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Last week in veto session the Senate repealed a part of a the budget bill enacted into law in June. The budget bill, Public Act 96-45, changed tax policy effective for tax years ending Dec. 31, 2009 by limiting partnerships’ deduction to “guaranteed payments” instead of “reasonable compensation” for the Personal Property Replacement Tax. That change generally limits the deduction to income partners because equity partners’ income is based on their share of the distributable income of the partnership. Last week the Senate passed 57-0-0 a repeal of this part of PA 96-45 in House Bill 2239.  The House will consider the bill the week of Oct. 26th.
And the meeting place is the latest ISBA Elder Law Section newsletter. Which makes sense. Elder law is a place where divorce and estate planning intersect. Chicago lawyer Michael C. Craven's article makes the point that clients need to rethink estate planning not just after divorce but as they begin planning for it. Among other tips, he offers this  list of issues for divorcing clients and their lawyers to think about (quoting him below):

• Creating a new will and/or trust that does not name the spouse as a beneficiary or fiduciary;

• If there is no will, creating a will and/or trust naming the children (or someone else if no children) as beneficiaries in order to avoid intestacy laws awarding the estate, in whole or in part, to the estranged spouse;

• Transferring property into a trust. Although this does not prevent the divorce court from treating the transferred property as “marital property” upon finalization of the divorce, it will protect the property from going into the deceased spouse’s estate, and from the estranged spouse’s right to renounce a will, if death occurs before then;

• If the client has a Power of Attorney naming the spouse as agent, consider naming a new agent;

• If the client does not have a Power of Attorney for Health Care, creating one naming someone else as the agent to avoid the estranged spouse from being able to make health care decisions under the Illinois Healthcare Surrogate Act;

• Considering severing joint tenancies; and

• Changing beneficiaries of life insurance policies.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin today announced the names of two new members to serve on a bipartisan screening committee to assist in selecting Federal District Court Judges for the Central District of Illinois. Durbin has asked small business owner and attorney, J. Victor Malkovich of Champaign and Macon County Assistant State's Attorney, Ruth Waller to serve on the Central Illinois Judicial Screening Panel. There are two federal judgeships in central Illinois that are now, or soon will become, vacant. Judges Michael Mihm and Jeanne Scott announced their intention to retire earlier this summer. Today's expansion of the Central District screening panel was needed to deal with the anticipated number of applications for those positions. The immediate task of the Central Illinois screening committee is to review applications and make recommendations to Senator Durbin for two Federal District Court Judge positions in the Central District. Applications for these positions are available on Senator Durbin's website. The application questionnaire is nearly identical to that used by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will help provide insight into potential nominees' backgrounds and qualifications. The deadline for submission of completed applications is November 2, 2009.
Defendants involved in the production of former Poison frontman Brett Michael's "Rock of Love Bus" series televised on MTV and VH-1 paid William and Colleen Wiley $16 million in a recent St. Clair County settlement. The case arose from a Sept. 26, 2008, accident involving a crew member of 51 Minds Entertainment LLC, a Hollywood production company, who fell asleep and crossed the southbound lanes of I-57 near West Frankfurt. The accident left the Wileys, of Tallahasse, Fla., seriously injured. The driver of the bus did not possess a valid driver's license and tested positive for marijuana use after the accident. The Wileys were represented by Kevin L. Fritz, Patrick E. Foppe and Lashly & Baer, P.C., which has offices in St. Louis and Belleville.
Cynthia Y. Cobbs, Director of Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced today that the judges in the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit voted to select Greg G. Chickris as an associate judge. Mr. Chickris received his undergraduate degree in 1972 from Western Illinois University and his J.D. in 1976 from DePaul University. Mr. Chickris has been engaged in solo practice in East Moline.
In his dissent in In Re Troy Anthony Davis, No.08-1443 (Aug. 17, 2009), Justice Scalia reminded us that the Supreme Court has never so held. But in Davis, the Court for the first time in nearly  50 years ordered that the petition for a writ of habeas corpus be transferred to the lower court to determine whether the defendant was in fact actually innocent. Read Sheila Murphy's ruminations on the case in the latest ISBA Human Rights newsletter. You'll find the Davis opinion here.
As someone who keeps an eye an Illinois blawgs -- or tries to -- I'm impressed by the consistently high quality of Peter Olson's Solo in Chicago.  Peter's a skillful writer with a flair for storytelling and an appealing confessional style. He admits his blunders, in other words, and give voice to his doubts. You have to like a guy like that. And he posts frequently. In short, he makes his blawg a place you want to visit. But I told you that to tell you this: he has a fresh post about his first criminal trial. It's interesting on several levels, but what stayed with me was his observation that part of maturing as a lawyer is growing comfortable with a lack of mastery: "The reality is you’re constantly dealing with changing statutes, court rules, and different fact patterns and being all-knowing isn’t possible. I was nervous heading into my first criminal court case but in knowing the case backwards and forwards, doing the legal research, and talking with a few colleagues I was as ready as I possibly could be. And that’s usually all you can do." This is true in spades for a sole practitioner. But it's true for all lawyers, really. Once you've done all you can to prepare -- once you're "as ready as [you] can possibly be" -- why not relax and enjoy the ride?
Chief Circuit Judge Stephen J. Culliton has announced two finalists for the Office of Associate Judge in the 18th Circuit Court. The finalists are seeking to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Judge Mark W. Dwyer. The circuit judges will select one of the following appointees by secret ballot.
  • Brenda M. Carroll, J.D.-Chicago Kent College of Law, 1986. Ms. Carroll currently serves of the Director of the DuPage County Bar Association Legal Aid Service.
  • Robert A. Miller, J.D.-Drake University School of Law, 1987. Mr. Miller is currently the Chief Public Defender for DuPage County.
Illinois Bar Admission ceremonies will be held in the five Judicial Districts on Thursday, Nov. 5:
  • Judicial Dist. 1: 10:30 a.m., McCormick Place West, Chicago
  • Judicial Dist. 2: 10 a.m., Hemmens Memorial Bldg. Elgin Civic Center Plaza, Elgin
  • Judicial Dist. 3: 11:15 a.m., I Wireless Center Conference Room ABC, Moline
  • Judicial Dist. 4: 10 a.m., Michael J. Howlett Bldg. Auditorium, Springfield
  • Judicial Dist. 5: 2 p.m., Southern Illinois University School of Law Auditorium, Carbondale.
Click here for the full Statewide Calendar of Bar Events
There is an effort underway during October's veto session in Springfield  to repeal part of a recently enacted budget bill (Public Act 96-45). Currently, the Federal Government and most states do not tax income of partnerships, “S” corporations, and limited liability companies (LLCs) that elect to be treated as partnerships. Instead, the income is taxed after it flows through to individual partners or shareholders. Illinois has followed this practice for regular income tax purposes but does tax these entities with the PPRT. (Personal-Property Replacement-Income Tax.) This tax was meant to be a replacement for the property tax revenue lost by municipalities when the tax on personal property was repealed in the 1980s. The municipalities receive the revenue generated by the PPRT. Illinois has allowed “S” and “C” corporations to deduct compensation paid to owners, but partnerships were not allowed to do so. To treat partnerships in the same way as S and C corporations, Illinois has allowed partnerships to deduct a portion of their distributable income that represented reasonable compensation. In calculating the tax base for the PPRT, partnerships that generate their income through the personal services of its partners and employees (like law firms) are allowed a deduction for the profits of the partnership distributed to the partners (both equity and stipend) so that their PPRT tax base is essentially zero. This deduction was meant to parallel the compensation deduction allowed to C and S corporations in arriving at the PPRT tax base. Public Act 96-45 changes this tax policy effective for tax years ending Dec. 31, 2009 for the PPRT.