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Williams v. Cook County Officers Electoral Board

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division

May 13, 2015

KENNETH J. WILLIAMS, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
COOK COUNTY OFFICERS ELECTORAL BOARD, ANITA ALVAREZ, in Her Capacity as Electoral Board Member, DAVID ORR in His Capacity as Electoral Board member and Cook County Clerk, DOROTHY BROWN, in Her Capacity as an Electoral Board Member, ARTHUR MINGO III, TOYAS RUDOLPH and RAYMOND BANKS, Respondents-Appellees

Page 83

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 2015-COEL-023. The Honorable Paul Karkula Judge, presiding.

For Appellant: Andrew Finko, Andrew Finko, P.C., Chicago, IL.

For Appellee: James A. Petrungaro, Adam Dauksas, Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, CHTD., Chicago, IL; Steven M. Laduzinsky, Aisling S. O'Laorie, Laduzinsky & Associates, P.C., Chicago, IL.

JUSTICE LAVIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Pucinski and Justice Hyman concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

LAVIN, JUSTICE.

Page 84

[¶1] This appeal arises from the trial court's order denying petitioner Kenneth Williams' petition for judicial review. On appeal, petitioner first contends that he is statutorily qualified to seek and hold public office under the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq. (West 2012)) and School Code (105 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq. (West 2012)). Petitioner also contends that respondent, the Cook County Officers Electoral Board (Electoral Board), prematurely removed petitioner's name from the ballot because he still had time to be pardoned before the election. Petitioner next contends that the hearing officer and Electoral Board exceeded their authority by amending and expanding the three objections, comingling arguments, going beyond the scope of the legal question at issue, and failing to conduct an evidentiary hearing. In addition, petitioner contends that the Electoral Board failed to undergo a choice of law analysis and properly apply Indiana law governing the expungement of Indiana convictions. Finally, petitioner contends his due process rights were violated by Anita Alvarez's participation in the Electoral Board process. We affirm.

[¶2] BACKGROUND

[¶3] In April 2009, petitioner was elected to the Board of Education for Thornton Township High School District 205 (Board) and was subsequently reelected in April 2012, attaining the position of Board president. Prior to petitioner's reelection to the Board, Anita Alvarez, in her capacity as Cook County State's Attorney, filed a quo warranto action, pursuant to section 18-101 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/18-101 (West 2012)), against petitioner alleging that a prior conviction (a 1985 Indiana felony forgery conviction on

Page 85

an accountability theory for which he served five years) constituted an infamous crime under section 29-15 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/29-15 (West 2012)), rendering him ineligible to hold the office of a school board member. See Ind. Code Ann. § § 35-41-2-4, 35-43-5-2 (West 1984). After oral argument, the trial court determined that petitioner's conviction was applicable in Illinois and he was statutorily ineligible to hold the office of a school board member under the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq. (West 2012)) and School Code (105 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq. (West 2012)). Approximately four months later, the State of Indiana granted petitioner an expungement of his criminal conviction. See Ind. Code Ann. § 35-38-9-10 (West 2012). Thereafter, we affirmed the trial court without considering whether petitioner was eligible to seek legislatively elected office in the future. See Alvarez v. Williams, 2014 IL App. (1st) 133443, 387 Ill.Dec. 852, 23 N.E.3d 544.

[¶4] Subsequently, petitioner filed nomination papers to be appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board. Three objections were filed against petitioner (No. 14-COEB-SD20, No. 14-COEB-SD64, No. 14-COEB-SD55) asserting that his prior felony conviction rendered him ineligible to hold office, and thus, he filed a false statement of candidacy. On January 8, 2015, a hearing was held and the hearing officer determined that petitioner was ineligible to hold the office of a school board member. The hearing officer observed that petitioner " provided nothing to support his contention that the expungement of an Indiana felony by an Indiana court [had] the same legal effect as a pardon from the Governor." The Electoral Board then issued a written decision adopting the hearing officer's report and ordered that petitioner's name be removed from the ballot for the ...


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