from the Circuit Court of McHenry County, No. 16-MR-581
Honorable Thomas A. Meyer, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE SPENCE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices McLaren and Jorgensen concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Plaintiff, Victor Robelet, appeals from the trial
court's order affirming the decisions of defendant the
Board of Trustees of the Police Pension Fund of the City of
Crystal Lake (Board) to deny his motion to continue the
hearing on his application for a line-of-duty disability
pension, to deny his motion to reconsider, and to dismiss his
claim for want of prosecution. We affirm.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 On May 6, 2015, Robelet filed with the Board an application
for a line-of-duty disability pension. He was later
terminated from his job as a police officer. Robelet was
initially represented by attorney Raymond Garza for both his
pension application and his grievance arbitration against the
City of Crystal Lake (City) on a disciplinary matter.
4 On July 21, 2015, the City filed a motion to intervene in
the pension proceeding, and the Board granted the motion on
September 28, 2015, over Robelet's objection. The City
was given 28 days to turn over its initial exhibits to
Richard Reimer, the Board's attorney, and to Garza. It
was also given 14 days after receiving the final
independent-medical-examination reports to disclose to Reimer
and Garza any additional exhibits or witnesses.
5 On June 1, 2016, the Board sent Garza and the City copies
of the documents on which it intended to rely, subject to any
objections. The parties were allowed to present additional
evidence if they first turned over copies no later than 10
days before the start of the hearing.
6 On July 9, 2016, attorney Thomas McGuire sent a letter to
the arbitrator, stating that Robelet had retained him to
substitute for Garza in the grievance arbitration hearing,
scheduled for August 4 and 5, 2016. He stated that he could
not be prepared to represent Robelet on those dates, due to
his "volume of professional commitments, " and he
requested that the arbitration be postponed to any date after
September 14, 2016.
7 On August 4, 2016, McGuire sent a letter to Reimer, stating
that he was unprepared to represent Robelet on the date set
for the pension hearing to commence, August 15, 2016, due to
ongoing medical issues. He asked that the Board continue the
hearing to a date after September 15, 2016, at which point,
he believed, his medical problems would be corrected or
diminished. McGuire also asked that the Board send him copies
of all the documents in its possession relating to the case.
8 The following day, on August 5, 2016, Reimer sent a letter
to McGuire, stating that the Board had "made numerous
efforts to schedule [the pension hearing] for a date
agreeable to all parties and counsel, " to no avail. He
stated that the hearing was set for August 15, 2016; that the
City had objected to continuing the matter; and that he did
not have the authority to grant the request for a
continuance. Reimer stated that the hearing date was
scheduled before McGuire had filed his appearance and that he
should not have accepted the case if he could not represent
Robelet on the scheduled hearing date. Reimer stated that the
Board would consider the request for a continuance at the
beginning of the hearing, but, if the request were denied,
Robelet would be expected to put on his case-in-chief on that
date. Finally, Reimer stated that all of the relevant
evidence had been given to Robelet via Garza and that the
Board would not be providing another set of copies.
9 On August 7, 2016, Garza sent McGuire an e-mail briefly
discussing his "thoughts and impressions" on how he
was going to proceed with the case before he was dismissed.
He also stated that he was available to answer any questions
that McGuire might have.
10 On August 10, 2016, the City sent McGuire copies of all of
the documents it had produced with respect to Robelet's
case, including videos.
11 On August 12, 2016, McGuire e-mailed to the Board via
Reimer a formal motion to continue. McGuire stated that, in
agreeing to represent Robelet, he considered that: Robelet no
longer wished to be represented by Garza; Robelet had not
previously requested a continuance; although McGuire had been
experiencing health problems, he anticipated being able to
represent Robelet by September 15, 2016; and a continuance
would not prejudice the Board. McGuire further stated that he
was not certain that he had received ...