Circuit Court: Emanuel is Chicago resident

January 5, 2011 4:21:57 AM PST
Rahm Emanuel's attorneys were all smiles after winning a third victory on the issue of Emanuel's residency Tuesday.

"So far, the hearing examiner, the unanimous Board of Elections and now the circuit court judge have all agreed with the position that we've been advocating all along, which is he has always been a Chicagoan and never surrendered that residency," said Emanuel's attorney Michael Kasper.

In his ruling, Judge Mark Ballard said he found no error with the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners' decision to keep Emanuel on the ballot.

Attorney Burt Odelson, who filed the challenge on behalf of Emanuel objectors, said he would file Wednesday with the appellate court where he expected to do better.

"We couldn't have worse luck," Odelson said. "I think we'll do fine in the appellate court and the Supreme Court."

Before the ruling, Odelson disputed a key contention that Emanuel, even while living in Washington, remained a Chicago resident because he was in service of the country as the president's chief of staff.

Odelson said that exemption in the election code allows people to vote but not to run for office.

"We don't look at these as losses. They're just stepping stones to get to the appellate and Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the court that handed down most of these cases. They're the ones that will have to change the law or interpret their own law, as well as the appellate court," Odelson said.

"Remember, once you get into the Illinois Supreme Court, you've got four people who are not from Cook County. And they may have a rather different viewpoint from those who are from inside of Cook County," said Ann Lousin, a professor at John Marshall Law School.

At a campaign event Tuesday, Emanuel suggested it's time for voters, not lawyers and judges, to have their say.

"I do think now it's up to the voters to let them make a decision. Some will vote yes on my candidacy, and some will vote no, and that will be true for others. But give the voters that chance to have that choice," Emanuel said.

Attorneys on both sides do not expect the case to go to the U.S. Supreme Court because this is clearly a case about Illinois law. The appellate process could take a couple weeks.

If the state's high court chooses to get involved, there could be a ruling by the end of the month since early voting begins January 31.