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Illinois Supreme Court

ISBA President Richard D. Felice (left) delivered remarks at the 1st District Admission Ceremony in Chicago and is pictured with (from left) new admittee Kevin Fritz, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman and Illinois Appellate Justice Cynthia Cobbs.
ISBA President Richard D. Felice (left) delivered remarks at the 1st District Admission Ceremony in Chicago and is pictured with (from left) new admittee Kevin Fritz, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman and Illinois Appellate Justice Cynthia Cobbs.
Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court administered the attorney’s oath to 600 new attorneys on Thursday, May 7 at five separate locations across the state.

The largest group, 403, were admitted in the First Judicial District during three ceremonies at the James R. Thompson Center Assembly Hall, 100 W. Randolph St. in Chicago. The ceremonies were held at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Justice Anne M. Burke presided over the 9 a.m. ceremony in the First District. Guests of the morning ceremony included Thomas A. Clancy, of the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar; Celestia L. Mays, president of the Cook County Bar Association; and Anita DeCarlo, president of the Justinian Society who moved for admission of the class.

Justice Charles Freeman and Appellate Justice Cynthia Cobbs presided over the 11:30 a.m. ceremony. Guests of the second First District ceremony included: Sheila B. Kennedy, of the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar; Illinois State Bar Association President Richard D. Felice; and John Litchfield, president of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association.

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita B. Garman knows the important role legal aid services and pro bono work plays in ensuring equal access to the justice system.

Not only has she seen the need for these services in the courtroom as a longtime judge, but Chief Justice Garman told attendants of Prairie State Legal Services' annual Pro Bono Recognition luncheon earlier this month that she understands the need from their perspective too.

The Chief Justice's first job out of law school in 1968 was making $90 a week as a legal aid attorney in Vermilion County.

"Legal aid formed who I am today," Chief Justice Garman said after delivering the keynote address at the April 16 event in Peoria.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Leetaru v. The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois and Illinois State Treasurer v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and the criminal case People v. Barner

CIVIL

Leetaru v. The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

By Alyssa M. Reiter, Williams, Montgomery & John Ltd.

Issues of sovereign immunity divided the Court in this suit by a doctoral student against the University of Illinois and one of its associate vice chancellors (Guenther). Leetaru filed a circuit court action to enjoin further action in connection with an investigation defendants were pursuing against him regarding allegations that he engaged in academic misconduct. Leetaru contended that defendants violated University rules and regulations in conducting the investigation, exceeded their authority, and deprived him of due process.

The circuit court dismissed the action, finding that the Court of Claims had exclusive jurisdiction. After the appellate court affirmed, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman of the Supreme Court of Illinois has begun an application process for a Circuit Court vacancy in the Eighth Judicial Circuit.

The vacancy is created by the retirement of Judge Scott H. Walden on June 30, 2015. Judge Walden has been a Resident Circuit Judge in the Eight Circuit since 1996.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman and the Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday announced amendments to a rule that will help lawyers properly dispose of unidentified funds in their trust accounts and generate revenue to support legal aid in the process. The changes to Rule 1.15 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, which regulates the safe-keeping of client property, creates a mechanism for lawyers to remove unidentified fund balances from their Interest on Lawyers Trust (IOLTA) Accounts. The amended rule takes effect July 1, 2015. A copy of the changes can be found at http://www.state.il.us/court/SupremeCourt/Rules/Art_VIII/ArtVIII_NEW.htm#1.15.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman, the Illinois Supreme Court and the chief judges of the 24 Circuits in Illinois have announced the distribution of a detailed court user survey designed to measure public perceptions and experiences with the Illinois courts.

The Strategic Planning Committee of the Illinois Judicial Conference, in coordination with the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, developed the survey that will ask court users to give input on their personal experiences with their local court system in all 24 Circuits across the 102 counties in Illinois. It will seek input from all courthouse users including attorneys, visitors, litigants, students, media, and the general public.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Brunton v. Kruger, Cowper v. Nyberg, Skaperdas v. Country Casualty Ins. Co. and Harris v. One Hope United, Inc and provide short summaries for In People ex rel. Madigan v. J. T. Einoder, Inc., McCormick v. Robertson and In re Parentage of Scarlett Z.-D.

CIVIL

Brunton v. Kruger

By Alyssa M. Reiter, Williams, Montgomery & John Ltd.

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on March 12, 2015, during the March Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

DISBARRED

  • Lawrence Joseph Fleming, St. Louis, Mo.

Mr. Fleming was licensed in Missouri in 1967 and in Illinois in 1968. He was disbarred by the Supreme Court of Missouri for failing to timely file appearances, briefs, writs and responses to motions, making misrepresentations to clients and to disciplinary officials, collecting unreasonable fees and failing to deposit funds into a trust account. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

  • Warren Jan Gladders, St. Louis, Mo.

Mr. Gladders, who was licensed in 1977, was disbarred on consent. He pled guilty to federal charges of armed bank robbery. He robbed three different Missouri banks by threatening bank employees with a revolver and demanding money while wearing a scarf and sunglasses over his face. Following his third robbery, he exchanged gunfire with a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer. Mr. Gladders was sentenced to serve 24 years and five months in prison.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman and the Illinois Supreme Court have scheduled a special evening session of oral argument on Tuesday, March 17, and have invited Gov. Bruce Rauner and the entire Illinois legislature to observe the Court in session. It is uncertain when an evening session was last held in the Illinois Supreme Court Building, but it is believed to have been more than a century ago.

The Court will hear oral arguments in a case involving an amendment passed by the legislature to the Illinois Juvenile Court Act. A portion of the amendment was ruled unconstitutional by a Circuit Court and the case is on direct appeal to the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Garman explained that the special evening session is an opportunity for members of the General Assembly to observe first-hand the interaction of the functions of the three branches of government and the operation of the checks and balances essential to our system.

"The case involves an amendment that was debated and passed by the legislature, signed by the Governor, applied by the State in an individual case, challenged by a defendant, and declared unconstitutional by the Circuit Court," said Chief Justice Garman. "It affords a window into how our constitutional system operates and the balance among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches."

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Friday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the criminal cases People v. Almond, People v. Mosley, People v. Boyce and In re the Interest of Jordan G.

People v. Almond

By Jay Wiegman, Office of the State Appellate Defender

Many people mocked Barney Fife for carrying a single bullet in his shirt pocket, but today's decision in People v. Almond, 2015 IL 113817, shows that to have been a wise policy.

Based on an anonymous tip that drugs were being dealt out of a store, police officers approached Almond (who had prior felony convictions), asked him what he was doing there and whether  he was in possession of any narcotics or weapons. The officer testified that the defendant said “I just got  to let you know I got a gun on me.” The defendant was frisked, and the gun was recovered. The defendant filed a motion to quash arrest and suppress  evidence. At a hearing on the motion, Almond denied that he was even asked whether he had contraband and denied he ever told officers that he possessed a firearm, claiming that he would not tell a police officer that  information  because  he knew “it’s wrong to have a gun.” The motion was denied. Following a bench trial, the defendant was convicted on all counts.