The City Administrative Hearing System
The Lake Forest City Council approved an ordinance in 2008 establishing an administrative hearing system to enforce and adjudicate certain City Code violations. Hearings are held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 9:00 a.m. at City Hall, 220 E. Deerpath.
In keeping with the guidance from public health officials regarding the most effective strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the following will apply:
- Non-mandatory appearance citations, such as Parking and Cell Phone Violations, may be contested by mail. (See below).
- In-person cases will be heard by appointment only. To request an appointment for a non-mandatory citation, please call Police Records at 847.810.3845 within 14 days of issuance.
- The number of persons allowed in the chambers at one time will be limited. You may be asked to wait outside or in your car.
- Only respondents, attorneys, witnesses, or legal guardians (for respondents under 18 years of age) will be allowed in the chambers.
- All persons entering the building must wear a mask or face covering. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided for you.
- If you are scheduled to appear to prove compliance, drop off your completed documents at the Police Department a minimum of 2 days before the assigned return date. Your appearance will be waived.
To dispute citation without a mandatory appearance (like parking citations or cellphone violations) you may download this fillable PDF form (click here) or you may email the Records Department at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject, "Contest By Mail". Be sure to include your citation number, full name, and current mailing address. You must fully articulate your argument. You may also include photographs or diagrams or other documents to support your argument. These must be received a minimum of 5 days before the assigned court date. The Final Decision Order will be mailed.
Hearings are held at City Hall to expedite resolutions, reduce litigation expenses, and allow the Circuit Court to focus on more serious offenses. The hearing process also provides residents with a convenient method to contest a ticket or citation.
Cases filed on adjudication are punishable by fines and a variety of other penalties (excluding jail time), and the hearing is a civil proceeding, not criminal. An Administrative Hearing Officer hears the cases - an experienced attorney who participates in State-mandated training to be professional, fair, and courteous. Cases that may be heard are:
- Parking Tickets
- Traffic (except moving violations)
- Other City ordinances and Code provisions as the Council may designate in accordance with applicable law
A City inspector, parking enforcement officer, investigator, or police officer may issue a ticket or notice of violation, or file a complaint against you. A case may also be initiated following a citizen or community complaint.
If you receive a ticket, complaint or notice of violation marked Court Appearance Required, you or your representative must be present on the date and time specified. If your appearance is not required, you have the option to pay the fine prior to the hearing date without incurring any further penalties. By doing so, you are forfeiting your right to a hearing and pleading liable.
If you wish to contest a violation and your appearance is not required, you may send in a written plea disputing the violation by downloading the fillable form (click here) or contact Records at 847.810.3845 within 14 days of receipt to make an appointment to appear before the Hearing Officer in person.
WHO MUST APPEAR
You may represent yourself, hire an attorney to represent you at your own expense, or in some instances, have an authorized representative attend the hearing on your behalf.
A continuance is not allowed unless the Administrative Hearing Officer finds good cause. Lack of preparation is not considered good cause. If you or your representative fail to appear for the scheduled hearing, you are in default and the Administrative Hearing Officer will conduct the hearing in your absence. You will still be subject to any fines or penalties. If you are in default due to illness or emergency, you will have 21 days to request a new hearing.
THE HEARING PROCESS
When the Administrative Hearing Officer enters the hearing room, he or she will make an opening statement identifying themselves, their role, and the expectation of a hearing. The hearing will begin, and both sides will be given an opportunity to present testimony and evidence. All live testimony is given under oath and may be recorded. The notice of violation written against you may be enough evidence to prove or disprove the City's case. By law, the City representative who issued the notice of violation does not normally have to appear at the hearing.
You have the right to tell the Administrative Hearing Officer your side of the story. This includes using witnesses and physical evidence such as bills, receipts or photos. Your presentation must deal specifically with the violation, and documents presented may be retained as evidence. There are no public defenders and no right to a jury in these administrative hearings.
After both sides have been heard, the Administrative Hearing Officer will make a determination based on the evidence presented. If you are found liable, fines, penalties and costs may be imposed according to the guidelines set forth in the City Code. The Administrative Hearing Officer's decision will be in the form of a written document you will receive at the end of your hearing. If you disagree with the Officer's decision, you have the right to appeal to the Circuit Court of Lake County, Illinois.
This information merely summarizes procedures. Regulations, together with the Lake Forest City Code, Chapter 11, control the conduct of hearings.
For more information please contact the Code Enforcement Administrator at the Public Safety Building 847.810.3845.