Story Summary

E2 Nightclub case

Chicago attorneys go before the Illinois Supreme Court in the case of a deadly nightclub stampede.

They want the state’s high court to uphold charges against the owners of the E2 Nightclub.

Twenty-one people died there in 2003, after pepper spray was used to break up a fight.

A jury found co-owners Calvin Hollins and Dwain Kyles guilty of indirect criminal contempt, for ignoring a city housing court order to close the club.

But, an appellate court overturned the conviction.

 

 

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The owners of the E-2 Nightclub could face jail time after all.

The Illinois supreme court overturned a ruling that dismissed guilty verdicts against the owners.

A stampede killed 21 people at the club on South Michigan Ave in 2003.

Owners Dwain Kyles and Calvin Hollins Jr were convicted of indirect criminal contempt for disobeying a court order to close the second floor, and sentenced to two years in prison.

An appeals court threw out the convictions.

Now the high court has reversed that ruling and sent the case back to the appeals court.

Raw file footage from 2003 of the scene after a stampede at the E2 nightclub in Chicago killed 21 people. (WGN-TV)

Next month will mark 10 years since the E2 nightclub tragedy.  The building on 23rd and S. Michigan which housed that club has been vacant since that day.

Suzanne Weaver who owns the gallery next door says for the first five years people would turn up with tributes and memorials but she hasn’t seen anyone stop by for at least the last few years.

The area has been showing some growth potential but investors haven’t been willing to take on the project with a sale price of $2.4 million.

Weaver says, “I think enough time has gone by that something can replace the old club.  It will offer some rejuvenation for the whole area.”

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.

Chicago attorneys will go before the Illinois Supreme Court Wednesday in the case of a deadly nightclub stampede.

They want the state’s high court to uphold charges against the owners of the E2 Nightclub.

Twenty-one people died there in 2003, after pepper spray was used to break up a fight.

A jury found co-owners Calvin Hollins and Dwain Kyles guilty of indirect criminal contempt, for ignoring a city housing court order to close the club.

But, an appellate court overturned the conviction.

 

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