Circuit Side-Steps Illinois Decision to Halt Evictions

     (CN) – The 7th Circuit will not override an Illinois court decision to postpone evictions in extreme weather conditions.

     Cook County Circuit Chief Judge Kenneth Wright ordered Sheriff Thomas Dart not to evict renters when the temperature dropped below 15 degrees or when “extreme weather conditions endanger[ed] the health and welfare of those to be evicted.” The judge also banned evictions over a nearly three week period during the winter holiday season.
     SKS & Associates, Inc., a Chicago-based property management company, challenged the order, saying that it loses money when tenants are allowed to stay for extra time.
     SKS argued that the policy denies equal protection, deprives landlords of property without due process, and amounts to the establishment of religion. The company sought federal intervention requiring the state courts to speed up the eviction process.
     The Northern Illinois District court dismissed the case, and the 7th Circuit affirmed, explaining that SKS must exhaust all state remedies before the federal courts can become involved.
      “[A] federal court may, and often must, decline to exercise its jurisdiction where doing so would intrude upon the independence of the state courts and their ability to resolve the cases before them,” Circuit Judge David Hamilton wrote.
      “As a litigant who believes a state trial court has erred and caused it injury, SKS is not alone, of course, but that is not a sufficient basis for the federal courts to step in and tell the state courts how to manage their dockets,” he wrote.
     The 1st and 9th Circuits have issued similar rulings.

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