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Practice News

Chief Judge James F. Holderman announced today that the U.S. District Court Clerk's Office has now made the application for the position of United States Magistrate Judge available online. The Court anticipates that one or more vacancies will exist for the position of United States Magistrate Judge this year. Chief Judge Holderman intends to appoint a Merit Selection Panel that will screen the candidates and make recommendations to the district judges in the fall of 2009. The Court hopes to fill the open Magistrate Judge positions by spring 2010. These are full-time positions with an eight-year term of office and a duty station at the U.S. Courthouse in Chicago, Illinois. The duties of the position of a United States magistrate judge include the conduct of most preliminary proceedings in federal criminal cases, the trial and disposition of federal misdemeanor cases upon consent of the litigants, the conduct of various pretrial matters and evidentiary proceedings on reference from the district judges of the Court, and the trial and disposition of federal civil cases upon consent of the litigants. To be qualified for appointment as a United States magistrate judge, an applicant must be, and have been for at least five years, a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of a State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands of the United States, and have been engaged in the active practice of law for a period of at least five years.
Chief Circuit Judge Stephen Culliton has named two finalists for the Office of Associate Judge in the 18th Circuit Court in DuPage County. The finalists are seeking to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Judge Kenneth A. Abraham. The two finalists are:
  • Paul A. Marchese, DuPage County Assistant State's Attorney
  • Robert A. Miller, Chief Public Defender for DuPage County
The Circuit Judges will select Marchese or Miller by secret ballot.
Twelve states -- including neighboring Missouri and Wisconsin -- allow property owners to avoid both probate and the complications of joint ownership by using transfer-on-death deeds. The concept is straightforward enough. When you die, your beneficiary takes title to your property. It doesn't pass by way of your will. No probate. But a TOD deed is revocable if you change your mind before you die. There are some potential pitfalls, of course, and TODDs wouldn't be the best choice for every client. But at ISBA President John O'Brien's request, the Trusts and Estates and Real Estate Section Councils are working on draft TODD legislation. You can learn more about TODDs and why some ISBA members think Illinois should become a TODD state by reading Eureka lawyer Darrell Dies' article in the July ISBA Trusts and Estates newsletter.
Soon to be released FTC guidelines will up the ante for bloggers who review or endorse products, according to Adam Snukal in the July 2009 issue of The Corporate Lawyer, newsletter of the ISBA's Section on Corporate Law. One change wrought by the new guidelines: a blogger who reviews a product will be deemed an "endorser." That means that, "should the blogger fail to verify (or request verification of) an advertiser’s substantiation with respect to any product claims, the advertiser can be subject to liability for false and unsubstantiated statements made through the blogger’s endorsement, and the blogger may also be subject to liability for the same unsubstantiated representations (intentional or unintentional) made in the course of his/her review (aka endorsement)." Read the article.
By Rodney R. Nordstrom Consisting of Moe Levine's most memorable lectures and summations, a  new book, Moe Levine on Advocacy, offers everything the reader expects.  Don Keenan does an excellent job in the forward to motivate the reader to read more of the book. Specifically, Keenan divides Levine's (1908 -1974) trial advocacy skills into five main points: mastery of the understatement, appeal to each audience's uniqueness, appeal to jurors' spirituality, elevation of jury's consciousness of the community and challenging jurors to make the "right" decision. These five cardinal points summarize Levine's smooth approach to effective summation.
Judging by the traffic on ISBA's criminal-law listserver, few topics are more important to day-to-day criminal defense practice than expungements. And on that topic, Coles County lawyer Jeremy J. Richey has some advice for his peers -- don't put them off. In a recent post to his excellent East Central Illinois Criminal Law & DUI Weblog, he says this: "Since expungement is a slow process, a person should seek expungement the first day he is eligible for it and not when he needs it later down the road." Read the whole thing. And if you're an ISBA member, sign up for the criminal-DUI-traffic listserver and other e-mail discussion groups here.
Watch for Helen Gunnarsson's LawPulse item in the not-yet-published August Illinois Bar Journal about a scam e-mail solicitation that's making the rounds. Helen will have details, but in the meantime you can read a year-old California Bar Journal article describing this "request for Legal assistance," purportedly from a Chinese textile company. Thanks to Springfield paralegal Caren Mansfield, who alerted ISBA to the scam and the CBJ article.
In a recent column for the Law Technology News, veteran lawyer and legal-tech writer Bob Ambrogi compared the two leading bar-sponsored legal research services, Fastcase and Casemaker. As he notes, Casemaker partners with 28 bars representing 475,000 lawyers, while Fastcase is offered by 17 state and other bars -- including the Illinois State Bar Association -- representing 380,000 lawyers. His conclusion? "[B]oth are worthwhile services with many similarities. In the coverage of federal and state libraries and the relative strengths of their search tools, neither stands out as significantly superior to the other. But in their intuitiveness and ease of use, Fastcase has the clear edge." Read his review.
The rumor mill is spinning that effective July 1, 2009, Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) trusts are required for liability litigation as is already required in worker’s compensation. (Reimbursement by a plaintiff for previously paid benefits to Medicare is unchanged by the new law.) Although federal research is not my strong suit, I can’t find any support for this proposition. My best guess is that this rumor started because of the new § 111 reporting requirements included in the Medicare, Medicaid & SCHIP Act of 2007. (Public Law 111-173). Section 111 provisions are reporting requirements and do not mention any need for MSAs in liability cases. This new law simply requires those paying  for judgments to report to Medicare payments of settlements, awards, judgments, or other payments. An argument is being posited that the previous law still in effect already requires MSAs in personal-injury cases for future medical expenses. (Medicare Secondary Payer Act). I cannot find any clear authority supporting that proposition.
Helen Gunnarsson reports in the July Illinois Bar Journal about SB 0189, which amends the Open Meetings Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and the Attorney General Act. "Though its supporters hail the bill as transparency legislation that will make it easier for citizens to gain access to records that are supposed to be public, critics wonder whether the new system will have its own shortcomings," she writes. Read the article.