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Illinois Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, during the January Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.


  • Vito Matteo Evola, Rosemont

Mr. Evola, who was licensed in 1979, was disbarred. He misappropriated over $900,000 in client funds in three separate matters. In addition, he made false statements to a client and to the ARDC during the course of the disciplinary investigation.

  • Michael Lawrence Flynn, La Grange Park

Mr. Flynn, who was licensed in 1990, was disbarred. He misappropriated over $500,000 that belonged to a client or third parties.

  • Dodie Leann Junkert, Clinton

Ms. Junkert, who was licensed in 1998, was disbarred on consent. She pled guilty to the criminal felony offense of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school and was sentenced to four years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

  • Jordan Lee Margolis, Chicago

Mr. Margolis, who was licensed in 1979, was disbarred and ordered to pay certain restitution. He misappropriated $1,034,850 in settlement funds in ten separate matters. In addition, he forged clients’ names in three matters and made misrepresentations to his clients relating to his receipt and distribution of their settlement funds. He was suspended on an interim basis on November 27, 2013.

The Illinois Supreme Court announced Wednesday the appointment of Alexander County State's Attorney Jeffery Blaine Farris as resident Circuit Judge in the First Judicial Circuit. He was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Stephen Spomer on November 30, 2014.

Mr. Farris' appointment is effective January 16, 2015 and will terminate December 5, 2016 when the position will be filled by the 2016 General Election.

The Illinois Supreme Court has reassigned Cook County Circuit Judges Cynthia Y. Cobbs and Stuart E. Palmer to the First District Appellate Court. Both assignments are effective Jan. 7, 2015 with Palmer's term expiring Dec. 5, 2016. Cobbs' assignment is effective until further order of the court.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil case Bettis v. Marsaglia and the criminal cases People v. Belknap and People v. Stevens.


Bettis v. Marsaglia

By Karen Kies DeGrand, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC

Interpreting a provision of the Election Code and resolving a split among appellate districts, the Illinois Supreme Court found that a petitioner seeking judicial review of an electoral board’s denial of a request to submit a public question for referendum satisfied the statutory service requirement. The Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/10-10.1(a) (West 2012), provides that a candidate or objector seeking judicial review of an electoral board’s decision must serve a copy of the petition upon the electoral board. The petitioner, Carolyn Bettis, wished to challenge a resolution of the Macoupin, Montgomery and Sangamon counties’ school district to issue working cash bonds in the amount of $2,000,000. Bettis petitioned the local election board to place the issue on the ballot for an April 9, 2013 election. When the board sustained the objections of two individuals to Bettis’ request, she sought judicial review and served a petition on all of the members of the electoral board at their homes, but did not serve the board as a separate entity.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman of the Illinois Supreme Court and Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans of Cook County Circuit Court announced Tuesday that media cameras soon will be allowed in some Cook County criminal courtrooms.

Chief Justice Garman said that the Supreme Court has given its approval for the Cook County Circuit  Court to become part of a pilot program already being implemented in 40 other counties in Illinois.

Effective Monday, January 5, 2015, the media will be allowed to video and audio record proceedings at the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building at 26th Street and California Avenue in Chicago in accordance with procedures contained in the Illinois Supreme Court Policy on Extended Media Coverage and a new local Circuit Court rule promulgated by Chief Judge Evans.

“The opening of Cook County criminal courtrooms to media cameras is a significant and very welcome step in our efforts to bring greater transparency to the judicial process, while protecting the rights of the accused, witnesses, and jurors," Chief Justice Garman said. "The experience with media coverage in other judicial circuits has been overwhelmingly positive, and it is time to extend the pilot program to the most populous county in the state.

For the first time in nearly 60 years, filing fees for reviewing courts in Illinois will increase effective January 1, 2015.

On August 12, 2013, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law Public Act 98-0324. Under the new law, fees collected by the Clerks of the Supreme and Appellate Courts will be set by Supreme Court Rule, rather than by statute.

In addition, rather than transferring the funds collected into the General Revenue Fund, these fees will be deposited into the newly-created “Supreme Court Special Purposes Fund.” The new fund will be used to support the Supreme Court’s commitment to e-business initiatives, including the streamlining and upgrading of the case management system in the courts of review.

As authorized by the new law, the Supreme Court has amended Rule 313 to provide that, unless excused by law, petitioners and appellants filing cases in the Supreme and Appellate Courts will pay a filing fee of $50 instead of $25. Respondents and appellees will see filing fees increase from $15 to $30.

The Supreme Court Clerk also collects fees for producing official certificates with seals, issuing new law licenses, and performing registration and renewal of registrations for businesses formed for the practice of law. Both the Supreme Court Clerk and the Appellate Court Clerks charge fees for copying of documents, opinions, and orders, although the availability of many such documents at has eliminated much of the demand for copying services. These fees have not been increased.

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced that the Hon. Paul M. Fullerton, Associate Judge of the 18th Circuit, has been appointed Circuit Judge at Large for the 18th Circuit, DuPage County.

This vacancy was created by the retirement of the Hon. Rodney Equi. It is effective Jan. 2, 2015 and terminates on Dec. 5, 2016.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman of the Supreme Court of Illinois has begun an application process for an at-large Circuit Court vacancy in the Seventh Judicial Circuit.

The vacancy is created by the retirement of Judge Patrick J. Londrigan on December 8, 2014. Judge Londrigan has been a Circuit Judge in the Seventh Circuit since 2004.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil case Michael v. Precision Alliance Group, LLC and the criminal cases People v. Jolly and People v. Simth.


Michael v. Precision Alliance Group, LLC

By Karen Kies DeGrand, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC

Reversing an appellate decision entering judgment for plaintiffs in a retaliatory discharge case, the Illinois Supreme Court reinstated a judgment entered for an employer after a bench trial. The case turned on the legal standard that governs an employee’s burden of proving causation in a retaliatory discharge lawsuit. Illinois recognizes such a claim as a narrow exception to the general rule that an employer may terminate an “at-will” employee at any time, for any reason. The plaintiff in such cases must prove that the employer discharged the employee in retaliation for the employee’s activities and that the discharge violates public policy, such as when an employer fires an employee for asserting a workers’ compensation claim or for “whistleblowing,” reporting illegal or proper conduct. 

In this case, the employees contended that they were fired for whistle blowing  concerning weight labeling violations investigated by the Department of Agriculture. The employer, an agricultural supply company selling soybean seeds, convinced the trier of fact that the company fired the plaintiffs for nonpretextual reasons; one was discharged for engaging in horseplay with a forklift and two others were terminated in connection with a reduction in force. 

On Nov. 21, the Illinois Supreme Court amended its Rule 138 privacy provisions to remove a ban on publication of minors' names in civil cases. The ban, which would have taken effect January 1 if not for the amendment, was opposed by the ISBA and its Family Law Section Council. The ISBA testified against the ban at a public hearing of the Supreme Court Rules Committee in 2013.

Before Friday's amendments, Rule 138 was set to prohibit inclusion of "birth dates" and "names of individuals known to be minors" in court documents and exhibits. It would have allowed only minors' initials and birth years to appear.

Critics' principal objection to the ban was that it "conflict[ed] with other statutes that, for example, require a child's name and birth date to be included in unified orders of child support and joint parenting agreements," wrote Adam Lasker in the November 2013 Illinois Bar Journal. (Also see Janan Hanna's article in the February 2014 IBJ for more about the ban and critics' concerns.)