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CLE: Current Issues in Criminal Law – 2012

Posted on April 26, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Discover how you can address the issues most commonly faced in the criminal courts today!

Has the new Illinois Evidence Code changed today’s criminal practice? Join us in Springfield on May 4th for this seminar that discusses case law and legislation updates that Illinois attorneys need to know to be effective in the courtroom. Both new attorneys and experienced practitioners will benefit from the following program topics: Fourth and Fifth Amendment cases; pre-trial and trial issues involving the Sixth Amendment; the ethical challenges involving the use of social media (such as Facebook and Twitter); branding your practice and establishing a niche in the market; and recent amendments relating to the use of breath interlock devices and monitored device driving permits.

The program is presented by the ISBA Criminal Justice Section and qualifies for 5.5 MCLE credit hours, including 1.0 PMCLE credit (subject to approval).

Click here for more information and to register.

ISBA position paper on House Joint Resolution for Constitutional Amendment No. 29

Posted on April 26, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Well-Intentioned but Flawed

HJRCA 29 is a constitutional amendment that creates standing for victims to participate in criminal proceedings as a party before the defendant’s guilt is established.

The Illinois State’s Attorneys’ Association and the Illinois State Bar Association oppose HJRCA 29. In its current form this proposal is unwise, unworkable, and unnecessary. We are concerned about its unintended consequences, such as court delays, longer incarceration awaiting trials, and wrongful convictions. HJRCA 29’s practical effect is that it will delay justice for victims by pitting prosecutors against victims instead of allowing them to be advocates for victims. That result isn’t helpful for victims or the public.

It is unwise. A criminal proceeding is a truth-seeking process that promotes public safety by adjudicating guilt and punishing the guilty. The awesome power to prosecute and imprison is vested with the government—not private parties. This means that victims and defendants are not contestants who require equal standing; the victim’s liberty and property are not at risk. But authorizing a victim to participate as a party with all of the standing of a prosecutor and defendant but none of their responsibilities, roles, and risks is a recipe for disaster. It is a return to the days of private, not public, justice.

It is unworkable. Illinois circuit courts annually process a staggering number of cases:

Three bills would modernize the Trusts and Trustees Act

Posted on April 25, 2012 by Mark S. Mathewson

Three bills drafted in large part by members of the ISBA Trusts and Estates Section Council would amend Illinois trust laws to make them more responsive to modern practices and easier to comply with for everyone involved in the estate-planning process. Among other changes, the legislation would make nonjudicial trust modifications easier and limit the risk of liability for fiduciaries who handle specific trust-related tasks. Find out more in the May Illinois Bar Journal.

Lake County Special Investigator receives ISBA Law Enforcement Award

Posted on April 25, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Photo credit: The Mark Photography, Mark Kodiak UkenaIllinois State Bar Association President John G. Locallo (left) presents Mark Pleasant, a special investigator with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office in Waukegan, with the ISBA’s annual Law Enforcement Award. This award was presented at a luncheon of the Lake County Bar Association on April 24 at the Green Belt Cultural Center in North Chicago.

Best Practice: Law firm partner compensation - Why change if we are happy?

Posted on April 25, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am a partner in a 16 attorney firm in Memphis. Our firm has had the same partner compensation system for 20 years and we are generally happy with it. It is an eat-what-you-kill system. Since we are generally happy why should we consider changing it?

A. You can start with the following firm self-test. Has the firm experienced or is it experiencing:

  • Partner defections
  • Firm splits and breakups
  • Personal fiefdoms
  • Maverick partners
  • Hoarding work
  • System perceived as unfair
  • Problems acquiring and retaining top legal talent
  • Low productivity
  • Low profitability
  • Client dissatisfaction
  • Low morale
  • Disputes with former partners

If your firm is experiencing or has experienced the above symptoms, it is time to really examine where the firm is headed and what messages your compensation is sending to your partners. Is the firm trying to be a firm or merely a group of lone rangers? Even though your partners are content, your compensation system may be holding the firm back from becoming all that it desires to be. Contentment may not be the best measure of success.

Click here for our blog on compensation

Click here for our published articles

Negligence programs available for online viewing

Posted on April 20, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

"Medical Negligence and The Law" and "Negligence and The Law" will air on Chicago Access Network Television, Channel 21 in Chicago, at 10 p.m. in April and May.

"Medical Negligence and The Law" will air on on Tuesdays, April 24 and May 8. Appearing on the show are (from left) Ronald Kalish, of Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish in Chicago; Karen McNulty Enright, of Winters Enright Salzetta & O’Brien, LLC, in Chicago; Hon. Elizabeth M. Budzinski, a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County; and program moderator Samuel A. Kavathas, of Kavathas & Castanes in Chicago.

"Negligence and The Law" will air at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, May 1 and 15. Appearing on the show are program moderator Samuel A. Kavathas, of Kavathas & Castanes in Chicago; Ronald Kalish, of Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish in Chicago; Karen McNulty Enright, of Winters Enright Salzetta & O’Brien, LLC, in Chicago; and Hon. Thomas V. Lyons, a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Quick takes on Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions

Posted on April 19, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Our panel of leading appellate attorneys review Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court opinions in the criminal cases People v. Clemons, People v. Hunt, People v. Dominguez and People v. Edwards.

People v. Clemons

By Jay Wiegman, Office of the State Appellate Defender

At first blush, it seems a simple axiom: the punishment should fit the crime. Figuring out when a penalty is disproportionate to the offense, however, has long been a thorny issue, particularly because the Legislature has adopted several overlapping provisions that enhance the length of sentences based on the involvement of firearms in offenses.  As a result, criminal defendants frequently argue that their punishment violates  the proportionate penalties clause of the Constitution where they receive a sentence that exceeds the range of sentences applied to other cases that are identical to the offense of which they were convicted. In 2007, the Illinois Supreme Court held that "common sense and sound logic dictate that the penalties for identical offenses should be identical."  People v. Hauschild, 226 Ill. 2d 63. Thus, In Hauschild, the Supreme Court held that "the sentence for armed robbery while armed with a firearm violates the proportionate penalties clause because the penalty for that offense is more severe than the penalty for the identical offense of armed violence predicated on robbery with a category I or category II weapon.” Hauschild, 226 Ill. 2d at 87.

A new approach to negligent-product-design cases?

Posted on April 19, 2012 by Mark S. Mathewson

"A gradual shift in how Illinois courts are deciding cases involving negligent-product-design claims appears to be evolving following the Illinois Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Jablonski et al. v. Ford Motor Co.," George Bellas and Patrick Andes write in the latest ISBA Bench and Bar newsletter. The new direction "bodes ill for plaintiffs," the authors say. Find out why.

ISBA members save on auto insurance with GEICO

Posted on April 18, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Protecting your assets is very important to you. After all, you have worked your whole life to obtain them. Your ISBA membership and GEICO are here to help.

GEICO and ISBA are proud to be working together to offer exceptional insurance products and a great savings opportunity on GEICO auto insurance to members of ISBA. As an ISBA member, you could qualify for an exclusive discount. 

When you consider the fact that new GEICO policyholders report average annual savings of over $500, you could be saving a lot of money. But there’s more to GEICO than just great rates. GEICO policyholders receive 24/7, professional, courteous service. When it comes to claim handling, GEICO is able to settle many claims within 48 hours of being reported, and sometimes a check can even be written on the spot. That’s why GEICO customers report a 97% customer satisfaction rate. 

As a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, GEICO has the stability of a company you can trust. Savings, service, and reliability? They can all be yours.

Simply go online to or call 800-368-2734, to complete a simple, no-obligation rate quote. Don’t forget to mention your ISBA affiliation to see how much you could save with your exclusive member discount. GEICO can help you with your insurance needs and help you obtain competitive rates on homeowner’s, renter’s, condo, motorcycle, boat, PWC, ATV, and RV insurance.

As an added bonus, every time a member of ISBA completes a quote for automobile insurance, GEICO supports the ISBA’s programs and services.