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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.

Best Practice: Law firm succession - Using affiliation as a phase I pilot test

Posted on April 18, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

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

Q. I am sole owner of a law firm in Chicago with an elder law practice. I have two paralegals and two legal assistants. Although I want to continue to practice as long as I can I am in my late 60s and am beginning to think about what to do with my practice. I have recently had several discussions with another sole owner that is interested in buying my practice. Since I want to practice as long as I can I am concerned about the timing of selling my practice due to the current ethical rules. I also want to insure that the other firm would be the right fit for my clients and staff. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions?

A. Making the right decision concerning the "Who" is usually more important than the "What" or the "How". Take your time to do the proper due diligence regarding the other firm. Get to know the owner as well as the employees of the other firm. Ascertain practice, client, and cultural compatibility. If you both determine that a a deal might make sense - then move to the "How."

Negligence programs to air on Illinois Law

Posted on April 16, 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. Illinois Law is a cable production of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) and can also be viewed online at

"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.

The 33,000-member organization, with offices in Springfield and Chicago, provides professional services to Illinois lawyers, and education and services to the public.

Ask A Lawyer Day is April 28

Posted on April 16, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Anyone in Illinois with a question about a legal matter can call and talk to a lawyer – at no cost – on Ask A Lawyer Day, Saturday, April 28.

Lawyer volunteers will answer phones at 5 locations from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Any Illinois resident can call toll free, or a local number in some areas, for a free phone consultation with a lawyer.

The 31st annual Ask A Lawyer Day, part of Law Day activities in Illinois, is a public service sponsored by the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) in cooperation with bar associations in Chicago, DuPage County, Lake County and Will County.

Lawyer volunteers will be able to answer questions about consumer problems, family law, estate planning, personal injury, or any other legal situations affecting individuals.

Callers will be advised of steps they can take to resolve their legal problems and, if they need additional legal services, they will be advised to see their lawyer. If they don’t have a lawyer, they can receive a referral to a lawyer who practices in their area through the referral service offered by participating bar associations.

“We find that many people hesitate to see a lawyer, even when they know they have a legal problem,” said John G. Locallo, of Chicago, president of the Illinois State Bar Association. “Ask A Lawyer Day provides an opportunity to learn about a legal situation, or how best to address a legal problem, in a user friendly manner.”

Phone numbers to talk to a lawyer on April 28 are:

Bernard M. Judge appointed ARDC Commissioner

Posted on April 13, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

Bernard M. JudgeThe Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Bernard M. Judge of Chicago to serve as a Commissioner of the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission (ARDC). The ARDC is the Supreme Court agency that has administrative authority over more than 90,000 Illinois lawyers and investigates allegations of attorney misconduct. The order of appointment, dated April 12, 2012, is effective immediately.

Mr. Judge is a nationally respected newspaper executive who has served in management positions at the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times andthe Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He began his career as a reporter for the City New Bureau of Chicago in 1965. Soon thereafter, he joined the Tribuneand covered state and federal courts and wrote about state government and politics. He became the Tribune’sCity Editor in 1974 and Assistant Managing Editor in 1979.  Two investigative reporting projects he directed as City Editor won the Pulitzer Prize. Mr. Judge served as Editor and General Manager of the City News Bureau in 1983-1984, before he joined the Sun-Times as metropolitan editor and later as associate editor. In 1988, he was hired by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company as editor and vice president of Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, and became the Law Bulletin’s publisher in 2001. He also served as the editor and publisher of the Chicago Lawyer magazine. Mr. Judge retired in July 2007 and, since that time, has been a non-lawyer Hearing Board officer for the ARDC, serving as a trial judge in lawyer disciplinary cases.

ISBA Statehouse Review for the week of April 11

Posted on April 12, 2012 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA Assistant Director of Legislative Affairs Melinda Bentley reviews bills in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week she covers three of the 13 rights in the House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 29 (Crime Victim’s Rights) and the House Bill 5434 (Debtors’ Rights Act of 2012). More information on each bill is available below the video.

House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 29: Outlines 13 specific rights for crime victims. Three of them are highlighted here:
1.    The right to refuse to disclose to the defendant information that is privileged or confidential by law, as determined by the court with jurisdiction over the matter;
2.    The right to be heard at any post-arraignment court proceedings where a right of the victim is at issue, and any court proceeding involving a post-arraignment release decision, plea, or sentencing matter;
3.    The right to have access to information in a report related to any aspect of the defendant’s sentence when that information is available to the defendant.

Karmeier describes recent supreme court rule changes

Posted on April 12, 2012 by Mark S. Mathewson

The latest ISBA Bench & Bar newsletter features a description of recent supreme court initiatives and rule changes -- e-filing, cameras in the courts, electronic-instead-of-print publishing of official opinions, etc. -- written by someone who should know. Read Justice Karmeier's review