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Illinois Supreme Court

The Illinois Supreme Court announced today the adoption of several rule changes designed to bring attorney ethics rules up to date with advances in technology and developments in global legal practices.

During its September Term, the Court approved amendments to the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct and Supreme Court Rules 705 and 716. The Supreme Court Rules Committee recommended the changes to the Court after reviewing the proposals and holding a public hearing on July 22, 2015, in Chicago.

All of the rule changes take effect January 1, 2016.

Joseph R. Tybor
Joseph R. Tybor
Joseph Tybor, the longtime Chicago journalist and press secretary for the Illinois Supreme Court, died Saturday at his home in Countryside. He was 68.

Tybor’s 30-year journalism career included comprehensive coverage of a broad array of subjects, including the Vietnam War, Notre Dame football and his must-read “On the Law” column that ran weekly in the Chicago Tribune.

For the past decade and a half he was a diligent advocate for the Illinois Supreme Court and spearheaded key changes to the Open Meetings Act, which allowed cameras into Illinois courtrooms for the first time.

"My colleagues and I are deeply saddened by Joe’s passing. He was truly dedicated to his role as the voice of the Illinois Supreme Court, and we watched in awe as he continued to carry out his duties even as he fought his illness," Chief Justice Rita B. Garman said. "He was an example to us all of courage and strength. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, in which he took such great pride. We will miss his professionalism, his optimism, and his cheerful demeanor."

“His relationships with reporters and his love and passion for the law made him such an absolute great fit at the Supreme Court,” Tybor’s son, Adam Tybor, said. “He was amazing at his job - he fought for his beliefs."

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil case Nelson v. Artley and the criminal case People v. Stapinski.

CIVIL

Nelson v. Artley

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

The liability of a rental car company who obtains a certificate of self-insurance from the Secretary of State is limited to the same minimum coverage provisions applicable to rental car companies who meet their financial responsibility obligations through purchasing an insurance policy. 

Mr. Nelson was injured by an Enterprise rental car driven by Mr. Artley, who was uninsured. Nelson sued Artley, resulting in a default judgment of $600,000.  Nelson brought a supplementary action against Enterprise.

Enterprise asserted various affirmative defenses, the most pertinent dealing with its financial exposure.  Enterprise argued that because it was self-insured, its total financial responsibility per occurrence was $100,000 (the statutory minimum coverage requirements for insurance).  Because $75,000 already had been paid or allotted to other claims arising out of the same incident, the circuit court issued a turnover order of $25,000 to Nelson. 

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke announced today an application process for a vacancy in the 13th Judicial Subcircuit of Cook County.

The vacancy will be created by the retirement of Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas P. Fecarotta Jr., who served as a judge since 1998. His retirement took effect September 30, 2015.

A review of Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the criminal cases In re Q.P., People v. Fiveash and People v. Goossens.

CRIMINAL

In re Q.P.

By Kerry J. Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender

An officer responded to a call of a vehicle burglary in progress. Upon arriving, he located the minor, Q.P., who matched the description of the burglar. The officer handcuffed the minor and put him in the back of the squad car. The minor gave a false name and date of birth. Upon discovery that the information was false, the minor admitted to the officer that he was attempting to prevent the police from discovering that he had an outstanding warrant.

The minor was charged with, and convicted of, obstructing justice based upon giving false information to the police with the intent to prevent his apprehension. The Supreme Court was called upon to determine the meaning of “apprehension.” The minor argued that he was already apprehended because he was in police custody at the time he provided the false information. The State argued that apprehension is specific to each criminal charge and thus, while the minor had been apprehended for the suspected vehicle burglary, he had not yet been apprehended on the outstanding warrant.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Stevens v. McGuireWoods, LLP,  Lake Environmental Inc. v. Arnold, Seymour v. Collins, The Village of Vernon Hills v. Heelan and O’Toole  v. The Chicago Zoological Society.

CIVIL

Stevens v. McGuireWoods L.L.P.

By Michael T. Reagan, Law Offices of Michael T. Reagan

The court’s unanimous opinion in Stevens v. McGuireWoods, LLP, is grounded on the established points that legal malpractice plaintiffs must be able to establish actual monetary loss as damages, that such a plaintiff cannot be in a better position by bringing suit against the attorney than if the underlying action had been prosecuted successfully, and that damages obtainable in a corporate derivative action belong to the corporation, and not to plaintiff shareholders. 

The plaintiffs here are former minority shareholders in an LLC.  They had retained the defendant law firm to bring claims against managers of the LLC as well as its majority shareholder.  Those claims were brought in both individual and derivative capacities.  Substituted counsel brought additional claims against the LLC’s corporate counsel.  Those claims were dismissed for various reasons, including standing and statutes of limitations and repose.  The plaintiff shareholders settled the underlying case, and relinquished all ownership interest in the LLC.

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on September 21, 2015, during the September Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law. 

DISBARRED

  • Charisse Angela Bruno, Buffalo Grove

Ms. Bruno, who was licensed in 1983, was disbarred. After she was suspended from the practice of law for professional misconduct, she continued to represent a client in a divorce matter and then failed to cooperate with the ARDC investigation into her post-suspension activities.

  • Marguerite Elise Dixon-Roper, Chicago

Ms. Dixon-Roper, who was licensed in 1992, was disbarred on consent. As part of a scheme with others, she purchased and refinanced several real properties as a nominee buyer. In the course of purchasing those properties, she knowingly submitted loan applications containing materially false information regarding her qualifications for the loans. She later pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of mail fraud. 

  • Theodore Levy Freedman, Pine Planes, N.Y.

Mr. Freedman, who was licensed in Illinois is 1976 and in New York in 1992, was disbarred in New York following a felony conviction of four counts of subscribing to false United States income tax returns. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him. 

Michael J. Tardy, Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced Thursday that the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Ronald A. Barch as an associate judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit.

Mr. Barch received his undergraduate degree in 1986 from Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois, and his Juris Doctor in 1992 from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Barch is currently affiliated with Cicero, France, Barch & Alexander PC in Rockford, IL.

Amendment to Supreme Court Rule 39 takes effect Sept. 1, 2015

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced a rule change that will allow associate judge applicants to submit their documents electronically.

The change does not require applicants to electronically submit their applications and supporting documents. The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) will continue to accept paper copies of applications.

“Allowing electronic applications for those seeking associate judgeships is the latest step in the Court’s continuing effort to utilize technology to make the entire judicial process more efficient and accessible," Chief Justice Rita B. Garman said.

"Recent applicants for vacant judgeships have told us that the current paper-based application system is cumbersome and costly, and this amendment to Rule 39 is responsive to their input. In addition, the electronic application process will benefit not only those individuals who apply for associate judgeships, but also the judges who review the applications.”

Prior to the amendment, those seeking to apply for appointment to an associate judge vacancy in Illinois had to go the Supreme Court's website, download a 16-page PDF application, fill in the blanks, sign it, print it and then mail or hand-deliver two signed, original applications to the AOIC.

Starting on Sept. 1, applicants will be able to electronically sign their applications and securely email them to the AOIC.

"By allowing an application to be electronically completed and emailed to the Administrative Office, it will streamline and improve the process for applicants; and in turn will greatly reduce the amount of paper used," AOIC Director Michael J. Tardy said.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman and the Illinois Supreme Court have announced the appointment of Appellate Court Justice Mary K. Rochford as the new Chair of the Commission on Access to Justice.

Justice Rochford's appointment took effect July 6 and will terminate on June 15, 2017. She replaces Bloomington attorney Timothy W. Kelly, who resigned as Chair on July 6. Mr. Kelly will continue to serve on the Commission as a member.