In a landmark ruling issued today, a Federal Judge stated that business owners in Schaumburg who claim to have been had been deprived of a fair assessment of their property taxes could state a claim under the Federal Civil Rights Statute, and would therefore not be forced to seek justice in state court.
Defendants unsuccessfully tried to argue that the Cook County Board of Review was like a lower state court, and that the Federal Court would therefore be barred from reviewing its decisions. But today's ruling gives hope to those who believe that decisions made by the Cook County Board of Review (and Boards of Review in other counties, for that matter) were made in an arbitrary manner, and lacked fundamental justice. According to the Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, "Despite the lack of any evidence suggesting that the 2007 and 2008 assessments were overly high, the Board arbitrarily rescinded the reduction in property taxes that it itself granted close to one year prior, affecting the 2008 and 2009 appraisals of the Hotel, stating simply, "we can do anything we want."
The Board's Commissioners, according to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, are powerful members of the Cook County Democratic Party and exert political influence over the state's judiciary. "Joe Berrios, who was on the Board of Review when the decisions affecting my clients were made, is vice-chairman of the Cook County Democrat Party's judicial slating Committee. Larry Rogers is president of the Cook County Bar Association. Allowing this case to proceed in Federal Court provides insulation from the political realities of Cook County. That's exactly what the Klu Klux Klan Act, the Federal Civil Rights statute, intended to accomplish." Said lead attorney, R. Tamara de Silva.
Attorney R. Tamara de Silva went on to say, "As I wrote in the Complaint in this matter and time and time again-even at the cost of great retaliation, this agency has established and institutionalized a system of pay for play wherein real estate tax appeal lawyers that contribute to the campaign funds and campaign committees of the Commissioners achieve better results for their clients than non-contributing lawyers and non-contributing taxpayers. This is not justice; this is the corruption and graft."
"What this decision allows us to do is to proceed with and attempt to prove our case - that the Board of Review singled out and scape-goated our clients for no good reason, resulting in a perversion of justice. This is an opportunity for the Satkar Corporation, and it's an opportunity for any business or individual who believes they were a victim of 'Cook County justice.' It means that the Board may have to answer for its actions." Attorney Jonathan Lubin said.