I am pleased to report on the activity of the Committee on Government Lawyers since our last newsletter. First and foremost, our ethics seminar, “Ethical Considerations in Public Sector Law,” was presented in Springfield on 12 September 2003. I believe that the seminar can be called nothing but successful. Based upon the questions and comments from the audience, and their engagement with the role players during the discussion periods, I am certain that a great deal of knowledge and information was exchanged. Our thanks to James Grogan of the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission and to ISBA staff members Janet Sosin and Trish Ashton. For more information regarding the seminar, please see Cindy Ervin’s article inside the newsletter.
As Mr. Grogan guided the audience through the thicket of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and attempted to explain how the rules apply to government practice, I found it difficult to imagine that any practicing government lawyer could read the Rules and have a clear understanding of his/her ethical responsibilities. The federal courts have recognized that “government lawyers have responsibilities and obligations different from those facing members of the private bar. While the latter are appropriately concerned first and foremost with protecting their clients—even those engaged in wrongdoing—from criminal charges and public exposure, government lawyers have a higher, competing duty to act in the public interest.” In Re Witness before Special Grand Jury (7th Cir. 2002), 288 F.3d 289, 293. I submit that government lawyers are entitled to more than the vague references that one must glean from the current Rules of Professional Conduct. See, for example, Rule 1.13, “Organization as Client.” I intend to expand and expound on this topic in future newsletters.
The seminar was followed by a well-attended reception and recognition ceremony for senior government attorneys at the recently renamed Gwendolyn Brooks State Library. The Government Bar Association was a co-sponsor for the reception, and we are deeply appreciative of its support. For the historical record, the following senior government attorneys were the first to be recognized by the ISBA’s Committee on Government Lawyers for their distinguished and dedicated public service:
• Thomas J. Carlisle, of the Illinois Department of Revenue;
• Shawn W. Denney, recently retired from the Office of the Illinois Attorney General;
• Matthew J. Finnell, Administrator of the Illinois Court of Claims;
• Theodore A. Gottfried, Executive Director of the Office of the State Appellate Defender;
• Patrick J. Hughes, Jr., recently retired from the Office of the State Appellate Defender;
• Claire A. Manning, recently retired from the Illinois Pollution Control Board;
• Madalyn Maxwell, recently retired from the Office of the Illinois Attorney General;
• John J. Pavlou, recently retired from the Office of the State Fire Marshall;
• Darryl D. Pratscher, Clerk of the 4th District Appellate Court;
• James W. Redlich, Chief Counsel for the Illinois State Police;
• Edward J. Schoenbaum, an administrative law judge with the Department of Employment Security;
• George W. Tinkham, recently retired from the Illinois Department of Transportation; and
• Shirley K. Wilgenbusch, Research Director for the 4th District Appellate Court.
Our Programs and Services Subcommittee was responsible for producing these two events, and much credit for their success goes to co-chairs Rosalyn Kaplan and Nancy Easum. Our thanks also to ISBA Executive Director Robert Craghead, who took the time to stop by and witness the recognition ceremony. Another recognition ceremony is in the offing, and any government lawyer who meets the qualifications of the recognition program is welcome to submit an application form. The form is published in this newsletter and will be available on the ISBA Web site.
On another subject, Secretary Pat Hughes and I met with Brian Otwell, Sangamon County Public Defender and President of the Public Defenders Association, in early August to open lines of communication with the Public Defenders Association (“PDA”). We discussed ways that the Committee on Government Lawyers and the PDA could work together to improve the working conditions of our constituencies. One area of mutual concern was state and federal legislation. For example, Public Act 92-508, effective July 1, 2002, (HB 549) requires the state to pay 66 2⁄3 percent of the public defender’s salary for every county. If a public defender is employed full-time in that capacity, his or her salary must be at least 90 percent of that county’s state’s attorney’s salary. However, the General Assembly has not yet appropriated the money to fund this legislation. House Bill 3563 provides for annual stipends of $3,500, adjusted for inflation, for a maximum of five years to assistant state’s attorneys, assistant public defenders, assistant appellate defenders, assistant appellate prosecutors, assistant attorneys general, and non-supervisory legal aid attorneys. This legislation died in committee last year. The ISBA supported both of these bills, and we will support the efforts of the PDA and the Prosecutor’s Bar Association to fund P.A. 92-508 and to win passage of HB 3563.
Zachary Raimi, a member of our legislation subcommittee, is following a bill which has been introduced in Congress called “The Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act.” It has been introduced in both houses (S.1091.I and HR 2198.IH respectively). Co-sponsored by Illinois’ Senior Senator Richard Durbin, the purpose of the legislation is to provide funding for student loan repayment for public attorneys. We will keep you posted on any developments with this legislation.
Our Membership Subcommittee has also been busy. Co-chair Donna Del Principe has put together a short survey to help us gauge the needs of non-ISBA member government lawyers. Do not be surprised if you receive a call from one of our committee members during the next several weeks.
Finally, anyone who would like to contribute a news item, brief a recent court decision, or publish an interesting piece of research, is welcome to submit the item to our dedicated and hardworking co-editors, Kate Kelly and Lynn Patton.
As you can see, we are busy. But that is how it should be. We welcome your participation in pursuing the mission of the Committee on Government Lawyers, and your input on how we are doing.