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Illinois Supreme Court

The Illinois Supreme Court hosted a memorial service in honor of the late Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald. Chief Justice Rita B. Garman gave the opening and closing remarks. Tributes were given by Supreme Court Justices Robert R. Thomas and Mary Jane Theis; Umberto Davi, president of the Illinois State Bar Association; and Nicholas J. Motherway, a Chicago attorney and close friend of the late justice.

Video of the event is available at http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Media/Video/Events/2016/Justice_Fitzgerald_Memorial_Service.mp4

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced that all 40 recommendations proposed in a report issued two years ago following a comprehensive review of pretrial services in Cook County have been addressed with the commitment of ensuring the sustainability of the changes.

Through the work and monitoring of the report's recommendations by the Supreme Court's Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC), and a partnership among elected officials in Cook County's criminal justice system, progress has been made in improving the county's pretrial services.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman and the Illinois Supreme Court have invited Gov. Bruce Rauner and the entire state legislature to attend a special evening session of oral arguments.

The session will be at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at the Supreme Court Building in Springfield and will mark the second special evening session the Supreme Court has held in recent years.

The Illinois Supreme Court will take its work on the road in May, when it will hear oral arguments at Benedictine University in Lisle.

The one-day change of venue is part of the Court's and Chief Justice Rita B. Garman's initiative to bring the Court to the people it serves and its continuing goal for greater transparency in the judicial process.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases starting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 19, 2016, in Benedictine University's Daniel L. Goodwin Hall of Business, located at 5700 College Road in Lisle.

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Jacob H. Jost as the new Reporter of Decisions, a position that ensures opinions issued by the Supreme and Appellate courts are published with accurate case citations and proper style.

Mr. Jost's appointment took effect April 1, 2016. He replaces Urbana resident Amy L. Tomaszewski, who served in the role for two years. Mr. Jost joins the Court's staff from Chief Justice Rita B. Garman's office, where he had worked as a judicial law clerk since 2013.

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita B. Garman announced today the formation of a judicial screening committee for the Sixth Judicial Circuit.

The screening committee was formed for the purpose of assessing the qualifications of those persons who have applied for appointment to the Office of Judge of the Circuit Court for the Sixth Judicial Circuit created by the upcoming retirement of Judge Arnold F. Blockman on September 16, 2016. Under the Illinois Constitution, the vacancy will be filled by Supreme Court appointment.

The Illinois Supreme Court announced on Friday that the annual registration fee for attorneys practicing in Illinois will increase by $3 next year.

The increased funds will be directed to the Lawyers' Assistance Program (LAP), a not-for-profit organization that helps attorneys, judges, and law students get confidential assistance with substance abuse, addiction, and mental health issues.

Under amended Supreme Court Rule 756, the annual registration fee will increase from $382 to $385 in 2017 for attorneys who have been in active status for three years or longer. Attorneys in active status for less than three years, inactive status attorneys, and out-of-state attorneys eligible to practice in Illinois under Supreme Court Rule 707 will not see their attorney registration fees rise.

“This modest increase in the annual registration fee will have a significant impact on the LAP’s ability to provide services to impaired attorneys and to shine a light on the issues of addiction and mental illness in our profession,” Chief Justice Rita B. Garman said. “I have often observed that when the Court is called upon to impose professional discipline on an attorney for some sort of professional misconduct, the attorney very often has an underlying history of substance abuse or mental illness. Intervention by the LAP, thus, serves not only the attorney whose career may be impacted by these issues, but the members of the public who have placed their trust in the attorney.”

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on March 22, 2016, during the March Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

DISBARRED

  • Tanya Yvette Brockington, Homewood

Ms. Brockington was licensed in Illinois in 2009 and in Georgia in 2010. She was disbarred in Georgia for neglecting three immigration matters, failing to return unearned fees, and failing to cooperate with the Georgia disciplinary authority. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred her.

  • Christian Chenoweth, Chicago

Mr. Chenoweth, who was licensed in 2002, was disbarred on consent. He obtained $1,550,000 in connection with representing two clients and misappropriated at least $10,000 of those funds.  In addition, he pled guilty to a felony charge of retail theft.

  • Raymond L. Huff, Peoria

Mr. Huff, who was licensed in 1973, was disbarred on consent. He practiced law in 2015 during a period when he was suspended for having engaged in professional misconduct. In addition, he failed to comply with Illinois Supreme Court rules after the earlier suspension was imposed against him.  

  • Larry Jay Meyer, Chicago

Mr. Meyer, who was licensed in 1978, was disbarred on consent. He misappropriated more than $150,000 in client funds, provided incorrect information to clients about the funds that he received on their behalf, and borrowed $10,000 from a client without making the required conflict of interest disclosures.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman announced on Monday that the Illinois Supreme Court has concluded its four-year pilot project permitting news cameras in Illinois courtrooms and has adopted a permanent Policy for Extended Media Coverage (EMC) in the Circuit Courts of Illinois.

The pilot project, which was launched by the Supreme Court on January 24, 2012, allowed the use of media cameras in certain courtrooms on an experimental basis. Since then, 15 judicial circuits have been approved to implement EMC, and more than 450 media requests have been made under the Policy.

Based on the success of the pilot project and the Court's continued goal of promoting greater transparency, accountability, and accessibility to the court system, the justices have amended the Policy to terminate its status as a pilot project and to allow each circuit court to decide whether it wishes to implement EMC.

“At every level of the judicial system, we do the people’s work, and the people have an interest in observing how the judicial process functions,” Chief Justice Garman said. "We are pleased with the success of the pilot project and with the great cooperation we have received from the media. It is time to make EMC more widely available."

Petrovic v. The Department of Employment Security

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

This case, involving a denial of unemployment insurance benefits based upon employee misconduct, provided an opportunity for the Court to clarify the type of misconduct required and the proof necessary to justify such denial.

Petrovic applied for unemployment insurance benefits after she was terminated by American Airlines for misconduct at work. Petrovic had requested that the catering department deliver champagne to a customer and had asked a flight attendant to upgrade that passenger to first class.

The Department of Employment Security denied the request for unemployment benefits and the Board of Review affirmed that determination. Following further review, the case proceeded to the Supreme Court.

Because the applicable statute required that an employee’s violation be “deliberate and willful,” it necessarily required evidence that the employee was aware that her conduct was prohibited. In this case, there was no evidence in the record of a reasonable American Airlines rule or policy prohibiting Petrovic’s conduct. The employer’s sole witness at the administrative hearing testified only that “policies and procedures were not followed” but did not identify any specific rule or policy. Further, statements contained within the employer’s written protest were not legally competent evidence. The protest was merely a pleading and any facts alleged within the protest had to be substantiated with competent evidence.