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Parker v. Lyons

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 7, 2014

GENERAL PARKER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
KEVIN LYONS, et al., Defendants-Appellees

Submitted June 27, 2014 [*]

Page 702

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 703

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 11-1441 -- Joe Billy McDade, Judge.

General Parker, Plaintiff - Appellant, Pro se, Peoria, IL.

For KEVIN LYONS, individually and in his official capacity as State's Attorney for Peoria County, Defendant - Appellee: James G. Sotos, Attorney, Sotos & Associates, Itasca, IL; William W. P. Atkins, Attorney, Peoria County State's Attorney, Peoria County Courthouse, Peoria, IL.

For Peoria County Government, Defendant - Appellee: James G. Sotos, Attorney, Sotos & Associates, Itasca, IL; William W. P. Atkins, Attorney, Peoria County State's Attorney, Peoria County Courthouse, Peoria, IL.

Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and FLAUM and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 704

Per Curiam

An Illinois statute bars persons convicted of certain crimes from holding public office. See 10 ILCS § 5/29-15. General Parker sought to run for a seat on the school board of Peoria School District 150. The state's attorney for Peoria County filed suit in state court to bar Parker, who had been convicted of felony theft in the 1980s, from pursuing that office. After a brief hearing held on short notice, a state court ordered Parker's name removed from the ballot and enjoined him from running. Parker then sued several defendants in federal court, including the state's attorney. He argued that they enforced the statute in violation of due process and equal protection by denying him a chance to defend himself and targeting him based on his race (African American). He also attacked the constitutionality of the law on its face. The district court dismissed the suit as barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, immunity, and claim preclusion. We conclude that immunity, not Rooker-Feldman, bars the enforcement claims and that, even if claim preclusion did not preclude Parker's facial attack on the statute, that challenge fails on the merits. We therefore affirm the judgment.

For purposes of this appeal, we take as true the factual allegations in Parker's complaint. Seeking a seat on his local school board, in December 2010 Parker filed a nominating petition for the seat and a statement asserting that he was eligible to hold the office. See 105 ILCS § § 5/9-1, 5/9-10; 10 ILCS § 5/10-5. Two months later--about a week before the ballots were to be printed for the April 5 election--Kevin Lyons, the state's attorney for Peoria County, filed a quo warranto complaint in Illinois circuit court to block Parker's candidacy. The purpose of a quo warranto action generally " is to question whether a person lawfully holds title to office." McCready v. Ill. Sec'y of State, 382 Ill.App.3d 789, 888 N.E.2d 702, 712, 321 Ill.Dec. 183 (Ill.App.Ct. 2008); 735 ILCS § 5/18-101.

Lyons asserted in the complaint that Parker was barred by statute from holding the office of school board member because he was convicted in the early 1980s of felony theft. The statute in question prohibits " [a]ny person convicted of an infamous crime ... from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit, unless such person is again restored to such rights by the terms of a pardon for the offense or otherwise according to law." 10 ILCS § 5/29-15. Felony theft is an " infamous crime" under the statute, see People ex rel. City of Kankakee v. Morris, 126 Ill.App.3d 722, 467 N.E.2d 589, 81 Ill.Dec. 718 (Ill.App.Ct. 1984), and Parker never received a pardon for his conviction. (The statute does not bar persons convicted of felonies from all elective office; those who complete their criminal sentence may run for and hold any office created by the Illinois Constitution. See 730 ILCS § 5/5-5-5(b); Buchmeier v. United States, 581 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2009); People v. Hofer, 363 ...


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