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To the Editor:

A highly regarded justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, Tom Kilbride, is seeking to retain his seat on the court in the November 2 election. He is being opposed by special interest groups that have mounted a misleading advertising campaign. The ad messages focus on a tiny fraction of his many opinions while on the court, and in one case totally misstate his opinion to try to make their point. Their aim is simple - to tilt the judicial system in their favor.

The stakes are high in this election. Justice Kilbride has served with distinction for the past 10 years. His service has been recognized by his fellow judges who selected him to be the next chief justice of the supreme court. A vote against retaining him would be a vote against an impartial judiciary, especially if such a vote resulted from the type of misinformation campaign that is being conducted.

Voters should become informed about the qualifications of Justice Kilbride and should question the misleading information being circulated in an attempt to deny him a seat on the state’s highest court. Information about all judges on the November 2 ballot can be found at isba.org/judicialevaluations

Sincerely,

Mark D. Hassakis

President, Illinois State Bar Association

Mt. Vernon, Illinois

(618) 244-5335

One of our nation's guiding principles is "Justice For All". But for many of our fellow Americans, the promise of equal access to justice has not been fulfilled.

In an effort to bridge the "Justice Gap", ISBA President Mark Hassakis is encouraging ISBA members to consider performing some Pro Bono work. If you can’t afford to donate the time, consider donating money instead. There is no better time to start than during National Pro Bono Celebration Week, which kicks off today.

The ISBA Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services has a wonderful website where you can learn more - www.isba.org/probono.   In addition, ISBA is providing members the opportunity to learn pro bono basics and earn CLE credit on a variety of topics including family law and juvenile justice.

The Illinois State Bar Association's Solo and Small Firm Conference continues today at the Springfield Hilton. Plenary speaker Mark Curriden will be presenting "Contempt of Court: A Lynching that Changed the American Justice System" and Dustin Cole will be presenting "Practice Pointers for the Changing Legal Landscape."

Follow all of the action at IllinoisLawyerNow.com or on Twitter at #isbassf.

ISBA's Solo & Small Firm Conference in Springfield (Hilton Springfield) kicks-off today! Interested in going and earning up to 14 hours MCLE credit, including 4 hours PMCLE credit?  On-site registration is still available.  Find out more at www.isba.org/conference.

Follow all of the action at IllinoisLawyerNow.com or on Twitter at #isbassf.

The Illinois State Bar Association will begin running print and online ads statewide for the upcoming judicial elections. The online ad will be running on daily newspaper webites and is shown above.

The message of the print ads includes:

"Vote for Qualified Judges: Our court system relies on informed voters choosing qualified candidates for judicial office. Be an informed voter - visit www.isba.org/judicialevaluations to learn about the judicial candidates on your ballot."

At the Dec. 11, 2010, meeting of the ISBA Assembly, two at-large delegates to the ABA House of Delegates will be elected, one from Cook County and one from the area outside Cook County.  The nominees for these positions must be members of the ISBA in good standing from the appropriate area.  The elected delegates will serve for two-year terms commencing June 2011 and will join the ISBA delegation at the ABA meeting in Toronto in August 2011.

The current incumbents are Timothy L. Bertschy of Peoria and Joseph G. Bisceglia of Chicago. Both incumbents are eligible for re-election.

Nominations must be made in writing by at least 20 ISBA members in good standing from the appropriate area.  Nominations must be filed with the office of the Executive Director not later than Friday, Nov. 12, 2010.  Further information and nominating petitions are available from the office of the Executive Director, Illinois State Bar Association, 424 S. Second Street, Springfield, IL 62701 or by contacting JoAnn Hibbs at (800) 252-8908 or jhibbs@isba.org.

Click here for the nominating petition

The Illinois State Bar Association through the Association’s Standing Committee on Supreme and Appellate Court Judicial Election Campaign Tone and Conduct has been asked to review certain tactics by an entity identified as “JUSTPAC” in opposition to the retention of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas L. Kilbride.

The Standing Committee has a role in educating the public on ethical conduct in judicial elections and discouraging campaign activities that are unfair and reflect negatively on the integrity and independence of the judiciary.

The Standing Committee finds that the “JUSTPAC” campaign directed at Justice Kilbride is inappropriate and distorts his record.  As such, it reflects negatively on the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Specifically, based upon the advertisements reviewed by the Standing Committee, we find that “JUSTPAC” has distorted the record and rulings of Justice Kilbride by characterizing him as allegedly soft on crime and criminals.

Voters should become informed about the qualifications of Justice Kilbride. And while the decision regarding the retention of Justice Kilbride or any other judge rests with the voters, that decision should not be based on distortions regarding a judge’s record.

Voters may learn more about Justice Kilbride and all other judicial candidates by visiting:  www.isba.org/judicialevaluations

"LGBT Marriage & Family Issues" and "Violence Against LGBT Persons," which have been airing this month on CAN-21 in Chicago are now available online.

LGBT Marriage and Family Issues Part 2

Violence Against LGBT Persons Part 2


ISBA President Mark Hassakis congratulates new Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis

Chicago attorney John Nisivaco was named to the ISBA Board of Governors on Friday. Nisivaco won a two-tiered election and takes over the seat vacated by Mary Jane Theis - who resigned her seat after being appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Theis was on hand to address the Board and had these words, "It was one of the greatest honors of my careers to serve on this Board, an incredible experience. I've learned so much about the practice of law and issues from around the entire state." She went on to say that the Illinois Supreme Court and the ISBA have a great working relationship and she expects that to continue during her time on the high court.

Nisivaco is a principal in the Chicago firm Boudreau & Nisivaco, LLC. He is a 1993 graduate of the DePaul University College of Law.  He has been elected to the ISBA Assembly three times, serves on the Illinois Bar Foundation Board of Directors and has served as chairperson for the Standing Committee on Judicial Evaluations and for the Tort Law Section Council.

The Board also congratulated Russell Hartigan on his swearing-in on Thursday as a Cook County Circuit Judge.

Ratings of all candidates for judicial office in Illinois in the November 2 election are available on the ISBA web site – www.isba.org/judicialevaluations.

“The Illinois Constitution gives voters an important responsibility in deciding who should serve in the office of judge,” said Mark D. Hassakis of Mt. Vernon, president of the ISBA. “Judges make decisions affecting the rights and responsibilities of all citizens, and it’s crucial that qualified individuals serve in these positions.”

Candidates for election to judicial vacancies and sitting judges seeking retention in office were rated by two methods. All candidates in Cook County and candidates for the Supreme and Appellate courts statewide were reviewed in a comprehensive evaluation process. All judicial candidates outside of Cook County were rated in a poll of lawyers conducted by ISBA.

The comprehensive evaluation process involves a detailed background investigation by members of the ISBA Judicial Evaluations Committee, followed by an in-person interview of the candidate. The Committee then decides whether to recommend the candidate for the judicial office being sought.

“Our members volunteer countless hours away from their busy law practices to complete these evaluations, which represent the opinion of the Illinois State Bar Association,” said Hassakis. “Other lawyers are given the opportunity in the judicial advisory poll to express their own opinions. I urge voters to consider these ratings in choosing how to vote in judicial elections.”

The Illinois State Bar Association provides professional services to lawyers, and education and services to the public.