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Illinois Supreme Court

DISBARRED

  • Francis Joseph Coyle, Jr., Rock Island

Mr. Coyle, who was licensed in 1974, was disbarred. He intentionally misappropriated $100,000 in funds that he was supposed to be holding in escrow in connection with a real estate transaction. In addition, on two occasions, he falsely represented to the buyer’s attorney that he was still holding all of the funds in escrow.

  • Laird James Heal, Sterling, Massachusetts

Mr. Heal was licensed in Massachusetts in 1989 and in Illinois in 1991. The Supreme Judicial Court for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts disbarred him for misusing over $13,000 of funds held in escrow in connection with a bankruptcy case. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.

  • Richard Carl Moenning, Chicago

Mr. Moenning, who was licensed in 1962, was disbarred. While serving as both trustee and trust counsel to several trusts created by two elderly sisters, he paid himself over $360,000 in purported fees without performing sufficient services to justify the payment of the funds. He also took years to notify or pay some of the trust beneficiaries, failed to disburse any funds to one beneficiary as of the time of the disciplinary hearing, failed to timely notify some of the beneficiaries of their interests under the trusts, and never provided an accounting to any of the beneficiaries or to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. He was suspended on an interim basis on June 15, 2016.


Leading appellate attorneys review the Illinois Supreme Court opinions handed down Thursday, May 18. The cases are Better Government Ass'n v. Illinois High School Ass'n, In re Estate of Shelton, Ferris, Thompson & Zweig, Ltd v. Esposito, Chultem v. Ticor Title Insurance Co., and People v. Veach.

CIVIL

Better Government Ass'n v. Illinois High School Ass'n

By Joanne R. Driscoll, Forde Law Offices LLP

In the ongoing battle involving public records requests made of governmental agencies, the supreme court was asked to define the term “subsidiary bod[y]” as used in the definition of “public body” in the Freedom of Information Act (5 ILCS 140/2(a) (West 2014)) and then to determine whether the Illinois High School Association (“IHSA”) is subject to the FOIA.  The IHSA governs and coordinates interscholastic athletic competitions for public and private secondary schools in Illinois.

Chief Justice Karmeier, portrait artist Greg McNair, Emily Schnitker, Mary Karmeier, and Karianne Schnitker
Chief Justice Karmeier, portrait artist Greg McNair, Emily Schnitker, Mary Karmeier, and Karianne Schnitker
An oil portrait of Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier was unveiled on Tuesday, May 16, at the historic Illinois Supreme Court building in Springfield. The painting hangs in the second floor hallway with the portraits of nine other chief justices, with additional portraits hanging in Chicago's Bilandic Building. The painting was done by artist Greg McNair of St. Louis. Chief Justices in Illinois are selected by their colleagues on the Supreme Court bench in a rotational pattern and serve for three years as the administrative head of the judicial branch. Chief Justice Karmeier's granddaughter, Emily Schnitker, performed the unveiling. She was on a Springfield visit with her 7th and 8th grade class from Trinity Lutheran School in Hoyleton. The class also heard the day's third oral argument, People v. Byron Boykins

Among those attending from Washington County were Circuit Judge Daniel Emge, Circuit Clerk Cynthia Barczewski and Court Reporter Brenda Engele along with Chief Justice Karmeier's wife, Mary, daughter, Karianne Schnitker and office staff.


The Illinois Supreme Court hosted 'Law School for Legislators' on May 9, 2017, with all seven Supreme Court Justices and leadership and new members of the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate in attendance.

The event, held at the Illinois Supreme Court Building in Springfield, was intended to familiarize the legislative branch with court operations and to foster dialogue of communication, cooperation and coordination between the legislative and judicial branches.

Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier, Justice Rita B. Garman, AOIC Director Michael J. Tardy addressed the attendees and spoke on topics including the role of the Supreme Court and its relation to the legislative branch and how cases are initiated and proceed through the Illinois Courts. The Justices took comments and questions at a reception following the program.

The legislators who attended were Senate President John Cullerton, Senator Tom Rooney, Representative Melissa Conyears-Ervin, Rep. Randy Frese, Rep. LaToya Greenwood, Rep Brad Halbrook, Rep. Michael Halpin, Rep. Theresa Mah, Rep. David Olsen,  Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst, Rep. Dave Severin and Rep. Daniel Swanson.


The Illinois Supreme Court has adopted a statewide policy statement for pretrial services. The statewide policy statement is a continuation of the advancement of pretrial services in Illinois.

"This policy statement seeks to serve as a guide for all of our trial courts," Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier said. "The goal of pretrial services is to reduce the pretrial incarceration rate while ensuring that defendants comply with approved pretrial release. This process includes the application of a validated pretrial risk assessment tool which aids judges in making research-based decisions about whether defendants should be detained or released prior to their criminal trials.”

The statement is as follows:

A leading appellate attorney reviews the Illinois Supreme Court opinion handed down Thursday, April 20. The case is People v. Way. 

People v. Way

By Kerry J. Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender

Ida Way was driving a vehicle when she crossed into oncoming traffic and struck another vehicle head-on, causing injuries to the driver of that vehicle as well as a passenger in her own car. Subsequent forensic testing revealed the presence of cannabis metabolite in Way's urine. She was charged with aggravated DUI based upon her having "any amount" of a drug, substance, or compound in her urine.

Way sought to defend against the charge by introducing evidence that a sudden, unforeseeable medical condition that caused her to lose consciousness was the proximate cause of the accident. She offered that her passenger would testify that she lost consciousness, three eyewitnesses would testify that they saw her shortly before the accident and she did not appear impaired, and her doctor would testify that it was possible that her loss of consciousness was due to her low blood pressure. The trial court rejected her request, concluding that the statute was one of strict liability "as to the accident." The appellate court looked to the law of proximate cause in civil cases and held that Way should have been permitted to present medical evidence.

A recent change to the rule governing how lawyers deal with unidentified funds in their pooled client trust accounts has generated over $1,000,000 for legal aid in Illinois.

In March 2015, the Supreme Court of Illinois amended Rule 1.15 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct to require Illinois lawyers to remit unidentified funds in these client trust accounts to the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois after a 12-month due diligence process to determine who owns the funds. Since the new rule went into effect on July 1, 2015, the Lawyers Trust Fund (LTF) has received $1,007,829.21.

“For the 1.8 million Illinoisans living in poverty, legal aid is the only realistic option when confronted with a serious legal problem,” said LTF executive director Mark Marquardt. “Unfortunately, legal aid groups are facing serious financial headwinds in terms of both state and federal funding, which make this new source of revenue even more critical.”

A long-term restoration project between the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office and the Supreme Court of Illinois has led to the discovery of some rare, historic documents involving famous and infamous Illinois attorneys.

“I am pleased with the results of this project, which sought to restore and preserve a unique facet of our state’s history,” said White, who also serves as State Archivist. “Since 2010, the State Archives Department has been restoring attorney oaths for the Supreme Court. Approximately 142,000 oaths, some preceding the Civil War, have been restored.”

Justice Rita Garman with Archives’ conservator Alex Dixon examine a restored oath.
Justice Rita Garman with Archives’ conservator Alex Dixon examine a restored oath.
Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier said, “The Court recently had the opportunity to tour the State Archives and see, firsthand, the efforts being made there to conserve these important documents. Attorney oaths offer scholars, educators and students a very tangible, but very fragile connection to the lawyers who have helped shape our laws and the legal profession over the past two centuries. The Court is extremely grateful to the Archives for everything it has done to ensure that this irreplaceable record of the legal profession’s history is preserved and protected for future generations. The work done by the Archives’ staff has been nothing less than extraordinary.”


On April 3, 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court approved Supreme Court Rule 293, which requires trial courts to commence a jury trial if requested by a respondent in an involuntary admissions proceeding under the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code within 30 days of the request effective immediately.

The decision to approve this rule stems from years of confusion and debate. Recognizing the serious rights at stake in cases such as In re James W., 2014 IL 114483, and In re Rita P., 2014 IL 115798, the Court asked its Special Advisory Committee for Justice and Mental Health Planning to study the matter and recommend solutions. Rule 293 was proposed by the Committee to clarify and make mandatory the time limit trial courts have to convene juries in mental health involuntary commitment hearings. 

The importance of creating one uniform rule for the state cannot be understated. It recognizes the importance of fundamental liberty interests; provides one consistent standard for judges to make clear, concise, and complete findings of fact; and provides guidelines to  judges who lack experience in these types of case. Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier explained, "The Court is confident that the new rule will provide much needed guidance to the courts and officials charged with enforcing the orders and, in so doing, ensure full and proper protection of the fundamental liberty interests of citizens facing involuntary admission or treatment for mental health issues.”

On April 3, 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court announced changes to a rule impacting the requirements for continuing legal education (CLE) in Illinois. The rule change will go into effect on July 1, 2017, and begins with attorneys with the two-year reporting period ending June 30, 2019.

Pursuant to Amended Supreme Court Rule 794(d), Illinois lawyers will be required to complete one hour of diversity and inclusion CLE and one hour of mental health and substance abuse CLE as part of the Professional Responsibility CLE requirement. 

Studies show that the legal field falls short in the areas of diversity and wellness as compared to other fields. Promoting education on these issues helps address two of the profession's greatest challenges, and positions Illinois as one of the first states to require such programming. Illinois is one of seven states that allows diversity and inclusion to qualify for ethics/professionalism credit. With the amendment of Rule 794(d), it became the fourth state to require diversity-related CLE, and it is one of only three states that will require mental health and substance abuse education. As a result, Illinois is one of only two states that requires both diversity and inclusion and mental health and substance abuse education for continuing legal education.