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ISBA Statehouse Review for the week of March 19, 2015

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers Court reporters, Attorney fees in civil actions (House Bill 2456), Product liability and confidentiality orders (House Bill 3518), Property fraud alert system (House Bill 3672), Guilty pleas (House Bill 2569) and The Notice and Opportunity to Repair Act (House Bill 3744). More information on each bill is available below the video.

Court reporters. The immediate issue of funding for court reporters, childcare assistance, and the Department of Corrections is being negotiated by Governor Rauner and the four legislative leaders. As was reported in the Pantagraph, “A child care program for low-income parents needs $300 million to make it through the end of the year. The Illinois Department of Corrections says it will begin running out of money to pay guards in mid-April. And, funds to pay court reporters are running dry, potentially resulting in a stoppage of court activity.” This week I was told that legislators have noticed that they are not hearing as much from constituents on the shortage for court reporting funding as the other two problems. I was told that they were unaware of the impact that this would have on county detention of defendants awaiting trial and possible Speedy Trial problems. If you have an opportunity, you may wish to bring this up with your state senator and representative. Their telephone numbers may be found on the General Assembly website at Thank you.

Attorney fees in civil actions. House Bill 2456 (Kay, R-Glen Carbon) authorizes the Illinois Supreme Court to adopt rules to promote the prompt, efficient, and cost-effective resolution of civil actions in which the amount in controversy is more than $10,000 but does not exceed $100,000. If a circuit court grants or denies, in whole or in part, a motion to dismiss because of the absence of a basis in law or fact for the action, then the court may award costs and reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in amounts that the court determines are equitable and just. Authorizes reasonable deposition fees to be recovered as costs. Scheduled for hearing next Wednesday in House Judiciary Committee (Civil).

Product liability and confidentiality orders. House Bill 3518 (Martwick, D-Chicago) defines these terms. If good cause is shown, a party required to respond to discovery in a product liability action may obtain a confidentiality order. If the court finds that a confidentiality order is appropriate, the order shall be narrowly drafted and may permit the subsequent designation of specific confidential materials. If a party objects to a designation that limits disclosure or dissemination of materials under a confidentiality order, the party seeking to limit disclosure or dissemination under a claim of confidentiality must demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, a specific, serious, and substantial interest in confidentiality that outweighs the adverse effect of confidentiality upon the general public health or safety. These new provisions do not preclude the use of confidentiality orders to protect trade secrets, apply to laws or regulations safeguarding the confidentiality of medical records, or apply to healthcare services. Scheduled for hearing next Wednesday in House Judiciary Committee (Civil).

Property fraud alert system. House Bill 3672 (Greg Harris, D-Chicago) allows a county recorder in a county that has a property fraud alert system to create a registration form to register a property owner on the county’s property fraud alert system. Allows a real estate professional to file with the recorder on behalf of a property owner. Provides that real estate professionals must register with the county recorder before filing the registration forms on behalf of property owners. Limits liability for those assisting a property owner with registering for the property fraud alert system. Limits home rule powers. Scheduled for hearing in the House Counties and Township Committee.

Guilty pleas. House Bill 2569 (Cabello, R-Rockford) prohibits a guilty plea from being taken unless the court explains the following to the defendant: (1) the maximum and minimum penalty provided by law for the offense which may be imposed by the court (rather than the consequences of the plea and the maximum penalty provided by law for the offense which may be imposed by the court); (2) any possible increased sentence by reason of the fact of a prior conviction or future conviction and any possibility of the imposition of consecutive sentences; (3) any registration requirement that accompanies the plea and the restrictions associated with the registration; and (4) the consequences of the plea on a defendant’s ability to: (a) retain or obtain housing in the public or private market; (b) acquire loans for educational or other purposes; (c) enroll in certain degree programs; (d) retain or obtain employment; (e) retain or obtain an occupational or driver's license; (f) possess a firearm; and (g) retain or obtain custody of a child. On second reading in the House.

The Notice and Opportunity to Repair Act. House Bill 3744 (Sandack, R-Downers Grove) requires the service of notice by a homeowner to a construction professional of alleged defects in the construction before the homeowner can commence a lawsuit. Allows the professional to make an offer of repair or settlement and to rescind this offer if the claimant fails to respond within 30 days. Requires the claimant to file with the court a list of known construction defects. Directs the professional to provide a statutory notice to the homeowner upon the execution of a contract. Scheduled for hearing next Wednesday in House Judiciary Committee (Civil).

Posted on March 19, 2015 by Chris Bonjean
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