of Chicago, did not certify the petition as valid, and plaintiffs then sought a writ of mandamus from the trial court to order the clerk to certify the petition.

[¶2] On this appeal, plaintiffs argue that the trial court abused its discretion in denying a writ of mandamus. Plaintiffs acknowledge in their appellate brief that " the role of the clerk is to determine whether the petition on its face apparently conforms to the statutory requirements." However, they argue that their signature sheets were in substantial compliance, despite the facts: (1) that plaintiffs chose not to file, with their petition, the statutorily-required attestations from the circulators swearing to the dates on which the voters signed, (2) that the attestations failed to provide any information at all about the dates on which the voters signed except to state that the sheets were signed on " the dates indicated" by the voters themselves;

Page 1254

(3) that almost half " the dates indicated" by the voters were missing, incomplete or wrong, (4) that one voter's signature bears the date " 6/12/2012," although the petition had to be signed within four months of its July 22, 2014, filing; (5) that some of the other dates indicate a possible 2012 date; (6) that some of the circulator attestations had incomplete or inconsistent cross-outs; and (7) that, on at least one of the sheets, the dates do not proceed in chronological order.

[¶3] For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court.

[¶4] BACKGROUND

[¶5] I. The Petition

[¶6] On July 22, 2014, a petition was filed with the Office of the City Clerk of the City of Chicago which requested that the following proposition be submitted to the voters of the 18th precinct in the 27th ward in the upcoming November 4, 2014, election:

" Shall the sale at retail of alcoholic liquor be prohibited in this 18th precinct of the 27th ward of the City of Chicago (as such precinct existed as of the last general election)?"

[¶7] The petition was accompanied by 29 signature sheets, which were gathered by seven circulators and possibly an eighth. The seven circulators were: (1) Rose Mabwa, (2) Sandra Ramsey, (3) James Allen, (4) Lorenzo Pate, (5) Stefano Viola, (6) Constantine Argiris, and (7) Donna Lewis. The possible eighth is Timothy Stevens; however, on all the sheets which contain his name, Rose Mabwa's name is either crossed out or still present.

[¶8] Mabwa's name appears, in some fashion, on 8 of the 29 sheets. A circulator's name appears in three places on each signature sheet: (1) in the blank space for the " Circulator's Name," (2) in the blank space for the " Circulator's Signature," and (3) and in the blank space for the " Name of Circulator," which is filled in by the notary public.

[¶9] All of the Mabwa sheets have crossed-out names. On sheet nos. 1 and 4, by " Circulator's Name," Mabwa's name has a line through it and then it is reprinted above. Her signature also has a line through it, as though it were also crossed out, but it is not resigned.

[¶10] On sheet no. 2, her name is again crossed out by " Circulator's Name," but on this sheet the name " Timothy Stevens" is printed over it, rather than her own name. The signature line has Mabwa's signature without a line through it, but there is an extra squiggle next to her signature, which appears to be an additional signature. This squiggle is the same signature that appears on later sheets which state that Timothy Stevens was the person appearing before the notary. However, although Stevens' name appears on sheet no. 2 as the " Circulator's Name," and although his signature appears on the signature line, Mabwa's name is the name of the person stated as appearing before the notary public, not Stevens.

[¶11] On sheet nos. 3, 17, 23, 26 and 28, Mabwa's name is crossed out in all three places, and Timothy Stevens' name appears as both the " Circulator's Name," and the person appearing in front of the notary public. Next to Mabwa's signature, which has a line through it, is the same squiggle appearing on sheet no. 2.

[¶12] It is undisputed: (1) that the 29 sheets contained 184 provisional signatures, (2) that 132 signatures were required, and (3) that plaintiffs chose not to file, with their petition, the statutorily-required attestations from the circulators swearing to the dates on ...


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