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Practice News

[A recent discussion about high-maintenance clients on the ISBA general listserver inspired Huntley lawyer and ISBA Assembly member TJ Thurston to draft the following policies, which he was kind enough to let us share.]


Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans will administer the oath of office to the newly elected Cook County associate judge on Friday, October 30 at 11 a.m. The induction ceremony will be held at the Assembly Hall of the James R. Thompson Center, concourse level, 100 W. Randolph in Chicago. The following judges will be sworn in:
  • Carmen Kathleen Aguilar
  • Clarence Lewis Burch
  • LaGuina Clay-Clark
  • Neil H. Cohen
  • Stephen James Connolly
  • William Edward Gomolinski
  • William Richard Jackson Jr.
  • Demetrios George Kottaras
  • Bernard Joseph Sarley
  • Jeffrey L. Warnick
Cook County Associate judges serve a four year term and receive an annual salary of $165,588. By Supreme Court Rule, however, the term for all associate judges will expire on June 30, 2011, regardless of when they were appointed. The ten judges appointed today, as well as those associate judges currently serving, must be reappointed July 1, 2011. Cook County seats 152 associate judges.
From the law clerk's point of view, that is. Newly minted lawyer and former clerk Crystal Sava offers great advice to lawyers who want to get the most from their clerks while treating them fairly. (That's what every lawyer wants, right?) Here's some representative advice from Ms. Sava: "DON’T underestimate your law clerk. In most cases, your law clerk is either still in law school or has just finished law school. Of course, this means the law is still fresh and memorable, and your clerk has learned (or is learning) to think like a lawyer and outside the box." Read more in the latest issue of The Catalyst.
The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred 10 lawyers, suspended 32, censured four and issued reprimands to four others this week in its latest disciplinary filing. Most of the suspensions take effect on Oct. 13. More information on each case is available on the Web site of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.


  • James Joseph Bajgrowicz, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Mr. Bajgrowicz was licensed in Illinois in 1967 and in California in 1971. He was disbarred in California for practicing law while suspended for misconduct. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred him.
  • Ione Young Gray, Los Angeles
Ms. Gray was licensed in Illinois in 1974 and in California in 1977. She was disbarred in California after she sought renewal of her California real estate brokerage license by stating, under penalty of perjury, that she had not been convicted of any federal crimes, when she was convicted of charges of bank fraud and Social Security fraud the previous year. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and disbarred her.
  • Robert Stewart Greisman, Chicago
Mr. Greisman, who was licensed in Illinois in 1976, was disbarred on consent. He pled guilty in federal court to participating in the creation and marketing of tax shelters.
  • Mark Joel Helfand, Chicago
Mr. Helfand, who was licensed in 1971, was disbarred on consent. He was convicted of federal bank fraud and was sentenced to five months incarceration and five months home confinement, and he was ordered to pay $21,079 in restitution to a defrauded bank. The conviction was related to his participation in a real property flipping scheme.
  • Bartholomew John Kempff, Lincolnshire
Mr. Kempff, who was licensed in 2000, was disbarred on consent. He was convicted in state court of theft over $100,000. As the corporate attorney for a design firm, he misappropriated funds from the company's trust accounts and an investment fund.
  • Joseph Mathews, Chicago
Mr. Mathews, who was licensed in 2002, was disbarred. He misappropriated $28,000 in client funds, issued checks from his law office operating account when he knew there were insufficient funds in the account to honor those checks, continued to practice law after his name was removed from the Master Roll of Attorneys, failed to cooperate with the ARDC investigation, and failed to appear at the disciplinary hearing.
  • William Francis Prendergast, Chicago
Mr. Prendergast, who was licensed in 1990, was disbarred on consent. He failed to prosecute 24 different patent applications for his clients, then fabricated documents and made false statements to conceal his inaction from those clients, other attorneys, and the federal patent office.
  • John Carl Stambulis, Elmwood Park
Mr. Stambulis, who was licensed in 1961, was disbarred on consent. He pled guilty to federal tax fraud conspiracy and was sentenced to a two-year prison term for his role in creating and marketing illusory trusts.
  • William E. Wells, Marion
Mr. Wells, who was licensed in 1998, was disbarred on consent. He agreed to negotiate debts or file bankruptcy proceedings for 23 different clients who had serious financial problems. Subsequently, he provided little or no services for the clients and did not refund their fees. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Illinois eventually suspended him from practice in that court. In response to the order, Mr. Wells sent letters to his clients telling them that the suspension was merely temporary and that they would have to pay "probably a lot of extra money" if they obtained different counsel.
  • Lorie Keena Westerfield, Chicago
Ms. Westerfield, who was licensed in 1995, was disbarred on consent, retroactive to the date of her interim suspension. She was convicted of federal wire fraud after she participated in a scheme to cause individuals experiencing financial problems to sell their homes as part of a leaseback arrangement. She was sentenced to a five-year term of probation and was ordered to pay restitution of $116,147 to a defrauded bank. She was suspended on an interim basis on Sept. 23, 2008.
In the latest ISBA Education Law newsletter, authors describe a pair of U.S. Supreme Court cases from last term in which students prevailed over their local school districts. In Forest Grove School District v. T.A., the high court held that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act lets parents recover the cost putting their child in private school even though the student didn't previously receive special ed through the public school. "It is now clear that whether or not a child has been identified as eligible for special education services, IDEA’s provisions can afford parents an opportunity to seek recovery of their costs in placing their child in a private school by claiming that the public school district failed to provide their child with a free, appropriate public education and that the private school is providing an appropriate specialized program and services," wrote Mary Kay Klimesh in her article about the case. And in Safford Unified School District v. Redding, the Court found that a strip search of a 13-year-old girl violated the Fourth Amendment. "The lesson here," writes Phil Milsk, "is that strip and body cavity searches in the schools should be used only in the rarest of occasions when there is reasonable suspicion to believe that a student is actually hiding contraband in their clothing or body cavities." Read his full summary and analysis.
Jay Goldenberg sets the scenario in a very readable article in the latest ISBA Trusts & Estates newsletter: "I get a call. A minor is a beneficiary of a life insurance policy. When a parent or guardian of the person sought to collect, they were told 'we can only pay to a guardian of the estate.'” But as Jay points out, there may be a simpler and less expensive solution than guardianship -- the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. "Sometimes it takes some education and citation, but I have never failed to secure distribution [via the UTMA], at lower cost than establishing a guardianship of the estate, not to mention the simplicity of future administration." Find out how he does it.
From the Supreme Court: The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism broke new ground during 2008 with a watershed lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring program for new attorneys in the 17th Judicial Circuit. That is one highlight of the Commission's annual report, approved this week by the Illinois Supreme Court during its September term. The full report will be disseminated widely across the state to members of the bench, the bar and to legal organizations. The pilot mentoring program in collaboration with the 17thCircuit, which includes Winnebago and Boone counties, pairs every newly admitted lawyer with a more experienced lawyer for a year-long structured apprenticeship. Under the leadership of Chief Judge Janet Holmgren, the 17th Judicial Circuit also has created a Peer Review Council composed of members of the Winnebago and Boone County Bar Associations to review complaints against lawyers and judges whose behavior violates the voluntary code of conduct, Statement of Professional Aspirations, adopted by that legal community the prior year.
Like the lender and the buyer, the seller of real estate can be victimized by a shady title insurance agent who runs off with money meant for, say, paying off mortgages. But unlike the lender and the buyer, the seller isn't protected by the standard "closing protection letter." A CPL requires the title insurer to guarantee the agent's performance. In the new ISBA Real Property newsletter, Michael J. Rooney suggests ways counsel for sellers can protect their clients.
Gov. Pat Quinn announced Wednesday he is restoring $16 million to the budget of the Illinois Supreme Court to aid probationary services in the state, which had been cut 44 percent in the current budget. Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald expressed gratitude to the governor. Earlier this month, the Chief Justice had written to the Governor, urging restoration of funds for the sake of public safety. He and Administrative Director Cynthia Y. Cobbs of the Illinois Courts also had met with the Governor's chief of staff to discuss restoration of funds. "I am grateful to the Governor for the consideration he has given to restoring badly needed funds for statewide probation services," the Chief Justice said. "The partial restoration will help probation officers around the state in supervising the thousands of defendants placed on probation each year."
What are the 10 things you must do to preserve the record for appeal in a family-law case? Well, here's one: "[U]s[e] a pre-trial motion, such as a motion in limine, to preclude or permit the introduction of evidence. Attorneys can also use these motions to cure the untimely disclosure of a witness’ testimony or to bar the testimony." To find our more and learn the other nine, read the rest of Gregory C. Maksimuk's article in the latest ISBA Family Law newsletter.