Pro Se Chicago's Weblog

August 25, 2015

Sample appeal – Illinois small claims court – landlord steals items

Small claims court can be frustrating when judges look down on pro se plaintiffs and simply rubber stamp everything the defendant’s lawyer states.  This is a sample appeal of such an unjust ruling where the plaintiff lost due to I believe purposeful misconduct of an attorney and a judge. Read the Appellant’s brief here.

Note that appeals are not like trials. The Appellate Court may ONLY consider information on the record on appeal and in the transcripts. YOU CAN NOT ADD new evidence or information. Therefore, at trial in the local court, make a list and make sure you have all your witnesses and evidence or you won’t be able to add it later.  If the judge refuses to hear a witness or allow you to introduce evidence, then ask the judge to “make an offer of proof” (i.e. to have the  person testify or admit the evidence without it being considered just so that it is on the record). If you anticipate this will be a problem, then file the evidence or affidavit instead of as a motion, label it an “offer of proof” and file it in your case attached to this “offer of proof” where you state you are filing this offer of proof and why you are doing so.

The litigants names and case number were changed so they remain anonymous, except for the name of the corrupt landlord’s corporation and the judge.

Remember, in small claims, Illinois Supreme Court Rules 286(b) allows a small claims court to hear and view all relevant evidence, admit evidence with more relaxed rules of procedure and rules of evidence upon order of the court. This means the court may allow affidavits as evidence and not require the presence of a witness and may allow documents to be admitted without strict rules of authentication.

You must follow strictly all appeal rules, so don’t forget to read Illinois Supreme Court Rules for civil appeals and your local court rules also. Illinois Supreme Court Rules are here. If you don’t follow them, your appeal will be rejected.

Note strict rules such as:

  • 1 1/2 inch margin on left
  • requirement of certification page stating you followed the rules as to page limits
  • you use an appendix and not exhibits
  • the appendix must include an index to the record on appeal and the transcripts (if any), that the page number of testimony of specific witnesses must be indexed and that if you did not have a court reporter and made a “bystander’s report” instead that it is also in index, a copy of the order appealed from, and a copy of the notice of appeal
  • notice of filing and service and filing of record on appeal or record of proceedings (transcripts)
  • don’t forget to include your $50 filing fee or a petition for indigency (see Illinois Supreme Court web site and your local appellate court division’s rules)
  • bind the appeal brief securely on the left side (three staples is OK) [UPDATE: As of 2019, in Illinois courts, you must file all documents through the electronic filing system – which you can connect to on the Clerk’s web site for the court for which you are filing the documents]

Note that you can not just make conclusory statements (“They ripped me off”).  You must back up all your statements, documents, testimony with evidence (testimony by witnesses, documents and reference to “authorities”), with case law (where a court has interpreted a law and said this is how the rules or statutes work and what they mean), or back it up with reference to other authorities (statutes, supreme court rule, administrative rules – note statutes are sent to administrative rules committee and then an administrative rule is made – many pro se litigants are not aware of this – see here; there are similar administrative rules in federal law and all state laws).



  1. I am a pro se have 3 pending state appeals appeal in federal court and in bankruptcy court also have case in IDFPR and at FHFA OIG against fannie mae employees Jody Kimbrell

    Comment by — August 25, 2015 @ 1:35 pm

  2. I would frame my complaint under tort laws and forget the political models of chance. Go for procedural due process and the best way to do this is to use the detective work of The City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations and secondly the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Just use their hard work. They are usually biased and you will not see justice. Only a few complaints are let through the state system. The city uses the chancery court which is the model of chance, no deputy and no recorder. Forget it. I like the federal system, but it has been said to me they don’t pay as much as the state does. Well, money isn’t everything. Integrity is really lacking in the state courts. That of course is not to say the federal courts are not full of themselves either, which they are. Evidence is lost often because the minute clerks are overworked, or they hire blind filer. LOL Best idea yet – move out of Chicago.

    Comment by Joan Amelia Conway — August 27, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

  3. The Illinois
    Department of Human Rights is inadequate when it comes to being competent with the evidence under review. Hearings are intentionally bias and you will receive a little slip telling you if you think your hearing is bias you should object and it gives you a list of objections to make. BE SURE TO DO IT. Further, the City of Chicago’s Commission on Human Relations can’t and must not be overlooked for gathering real evidence that you can use to offset the State’s evidential errors. State courts are without procedural due process. You need to get out of them into the federal court system. They are also flawed but it is more of a gentleperson’s court without hard nasty defendants. Only their attorneys show up there in the Seventh Circuit. Good look.

    Comment by Joan Conway — August 31, 2015 @ 5:53 pm

  4. You have prepared a beautiful document. However that will get you attention and it might allow you to pass on minor issues, but if material evidence is required you are bound to lose. Almost everyone loses in this agency because it is procedural due process leading to a settlement. Of course it will be inadequate or insulting for you to consider it.

    I don’t like these court chambers, like Chancery because they are the model of chance, or luck. But you look strong here.

    Comment by Joan Conway — September 21, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

  5. I wanted a print but at the CPL I cannot make one. I usually can make prints of most documents. (?) Rules are rules everywhere. The lower the court the tougher the restraint. Do you feel oppressed or repressed? Civil Conspiracy is your next claim.

    Comment by Joan Amelia Conway — September 24, 2015 @ 3:39 pm

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