What is an administrative review decision?
An Administrative Review decision is like a regular court decision, but made by the Department of Administrative Hearings.
The Department of Administrative Hearings reviews decisions related to the public health, safety, welfare, morals and economic well being of the residents of the City of Chicago. The rules you have to follow for a hearing are usually more relaxed than with a regular court.
Some examples of decisions made by the Department of Administrative Hearings include:
- City sticker violations
- Vehicle impoundments
- False burglar alarms
- Theft of cable tv services
- Building code violations.
How much time do I have to file my appeal?
35 days. If the hearing officer gave you a copy of his/her decision in person, you have 35 days from that date to file your appeal. If you received a copy of the hearing officer’s decision through the mail instead, you have 35 days from the date that the City mailed the decision (not the date you received it) to the address you have on file with the Illinois Secretary of State to file your appeal.
If the 35th day falls on a day when the court is closed (Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays), you can file your appeal on the next day that the court is open.
The 35 day deadline is very strict. Even if you have a good reason for being late, such as a medical emergency, your appeal will probably be dismissed.
What documents do I need to file for an appeal?
You will need to file an “Administrative Review Cover Sheet,” a “Complaint in Administrative Review” (four copies), a “Summons in Administrative Review” (four copies) and the “Findings, Decisions and Order” sheet (given to you by the hearing officer).
Where do I file the paperwork?
File the paperwork at Room 602, Counter #3, of the Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W Washington St, Chicago IL 60602.
Is there a fee for filing my appeal?
Yes. At the time of this writing, a filing fee of $124.54 applies for cases involving a motor vehicle. All other cases are subject to a fee of $317.08.
If you are unable to have your fees waived, you can always ask the Judge to refund your filing fees at the end of your case. It is the Judge’s decision to issue the refund or not.
What happens after I file the paperwork for my appeal?
The City will receive the appeal paperwork from the Court. The City will respond by filing an appearance with the court. An appearance is a sheet of paper indicating that the City wants to challenge your appeal. After the City files its appearance, a court date will be set. The Clerk of Court’s office will send you a postcard in the mail with your court information. You can also look up your court date online after it is set.
Can I bring new photographs or other new evidence to court for my appeal?
No. For an appeal, the court will only review the Administrative Review hearing officer’s decision. So the court will only look at the evidence that the hearing officer was shown.
What happens on my first court date?
Before the Judge can make a decision about your case, the City needs to provide its Answer. The City’s Answer, which is also called “the record,” is a copy of all of the evidence that the hearing officer reviewed and a transcript of your hearing.
At the first court date, the City will tell the Judge how much time it needs to prepare its Answer. Normally, the City will ask for 45 days if you challenged your case by mail and 60 days if you challenged your case in-person. The Judge will set a deadline for the City to file its Answer.
Next, the Judge will set a deadline for you to file a “Specification of Errors” form. You complete the “Specification of Errors” form by listing the reasons why the hearing officer’s decision was wrong. Please see below for more information.
The due date for the “Specification of Errors” form will be at least 2 weeks after the City’s Answer is due. You will not need to attend court on the date, but you will have to have filed a “Specification of Errors” form with the court prior to that date.
Finally, the Judge will arrange a date and time for your next court date. If the Judge or the City’s attorney suggests a date or time when you are busy or unable to come to court, speak up immediately and tell them what dates and times would suit you. Once a new court date is set, the Judge will finish your case.
Do not leave the court room until the City’s attorney gives you a copy of the Judge’s written order, which will list the date when the City’s Answer is due, the date when you must submit the “Specification of Errors,” and the next court date.
What is a specification of errors form?
The Judge will give you a Specification of Errors form on your first court date. You should not complete the Specification of Errors until you receive the City’s Answer in the mail.
Once you have the City’s Answer, you can begin preparing your Specification of Errors. You will probably want to make a draft of your Specification of Errors on a different sheet of paper. The Specification of Errors is a numbered list of all of the reasons why the Administrative Review hearing officer’s decision was wrong. It will help the Judge if you cite to the page numbers in the City’s Answer.
Here is an example of what a Specification of Errors might look like in a hypothetical expired meter parking ticket case:
- "The hearing officer refused to look at the photographs of the parking meter box that I brought with me to court. City’s Answer, p3."
- "The hearing officer said that I had to pay the fine even though the parking ticket was issued at a time when parking meters are not in use. City’s Answer, p4."
To file your Specification of Errors, mail one copy to the City’s attorney. Their address will appear on the Answer that they mailed to you. You will also need to send a copy to the court so that the Judge can review it. Place a copy in the document depository box in Room 602 of the Daley Center.
What happens on my second court date?
You should bring a copy of the City’s Answer and the Specification of Errors to court with you. If both you and the City are ready, the Judge will ask you to present your side of the story.
The Judge will have already read your Specification of Errors. Remember that it is not the Judge’s job to hold a new hearing. Instead, the Judge is reviewing the Administrative Review hearing officer’s decision.
Make sure that you are prepared to present your side of the story to the Judge. If you wrote your Specification of Errors carefully, it will help you explain your case to the Judge because you will be able to go through each reason why the hearing officer’s decision was wrong, and you will be able to refer to pages in the City’s Answer.
After you are finished presenting your side of the case, the City’s attorney will have a chance to respond. After you have both presented your side of the story, the Judge will make a ruling. If you paid a filing fee to the court, you can ask the Judge for a refund of your filing fee. It is the Judge’s decision to refund your filling fees and refunds can be given whether you win or lose. If the Judge decides to refund your filing fee, he or she will give you a written order, which you can take to the court staff in Room 602 for processing.