Retired Madison County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Crowder was sworn in as president of the Illinois Judges Association by former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier on June 4 during its annual meeting. The group, which was founded in 1972, represents 1,250 active and retired Illinois state court judges. – Zoom screenshot

IJA aims to narrow civil justice gap

A civil justice gap is widening in Illinois. Funding for programs that provide legal assistance is never enough, leaving access to the civil court system increasingly limited, especially for lower-income and traditionally marginalized Illinoisans. As the Illinois Judges Association marks its 50th anniversary this year, we have made it a priority to work to close this gap.

Lawsuit against White Sox ruled in play

A man injured by a foul ball at a Chicago White Sox game got the go-ahead to pursue a lawsuit against the team.

COVID emptied jails. Should that remain?

It wasn’t long after Matthew Reed shoplifted a $63 set of sheets from a Target in upstate New York that the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill.

State high court pauses transition to new appellate districts

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Supreme Court will delay its transition to implement new appellate court boundaries that were created by a recently approved judicial district map until further notice.

Pritzker signs redistricting plans for state legislative, appellate court districts

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a pair of bills Friday that redraw state legislative and appellate court districts, despite the fact that official U.S Census data needed to ensure equal representation has not yet been delivered.

Generation ESQ

Family law attorney tackles new challenges

Being a member of the Chicago Bar Association’s family law attorney referral panel provides Staci Balbirer a lot of outside communication about potential cases.

‘Apex doctrine’ shields ex-COPA official from deposition: judge

The “apex doctrine” shields a former official with Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability from having to give a deposition in a civil rights lawsuit, a federal judge held.

Judge orders early end to Blagojevich’s supervised release

A federal judge on Tuesday put an early end to the two-year period of supervised release of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose 14-year prison sentence for corruption was commuted by President Donald Trump.

High court launches free helpline for self-represented litigants

As the court system begins to transition out of its mostly virtual pandemic operations, Illinois courts are attempting to make navigating the process easier with the launch of Illinois Court Help, a free helpline to assist self-represented litigants.

Judge tosses lawsuit over Chicago parking fines

The city of Chicago has the authority to impose fines and penalties of up to $500 on motorists for standing and parking violations as well as for failure to obtain a city sticker, a judge held.

Courts & Cases

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Trial Notebook


Justice provides primer on independent agencies

Providing a primer on the history of independent administrative agencies, Iowa Supreme Court Justice Brent R. Appel dissented from a ruling that approved a mayor’s decision to fire every member of the local civil rights commission — without cause — when he found out they intended to sue the city. A state law required the municipality to have an “independent” civil rights agency, and Appel denounced the majority decision as being “untethered from the history of the development of independent agencies and the historic caselaw recognizing the need to protect decision-makers in independent agencies through protection from termination without cause.” Bribriesco–Ledger v. Klipsch, No. 19-1397 (April 9, 2021).

For the Defense


A temporary fix should not be a permanent change

Buried in a slew of changes to the Supreme Court Rules in Proposal 21-01 that would facilitate (or indeed allow) remote proceedings, is an attempt to codify the April 29, 2020, emergency change to Supreme Court Rule 206(h)(3), which concerns the presence of counsel at depositions.

Lawyers' Forum


Access to justice must happen now by getting trials up and running

The pandemic certainly has not made it possible for trials — civil or criminal — to take place as we once knew them. To accommodate CDC guidelines of social distancing, larger areas have been created to ease the fears of those who are unvaccinated or may be exposed to those who are unvaccinated like small children.

Insurance Matters


Coverage found for Biometric Information Privacy Act claim

The Illinois Supreme Court recently held that an exclusion in a general liability policy applicable to violations of statutes regulating emails and faxes “or other methods of sending” information did not bar coverage for a claim based on the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.

Opening Statement


Broadway is warming up for its September return

Broadway is back! Well, it’s coming back in September.

Opening Statement


‘The Niceties’ pits generation against generation

Eleanor Burgess’ play “The Niceties,” which had run at Writers Theatre in Glencoe in 2019, was recently screened by the Manhattan Theatre Club in association with The Huntington. While it was beautifully acted and wonderfully presented, it is still at times, difficult to watch.

Opening Statement


‘Brutal Imagination’ still resonates after 20 years

This past week we marked one year since the horrendous death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer that resulted in repercussions throughout the world.

Opening Statement


Places please: Venues ready to put on a show

Finally, some good news — with the slowing of the COVID-19 crisis, the world of entertainment is opening up.

Opening Statement


‘Measure for Measure’ stands up in audio play from Chicago Shakespeare Theater

During the past 30 plus years in this column I’ve been fortunate to have seen, thanks primarily to Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, many of the Bard’s classic plays.

Social Scene


Remote court proceedings webinar

Law Bulletin Seminars hosted its “Zoom Like a Pro in Remote Court Proceedings” webinar on May 27. Panelists included Levin & Perconti Partner Michael F. Bonamarte IV (top left), Law Bulletin Media President and moderator Peter Mierzwa, and Maisel & Associates attorney Sara F. Marzullo. Bottom row: Cook County Circuit Court Law Division Judges Jack Callahan (left), Patricia O’Brien Sheahan and Christopher Lawler. The group discussed the skills needed for managing a virtual presence on Zoom in remote court proceedings. The program is available on-demand. Zoom screenshot

Bar associations look to ‘break down silos’ in legal community

Natasha Jenkins, a vice president with the Cook County Bar Association and the chief legal officer and general counsel at Teamsters Local 700, spoke passionately about racial microaggressions Black attorneys face in the workplace and in life during a joint webinar May 27 titled “Breaking Down Our Silos” hosted by several of the state and local bar associations. Members of each of the bar groups involved discussed racial or sexist issues they face and how the legal community can come together to create a more inclusive and safe environment. After the speeches, attendees broke into groups to come up with possible strategies for improvement. — Zoom screenshot

ALA, National Black Law Students host Speaker Welch

Appellate Lawyers Association President John M. Fitzgerald and Jessica Fullilove, the Midwest chair of the National Black Law Student Association, hosted a webinar on May 13 with Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch. The webinar, titled “The Legal Profession in Illinois: Challenges & Opportunities A Discussion with Speaker Welch,” had 99 registrants. Welch said during the webinar that he’s “open to ideas,” but not close to supporting a bill that would take the vote away from the public on judges. — Zoom screenshot
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Lake County court Law Day event

The 19th Judicial Circuit Court in Lake County held a virtual Law Day event May 7 and announced the winners of the 2021 coloring and essay contests. Grade school and junior high school students competed throughout the county, and the winners will be mailed certificates of achievement in addition to a gift card donated by the Lake County Bar Foundation. Pictured from left are Circuit Judge Reginald C. Mathews, Circuit Judge Marnie M. Slavin, Chief Judge Diane E. Winter, Associate Judge Patricia L. Cornell, Circuit Judge Michael G. Nerheim, Associate Judge Jacquelyn D. Melius and Associate Judge George D. Strickland. — Photo courtesy of the 19th Judicial Circuit Court

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