from the Circuit Court of McLean County No. 16MR242 Honorable
Rebecca S. Foley, Judge Presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: Julie A. Bruch and Karin L.
Anderson, of O'Halloran Kosoff Geitner & Cook, LLC,
of Northbrook, for appellants.
Attorneys for Appellee: Richard F. Blass, of Richard F. Blass
& Associates, LLC, of Elmhurst, for appellee.
JUSTICE DeARMOND delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Steigmann and Harris concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 On February 16, 2016, Mayor Todd Zalucha removed
Christopher Lane from his position as the appointed police
chief of the Village of Heyworth (Village). On February 18,
Mayor Zalucha informed the public of Lane's termination
and met with the Village's board of trustees in an
executive session to discuss the reasons for termination. On
February 23, the Village's board of trustees refused to
reinstate Lane. Lane and his attorney sent a letter to Mayor
Zalucha advising the mayor that Lane never received the
reasons for his removal in writing and, therefore, was not
properly removed from his position. On February 25, Mayor
Zalucha provided Lane with the reasons for his removal in
writing. The reasons were served to the Village's board
of trustees at the next regularly scheduled board meeting on
March 3, 2016, and the Village's board of trustees voted
against reinstatement. Lane sought review of that decision in
the circuit court of McLean County, and the court awarded him
back pay, benefits, and court costs.
2 On appeal, the Village argues the circuit court erred by
(1) granting Lane's motion to modify the record on
review, (2) finding Lane was removed twice for the same
offense, and (3) exceeding its jurisdiction by awarding
monetary damages. We reverse.
3 I. BACKGROUND
4 On February 5 and February 16, 2016, Mayor Zalucha met with
the appointed police chief, Lane, about his employment with
the Village. During the meetings, Mayor Zalucha laid out the
grounds for termination and offered Lane the option of
resigning, which Lane refused. After discussing the grounds
for termination and Lane's refusal to resign, Mayor
Zalucha fired Lane on February 16. On February 18, Mayor
Zalucha read a statement to the public during an open board
of trustees meeting, stating he had terminated Lane's
employment as an appointed official and that he would not be
discussing the specific reasons for termination due to the
private and confidential nature of the information. The board
members then went into an executive session, where the
Village attorney, Geoff Dodds, and Mayor Zalucha discussed
the conversations he had with Lane in the February 5 and
February 16, 2016, meetings, as well as the reasons for the
termination, including some that had only come to light after
the meeting between the mayor and Lane on February 16. No
formal vote was taken in the executive session.
5 The Village board of trustees met in a special open board
meeting to vote on Lane's employment status on February
23, 2016. At the meeting, Mayor Zalucha read a prepared
statement regarding Lane's removal as chief of police.
The public statement said Lane's removal was "due to
his performance not meeting expectations" and included
references to Lane providing false information to the
Village's liability insurance carrier and false
statements to the press. The mayor stated it was his opinion
the interests of the Village "demand removal."
6 After listening to comments from the public, the vote to
reinstate Lane's employment was defeated by a 4 to 1
vote, with one member abstaining. On February 25, 2016, Lane,
through his attorney, sent a letter to Mayor Zalucha
informing him Lane had not been properly removed because the
mayor failed to provide Lane with any written charges and the
board had not been properly informed of the reasons for
removal. The letter also outlined the claim Lane was denied
due process in the actions leading up to his discharge by the
7 As a result of Lane's letter, Mayor Zalucha served Lane
with written charges on the same day, indicating Lane was
being terminated for his "continual lack of honesty and
for performance well below what is expected for being Chief
of Police of the Village of Heyworth." At the next
regular Village board meeting on March 3, 2016, Mayor Zalucha
explained to the board members the prior attempt to remove
Lane was "declared to be null and void." Mayor
Zalucha stated he removed Lane on February 25, 2016, and
provided him with the written charges against him. Lane's
attorney was present and argued why he did not believe the
previous effort to terminate his client was properly handled.
He also argued on Lane's behalf to the residents of the
Village who were present at the meeting. After further public
comments, the vote to reinstate Lane was again defeated 4 to
1, with one member absent. Lane was officially terminated.
8 In April 2016, Lane petitioned the circuit court for a writ
of certiorari to overturn his termination as police
chief of the Village and reinstate him to that position with
full back pay and benefits. In May 2016, the Village filed
its answer and affirmative defenses, and pursuant to the
procedure for review under a common law writ of
certiorari, the Village filed a record of all
matters relating to its decision to remove Lane. In January
2017, Lane filed a motion seeking to strike the Village's
answer and affirmative defenses, as well as a motion to
modify the record on review to include only the February 23
and March 3, 2016, meetings and the open and closed session
minutes or recordings of those meetings. In February 2017,
the Village filed its response. The court granted Lane's
motion to modify the record on review. In October 2017, ...