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Illinois Supreme Court

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.

CIVIL

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.)

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on Thursday, November 13, 2014, during the November Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

DISBARRED

  • Robert Scott Forbes, Alston

Mr. Forbes, who was licensed in 1980, was disbarred on consent. He forged the signature of a deceased client on six workers compensation benefits checks totaling $9,324.66 that the State had mistakenly sent to him for his client. He misappropriated the proceeds. Mr. Forbes was aware that his client had died when he obtained the checks. When the Attorney General’s office sought to recover the funds, Mr. Forbes falsely claimed that the client’s sister, who served as the executor of the client’s estate, had forged the signatures and received the proceeds. Mr. Forbes also repeated his false story to the Illinois Appellate Court and made material misrepresentations to the ARDC to impede the disciplinary investigation.

  • Michael Samuel Froman, Skokie

Mr. Froman, who was licensed in 1976, was disbarred on consent. He misappropriated approximately $90,000 in settlement funds belonging to three clients.

Michael J. Tardy, Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced today that the Eighth Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Debra L. Wellborn as an associate judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit.

Ms. Wellborn received her undergraduate degree in 1984 from the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO, and her Juris Doctor in 1986 from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Ms. Wellborn is currently affiliated with the State of Illinois Attorney General's Office in Quincy, IL.

The Illinois Supreme Court announced Tuesday that Chief Judge Joseph G. McGraw of the 17th Judicial Circuit has been named the new Chairman of the Conference of Chief Judges, effective January 1, 2015.

Judge McGraw will take over leadership from current Conference Chairman Chief Judge Elizabeth Robb of the 11th Judicial Circuit, who is retiring from judicial service on December 31, 2014. Judge McGraw has served as the Conference's vice-chairman since April 2014 and has served as a member of the Conference since January 2012.
The 17th Circuit consists of Boone and Winnebago counties in northern Illinois. A duly elected chief judge from each judicial circuit serves as a member of the Conference of Chief Judges.

The Illinois Supreme Court announced Thursday the appointment of veteran attorney Edward J. King as Cook County Circuit Judge in the Fourth Judicial Subcircuit.

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Friday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Hayashi v. Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation and Lake County Grading Co. v. Village of Antioch and the criminal case People v. Patterson.

CIVIL

Hayashi v. Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation

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

The plaintiffs in this case were physicians whose health care licenses were permanently revoked based upon prior convictions for battery or criminal sexual abuse of their patients.  They argued that section 2105-165 of the Department of Professional Regulation Law, which was the basis for the revocation, did not apply to people whose convictions predated the Act, that the Act was impermissibly retroactive, and that the enforcement violated various state and federal constitutional provisions.

The Supreme Court found “no merit” in any of plaintiff’s claims. The Court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs’ complaints for declaratory and injunctive relief.

Section 2105-165 was enacted in 2011. It mandates permanent revocation, without a hearing, of the license of a health care worker who has been convicted of certain types of criminal offenses, such as “Sex Offender” offenses. Each of the plaintiffs had been convicted, before 2011, of the types of offenses included within the Act.

The Court held that the language of the Act, which provides that revocation applies when a health care worker “has been convicted,” indicated that the Act was intended to apply to convictions that predated the Act.

The Illinois Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that its standards and principles on electronic filing have been amended and expanded to allow trial courts in Illinois to begin electronic filing of court documents in criminal and traffic cases.

"I wholeheartedly support the increased use of technology in our courthouses and courtrooms," Chief Justice Rita B. Garman said. "Amending our electronic filing standards will streamline the system and increase its efficiency by expanding the types of cases that can be e-filed, generating savings to the taxpayer and conserving environmental resources."

This e-filing expansion also will greatly benefit counties that would implement an e-Traffic Citation program along with e-filing, allowing participating counties to eliminate the need to transmit the paper copy of the e-Citation, which makes up the highest volume of filed documents.

Originally, electronic filing in Illinois circuit courts began in September 2002, when the Supreme Court approved e-filing of civil case court documents as a pilot program. That program took effect January 1, 2003. During that time, a total of five counties were approved to operate e-filing pilots: Cook, DuPage, Madison, St. Clair, and Will.

In October 2012, the Supreme Court announced new statewide standards and principles that completed the pilot stage of civil case e-filing in Illinois' circuit courts. The new standards and principles permit and encourage all circuit court clerks, in partnership with the chief circuit judge, to apply for approval for permanent and on-going e-filing procedures.