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Practice News

Generally, immediate effective dates are a nightmare for those who must enforce, administer, or implement a new law. Three recent public acts with immediate effective dates amend the Residential Real Property Disclosure Act, the Health Care Surrogate Act, and the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form. This is a short summary of all three. Residential Real Property Disclosure Act. Public Act 96-232 (Smith, D-Canton; Sullivan, D-Rushville) requires the seller to disclose whether the property has been used for the manufacture of methamphetamine. Effective Aug. 11, 2009. Health Care Surrogate Act. Public Act 96-492 (Wilhelmi, D-Joliet; Ryg, D-Vernon Hills) does two things. (1) Requires that a health-care facility permanently maintain any advance directive of a patient or authorized person. (2) Authorizes a surrogate to make decisions for the patient until removed by the patient who regains decisional capacity, a guardian of the person is appointed, or the patient dies. Effective Aug. 14, 2009. Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form. Public Act 96-333 (Martinez, D-Chicago; Mell, D-Chicago) does three things. (1) The voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form prepared by Health and Family Services must be the same form in child-support collection or under the Vital Records Act. This form must inform the mother and putative father that they have the right to request DNA tests for paternity, and if they sign this form that they waive this right. This part of the form must be in boldface capitals and letters not less than 0.25 inches tall.
Public Act 96-615 (Schoenberg, D-Evanston; Hoffman, D-Collinsville) creates the Public Interest Assistance Act to reimburse public-interest attorneys for debt incurred for attending undergraduate and law school. “Public-assistance attorneys” includes assistant state's attorneys, assistant public defenders, assistant attorney generals, assistant public guardians, and legal-aid providers. Loan repayment may be up to $6,000 per year to a maximum of $30,000 for the attorney's career. These bills simply create the program, and the General Assembly must appropriate funds to implement later. Effective January 1, 2010. Click here to read the full legislation.
Ungaretti & Harris LLP announced today that Litigation Partner Michael A. Ficaro has been named Chair of the firm's expanding Gaming Practice. Illinois lawmakers recently passed legislation legalizing video lottery in the state. "This new gaming industry will distribute up to 45,000 electronic devices in bars, restaurants, and fraternal and charitable locations. That means 9,000 new licensees, plus manufacturers, distributors, and terminal operators who will all need legal counsel," said Mr. Ficaro. Lawyers in the Ungaretti & Harris Gaming Practice will work in conjunction with its Sports and Entertainment and Government groups in order to meet the needs of this rapidly expanding industry. Mr. Ficaro is a member of the International Masters of Gaming Law and serves on the Board of Governors of the International Society of Barristers. Among his many distinctions are inclusion in: Illinois Super Lawyers every year since 2005 when he was named in the Top 100 of Illinois Super Lawyers for Litigation; Best Lawyers in America for Gaming Law (2006-2010); Gaming's Legal Eagles: A Guide to the World's Pre-eminent Gaming Attorneys; Leading Lawyers Network for Commercial Litigation, Criminal Defense, White Collar Defense, Gaming (2004-2009). Mr. Ficaro was formerly the First Assistant Attorney General of Illinois and the Chief of Criminal Division of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans and the Nominating Committee today announced the names of the 20 candidates chose to appear on the ballot from which the circuit judges will select 10 new associate judges. Chief Judge Evans noted that the Nominating Committee interviewed 261 applicants over a five-week period and that the selection of the 20 candidates was unanimous. A total of 278 attorneys originally submitted applications for consideration - 19 of those later withdrew. At the request of Chief Judge Evans, all applicants were evaluated by the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening (including the ISBA) and the Chicago Bar Association. Each bar association issued its own ratings for individual associate judge applicants. The list of 20 candidates:
  • Carmen Kathleen Aguilar
  • Thomas M. Battista
  • Clarence Lewis Burch
  • Theresa Christine Ceko
  • LaGuina Clay-Clark
  • Neil H. Cohen
  • Stephen James Connolly
  • William Edward Gomolinski
  • William Richard Jackson, Jr.
  • Demetrios George Kottaras
  • Yehuda P. Lebovits
  • Lori Gail Levin
  • Linda Johanna Pauel
  • Vicki Faye Rogers
  • Bernard Joseph Sarley
  • Regina Ann Scannicchio
  • Andrea M. Schleifer
  • Richard Denis Schwind
  • Ketki Shroff Steffen
  • Jeffrey L. Warnick
The candidates will present their credentials to the circuit judges over the next few weeks.
"In theory, you should never ask a question unless you already know the answer (and, presumably like that answer)," Maxine Weiss Kunz writes in the latest ISBA Young Lawyers Division newsletter. "But in application, sometimes the opposite will get the job done just as succinctly. Sometimes there is no room for theory in practice." She goes on to tell a clever and instructive tale about the time she decided to “[p]ut Mom on the stand and ask her all of the questions you would find on a completed Financial Affidavit,” thus effectively "conduct[ing] a discovery deposition during cross-examination of the defendant." No, it's not a true story. But it's "based on the stringing together of numerous true stories." Read it here.
Public Act 96-583 was signed into law on Tuesday, August 18. It does four things affecting the award of attorney's fees in family law cases: (1) limits the presumption in favor of summary hearings to prejudgment cases, (2) tolls the deadline for filing a final petition for fees in some instances and permits a stipulated deferral of one year for such a filing, (3) eliminates the requirement that the attorney must file billing statements in court if he or she is seeking a consent judgment, (4) and expands the applicability for fee awards for hearings that are prompted by improper purposes. Effective January 1, 2010.
Naperville lawyer, ISBA member, tech expert, and Solo and Small Firm Conference presenter Bryan Sims (aka The Connected Lawyer) says there are four must-have tools for sole practitioners: a smart phone, a laptop, a scanner, and a good backup system. “Unless you’re going to be tied to your office, you should have some sort of smart phone,” such as an iPhone, a BlackBerry, or a PalmPre, Sims told Helen Gunnarsson in an interview for the yet-to-be-released September Illinois Bar Journal. “You need something that will allow you to get your e-mail, look at documents, and otherwise get some work done when you’re out of the office.” As for laptops, Simms recommends buying a business class model directly from the manufacturer instead of the cheapest thing available. “If you’re using your computer for your law practice, you can’t afford to have it out of operation for a week,” he says. A scanner will help you create a paperless and a portable office. “I recommend that you keep all of your documents in .pdf format. If you want to keep the hard copy too, fine, but scan everything,” Sims says. Scanned documents are easy to manage and disseminate. Finally, you need a good backup system.
Governor Quinn has signed 543 new public acts into law. He will have another 200 to sign in the next 30 days. You may want to go to the General Assembly's homepage at and click on "public acts." It lists them in chronological order in the order he signs them. Some of these new public acts take effect the day he signs them and could affect your practice area.
Chief Judge Stephen J. Culliton is pleased to announce that following a tabulation of ballots by the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts in Springfield, the Circuit Judges of the the Eighteenth Circuit Court, DuPage County have appointed Paul A. Marchese to the position of Associate Judge. Mr. Marchese fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Judge Kenneth A. Abraham. He is a 1990 graduate of the John Marshall School of Law and is currently a DuPage County Assistant State's Attorney, supervising the Narcotics Unit.
Even during a three-year, round-the-clock renovation soon to be under way, the Everett McKinley Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, home of the nation's third largest federal district court, will remain open with normal hours for courts and government offices, the U.S. General Services Administration announced today. The phased construction, which begins in September, will be keyed to keeping the 30-story building open, along with its 57 courtrooms and 11 federal government offices. The renovation's major focus will be the replacement of the building's nearly 50-year-old heating and ventilation, fire alarm and lighting systems. Most work will be done at night and on weekends to limit disruptions. "The modernization of this architectural landmark designed by Mies van der Rohe exemplifies GSA's commitment to sustainable design," said GSA Acting Regional Administrator J. David Hood. "By making our public buildings higher-performing and more energy-efficient we maximize their value to the taxpayer. And with the benefits of new technology, we are renewing the future of this courthouse by building upon the creative energies that produced it and the stewardship that has preserved it." The building's largest tenant is the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois with 40 judges and more than 400 employees. The courthouse is also the seat of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Northern Illinois. Other tenants include the U.S. Attorney, U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Trustees. Chief Judge James F. Holderman of the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois acknowledged that the project will cause some disruption and inconvenience. He said, however, "We of the United States District Court, as tenants, look forward to working cooperatively with GSA to keep the disruption to a minimum and the courts running smoothly as GSA completes these necessary renovations."