Case Details


Control Of Litigation, Representation Of State Agencies

Filing State



Illinois Appellate Court




Shaw v. Department of Employment Security, 2013 IL App (1st) 122676 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Div. 2013).


Attorney General did not have standing to appeal on behalf of a state agency that denied benefits to a former employee of a city transit agency, because the state agency was not a party to the original suit.

Case Description

An employee of a local transit authority was terminated and applied for unemployment benefits. He was initially denied benefits by the Board of Review of the Illinois Department of Employment Security and after exhausting his administrative appeals, he filed an appeal in Cook County Circuit Court. The state agency that had denied his benefits appeared in that proceeding, but the former employer did not. The court reversed the decision of the Board and awarded benefits. The state agencies, represented by the Attorney General, appealed. The appellate court asked the parties to brief the issue of standing where only the agency, and not the losing party in interest (the former employer), appealed. The Attorney General argued that the State has an ongoing, cognizable interest in the execution and enforcement of its laws, and the Attorney General has been given the constitutional authority to conduct the legal affairs of the State to vindicate that interest. The court disagreed, holding that the state parties have executed their duty under the law by conducting a hearing and determining the propriety of granting or denying unemployment benefits. The state was the judge of the dispute, which was between employer and employee. The Attorney General next argued that the State has an interest in the “correct interpretation ad application” of the relevant statute. The court also disagreed that the state has an interest in the correct interpretation and application of state statutes, noting that that Attorney General cannot become a party to any private litigation “to advocate that an issue be resolved in a particular manner.” Finally, the court reiterated that the legislature cannot diminish the Attorney General’s common law powers, but held that Illinois cases do not allow the Attorney General to “litigate private cases at will, but only stand for the proposition that state officials and agencies must be represented by the elected Attorney General.”