Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



1st District upholds merit board in firing of deputy

Thursday, August 30, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

1st District upholds merit board in firing of deputy

A state appeals court on Wednesday upheld the Cook County Sheriff’s Merit Board’s decision to fire a sheriff’s deputy even though a prior appellate court found the board was illegally constituted at the time.

In May 2017, a 1st District Appellate Court panel reversed the dismissal of a sheriff’s deputy after finding that a member of the merit board, John R. Rosales, was still hearing and deciding cases even though his term on the board had expired.

Rosales was on the board when it considered the case of deputy Miguel Lopez, whom the sheriff’s office sought to fire after he missed 96 hours of shift time without being excused.

Lopez argued that, under Taylor v. Dart, 2017 IL (1st) 143684-B, his dismissal was void because the board was illegally constituted at the time.

However, a separate 1st District panel on Wednesday ruled it was in the interest of public policy to not invalidate every decision an illegally constituted merit board may have touched, rejecting Lopez’s appeal.

“Since the plaintiff in this case is not the first claimant to have brought the illegal appointment of Rosales to light, we conclude that public interest is better served by not invalidating the plaintiff’s termination decision,” Justice James Fitzgerald Smith wrote in the 28-page unpublished Rule 23 order.

“This will circumvent the upheaval that would doubtlessly result if we were to invalidate the merit board’s decision and invite hundreds of plaintiffs to seek invalidation of all the decision[s] rendered by the illegally constituted panel during Rosales’ unauthorized term,” Smith wrote. 

The merit board made other decisions apart from disciplinary actions — like promotions — during the three-year period Rosales improperly sat on the board. All those actions would be jeopardized, the panel noted, which is why the justices cited the de facto officer doctrine in justifying its ruling.

The de facto officer doctrine allows courts to uphold the decisions made by individuals or entities even if those parties were illegally appointed or constituted. The doctrine requires courts to balance the public’s interest in an orderly government is outweighed by its interest in exposing and undoing illegal government actions.

The Taylor court refused to consider the de facto officer doctrine in upholding the dismissal of a sheriff’s deputy in that case, something the current 1st District panel noted in Lopez’s case.

The 1st District panel sided with the sheriff’s office and the merit board’s argument that Taylorshould be considered separate from Lopez’s case because Taylor happened first. To apply Taylor to at least 60 cases pending in Cook County Circuit Court would result in “chaos,” Smith wrote.

“Specifically, the sheriff and the merit board argue that while the plaintiff in Taylor may receive the benefit of being the first to challenge compliance with the merit board appointment statute, and have the merit board’s decision voided, public policy requires that all later challenges be denied, so as to prevent the chaos that would result in the invalidation of hundreds of decisions rendered by the same illegally constituted board,” Smith wrote. “[W]e agree.”

The 1st District panel’s decision comes nearly a month after a federal judge sided with the Taylorcourt in another case involving an officer who was fired when Rosales sat on the board.

The 1st District panel also upheld Lopez’s dismissal on its merits. Lopez presented evidence showing he was on disability leave for alcohol dependency and his late or unexcused absences from December 2012 to April 2013 stemmed from his recovery. 

Lopez never informed the department of this issue — his July 2014 evidentiary hearing was the first time the department had learned he had been struggling with alcoholism.

Smith wrote that while the panel sympathized with Lopez’s struggle, the merit board in its June 1, 2016, decision said it had weighed the treatment of his disorder with his unexcused absenteeism when dismissing him.

“Regardless of how much sympathy we may have for the plaintiff’s struggle, as a reviewing court, we may not reweigh the board’s determination as to the evidence or the credibility of witnesses,” Smith wrote.

The sheriff’s department and the merit board were represented by Stephanie A. Scharf and Sarah R. Marmor of Scharf Banks Marmor LLC.

“We are exceptionally pleased with the appellate court’s decision which will help ensure that officers who were terminated for gross misconduct remain terminated, and not put the safety of the public at risk,” Cara LeFevour Smith, the sheriff’s policy adviser, said in a statement.

Lopez was represented by Dana L. Kurtz, Heidi Karr Sleper and Jacob Exline of the Hinsdale-based Kurtz Law Offices Ltd. They did not return a request comment.

Justices Nathaniel R. Howse Jr. and Terrence J. Lavin concurred with the order.

The case is Miguel Lopez v. Thomas J. Dart, et al., 2018 IL App (1st) 170733-U.



Recent Headlines

Pappas: There's help for senior citizens struggling to pay Cook County property taxes
Friday, December 14, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County Public Guardian sues DCFS: “Abject moral and human rights failure”
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Capitol Fax

Borrow $10B to help stabilize city pensions along with legal pot, casino and benefit cuts: Rahm
Thursday, December 13, 2018
The Daily Line

CTA Moves Forward with Major Red Line Projects:
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County repeals lower parking-app tax rate
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

How local suburbs voted in Cook County minimum wage/paid sick leave advisory referenda
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
The Bugel

Cook County restores tax on parking apps before January cut took effect
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County Board to take on taxes,toilets at Wednesday meeting
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

PRECKWINKLE’s tax tweak — Details on BURKE raids — State REPUBLICANS look for hope — SUMMERS’ tirade
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Illinois Politico

Woman, 19, arrested after escaping police custody at Cook County courthouse
Sunday, December 09, 2018
WLS ABC Chicago 7

Here's an exciting prospect: A boring assessor's office
Saturday, December 08, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Sheriff starts unique inmate program to combat Chicago's gun epidemic
Thursday, December 06, 2018
RTV 6 Indianapolis

Staff feud at tax appeals board turns nasty
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Tax Bills Posted Online Three Months Early
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
CBS Chicago

County Board makes it easier to choose Preckwinkle successor
Tuesday, December 04, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

New Cook County assessor vows end to favoritism as he takes office
Monday, December 03, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

New Cook County Board members sworn in Monday
Monday, December 03, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County referendums: 'Yes' to everything
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Chicago City Wire

Glenview to discuss Cook County minimum wage, paid sick leave ordinances in December
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Wilmette reverses course, fully adopts both county minimum wage and sick time rules
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP