Chicago attorneys went before the Illinois Supreme Court Wednesday in the case of a deadly nightclub stampede. And history was made as WGN broadcast the first Supreme Court case live on wgntv.com and our sister station CLTV.
At issue, the City of Chicago is asking the high court to vacate the appellate court decision against E2 nightclub owners Calvin Hollins and Dwain Kyles, reinstating their criminal contempt convictions.
The case all boils down to language. Appellate Court justices reversed the criminal contempt conviction in 2011, saying the language in a court order regarding building safety prior to the 2003 tragedy was ambiguous.
In 2002, a Cook County Circuit Judge issued a mandatory order to E2 saying it cannot occupy the 2nd floor. The building E2 operated in included a restaurant on the first floor, a night club on the second and a VIP area above that. A three judge appellate panel determined the circuit judge needed to be more specific and include the words not to occupy the second floor “of the building” or “of the nightclub.”
The city argued Wednesday that the order was never ambiguous, the operators never asked for clarification and no portion of the building was shut down as it should have been on the night 21 people died in the stampede.
The defendants, Kyles and Hollins, were in court for the proceedings Wednesday but would not speak to WGN afterwards as instructed by their attorneys.
It will be weeks to several months before the Supreme Court makes its decision and could send the case back to the appellate court for review.