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An elevated walkway from the Miami-Dade County Pre-Trial Detention Center to the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building is shown on June 4. By the middle of 2020, the number of people in jails nationwide was at its lowest point in more than two decades, according to a new report by the Vera Institute of Justice. The group’s researchers collected population numbers from about half of the nation’s 3,300 jails to make national estimates. But the numbers have begun creeping back up again as courts are back in session and the world begins returning its new normal. – Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

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.
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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.
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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.
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Renowned trial attorney dies at 91

Thomas P. Sullivan, renowned Chicago trial attorney with a passion for “doing the right thing,” died last month at the age of 91.
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Former Madigan chief of staff indicted

SPRINGFIELD — The former longtime chief of staff to former House Speaker Michael Madigan was indicted Wednesday for allegedly lying under oath and attempting to obstruct justice.

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.

Employee accused of falsifying document loses bias suit

A woman who was fired after allegedly trying to pin responsibility for a controversial personnel decision on a subordinate does not have a case against her former employer, a federal judge held Thursday.

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

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Court upholds $6 million default judgment

Challenging a $6 million default judgment, Ryan Logan denied he authorized Michael Fay — the attorney who represented him when he was prosecuted for alleged criminal sexual assault of Jane Doe — to accept service of summons in her civil suit. On appeal to the 1st District Appellate Court, Logan also argued that an affidavit from Doe’s attorney, Daniel Kirschner, about a voicemail message from Fay — saying Logan authorized Fay to accept service of summons by fax — should have been rejected as hearsay. As part of its analysis, the 1st District looked at cases from other jurisdictions on an issue that has not been considered in Illinois — “whether an individual may delegate acceptance of service of process to another.” A federal rule and rules in nine other states say yes.

Professionalism on Point

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Back to the office: business as usual or embrace a new normal?

Before the Industrial Revolution, tradespeople were paid their wage on a paid-per-piece business model. As factories were built and assembly lines began to buzz, workers enjoyed a more reliable paycheck based on time over output, while owners enjoyed the upside of the output. More widgets went out the door thanks to automation, while value remained in workers’ time over their productivity. The same could be said of the billable-hour-based legal services economy.

Post-Pandemic Employer

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A dispersed workforce could bring with it legal, tax considerations

With vaccines readily available, and government officials lifting indoor capacity limits and mask mandates for vaccinated individuals, businesses across the country are making plans to bring their workers back to the office. But what happens to workers who relocated during the pandemic? Will those who moved their families be willing to move back now that their employers want them back in person?

For the Defense

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The problems are only just beginning with the prejudgment interest statute

During the debate on prejudgment interest the focus was on the speed and dark of night procedure that was employed, along with the draconian nature of the initial bill.

Opening Statement

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Broadway is warming up for its September return

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

Opening Statement

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‘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

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‘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

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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

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‘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

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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
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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
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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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