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April 18, 2024

Coles County Taxpayer Suit Dismissed -did Judge telegraph path to victory against Coles County? – Updated!

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On December 4, 2017

Coles CO. (ECWd) –

The lawsuit filed against Coles County and their irregular assessment practices has been dismissed by the Federal Court but not without an interesting twist.

The legal doctrine of Comity appears to have been key in this particular ruling and it’s important for people to understand what this means as it could become a real problem for Coles County.

“Comity is the courtesy one jurisdiction gives by enforcing the laws of another jurisdiction.  Comity is granted out of respect, deference, or friendship, rather than as an obligation.” (US

In short, the Federal Court appears to be telegraphing how this case should move forward in the State Court and the language in the order could be of concern to the Coles County Board.

“The Supreme Court considered, “under the comity doctrine, a taxpayer’s complaint about allegedly discriminatory state taxation framed as a request to increase a competitor’s tax burden.” Levin, 560 U.S. at 425-26. Levin held “that comity precludes the exercise of original federal-court jurisdiction” in such cases. Id.”

“It is clear that constitutional challenges can be raised during state court proceedings. Capra, 733 F.3d at 715; Rosewell, 771 F.2d at 1092. The adequacy of Illinois state procedures to address claimed violations of federal rights is well settled. Rosewell, 771 F.2d at 1092. This court will not depart from that precedent.”

“Plaintiffs could challenge their tax bills and raise their equal protection claim in state court proceedings.”

Of interest is the fact that Federal courts have not weighed in on the constitutional question pertaining to the alleged Fourteenth Amendment violation.  Instead, they clearly provide direction to the Plaintiff, that they can raise their equal protection claim in state court proceedings based on the Comity doctrine.

The actual order can be downloaded here or viewed below.

We have reached out for comment from the Plaintiff’s attorney and will update once we get a response.

Update: One thing of interest is the fact we do not find any state statute citations from the Federal Court that would confirm there is an actual remedy available at the state level. They focused on case law claiming state level remedies are plain, adequate, and complete, however, they never actually provide any citation to any state law to support that position on this particular matter, which is different than the case law they cited. We suspect an Appeal is in order and may well be the better path to victory for the taxpayer.

Coles Motion to Dismiss Judgement

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