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Posted On: August 31, 2008 by Peter M. LaSorsa

Federal-Court Injunction Regarding the Illinois Department of Human Rights

Since 2001 the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR")has been under a federal-court injunction that among other things orders the IDHR to "cease permanently from relying on credibility determinations made without affording the rights of confrontation and cross-examination."

Previously, the IDHR would make a finding of lack of substantial evidence based on its' investigation which would include interviewing witnesses during the fact finding conference or interviewing witnesses via telephone. The complainant and their attorney were not allowed to cross examine the witnesses during the fact finding conference and were not even allowed to participate when the investigator interviewed witnesses on the telephone.

In 2001 the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Cooper v. Salazar, addressed the issue of lack of the ability of complainant to cross examine witnesses and ordered the IDHR to not make credibility of witness determinations. In short, if there is conflicting evidence, the investigator for the IDHR must find substaintial evidence and allow the case to move forward to the Human Rights Commission for trial or with the local circuit court for trial.

Conflicting evidence exists when:

  • Statements of a person with material first hand knowledge contradicted by statements of a different person with material first hand knowledge;
  • Business records contradicted by oral statements of a person with material first hand knowledge;
  • Business records of one person contradicted by business records of another person.

It is important to make sure as the complainant or as an attorney representing complainant that you establish conflicting evidence.

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