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Case Update

About a year and a half ago, I detailed two 8th District decisions regarding Children & Family Services and sovereign immunity.  In the first case, discussed here, C&FS had been sued for leaving an abused child in custody of her mother, who shortly thereafter killed her.  The second, discussed here, involved a suit against C&FS for permitting a father to sexually abuse his three-year-old daughter during a supervised visitation.  In both cases, the trial court granted summary judgment to C&FS, and in both the 8th District reversed.  I didn't have a lot of confidence in the appellate court's analysis in either case.

Neither did the Supreme Court, apparently, because last week it reversed both.  In the first case, O'Toole v. Denihan, the court rejected the twin underpinnings of the lower court decision:  that C&FS, when notified of the abuse, had a duty to notify the police, and that the child endangering statute created civil cause of action against C&FS.  In the second, Rankin v. C&FS, the 8th District had held that liability arose under the "special relationship" exception to sovereign immunity.  As I'd pointed out, that exception predated the passage of the current sovereign immunity statutes, and Supreme Court ruled likewise, holding that only the express exceptions to immunity under the statute are applicable.  In both cases, the Court also held that the evidence was insufficient to show that the agency employees had acted recklessly.

The Court decided one other case on child abuse, Kraynak v. Youngstown Bd. of Ed., holding that the duty to report abuse under the former statute was to be determined under a subjective, not an objective, standard.  The statute's since been amended to provide for an objective standard, so this case has only historical value.

On to the courts of appeals, where we finally have some 8th District cases to play with...

Civil.  1st District says that tenant who breaks lease and leaves early not entitled to return of security deposit... 9th District holds that fair housing association lacked standing to bring suit for housing discrimination... State representative who sent out letter claiming that police officers who shot suspect were "murderers" not entitled to immunity in defamation suit, 10th District says in affirming trial court... 2nd District holds that motion to vacate on basis that defendant never received process is not subject to one-year limitation on filing, requires hearing... 10th District affirms summary judgment, says that fact that police officer responding to emergency call did not use lights or siren not sufficient to create issue of fact re wanton and willful misconduct to take case out of sovereign immunity statute... 8th District holds that claim for spoliation of evidence applies only to destruction physical evidence, not interference with or concealment of evidence...

Criminal.  Who needs drug-sniffing dogs?  1st District reverses grant of suppression motion, holds that cops' detection of smell of marijuana gave them probable cause to search trunk of car... 2nd District holds that while there was a basis for stop and for administration of field sobriety tests, there was no probable cause for arrest for DWI; good discussion of the distinctions between reasonable suspicion and probable cause... 9th District holds that state need not introduce measurements to prove that defendant sold drugs within 1,000 feet of school, pictures showing that house where sale took place was across from school sufficient... 10th District reminds us that out-of-court statements are not testimonial under Crawford if person making them testifies at trial... 12th District upholds forgery conviction based upon defendant's electronic application for credit cards in names of other people, finds that electronic submission of data constituted a "writing"...

Well, that's one way to describe it.  From the 2nd District's opinion in State v. Brewer, rejecting defendant's claim that his statements during the discussion of whether to try the case to the judge or to a jury showed that his decision to waive the jury was "forced":

Defendant's statements related not to his choice to waive his right to a jury trial, but rather his desire not to proceed to trial at all on that day, and probably any other. Distress over one's plight in being caught in the unrelenting maw of the criminal justice system does not render involuntary a plea of guilty or no contest a defendant chooses to enter.

Yes, I know, the quote would have been even more forceful had the case actually involved a plea of guilty or no contest...


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