News - Joliet and Will County

Closing arguments to be heard Wednesday in Evergreen Terrace case

JOLIET – Closing arguments for the first phase of the Evergreen Terrace trial are scheduled for Wednesday morning.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Norgle are scheduled to hear final arguments at 10 a.m. in advance of ruling whether the case can proceed to condemnation, according to City Attorney Jeff Plyman.

Plyman, in a memo to the Joliet City Council and staff, said he expects statements will take most of the day, and that Norgle will take the matter under advisement.

“A decision should be forthcoming within 30 to 60 days, although the judge could set a specific date to announce his ruling,” Plyman said.

Two scenarios are possible at this stage of the case:

• If the judge rules for proceeding with condemnation, the case would go to a jury trial that would determine the value of the property. The owners would still have the right to appeal the ruling.

• If the judge rules against proceeding, the condemnation case would be over, though Joliet would have the opportunity to appeal. If the city ultimately loses the case, it would be liable for the owners’ court costs and lawyer fees, which are about $13 million.

If the case goes to a jury trial, a verdict could be expected fairly quickly, Plyman said in an earlier interview. He did not think the trial would last more than a few days.

Evergreen Terrace is a privately owned but government-subsidized apartment complex for low-income residents. The legal battle against it, which started in 2005, centers on whether the city has the right to take it over.