House Bill 6083 and House Bill 4715, commonly referred to as Molly’s Law, were signed into law on July 19, 2016. They were named after Molly Young, a 21 year old woman who died in 2012 from a gunshot wound to the head. The incident took place in the apartment of her former boyfriend, Richie Minton. Several questions remain about Molly’s death, including whether she was murdered or committed suicide.
Due to the mystery surrounding Molly’s death, Larry Young, Molly’s father, tried to obtain more information through a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request. This request took a long time to process. By the time Larry tried to file a wrongful death action against Richie Minton, the 2 year statute of limitations had run and the case was dismissed by a Jackson County Circuit Judge.
Molly’s Law makes changes to the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. The changes will now allow a person to file a suit within 5 years after the date of the death, if the death is the result of violent intentional conduct. The changes also allow suits to be filed within one year after the final disposition of a criminal case if the defendant is charged with either first degree murder, intentional homicide of an unborn child, voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, reckless homicide of an unborn child, or drug-induced homicide. The extension of the statute of limitations applies only against the individual who allegedly committed a violent intentional act or was the defendant charged with a crime. It does not extend the statute of limitations against any other person or entity.
Molly’s Law also makes changes to FOIA. The changes increase the fines for public bodies for failing to release information. Courts will now be able to impose additional penalties of up to $1,000 for each day the violations continue if the public body fails to comply with the court’s order after 30 days, the court’s order is not on appeal or stayed, and the court does not grant the public body additional time to comply with the court’s order to disclose public records.
While Molly’s Law does not retroactively affect cases, meaning Larry will not be able to refile his case, he wanted to get these changes passed in order to prevent others from having to go through what he went through.
Photo credit: Sebastian Wiertz via flickr