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Illinois Supreme Court sides with city in E2 nightclub stampede case

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Updated: May 6, 2013 6:16AM

SPRINGFIELD — The state’s highest court Thursday reversed an appellate court’s ruling that would have cleared two owners of the South Side’s former E2 nightclub of indirect criminal contempt charges brought on by a 2003 stampede to exit the club that left 21 dead.

In a 7-0 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned a state appellate court’s ruling that tossed the convictions of club owners Calvin Hollins and Dwain Kyles, along with their two-year prison sentences.

While the Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t explicitly say the convictions and sentencings are reinstated, an attorney for one of the club’s owners said that’s the practical effect.

And as the Supreme Court’s decision lays out, the case will be returned to the state appellate court for further review.

Back in 2011, the appellate court had reversed a Cook County Housing Court’s ruling, arguing the lower court’s order to close the club’s second floor in 2002 had been ambiguous. In Thursday’s Supreme Court opinion the court disagreed with the appellate court’s ruling and found that the original court order to forbid occupancy of the second-floor club at 2347 S. Michigan was clear. “Even if the orders could be viewed as forbidding only use of the mezzanine, the defendants had not complied even with this requirement,” the opinion stated.

“Had the appellate court considered the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury’s verdict, it would have concluded that [Hollins and Kyles] were proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of indirect criminal contempt because a rational jury could have found that they were fully aware of what the building court’s orders prohibited and willfully disobeyed the orders,” the opinion concluded.

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