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J&B Blog Archives

Probable Cause Existed and Plaintiff’s Retaliatory Arrest Claim Against Two Officers Gets Tossed.

Overview:  In 2014, plaintiff was arrested during “Arctic Man,” a week-long winter sports festival held in the remote Hoodoo Mountains near Paxson, Alaska.  The event is known for both extreme sports, as well as extreme alcohol consumption. Police officers spend most of the weekend responding to snowmobile crashes, breaking up fights and policing underage drinking.   Continue Reading »

A Municipality “Moment:” FOIA Request for Police Department Videotapes Denied by Trial Court and Affirmed on Appeal

Overview: In 2016, the plaintiff, who worked as a reporter, submitted four Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain videotapes from 2013 of police interviews of several individuals accused of murder. The defendant (a municipality) denied those requests claiming unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, interference with actual or pending law enforcement proceedings, and disclosure   Continue Reading »

SCOTUS Cracks Down on Excessive Seizures by Police Departments, Municipalities

The U. S. Supreme Court has curbed the power of cities and states to levy fines and seize property under the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution.  In a recent case, Timbs v. Indiana, the Court ruled that the seizure of a $42,000 Land Rover was excessive compared to the criminal activity that carried a   Continue Reading »

ARDC Complaint Almost Comes Back to Haunt Village President

The President of a municipality tried a novel approach to blunting the activities of a local painting contractor – submitting a “request for investigation” to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) – normally a path to pursue grievances against a licensed attorney. The contractor appeared to be organizing other local contractors in an effort   Continue Reading »

Appellate Court Rules District Court Sidestepped Jury Process in Dispute Over Non ADA-Compliant Courthouses in Illinois

For the hundreds of municipalities in Illinois – many with older courthouses and other public buildings – this ongoing dispute over non-ADA-compliant buildings should be of interest. Overview: The plaintiffs, five wheelchair-using detainees, attended court about once per month in connection with their individual criminal cases. Their court appearances were held in several different court   Continue Reading »

Vehicle Legroom Accommodation Dispute Ends with Appellate Court Affirming In Favor of Employer

Employers face a constant struggle to assess and accommodate employees with temporary or long-term health conditions.  In this case, the Seventh Circuit Appellate Court affirmed a district court’s decision granting the defendant-employer’s motion for summary judgment in plaintiff-employee’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation claim. The plaintiff alleged that defendant improperly failed to grant his   Continue Reading »

Court Rules Paramedic Did Not Violate Decedent's Fourth Amendment Rights

Court of the Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the district court erred in denying paramedic’s motion for summary judgment in plaintiff-decedent’s section 1983 action. Plaintiff’s estate alleged that paramedic had violated plaintiff-decedent’s Fourth Amendment rights when the paramedic administered sedative to decedent to calm decedent down after decedent was discovered by police lying   Continue Reading »

Risk Management: Avoiding Unnecessary Litigation in the Enforcement of Sign Codes

INTRODUCTION Signs used by citizens to convey messages to the public are generally regulated by local town codes and ordinances. Restrictions on the use of such signs can create constitutional issues that municipalities must be wary of when enforcing the provisions of their particular code. Sign use restrictions in an Arizona town’s code were recently   Continue Reading »

Court Finds Municipality Used Arrest Record to Wrongfully Terminate Employment

In Murillo v. City of Chicago, the First District Appellate Court was asked to interpret a section of the Illinois Human Rights Act (Act) (775 ILCS 5/2-103(A) that prohibits employers from “[using] the fact of an arrest” as a basis to discriminate in employment.  Plaintiff, after about three years working as a janitor for a   Continue Reading »

Supreme Court Holds Fourth Amendment Requires a Warrant for Blood Testing

The Supreme Court recently weighed in on state laws that require a motorist suspected of driving under the influence to submit to blood testing. Birchfield v. North Dakota (No. 14-1468, June 23, 2016)[1]. The holding of Birchfield has far reaching implications for the many states that require a person to submit to warrantless blood tests.   Continue Reading »

Supreme Court Ruling Expands First Amendment Municipal Liability

Ruling Focuses on Employer’s Motivation Rather than the Employee’s Intent — Even Where Employer Was Mistaken Regarding the Employee’s Behavioral Intent The Supreme Court recently expanded potential municipal liability in Heffernan v. City of Patterson, New Jersey (No. 14-1290, Apr. 26, 2016)1. The plaintiff, Jeffrey Heffernan, is a police officer working in the Police Chief’s office in   Continue Reading »

Federal District Judge Upholds Chicago PD Rule Limiting Tattoos

In June of 2015, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) issued changes to its uniform policy. Under the new policy, on-duty CPD officers are required to cover tattoos on the hands, face, neck, and other areas not covered by clothing, with skin tone adhesive bandages or tattoo covers. Soon after the policy went into effect, three   Continue Reading »


In federal civil rights litigation, two of the most common claims brought against police officers and municipalities are those for false arrest and malicious prosecution.  For a plaintiff in a false arrest case to prove his claim, he must show, among other things, that the defendant police officer who arrested him did not have probable   Continue Reading »


Over the years, the protections afforded to municipalities and public employees by the Illinois Tort Immunity Act have eroded somewhat due to various decisions extending the willful and wanton conduct exception found in 745 ILCS 10/2-202 to other provisions of the act.  For instance, in Doe v. Calumet City, 161 Ill.2d 374 (1994), the Illinois Supreme Court   Continue Reading »

Johnson and Bell

Johnson and Bell