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Illinois Supreme Court

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

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Hooker v. The Retirement Board of the Firemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, American Access Casualty Co. v. Reyes, and The Venture-Newberg-Perini, Stone & Webster v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and the criminal cases In re Danielle J. and People v. Brown.

CIVIL

Hooker v. Retirement Board of the Firemen's Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago

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

This case resolved the issue of whether annuities paid to the widows of two Chicago firemen who suffered duty-related injuries and later died should have included “duty availability pay,” which had never been received by these decedents, in the calculation of the amounts. The calculation of an annuity is to be based on “the current annual salary attached to the classified position to which the fireman was certified at the time of his death.” The court noted that the amount of the annuity does not depend on the fireman’s actual salary during his career. “Duty availability pay” is paid on a quarterly basis to all firemen, except certain employees assigned to platoon duty.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman
Chief Justice Rita B. Garman
Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita B. Garman outlined several priorities for her three-year term, and urged the organized bar to become more involved in educating the public about legal principles and procedures.

She also called on Illinois lawyers, through their bar associations, to participate more in the administrative rule-making and other activities of the Supreme Court and its committees.

Chief Justice Garman became the second woman to head Illinois' third branch of government when she was installed as Chief on October 28. She said that during her tenure as Chief Justice she will continue the Supreme Court's emphasis on civility and professionalism in the legal profession; will work to ensure "prompt judicial decision-making" at all levels of the court system; tailor judicial education programs to include the complexities of today's litigation; and support increased use of technology in courthouses and courtrooms to make the system more efficient and more transparent.

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced that, for a limited time, Illinois-based corporate counsel who failed to obtain a required limited law license will now be able to obtain that limited license without the risk of discipline. The program is effective January 1, 2014 and will expire one year later.