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Q. There is a ghost haunting my law office. What ethical implications might arise from this?

A. The presence of a ghost may cause many complications. For one, if the ghost can communicate, you need to be mindful of confidentiality issues in Rule 1.6. It might be a good idea to alert clients of your situation and to get informed consent. Also, be careful not to let the ghost regulate or interfere with your professional judgment as that may be a violation of Rule 5.4(c) which states: “A lawyer shall not permit a person who recommends, employs, or pays the lawyer to render legal services for another to direct or regulate the lawyer’s professional judgment in rendering such legal services.”

ISBA members can browse past ISBA Ethics Opinions, access our Ethics Hotline, and other resources on the ISBA Ethics Page.

[Disclaimer.  These questions are representative of calls received on the ISBA’s ethics hotline.  The information provided below is meant as an educational tool to highlight potentially applicable Illinois RPC or other ethics resources that might help the lawyer answer the question posed.  The information provided isn’t legal advice.  Because every situation is different, often complex, and the law is constantly evolving, you shouldn’t rely upon this general information without conducting your own research.]

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis announced on Tuesday an application process for two countywide vacancies in the Cook County Circuit Court.

It is believed to be the first time an open application process has been used in the Supreme Court appointment for at-large judicial vacancies in Cook County. Justice Theis currently uses an open application process in her recommended appointments to subcircuits in Cook County.

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the managing partner of a six attorney general practice firm located in Arlington Heights. We have been in practice for 10 years. In the past most of our business has come to us through client and attorney referrals. We have not advertised. However, several of our attorneys are pushing us to embark on an extensive advertising program. I am interested in your thoughts.

Q. If I run for judicial office, as a lawyer (and not a sitting judge) do I have to comply with the Code of Judicial Conduct?

A. RPC 8.2(b) provides that a lawyer who is a candidate for judicial office shall comply with the applicable provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct. In addition, Rule 67 of the Code of Judicial Conduct makes it applicable to candidates as well as sitting judges.

ISBA members can browse past ISBA Ethics Opinions, access our Ethics Hotline, and other resources on the ISBA Ethics Page.

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

The Illinois Supreme Court announced Thursday the appointment of longtime Associate Judge Marianne Jackson to fill a Cook County vacancy in the Seventh Judicial Subcircuit. Prior to her service on the bench, Judge Jackson worked as an attorney in the public sector and as a solo practitioner for 24 years.

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am the managing partner of a 5 attorney general practice firm in Kansas City, Missouri. My book of business is down and I have been considering taking on insurance defense work. During the past year I had the opportunity of working as co-counsel on a couple of insurance defense matters and enjoyed the experience and the work. It seems to me that representing insurance companies would represent a steady flow of work. I would appreciate your thoughts.

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.

Chief Circuit Judge John T. Elsner is pleased to announce that following a tabulation of ballots by the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, the Circuit Judges of the 18th Judicial Court, DuPage County, have appointed Ann Celine O'Hallaren Walsh to the position of Associate Judge.

She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Judge Patrick J. Leston.

Ms. O'Hallaren Walsh received her J.D. from Chicago Kent College of Law in 1998 and is currently the Supervisor of the Sex Crimes/Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Unit for the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office. She is an active member of the DuPage County Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, DuPage Association of Women Lawyers and Illinois Prosecutors Association.

Q.  I was appointed as the receiver of a recently deceased lawyer’s files. What are my duties?

A.  IRPC 1.3, Comment [5] suggests that lawyers prepare a plan that designates another competent lawyer to review their files in case of death or disability. If no other lawyer is appointed, Illinois Supreme Court Rule 775 allows the presiding judge in the judicial circuit to appoint a receiver. The duties of the receiver include taking custody and making an inventory of files; contacting clients; take steps to sequester funds; and take whatever action necessary to protect the interests of the attorney, his clients, and other parties.

ISBA members can browse past ISBA Ethics Opinions, access our Ethics Hotline, and other resources on the ISBA Ethics Page.