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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Selective Enforcement of City Code Not an Equal Protection Violation

The City of Rockford cited a property owner for 14 housing code violations. The City conducted an administrative hearing, which was continued from time-to-time at the request of the owner. After nearly a year, the hearing officer denied any further continuances, and found the owner in violation. He imposed a fine of $15,000, or $50 per violation per day. The owner then appealed to the court, which upheld his conviction. Kavonius v. City of Rockford, 2016 IL App(2d) 150188-U.

First, the owner argued that the City violated his equal protection rights by "selectively enforcing" the the City's housing code requirements. He alleged that the City had taken no action against neighboring property owners whose properties were in similar conditions to his. In rejecting his argument, the court held that proof of selective enforcement, on its own, does not constitute an equal protection claim without evidence that the selective enforcement was due to some personal animosity or vindictive conduct by the City. Here, plaintiff had provided no evidence of personal animosity against plaintiff. While the court acknowledged plaintiff's frustration that he was prosecuted and not his neighbors, it concluded that a "routine case of selective enforcement" was not actionable as a violation of equal protection.

Second, the owner argued that the City violated his due process rights by denying his requests for continuance. The court also rejected this argument, finding that the hearing officer had continued the hearing numerous times to allow the plaintiff to complete the work. There was also no evidence that the plaintiff was not able to participate in the hearings.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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