Friday, December 12, 2014

Illinois Supreme Court Upholds a Statutory Deadline, Longer Than the 30 Days Allowed by Rule 303, for Filing a Notice of Appeal Seeking Review of an Administrative Ruling

Partner, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC

In People ex rel. Madigan v. Illinois Commerce Commission, 2014 IL 116642, the Illinois Supreme Court recognized the General Assembly’s constitutional authority to enact rules for governing review of administrative decisions. Explaining the interplay between supreme court rules that set a 30-day deadline for filing a notice of appeal of final judgments and specific legislative enactments pertaining to time deadlines for review of administrative decisions, the supreme court revived an appeal brought under the Public Utilities Act (220 ILCS 5/10-201(a) (West 2010)). Under section 10-201(a), a notice of appeal filed 35 days after the denial of a request for rehearing of an Illinois Commerce Commission ruling  was timely filed. Under Supreme Court Rule 303(a), it was not. The Illinois Appellate Court held that the 30-day deadline applied and dismissed the appeal.

The supreme court began its analysis with the observation that, under the Illinois Constitution, the state’s reviewing courts are empowered to review, as a matter of right, only final judgments of the circuit courts. The courts may review administrative actions only “as provided by law.” The General Assembly has enacted laws establishing procedures for obtaining judicial review of an administrative decision and thus confers “special statutory jurisdiction” with such provisions.

The supreme court has concurrent constitutional authority with the legislature to promulgate rules for appellate court review of administrative decisions. Supreme Court Rule 335 applies certain other rules governing appeals – including Rule 303 - to review of administrative decisions. Rule 335, however, does not require courts to apply the 30-day provision in Rule 303(a) to the review of all administrative orders by the appellate court. Rather, Rule 335(1)(i) applies Rule 303 to the review of administrative rulings only “insofar as appropriate,” meaning when the legislature has not explicitly stated a deadline for seeking appeal of a particular type of administrative decision. In this case, section 10-201(a) provided a deadline, so the notice of appeal was timely filed. In reversing the dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, the supreme court observed that the appellate court had relied on two earlier appellate decisions that failed to take into account the concept of special statutory jurisdiction.

Recommended Citation: Karen Kies DeGrandIllinois Supreme Court Upholds a Statutory Deadline, Longer Than the 30 Days Allowed by Rule 303, for Filing a Notice of Appeal Seeking Review of an Administrative RulingThe Brief(Dec. 12, 2014),

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