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Appellate court reverses McHenry County judge’s ruling on Nunda, McHenry township road districts’ challenge to state law

More argument could have been allowed by the trial court before the case was dismissed, ruling says

The constitutionality of a state law allowing McHenry County voters to abolish their local township can still be argued, an appellate court decided last month.

The ruling reversed a McHenry County judge’s decision that dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Nunda and McHenry township road districts challenging the law’s constitutionality.

The road districts, which named Gov. JB Prtizker as a defendant, argued state law prohibits legislation that applies only to one county and the law paved a new path to abolish townships by referendum in McHenry County but nowhere else.

Justice Liam C. Brennan, writing for the Appellate Court of Illinois’ Second District, sent the case back to the McHenry County court for further proceedings. Justices Joseph E. Birkett and Kathryn E. Zenoff concurred.

The appellate panel found the McHenry County court was wrong to dismiss the townships road districts’ complaint for finding the issue moot after ballot measures to abolish the townships each failed in 2020.

That’s because the appeals court said it thinks the question is likely to recur, and so it would be of public interest to receive a ruling on the merits of the road districts’ arguments at the trial court level.

“Application of the public interest exception [to moot complaints moving forward] is warranted due to the magnitude or immediacy of the interests at issue and is not dependent on continuity in the identity of the complaining party,” Brennan’s ruling said.

That means the trial court’s ruling is important to get on the record for not only the Nunda and McHenry townships, but all 17 townships in McHenry County.

Lawyers for neither road districts nor the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, which defended Prtizker in the matter, could be reached for comment.

It is unclear how quickly arguments at the trial court level could be resumed. No new court events have yet been scheduled in the McHenry County court, online records show.