from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria
County, Illinois. Circuit No. 17-MR-205 Honorable James A.
Mack, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE McDADE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justice O'Brien concurs in the judgment and
opinion. Justice Schmidt dissented, with opinion.
1 Plaintiff, Amr Elsamny, argues that the circuit court erred
in dismissing his complaint contesting the Peoria County city
council primary election and requesting a preliminary
injunction staying the general election. We dismiss the
appeal as moot.
3 A primary election for the Peoria city council was held on
February 28, 2017. Six people were named on the ballot for
two city council at-large seats, including plaintiff and
defendants Robert Hanauer, Sid Ruckriegel, John Kelly, and
Zachary Oyler. Defendant, the Peoria County board of election
commissioners (Board), completed the canvass of the primary
election on March 9, 2017. Based on the ballots cast,
Hanauer, Ruckriegel, Kelly, and Oyler were nominated for the
general election; plaintiff and one other were not. Hanauer
received one more vote than plaintiff.
4 On March 15, 2017, plaintiff filed an untitled letter in
the circuit court, declaring that he was contesting the
results of the primary. On March 17, 2017, he filed a
verified complaint contesting the election and requesting a
preliminary injunction staying the general election. The
complaint named only the Board and its executive director,
Thomas Bride, as defendants. Plaintiff amended his complaint
on March 20, 2017. Bride was the only party that had been
served with notice, and he filed a motion to dismiss. The
court granted the motion, without prejudice, for
plaintiff's failure to name Hanauer as a party.
5 On March 30, 2017, plaintiff filed another amended
complaint under the same case number, which named Hanauer,
Ruckriegel, Kelly, and Oyler as defendants, along with the
Board and Bride. Again, only Bride had been served. A hearing
was held on March 31, 2017. Bride renewed the motion to
dismiss. The court granted the motion with prejudice, noting
that injunctive relief was only available to stay an election
based on a limited exception, which was not applicable in
plaintiff's case. The court further noted that the
complaint was untimely under section 7-63 of the Election
Code. 10 ILCS 5/7-63 (West 2016). The general election was
held on April 4, 2017, and plaintiff filed his notice of
appeal on May 1, 2017.
7 On appeal, plaintiff argues that the court erred in
dismissing his complaint. We find that the appeal is moot as
the general election has already taken place.
8 At the outset, we consider our jurisdiction to hear this
appeal. As our supreme court has stated on several occasions,
jurisdiction of a court of review "is restricted to
cases which present an actual controversy."
Steinbrecher v. Steinbrecher, 197 Ill.2d 514, 523
(2001); see also People v. Blaylock, 202 Ill.2d 319,
325 (2002). Stated another way, " 'The existence of
a real controversy is a prerequisite to the exercise of our
jurisdiction.' " (Emphasis omitted.) In re
J.B., 204 Ill.2d 382, 390 (2003) (quoting In re
Adoption of Walgreen, 186 Ill.2d 362, 365 (1999)).
Therefore, where an actual controversy does not exist
(i.e., where the issue is moot), we generally do not
have jurisdiction to consider the appeal. See In re Lance
H., 2014 IL 114899, ¶ 12. This is so "[w]here
intervening events have made it impossible for the reviewing
court to grant effective relief to the complaining
party." Id.; see also Jackson v. Board of
Election Commissioners, 2012 IL 111928, ¶ 28.
"Since the existence of a real controversy is an
essential requisite to appellate jurisdiction, the general
rule is that where a reviewing court has notice of facts
which show that only moot questions or mere abstract
propositions are involved, it will dismiss the appeal or writ
of error even though such facts do not appear in the
record." La Salle National Bank v. City of
Chicago, 3 Ill.2d 375, 379 (1954).
9 In Bettis v. Marsaglia, 2014 IL 117050, ¶ 12,
a case whose procedural posture is similar to ours here, our
supreme court was charged with answering the question of
whether the circuit court erred in dismissing an election
case for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Before doing
so, however, the court considered whether they could hear the
appeal or whether it was moot. Id. ¶ 8. The
court determined that the case was moot, as the election had
already taken place, but determined that it was not barred
from hearing the appeal as one of the exceptions to the
mootness doctrine applied. Id. ¶¶ 8-11.
10 Here, the general election took place on April 4, 2017.
"It is well established under Illinois law that the
conclusion of an election cycle normally moots an election
contest." Jackson, 2012 IL 111928, ¶ 36.
Plaintiffs complaint asked the court to stay an election that
has already taken place. The council members elected have had
their positions for over six months. Reversing the circuit
court's judgment would have no practical effect on the
parties. See Harris v. Education Officers Electoral Board
of Community Consolidated School District 110, 203
Ill.App.3d 917, 920 (1990). Therefore, we find the issue
moot. In doing so, we note that plaintiff does not argue that
any exceptions to the mootness doctrine apply. Instead, he
solely states, "this Court has the power to order the
City of Peoria to redo the General Election in Peoria for the
at-large Peoria City Council spot only, which was the
position that Appellant had run for." Plaintiff cites no
law in support of this proposition. "[O]rdering new