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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.
If you've been waiting for a comprehensive, informed review of the new Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (they take effect January 1), wait no longer. Robert A. Creamer, who co-chaired the ISBA/CBA Joint Committee on Ethics 2000, offers his take on what changes and what remains the same in his cover story for the October Illinois Bar Journal.
Cynthia Y. Cobbs, director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced today that the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Melissa S. Barnhart as an associate judge of the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit. Ms. Barnhart received her undergraduate degree in 1982 from Illinois State University and her J.D. in 1986 from the John Marshal Law School. Ms. Barnhart had been affiliated with Pilmer & Barnhart in Yorkville.
Helen Gunnarsson reports in the October Illinois Bar Journal that a new law drafted by ISBA’s Family Law Section Council should bring some order to Illinois’ confusing, inconsistent scheme for awarding attorney fees in family law cases.
By Lisa Colpoys For members of the Illinois legal profession, pro bono practice support resources are as easy as a click away, at www.IllinoisProBono.org. That website, which is hosted by Illinois Legal Aid Online, now offers web pages with resources targeted at specific types of pro bono practitioners, including senior attorneys, federal government attorneys, corporate counsel, paralegals, and law students. Each homepage is customized for the target audience, and features video interviews with pro bono volunteers and articles specific to doing pro bono work. These homepages may be accessed via the internet at: Illinois Legal Aid Online partnered with the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) to develop the homepages. The organizations designed the websites to further engage senior attorneys, government attorneys, corporate counsel, paralegals and law students in pro bono work. Jim Archer, one of the retired attorneys featured in the pro bono videos, states, "Everybody - but certainly lawyers in particular - have an obligation to give back somehow."
The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the appointment of attorney Douglas L. Jarman as Circuit Judge at Large of the Fourth Judicial Circuit. This appointment fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge John Coady on Oct. 3, 2009. Jarman, 51, has practiced in nearly every area of civil law. He has also served as the attorney for numerous local government entities, including the City of Hillsboro and the Villages of Panama and Irving. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served in the White House Communications Agency. Jarman is a graduate of Triopia High School; Eastern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University School of Law. This appointment will be effective Oct. 19, 2009, and will terminate when the position is filled by the general election of 2010. The Fourth Judicial Circuit is comprised of nine counties: Christian, Clay, Clinton, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Marion, Montgomery and Shelby.