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Practice News

Public Act 96-555 increases the fee for any entity or lobbyist that wishes to lobby in Springfield from $350 to $1,000. Not-for-profits that are Sec. 501(c)(3) corporations were increased from $150 to $1,000. Quite a hit for State Farm, the Red Cross and the United Way, ISBA, or anyone else before being allowed to petition our own government.
Employers don't usually think about being prosecuted for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Mike Lied observes in the latest issue of ISBA's Labor and Employment Law newsletter. "However, Section 17(e) of the Act [criminally] punishes any employer convicted of willfully violating any standard, rule, order or regulation prescribed pursuant to the Act, if that violation caused an employee’s death," he writes. He goes on to describe an Illinois-based case in which the "employer escaped, for the time being, liability for a willful violation, based on faulty jury instructions." Read more.
I love this case. Have you ever done battle with a vending machine to recover the bag of Famous Amos that's rightfully yours? Well, a Good Samaritan in Chicago took this fight to a higher plane by waging it on behalf of a female coworker. (Chivalry lives!) But the vending machine fought back, as they so often do, and he hurt his hip in the process. No small injury, this. It required "immediate surgery," according to Brad Bleakney, who wrote about the case in the latest ISBA Workers' Compensation Law newsletter. The worker filed a comp claim, the Commission awarded him $60K, the circuit overturned the award, and the second district appellate court reinstated it. Interesting facts, interesting ruling -- read Brad's article.
Can lawyers really go straight from law school into solo practice? Helen Gunnarsson's cover story for the September IBJ contains a wealth of cautionary, inspirational, no-holds-barred advice from ISBA members for would-be solos. Take this quote from veteran Champaign solo Tom Bruno, who hung out his shingle before the ink dried on his diploma. "Take anything that walks in the door. You'll figure it out. "You won't get hired on anything overly important, and the kinds of folks who hire someone like you have usually got problems that you can handle," he continued. "I don't think you'll have to worry too much about categories of cases you won't take. They won't find you." Fascinating stuff, and there's lots more where that came from.
Chief Judge Stephen J. Culliton announced Tuesday that applications for the Office of Associate Judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois, DuPage County have been received from the following:
  • Allan C. Alongi, Clarendon Hills
  • Audriana T. Anderson, Wheaton
  • Brenda M. Carroll, Winfield
  • Anthony V. Coco, Glen Ellyn
  • Kimberly A. Davis, Winfield
  • Robert E. Douglas, Carol Stream
  • Thomas F. Downing, West Chicago
  • Scott M. Hardek, Elmhurst
  • John Paul Kelly, Wheaton
  • Frank J. Markov, Jr., Lombard
  • Sean M. McCumber, Warrenville
  • Robert S. McDonough, Wheaton
  • Alex F. McGimpsey, III, Glen Ellyn
  • Ronald D. Menna, Jr., Wheaton
  • Robert A. Miller, West Chicago
  • Michelle L. Moore, Glen Ellyn
  • Brian N. Nigohosian, Darien
  • Michael A. O'Brien, Wheaton
  • James D. Orel, Westmont
  • John J. Pcolinski, Jr. Naperville
  • David E. Schwartz, Glen Ellyn
  • Alfred A. Spitzzeri, Naperville
  • Neal F. Thompson, Naperville
The vacancy is the results of the retirement of Associate Judge Mark W. Dwyer. As part of the review process conducted by the Circuit Judges, Chief Judge Culliton invites public comment by letter before Sept. 18, 2009: Chief Judge Stephen J. Culliton 18th Judicial Circuit Court 505 N. County Farm Road, Room 2015 Wheaton, IL 60187
Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald of the Illinois Supreme Court has released the contents of a letter he wrote to Gov. Pat Quinn urging him to restore severe budget cuts to probation services, saying the current level of state funding is “dangerously inadequate.” The Chief Justice wrote the letter on September 1 to “respectfully request your restoration of funding to a level that allows probation to do its critical work for Illinois’ citizens and communities.” In the budget approved by the Governor, funds appropriated to the Supreme Court for community-based probation programs in 2010 totaled $36,485,500 – a 44 percent reduction from the 2009 allocation. The reduced 2010 allocation follows a 2005 budget cut of 13 percent for probation services, which despite repeated requests by the Supreme Court, has never been restored. “The practical effect of diminishing appropriations is that probation officers must be laid off, criminal offenders sentenced to probation receive inadequate or no supervision, and the public safety is thereby  severely compromised,” the Chief Justice wrote. The Chief Justice said he is aware that the state’s economic difficulties are more serious than any he has known in his 30 years of public service and is sensitive to the heavy burden the Governor bears in distributing limited fiscal resources. “I make this request only after careful deliberation and out of the most grave concerns for the public safety of Illinois’ citizens,” the Chief Justice wrote.
Governor Quinn signed the QTIP trust legislation into law yesterday to take effect immediately. It may be found at the General Assembly website under Senate Bill 2115 or Public Act 96-789. by clicking here. Public Act 96-789 creates QTIP trust legislation for an Illinois surviving spouse if the other spouse dies in 2009. It addresses the issues caused by the decoupling of federal and Illinois exemptions for estate taxes for 2009.
Employers and insurers beware: effective November 21, a new federal statute with the acronym "GINA" forbids discrimination based on genetic information. Read Helen Gunnarsson's LawPulse item from the September IBJ, which describes the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act  and links to EEOC rules interpreting it.
The Legislative Research Unit has done an excellent job of summarizing most of the bills that have been sent to the Governor. It may be found at LRU's website at this link. Click on "First Reading," and then click on the August 2009 issue, vol. 23, No.1. You may have to go to the General Assembly webpage to see if the bill has been signed into law, by clicking here.
May an Illinois lawyer list his or her "specialties" on LinkedIn without running afoul of Illinois RPC 7.4, which forbids use of the "s" word? The LinkedIn template includes a space for users to fill in their "Specialties," and Illinois lawyers in the LinkedIn network have been wondering. According to Helen Gunnarsson in the September IBJ, ARDC Chief Legal Counsel James Grogan says lawyers can remove the risk of an RPC 7.4 violation by "prefac[ing] their listing of practice areas with a statement drawing language from the rule, along the lines of 'The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law, and I do not hold myself out as a specialist. However, I concentrate my practice in the following areas....'" Read about this and more in Helen's LawPulse item, Social media and legal ethics.