Brief Overview of the Village of Wilmette’s Administrative Adjudication
This guide provides general information and an overview of the Administrative Adjudication process. Nothing contained in this brochure shall act to bind the Village of Wilmette, provide legal advice, imply any action should or should not be taken in regards to Administrative Adjudication or to confer or waive any rights or obligations on any individual or entity.
THE ADMINISTRATIVE ADJUDICATION PROCESS
What is Administrative Adjudication?
The Village of Wilmette’s Administrative Adjudication process is a quasi-judicial tribunal for the expedient, independent, and impartial adjudication of municipal ordinance violations.
The Administrative Adjudication hears cases involving Building Codes, Fire Codes, Property Maintenance Codes, municipal ordinance violations (e.g. underage drinking, cannabis possession, theft), unlicensed businesses, health and sanitation concerns, parking tickets, animal related violations, and other matters.
Administrative Adjudication hearings are quasi-judicial hearings that do not follow the rigid and complex rules of evidence, but still follow a basic structure to ensure fairness and due process of law.
An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who is independent and not a Village employee, presides over all hearings. The ALJ is an impartial, licensed Illinois attorney, who must meet strict state requirements to serve in this capacity.
Why was I issued a complaint/ticket?
Village departments charged with protecting the public safety, health, and welfare may issue a citation, which may be heard by the ALJ based on the observations of or investigation by Village staff members authorized to enforce Wilmette’s code of ordinances (the Wilmette Village Code, 1993) which can be accessed by clicking here.
When the Village of Wilmette determines that a violation has occurred, it will serve the party responsible for the alleged violation with a citation outlining the Village’s allegations.
Any questions as to why you were cited must be directed to the Village staff person who issued the citation or the Village’s Corporation Counsel. You may call (847) 251-2700 or (847) 853-7504 for the Corporation Counsel.
What do I do if I receive a citation?
In general, the citation will inform you of: 1) the alleged violation(s); 2) the date, time and place that the alleged violation(s) occurred; and 3) what your options are with regard to payment, compliance, mandatory appearance at a hearing, or the opportunity to request a hearing to contest the violation. If you are required to appear at a hearing, the citation will state the date, time and place of hearing.
Ignoring a citation may result in a default judgment being entered against you and/or the property or affect your driving privileges.
Do I need to attend the hearing?
If the citation and ordinance allow you to pay a settlement amount in lieu of attending at hearing, you may do so 24 hours prior to the hearing date and the matter will be concluded upon your plea of liable and payment of the fine. The Village will not charge the additional $50 court costs for those matters settled prior to the hearing date. If the citation is marked “must appear”, you must appear at the hearing. You may be given an opportunity to settle the matter immediately prior to a hearing taking place. Court costs will be imposed for such situations.
If you are not a resident of the Village you may contest certain violations by mail. You will need to send a signed and notarized statement within 30 days of receiving violation notice.
What should I bring to my hearing?
If you do not pay the required fine as allowed in certain circumstances, it is in your best interest to attend the hearing. You are strongly encouraged to bring all of your evidence (photos, receipts, invoices, permits, etc.) and witnesses with you. If English is not your first language, bring a friend or family member to help translate. The Village will not provide a translator.
What do I do when I arrive for my hearing?
Proceed to the Village Hall Council Chambers for all citations, and check in with Code Hearing Unit/Traffic Compliance Officer located in the room. Please be sure to arrive a few minutes early otherwise you will have to wait until there is a break in the proceedings to check in.
Who may participate in the hearing?
That will vary, depending on the nature of the Code violation. Each hearing will be conducted by the ALJ. The ALJ is a licensed Illinois attorney appointed by the Village Manager to preside over the hearing as an independent and impartial decision maker.
The Village of Wilmette, as the petitioner, will have a prosecutor and/or representative there to present its case. The Village may also bring witnesses to support its case. You may represent yourself. You may also hire an attorney to represent you at your own expense. If you are represented by an attorney, an Attorney Appearance form is required (available here).
The hearings are open to the public; therefore, other people may be present during your hearing.
How do you settle a case?
The Village Prosecutor will be at hearing and has the authority to enter into settlement agreements. By entering into a settlement agreement, you may receive lower fines, extended time to remedy any violation or receive deferred prosecution. If you reach an agreement with the Village Prosecutor, you will have waived your right to proceed to a hearing and challenge the allegations set forth in the citation.
How is the hearing conducted?
The hearing follows a basic trial structure to ensure fairness and due process of law. All testimony is under oath and recorded.
- The ALJ will begin by giving his remarks, which outline the hearing
- The Village will present its evidence first before you are even asked to present a defense. The Village must establish a “prima facie case.” Simply stated, it must set forth the necessary allegations that a Code violation has occurred. The Village may: introduce the certified citation, call witnesses and offer other evidence, such as photographs or other documents. If the Village presents its case through the in-person testimony of a Village official or other witness, you have the right to ask questions of the Village’s witness. Please note, however, federal and state case law allows the Village to present its case solely by introducing the certified citation as evidence, without requiring the presence of the ticketing Village inspector or additional evidence.
- If after reviewing the Village’s case the ALJ determines the Village has not presented a prima facie case, the case may be dismissed. If the Village has established a prima facie case, the hearing will proceed and you will have the opportunity to present your case.
- You may present your defense to the ALJ through: your own testimony, the testimony of witnesses, a sworn affidavit and other evidence (such as photos, in- voices, receipts, etc.). You are expected to bring all of your witnesses and evidence with you to your first hearing. The Village Prosecutor may also ask questions of any witness that testifies at the hearing.
- After both sides have had an opportunity to present their case, the ALJ will issue a written order stating whether the Village has demonstrated the case against you. The Village’s burden of proof in these matters is “by a preponderance of the evidence.” That means, the Judge must believe, after considering all of the evidence, that “it is more likely than not” that a Code violation has occurred.
What if I am found liable?
If you are found liable, penalties may be imposed by the ALJ as set forth by Wilmette ordinances. Penalties may include: fines, paying restitution (those costs to undo the damage caused by the violation), community service and/or mandatory counseling. A non-penal administrative court cost in the amount of $50 will also be imposed. The Village of Wilmette does not offer payment plans.
Hearings in which an attorney is representing a Respondent (appearance form is required) will be heard first. Then Hearings involving property violations and non-police violations will be held first, police citations next and then parking violations last. Hearings will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month.
What if I am found not liable?
If you are found not guilty, the ALJ will dismiss the case against you and will not impose any penalties or court costs.
What if either side disagrees with the Judge’s decision?
Either party may appeal the Judge’s decision to the Circuit Court of Cook County within 35 days by filing a civil lawsuit for administrative review pursuant to the Illinois Administrative Review Act.
What happens if a citation is ignored or you fail to appear?
The ALJ may enter a default judgment against you based on the evidence presented. A fine may also be imposed in default matters.
What can I do about a default judgment?
If you missed your hearing date you may file a written motion to set-aside a default judgment with the Code Hearing Unit/Traffic Compliance Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your motion must be filed within 21 days of the mailing date stamped on top of the default judgment order. Motions are not granted automatically. You must file your motion on time and you must provide good reason why you did not respond to the Notice of Violation. If granted, the hearing may commence immediately. A motion form may be obtained by clicking here or contacting the Code Hearing Unit/Traffic Compliance Officer at (847) 853-7692.
What happens if someone does not comply with the Judge’s order?
An ALJ’s order can be enforced in the same manner as a Circuit Court Judge’s order in that it can be used to place a lien on your property, garnish your wages and/or affect your credit or impact your driving privileges. The Village may also file a criminal or quasi-criminal action in state court where a Circuit Court Judge could impose additional penalties and/or jail time.
How can I pay a fine?
Fines are paid directly to the Village of Wilmette during normal business hours. Payment can be made directly following the hearing or by mail to: Attn: Administrative Adjudication, Village of Wilmette, 1200 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette, IL 60091.