The Law Offices of J. D. Obenberger and Associates are pleased to announce the complete victory they obtained today (December 9, 2015) at the Waukegan Courthouse for Dr. Seth Ghantous, whose application for a CCL had been denied by the Illinois Concealed Carry License Review Board by a 4-2 vote on April 14, 2014. Judge Margaret Mullen determined that the Board’s denial had been “against the manifest weight of the evidence”, she reversed the Board’s denial, and she ordered the defendants to issued Dr. Ghantous a firearm concealed carry license. Those defendants are the ICCLRB [the Board), its members, the Illinois State Police, its Director, Jessica Trame as Bureau Chef of Firearm Services, and some John Does who were never specified. We extend our most hearty congratulations to Dr. Ghantous – and to all of the Illinois appicants on behalf of whom he has been fighting. We especially thank him for his confidence and trust during the long battles of the past 18 months.
We brought suit on May 19, 2014 in case 14 MR 0802 filed in the Circuit Court of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit and the case was heard in the Lake County Courthouse. He prevailed in an Illinois state law proceeding under the Illinois Administrative Review Law on the merits, that is, on a determination of the facts of his application, and the court’s necessary inference that the Board had reached a conclusion against him without a basis in law and fact.
The Lake County lawsuit contained an “England Reservation” by which we reserved the resolution of all of his federal constitutional issues to the United States District Court, and pressed only the factual, state administrative law issues in state court.
On May 14, 2014, we also filed a complaint in federal court – in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois – on behalf of Dr. Ghantous, under case number 14-cv-03544, which was assigned to Judge Leinenwebber, a case based on the Civil Rights Act, and alleging numerous violations of his civil rights in the denial. Ultimately Judge Leinenwebber dismissed that suit for reasons that we disagree with, and so we filed an appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, case number 15-2931, on September 9, 2015. The 7th Circuit was advised that there was a pending state lawsuit that could possibly resolve the issues by granting Dr. Ghantous an order directing the issuance of his CCL, and so the 7th Circuit stayed procedings to await word from Waukegan that could make their work unnecessary.
The defendants have 30 days to file a notice of appeal. Should they do so, we will seek an order providing Dr. Ghantous with CCL privileges pending appeal, and we will urge the 7th Circuit to lift its stay so that we can proceed to challenge anew the many abuses inflicted upon applicants in violation of their constitutional rights, including not only the vague standard permitted for denials, the denial of a fundamental right on a mere preponderance of evidence, and an Illinois statute that appears to prevent any applicant from inspecting the evidence against him while his application and objection are pending before the Board.
We do not have any information suggesting that any other Illinois Circuit Judge has outright reversed the Concealed Carry Board’s decision on the merits before today’s decision, though we know of many decisions to remand denials to the Board for reconsideration, and we have prevailed for several of our clients in that manner before. In one prior case, the Board decided to reverse itself without a remand, and without our request, at precisely the time a federal judge denied our client a motion to reconsider. Thus, he got the license without an order of court, without a remand, simply because we had convinced them that they had made an outrageous mistake. He apparently had been arrested of an incident in which he was released after arrest without charges because the prosecutor had concluded that he committed no crime. We secured a CCL for another client because, as age 18 he had been arrested for a notorious crime, but had been released hours later without charges because the actual perpetator had been identified by the victim. We would be delighted to learn whether other Illinois judges have previously ordered outright reversals of the ILLRB that had the effect of ordering the Board to grant a license to an applicant without any remand.
Our office continues to fight for the civil rights of CCL applicants in several cases now pending in federal court in Chicago and in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Every case in unique to its facts. Nothing contained in this release should be taken to advertise or to offer legal representation, and surely should not be taken as any kind of guarantee or solicitation. It is offered for the exclusive purpose of informing a portion of the Illinois firearms community as to important news.