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Illinois Supreme Court

Audio of Illinois Appellate Court arguments to be available on Supreme Court website

Posted on October 30, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
In keeping with the Illinois Supreme Court's desire to bring greater public access and understanding to the courts, audio recordings of all oral arguments in the Illinois Appellate Court will soon be available on the court's website. The new access will be available beginning Monday, Nov. 2 at www.state.il.us/court. The appellate courtrooms in all five Judicial Districts have been equipped with digital audio recording systems that will preserve audio quality long term for archival purposes. The systems also are compatible with standard computer software readily available on most person computer systems, and will allow the legal community and the general public to listen to and download audio recordings of all appellate arguments and workers' compensation hearings.

Chickris named associate judge in 14th Judicial Circuit

Posted on October 15, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
Cynthia Y. Cobbs, Director of Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced today that the judges in the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit voted to select Greg G. Chickris as an associate judge. Mr. Chickris received his undergraduate degree in 1972 from Western Illinois University and his J.D. in 1976 from DePaul University. Mr. Chickris has been engaged in solo practice in East Moline.

Illinois Supreme Court appoints Hillsboro attorney Jarman to Fourth Judicial Circuit

Posted on September 29, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
The Supreme Court of Illinois announced the appointment of attorney Douglas L. Jarman as Circuit Judge at Large of the Fourth Judicial Circuit. This appointment fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge John Coady on Oct. 3, 2009. Jarman, 51, has practiced in nearly every area of civil law. He has also served as the attorney for numerous local government entities, including the City of Hillsboro and the Villages of Panama and Irving. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served in the White House Communications Agency. Jarman is a graduate of Triopia High School; Eastern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University School of Law. This appointment will be effective Oct. 19, 2009, and will terminate when the position is filled by the general election of 2010. The Fourth Judicial Circuit is comprised of nine counties: Christian, Clay, Clinton, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Marion, Montgomery and Shelby.

Illinois Supreme Court disbars 10 lawyers, suspends 32

Posted on September 24, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
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.

DISBARRED

  • 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.

Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism releases annual report

Posted on September 17, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
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.

Governor agrees to restore $16 million of $36 million in probation cuts

Posted on September 16, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
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."

Chief Justice Fitzgerald urges governor to restore cuts to probation services as matter of public safety

Posted on September 9, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
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.

Courthouse tours: Illinois Supreme Court

Posted on July 24, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
The Illinois Supreme Court building at 200 E. Capitol Ave., Springfield
The Illinois Supreme Court building at 200 E. Capitol Ave., Springfield
The Illinois Supreme Court building was completed in 1908. The first floor holds the offices for the clerk of the court. The courtroom used by the Illinois Supreme Court and an Appellate Courtroom are on the second floor. This floor also contains a law library. The third floor is closed to the public. It has living quarters that the justices use while they are in session. Address: 200 E. Capitol Avenue, Springfield Year built: 1908 Cost: $450,000 Architect: W. Carbys Zimmerman Click here to view our photo tour

ISBA General Counsel Charles Northrup on the New Rules for Lawyers

Posted on July 1, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
Illinois State Bar Association General Counsel Charles Northrup highlights two of what he thinks are the most important changes from today's Illinois Supreme Court adoption of the New Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers:
  • "One of the most significant, if not the most significant, aspect of the adopted Rules is that they contain official comments. The comments give attorneys a readily accessible interpretation and explanation of the intent of the Rules. It will be an additional and important guide for lawyers when they are determining what their ethical obligations are."
  • "Another important aspect of the new Rules is the treatment of the Dowling case and the issue of flat or fixed fees. Many practioners were concerned about the treatment of these types of fees under Dowling and whether they fell within the definition of 'advanced payment retainers.' The new Rules clarify that flat or fixed fees are not advanced payment retainers, a position that was advocated by the ISBA."
More highlights from the Supreme Court's New Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers Announcement for the New Rules of Professional Conduct

Highlights from the New Rules of Professional Conduct

Posted on July 1, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
A press release from the Illinois Supreme Court highlights some of the most important changes wrought by the new Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. For example, the new rules "clarif[y] the earlier law and eliminate certain restrictions on the reasons for sale" of a law practice, "prohibit a lawyer from having sexual relations with a client unless a prior sexual relationship existed," and "[f]or the first time ... explicitly govern electronic [lawyer advertising] communications such as e-mail and websites." Here are the full highlights from the Illinois Supreme Court: 1. New Rules The Supreme Court of Illinois has adopted a number of ethics rules that have not appeared in any previously enacted conduct code. The new rules include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • a) New Rule 1.18. Describes important duties that lawyers owe to a prospective client arising from preliminary discussions before the creation of a formal lawyer-client relationship;
  • b) New Rule 2.4. Defines the duties of a lawyer who serves as a third-party neutral, such as a mediator or arbitrator;
  • c) New Rule 3.9. Articulates the duties of an advocate in a nonadjudicative proceeding, such as before a legislative body or an administrative agency;
  • d) New Rule 4.4(b). Addresses how a lawyer should respond when the lawyer receives a document that was inadvertently submitted to the lawyer;
2. Comments to the New Rules The new ethics rules contain comments that attempt to explain the rules, refer to court decisions relating to the rules and assist the lawyer in complying with the rules. The rules are authoritative; the comments serve as a guide.

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