Illinois’ dispensary license holders will have to wait at least another month more as a result of new legal maneuvering over who will hear their cases creates yet more delays.
Before the Illinois “super case” to decide the fate of 185 dispensary licenses even began Thursday, attorneys for the state informed the court they were seeking from the state Supreme Court a clarification of the consolidation order in order to quash plaintiff attempts to substitute the sitting judge. The state’s motion for clarification, as the procedure is called, attracted a raft of complaints from plaintiff attorneys, some arguing that this was just one more delay in a series of cases that have gone on for fifteen months.
“The issue the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s (IDFPR) is taking…They insisted on these cases being consolidated,” said David Standa, an attorney for plaintiffs Hempathy LLC and Piff Patch LLC complained in response to Bhave’s comments.
Standa added the proceedings are in the right court and seemed concerned licenses would be delayed again.
“We will not delay,” Bhave said. “We will do everything we can to move the case expeditiously.”
The Illinois Supreme Court ordered the consolidation of 14 lawsuits, which all call for a complete redo of the state’s dispensary license lotteries, into a single “super case”, putting them before a Cook County Circuit Court judge. Following some discussion, Cook County’s Chief Chancery Court Judge Moshe Jacobius designated Judge Cecilia Gamrath to try the super case, since she had one of the oldest dispensary license cases on record.
Since the assignment of the cases to Judge Gamrath, three plaintiffs have filed motions to substitute, or replace Judge Gamrath with another judge. The state’s motion for clarification, filed with the Illinois Supreme Court, is meant to quash the motions to substitute, and firmly designate Judge Gamrath as the judge with full jurisdiction over the dispensary license cases.
“The Court should clarify that its Rule 384 order did not merely consolidate these cases in Cook County, but directed that a single judge—the judge selected by the judges of Cook County—should preside over them for the pendency of the litigation,” says the state’s motion with the Illinois Supreme Court.
It is not clear when the Illinois Supremes could rule, however, as it is entering it’s usual holiday break. The court has no rulings or hearings scheduled until January 11.
“I have no doubt everyone on this case wants to move forward,” Judge Gamrath said Thursday. “Let’s see what the Supreme Court does with the motion for clarification. “If the case stays with me, I think it’s important that all parties are on the same page. I think it’s better to manage substantive motions. I think it would be more efficient. Procedurally, we can make headway if we are on the same page.”
Judge Gamrath set another status hearing for 11:00 a.m. Jan. 25.
The consolidated cases stem from Illinois social equity license applicants filing lawsuits in Cook, DuPage, and Sangamon County Circuit Courts against IDFPR for disqualifying their applications and not providing them the opportunity to participate in a process through which certain applicants can amend their applications and challenge their scores.
Most of the cases, which fall under Illinois’ Administrative Law rules, were shifted to Gamrath’s courtroom.
Held over from one of the consolidated cases is a stay, first entered in July, that bars the state from awarding 185 dispensary licenses to winners of license lotteries conducted by the state.
Illinois Administrative Law cases, which are requests for judicial review of regulatory decisions, do not allow discovery and must be tried entirely on facts presented as part of the regulatory process. As a result, the 14 suits consolidated in Judge Gamrath’s courtroom are expected to have a relatively speedy resolution.