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Illinois Supreme Court

Hon. S. Gene Schwarm
Hon. S. Gene Schwarm
The Illinois Supreme Court announced Thursday the appointment of Chief Circuit Judge S. Gene Schwarm to the Appellate Court in the Fifth Judicial District. Chief Judge Schwarm will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Appellate Justice James M. Wexstten, effective January 29, 2014.

The appointment is effective April 1, 2014 and will expire December 5, 2016, when the position will be filled by the winner of the 2016 General Election

“I am honored to be selected to fill the vacancy in the Fifth District Appellate Court," Chief Judge Schwarm said. "My humble thanks go to Justice Lloyd Karmeier and the Supreme Court for giving me this opportunity.

"I am especially pleased to follow retiring Justice Jim Wexstten, an outstanding jurist and colleague."

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced the creation of a Civil Justice Division within the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC), charged with supporting the Court’s multi-dimensional initiatives to improve access to justice throughout the state. In addition, Chief Justice Rita B. Garman has named Timothy W. Kelly of Bloomington as the next chairman of the Access to Justice Commission.

In 2012, the Court established an Access to Justice Commission to “promote, facilitate, and enhance equal access to justice with an emphasis on access to the Illinois civil courts and administrative agencies for all people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.”

The Commission, made up of dedicated volunteers, has made great strides in improving access for non-native English speakers and in standardizing various forms and procedures, making them more user-friendly for pro se litigants.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Friday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Bartlow v. Costigan and Evanston Insurance Company v. Riseborough and the criminal cases People v. Cregan and People v. Tousignant.

CIVIL

Bartlow v. Costigan

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

The Employee Classification Act (820 ILCS 185/1) was enacted to “address the practice of misclassifying employees as independent contractors” in the construction industry.  The Act broadly defines “performing services” for a construction contractor, and then states that an individual performing such services is “deemed to be an employee of the employer.” 

Remaining 10th Circuit counties will join in 60 days

The Illinois Supreme Court announced on Friday that news cameras and microphones will be allowed in trial courtrooms in Peoria County in the 10th Judicial Circuit. Peoria County becomes the 36th county in Illinois to participate in the pilot project allowing cameras in trial courtrooms.

Under Local Rule 15, the remaining four counties in the Circuit will also join the pilot project in 60 days, bringing the grand total of participating counties in Illinois to 40 and the total number of participating circuits to 14. The 10th Judicial Circuit consists of Marshall, Peoria, Putnam, Stark and Tazewell counties in central Illinois.

People v. Bailey

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

In a unanimous decision, the Court reviewed the revestment doctrine. Since its first application in a criminal case in 1983 (in People v. Kaeding, 98 Ill. 2d 237), the revestment doctrine has always provided that a circuit court may be revested with jurisdiction over an untimely post-judgment motion where there is (1) active participation by the parties, (2) without objection, (3) in proceedings inconsistent with the merits of the earlier judgment. At issue was the meaning of the last element, "proceedings inconsistent with the merits of the earlier judgment." The Court clarified that the last element is met only in those circumstances where both parties assert positions that support setting aside at least part of the judgment. A failure to object on the basis of timeliness is not sufficient to revest the court with jurisdiction, rejecting the position asserted by the defendant.

The Court also clarified that the appropriate result in the case of improper revestment is not for the appellate court to dismiss the appeal. Rather, the appellate court should vacate the trial court's order addressing the merits of an untimely motion and should order that the untimely motion be dismissed.

This opinion confirms that the revestment doctrine is very narrow and will only apply in situations where both parties agree that there should be some modification to the final judgment. Thus, no party should rely on its ability to invoke the revestment doctrine and revest court with jurisdiction over an untimely pleading.

The Illinois Supreme Court issued amended Rule 313 on Monday, doubling filing fees in appellate cases. The fee for appellants and petitioners will be $50 and the fee for all other parties will be $30. The rule change takes effect on Jan. 1, 2015. Read the full text at Rule 313.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Friday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil case Gillespie Community Unit School District No. 7 v. Wight & Co. and the criminal cases People v. Elliott, People v. Hommerson and People v. McChriston.

CIVIL

Gillespie Community Unit School District No. 7 v. Wight & Co.

By Karen Kies DeGrand, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC

The Illinois Supreme Court applied a five-year statute of limitations to bar a school district’s lawsuit alleging that an architect’s misrepresentations resulted in the district’s decision to build an elementary school that was condemned less than seven years after it was built. A history of coal mining activity in the Benld/Gillespie area of the state prompted the plaintiff, Gillespie Community Unit School District No. 7, to contract with  defendant, Wight & Company, to perform, among other architectural services, a “site mine investigation” before determining to go forward with the project. Based on the analysis provided regarding the risk of mine “subsidence,” that is, collapse, the school district went ahead at the site selected. Unfortunately, in March, 2009, a coal mine subsided beneath the new building, which was severely damaged.

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on January 17, 2014, during the January Term of Court (unless noted). Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

DISBARRED

  • Lonnie L. Lutz, Charleston

Mr. Lutz, who was licensed to practice in 1977, was disbarred on consent. He committed a criminal act, battery, when he inappropriately touched three different female clients when he was serving as their assigned public defender.

  • Gary Evan Peel, Glen Carbon

Mr. Peel, who was licensed in 1968, was disbarred after a federal conviction for bankruptcy fraud and possession of child pornography. He was suspended on an interim basis on January 11, 2008.

SUSPENDED

  • Jeremy Scott Brenman, Merrillville, Ind.

Mr. Brenman, who was licensed in 1997, was suspended for three years and until further order of the Court. He committed the criminal acts of domestic battery, driving under the influence, failing to stop at an accident scene, unlawful possession of firearms, harassment, intimidation, criminal trespass, invasion of privacy and battery. Further, he failed to notify the ARDC of criminal convictions in California and Indiana and then failed to cooperate with the ARDC investigation into his misconduct.

The Illinois Supreme Court is expected to release opinions in the following six cases on Friday, Jan. 24. Quick Takes on each case will be published in Monday's E-Clips due to ISBA network downtime.

  • No. 115308 - People State of Illinois, appellant, v. David K. Elliott, appellee. Appeal, Appellate Court, Fifth District.
  • No. 115310 - People State of Illinois, appellee, v. Billy McChriston, appellant. Appeal, Appellate Court, Fourth District.
  • No. 115330 - Gillespie Community Unit School District No. 7, etc., appellant, v. Wight & Company, etc., appellee. Appeal, Appellate Court, Fourth District.
  • No. 115424 - In re S.L., a Minor (People State of Illinois, appellant, v. Julia F., appellee). Appeal, Appellate Court, Fifth District.
  • No. 115459 - People State of Illinois, appellee, v. Christopher B. Bailey, appellant. Appeal, Appellate Court, Second District.
  • No. 115638 - People State of Illinois, appellee, v. Peter Hommerson, appellant. Appeal, Appellate Court, Second District.

The Illinois Supreme Court has issued Amended Rules 15 and 138 regarding confidential information within court filings. Among other changes, the amendments delay the effective date of key personal identity provisions in Rule 138 one year to January 1, 2015. The full text of the Amended Rules is available at www.state.il.us/court/supremecourt/rules/Amend/2013/122413.pdf