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Illinois Supreme Court

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Stevens v. McGuireWoods, LLP,  Lake Environmental Inc. v. Arnold, Seymour v. Collins, The Village of Vernon Hills v. Heelan and O’Toole  v. The Chicago Zoological Society.

CIVIL

Stevens v. McGuireWoods L.L.P.

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

The court’s unanimous opinion in Stevens v. McGuireWoods, LLP, is grounded on the established points that legal malpractice plaintiffs must be able to establish actual monetary loss as damages, that such a plaintiff cannot be in a better position by bringing suit against the attorney than if the underlying action had been prosecuted successfully, and that damages obtainable in a corporate derivative action belong to the corporation, and not to plaintiff shareholders. 

The plaintiffs here are former minority shareholders in an LLC.  They had retained the defendant law firm to bring claims against managers of the LLC as well as its majority shareholder.  Those claims were brought in both individual and derivative capacities.  Substituted counsel brought additional claims against the LLC’s corporate counsel.  Those claims were dismissed for various reasons, including standing and statutes of limitations and repose.  The plaintiff shareholders settled the underlying case, and relinquished all ownership interest in the LLC.

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on September 21, 2015, during the September Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law. 

DISBARRED

  • Charisse Angela Bruno, Buffalo Grove

Ms. Bruno, who was licensed in 1983, was disbarred. After she was suspended from the practice of law for professional misconduct, she continued to represent a client in a divorce matter and then failed to cooperate with the ARDC investigation into her post-suspension activities.

  • Marguerite Elise Dixon-Roper, Chicago

Ms. Dixon-Roper, who was licensed in 1992, was disbarred on consent. As part of a scheme with others, she purchased and refinanced several real properties as a nominee buyer. In the course of purchasing those properties, she knowingly submitted loan applications containing materially false information regarding her qualifications for the loans. She later pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of mail fraud. 

  • Theodore Levy Freedman, Pine Planes, N.Y.

Mr. Freedman, who was licensed in Illinois is 1976 and in New York in 1992, was disbarred in New York following a felony conviction of four counts of subscribing to false United States income tax returns. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him. 

Michael J. Tardy, Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced Thursday that the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Ronald A. Barch as an associate judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit.

Mr. Barch received his undergraduate degree in 1986 from Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois, and his Juris Doctor in 1992 from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Barch is currently affiliated with Cicero, France, Barch & Alexander PC in Rockford, IL.

Amendment to Supreme Court Rule 39 takes effect Sept. 1, 2015

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced a rule change that will allow associate judge applicants to submit their documents electronically.

The change does not require applicants to electronically submit their applications and supporting documents. The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) will continue to accept paper copies of applications.

“Allowing electronic applications for those seeking associate judgeships is the latest step in the Court’s continuing effort to utilize technology to make the entire judicial process more efficient and accessible," Chief Justice Rita B. Garman said.

"Recent applicants for vacant judgeships have told us that the current paper-based application system is cumbersome and costly, and this amendment to Rule 39 is responsive to their input. In addition, the electronic application process will benefit not only those individuals who apply for associate judgeships, but also the judges who review the applications.”

Prior to the amendment, those seeking to apply for appointment to an associate judge vacancy in Illinois had to go the Supreme Court's website, download a 16-page PDF application, fill in the blanks, sign it, print it and then mail or hand-deliver two signed, original applications to the AOIC.

Starting on Sept. 1, applicants will be able to electronically sign their applications and securely email them to the AOIC.

"By allowing an application to be electronically completed and emailed to the Administrative Office, it will streamline and improve the process for applicants; and in turn will greatly reduce the amount of paper used," AOIC Director Michael J. Tardy said.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman and the Illinois Supreme Court have announced the appointment of Appellate Court Justice Mary K. Rochford as the new Chair of the Commission on Access to Justice.

Justice Rochford's appointment took effect July 6 and will terminate on June 15, 2017. She replaces Bloomington attorney Timothy W. Kelly, who resigned as Chair on July 6. Mr. Kelly will continue to serve on the Commission as a member.

The Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee will hear comments July 22 at a public hearing in Chicago on several proposals, including one calling for changes to the rules that govern the legal profession and another seeking to use a word count instead of a page limit to regulate the length of appellate briefs.

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced the formation of a Committee on Equality, charged with promoting equality and fairness in all aspects of the administration of justice in Illinois Courts.

The Committee on Equality will consist of 15 judges and attorneys appointed by the Supreme Court. The membership of the Committee will reflect the diversity of the State of Illinois itself, based on age, race, gender, and background, as well as including members from urban, suburban, and rural parts of the state.

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman and the Illinois Supreme Court announced on Wednesday changes to a rule that will now require attorneys to register online each year.

Under Amended Supreme Court Rule 756, attorneys will also have to provide specific practice-related information to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC).

The amendments to Rule 756, which governs the annual attorney registration process, will make Illinois one of at least seven states that will require the online submission of registration data by next year. At least a handful of states already mandate lawyers to do so.

ARDC Administrator Jerome Larkin said while 81 percent of Illinois' approximate 95,000 attorneys registered online this year, the rule's mandate for online registration will allow the ARDC to collect practice-related information from all lawyers, not just those who provide it voluntarily.

Historically, lawyers have been required to provide an address and telephone number for inclusion on their public listing on the Master Roll. With the amendments, an attorney will also have to furnish to the ARDC a residential address; the name of all other states in which he or she is licensed to practice law; the type of entity at which the attorney practices; the number of lawyers working there; the areas of law the lawyer primarily practices; and whether that organization has created a written succession plan.

"The disclosure of practice-related demographic information will allow us [the ARDC] to better understand lawyers' practices," Mr. Larkin said. "We'll be able to target our educational and regulatory resources to lawyers and assess whether those approaches are working."

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil cases Marks v. Vanderventer, McVey v. M.L.K. Enterprises, LLC, Turcios v. The DeBruler Company and Warren County Soil and Water Conservation Dist. v. Walters and the criminal cases People v. Allen, People v. Gaytan and People v. Kuehner.

CIVIL

Marks v. Vanderventer

By Karen Kies DeGrand, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth, LLC

Here the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the trial court’s rulings that held unconstitutional a $10 surcharge collected by a county recorder of deeds as set forth in the original and amended versions of state legislation primarily aimed at funding the Rental Housing Support Program, which the General Assembly created to help local governments address the shortage in the state of affordable, decent rental housing. The circuit court certified a class of plaintiffs required to pay the fee for recording real estate-related documents and a class of defendants consisting of the county recorders of deeds throughout the state.

The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the filing of lawyer disciplinary orders on May 14, 2015, during the May Term of Court. Sanctions were imposed because the lawyers engaged in professional misconduct by violating state ethics law.

DISBARRED

  • Karim G. Dure, Evanston

Mr. Dure, who was licensed in 1999, was disbarred on consent. He pled guilty to a federal criminal indictment charging him with wire fraud. Mr. Dure participated in a scheme to fraudulently obtain mortgage loan funds from a lender for use in a client’s purchase of two Chicago properties. Mr. Dure assisted the client in making misrepresentations to the lender regarding the client’s assets.

  • Deeba Khursheed Mallick, Arlington, Va.

Ms. Mallick, who was licensed in 2006, was disbarred on consent. She pled guilty to a federal charge of misprison of felony. In her plea agreement, she admitted that, while holding various roles at Gallant Pharma International, Inc., including office manager, she identified prospective customers for misbranded, non-FDA approved drugs and arranged for the importation and distribution of those drugs. The imported drugs included injectable chemotherapeutic agents, injectable cosmetic fillers, and injectable agents used to treat side effects of chemotherapy, many of which were subject to federally-mandated strict temperature controls which were not complied with by Gallant. She was sentenced to a nine-month prison term. She was suspended on an interim basis on February 27, 2015.