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Hon. Roger Fein appointed Cook County Circuit Judge, 12th Subcircuit

Posted on December 5, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed the Hon. Roger G. Fein, currently Circuit Judge of Cook County, 3rd Subcircuit to Circuit Judge of Cook County, 12th Subcircuit. This vacancy was created by the retirement of the Hon. Robert J. Quinn and is effective Jan. 2, 2015 and terminates on Dec. 5, 2016.

Quick takes on Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions

Posted on December 4, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the civil case Michael v. Precision Alliance Group, LLC and the criminal cases People v. Jolly and People v. Simth.


Michael v. Precision Alliance Group, LLC

By Karen Kies DeGrand, Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC

Reversing an appellate decision entering judgment for plaintiffs in a retaliatory discharge case, the Illinois Supreme Court reinstated a judgment entered for an employer after a bench trial. The case turned on the legal standard that governs an employee’s burden of proving causation in a retaliatory discharge lawsuit. Illinois recognizes such a claim as a narrow exception to the general rule that an employer may terminate an “at-will” employee at any time, for any reason. The plaintiff in such cases must prove that the employer discharged the employee in retaliation for the employee’s activities and that the discharge violates public policy, such as when an employer fires an employee for asserting a workers’ compensation claim or for “whistleblowing,” reporting illegal or proper conduct. 

In this case, the employees contended that they were fired for whistle blowing  concerning weight labeling violations investigated by the Department of Agriculture. The employer, an agricultural supply company selling soybean seeds, convinced the trier of fact that the company fired the plaintiffs for nonpretextual reasons; one was discharged for engaging in horseplay with a forklift and two others were terminated in connection with a reduction in force. 

ISBA Statehouse Review for the week of December 4, 2014

Posted on December 4, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers Changes in juries and juror pay (Senate Bill 3075), Asbestos statutes (Senate Bill 2221) and Eavesdropping (Senate Bill 1342). More information on each bill is available below the video.


Ethics Question of the Week: Can I give client advance before settlement check clears?

Posted on December 4, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Q.  I just received a settlement check in a personal injury matter. Can I go ahead and advance the client’s portion to her before the settlement check clears?

Sam's Club invites ISBA members to shop for holidays

Posted on December 4, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA members and employees can come in with the Holiday Invitation to Shop (but all nonmember purchases are subject to a 10% service charge). Employees can avoid the service charge and receive a $25 Sam's Club gift card if they sign up or renew an existing Sam's PLUS membership for $100, or receive a $10 Sam's Club gift card if they sign up or renew an existing Sam's Savings or Sam's Business membership for $45.

ISBA ethics opinion: lawyers may advise clients about medical marijuana

Posted on December 3, 2014 by Mark S. Mathewson

As Illinois implements the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (410 ILCS 130/5 et seq.), attorneys face an ethical dilemma. Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(d) prohibits a lawyer from assisting clients in conduct he or she knows is criminal. And even though state law allows the cultivation, sale, and use of marijuana for limited medical purposes, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)has said it does not intend to interfere with the medical use of marijuana if it is tightly regulated and controlled by state law. But possession, sale, and production of marijuana remain illegal under federal law. How can an attorney reconcile this contradiction?

The ISBA's Standing Committee on Professional Conduct addresses the issue in new Advisory Opinion No. 14-07 (PDF). The opinion offers guidance on two specific questions: 1) May a lawyer provide legal advice and render other legal services to a client engaged in the medical marijuana business? 2) May a lawyer counsel a municipal government about zoning regulations for cultivation centers and dispensaries? The answer to the second question is simple: "yes," the opinion says in so many words. The answer to the first question is more lengthy and nuanced - but also "yes." Read Matthew Hector's article in the December Illinois Bar Journal and find out more.

Black reappointed as U.S. Bankruptcy Judge

Posted on December 3, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Chief Judge Diane P. Wood announced that the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has reappointed Northern Illinois Chief Bankruptcy Judge Bruce W. Black to another 14-year term when his current term expires on August 12, 2015. Chief Judge Wood commented that the bar and the public were extensively surveyed and the results were that Chief Bankruptcy Judge Black is rated as an excellent judge.

Chief Bankruptcy Judge Black was sworn in as a bankruptcy judge in 2001 to a term beginning on August 13, 2001. He was appointed as Chief Bankruptcy Judge on July 1, 2011. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bradley University and his law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1971. Prior to his appointment as a bankruptcy judge, he served as law clerk to the Honorable Robert D. Morgan, U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois. He became Assistant State’s Attorney of Tazewell County, Illinois, and then Tazewell County State’s Attorney. He was a Judge for the Tenth Judicial Circuit of Illinois at the time of his appointment to the bankruptcy court in 2001.

New insurance options for ISBA members including health plans under the ACA

Posted on December 3, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA members can choose from a range of programs including life, major medical, dental, vision, catastrophe major medical, long term care, and disability insurance programs administered by Mercer Health & Benefits Administration LLC.

ISBA Health Insurance options are available for individuals and small groups, including PPO's and HSA Qualified Medical Plans from well-respected carriers such as Blue Cross / Blue Shield, Humana, Unicare, Celtic and others. For more information, contact Mercer at (800)-321-1998 or for online quotes visit

For information on a plan other than medical insurance, contact Mercer at (800)-503-9230 or on the web at

NEW! Members can enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through GetInsured, powered by Mercer Marketplace*. Explore ACA-compliant plans in your area with the company that administers public health insurance exchanges. Compare available plans confidently and conveniently in minutes to secure a solution that strikes the best balance between coverage and affordability. ISBA members pay no additional cost to take advantage of this service.

Specify what you need in health care coverage and receive a list of all plans that are scored for: overall suitability, monthly cost, estimated out-of-pocket expense (deductibles/copays), which services are covered, and which doctors participate.

Courtroom to the Classroom training set for Dec. 11

Posted on December 3, 2014 by Chris Bonjean

Bringing the Courtroom to the Classroom

This innovative program is designed to bring civics education about the legal system and courts in Illinois to students throughout the State.

Judges and lawyers are now being invited to make presentations together. Complimentary training of 45-60 minutes is required and will next be provided and videotaped on Thursday, December 11, 2014, at 3 p.m. at the Chicago Regional Office of the ISBA, at 20 S. Clark Street, 9th Floor, Chicago, Illinois, by Judges Clare McWilliams, Eileen O'Neill Burke, and Mike Chmiel.

Space is limited – to reserve a spot, please email