Thursday, August 30, 2007

Another Illinois judicial candidate pops up on the Internet

Stuart M. Brody is a candidate for judge in Cook County's 6th Judicial Subcircuit (the Figueroa vacancy). The link will take you to the home page of his new campaign website.

Brody is a partner in the firm of Sneckenberg, Thompson & Brody, LLP; this is a link to his profile on, the Martindale-Hubbell site.

In the biography on his new site, Brody says his practice is "in civil litigation, having tried over 80 matters, including jury and bench trials, arbitrations, and appeals to the appellate and supreme courts. He has concentrated his practice in insurance law, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in property insurance, auto insurance, fraud investigations, commercial liability, and subrogation lawsuits. He has represented numerous clients in landlord-tenant disputes, contract matters, and business and commercial litigation. In addition, he has fought for individual victims in personal injury claims, medical malpractice, and employment/labor disputes."

I'm sure there will be more websites for judicial candidates in the near future; I'll keep looking. If you know of one, please send me an email or leave a comment.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Are Illinois judicial candidates on the Internet yet?

I was surprised yesterday to find only one site that seems dedicated to a 2008 Cook County judicial candidate. That candidate is Terry MacCarthy. Mr. MacCarthy's site stresses his 17 years' courtroom and trial experience; I assume therefore that "Terry MacCarthy" is Terence Fulton MacCarthy, a member of the Illinois Bar since 1990 and, according to the ARDC, an employee of the Cook County Public Defender's Office.

I find it hard to believe that Mr. MacCarthy has the only site up and running in anticipation of the February 2008 judicial primary -- but it is the only one I have found so far.

Are there others? If you know of one, send me and email or leave a comment.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Illinois judicial candidates get earlier start than ever

A story by Abdon M. Pallasch in this morning's Chicago Sun-Times about the several candidates jockeying for the post of Cook County State's Attorney mentioned that the formal slatemaking meeting of the Cook County Democratic Party will be held on September 6.

Slatemaking is so early this year because the primary election date has been moved up to February 5, 2008. All the other deadlines move up with it.

Petitions are already in circulation for judicial hopefuls. Ward and township committeemen have already heard from lawyers hoping for support. Petitions will be filed in Sprinfield starting October 29, 2007. Here is a link to information provided by the State Board of Elections for judicial candidates.

As of today, August 27, the State Board of Elections shows these judicial offices open in Cook County:

Vacancy of the Hon. Mary Ann G. McMorrow

Vacancy of the Hon. Anne M. Burke
Vacancy of the Hon. Calvin C. Campbell

Countywide Vacancies
Vacancy of the Hon. Barbara J. Disko
Vacancy of the Hon. Francis W. Glowacki
Vacancy of the Hon. Michael T. Healy
Vacancy of the Hon. Michael R. Keehan
Vacancy of the Hon. Gay-Lloyd Lott
Vacancy of the Hon. Anthony S. Montelione
Vacancy of the Hon. Michael J. Murphy
Vacancy of the Hon. Julia M. Nowicki
Vacancy of the Hon. Mary Maxwell Thomas

Subcircuit Vacancies
1st Subcircuit Vacancy of the Hon. Edna Turkington

3rd Subcircuit Vacancy of the Hon. David R. Donnersberger

4th Subcircuit Vacancy of the Hon. Lon W. Shultz

5th Subcircuit Vacancy of the Hon. Bernetta D. Bush
Additional Judgeship A

6th Subcircuit Vacancy of the Hon. Raymond A. Figueroa

7th Subcircuit Vacancy of the Hon. Anthony L. Young

8th Subcircuit Vacancy of the Hon. Nancy Drew Sheehan

10th Subcircuit Vacancy of the Hon. Robert J. Kowalski
Vacancy of the Hon. Aurelia Pucinski

12th Subcircuit Vacancy of the Hon. Donald M. Devlin

13th Subcircuit Vacancy of the Hon. James T. Ryan
Vacancy of the Hon. Karen T. Tobin

14th Subcircuit Vacancy of the Hon. Ralph Reyna

15th Subcircuit Additional Judgeship A

(This list does not carry today's date; it indicates that it is current only through August 21.)

Securing the Democratic nomination in a Cook County judicial primary election is (in most cases) tantamount to being elected in November; the Republicans have not even bothered to slate candidates for many countywide Circuit Court vacancies. And there are a couple of Cook County subcircuits where winning the Republican nomination is tantamount to election in November.

Either way -- although the job does not begin until December 1, 2008 -- the identities of the men and women who will take these jobs will be determined on February 5. The time for the public to begin paying attention to next year's judicial elections is now.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Insurer strikes out on Spring Training injury claim

Brendan Regan played baseball for the Fighting Bees of St. Ambrose University of Davenport, Iowa.

In the waning days of Winter and early days of Spring, college baseball teams in the frigid Midwest look for warmer climes in which to play. In March 2002 the St. Ambrose baseball team went to Homestead, Florida to play in the Homestead Classic.

Games were scheduled on March 10, 11, 12, and 14-17 -- but March 13 was an off day. There was no game scheduled. There was no practice.

Taking advantage of the free time, Brendan and a teammate explored the pool at their hotel... and then wandered to the adjacent beach. According to the unanimous opinion written by Justice Margaret O'Mara Frossard in Regan v. Mutual of Omaha, 2007 WL 2350174, "After arriving at the beach, plaintiff ran into the ocean, dove headfirst into a wave, and hit his head on a concealed sandbar. Teammates on the beach pulled plaintiff from the water; as a result of the diving accident, plaintiff sustained a paralyzing spinal cord injury." (Slip op. at 5.)

As a member school of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), St. Ambrose was required to be enrolled in the NAIA catastrophic athletic injury program. In 2002 that coverage was provided by Mutual of Ohmaha.

The policy provided coverage for "student athletes in all sanctioned and officially recognized intercollegiate sports" and stated:
Coverage is provided for participation in scheduled games, supervised practice sessions and during authorized group or team travel that is paid for or reimbursed by the sponsoring Organization in connection with such games or practice sessions.
(Slip op. at 2.)

The policy also defined "covered travel" as follows:
'Covered Travel' means team or group travel by participants in a Covered Event:
(a) directly to or from a Covered Event;
(b) authorized and paid for or reimbursed by the Sponsoring Organization; and
(c) supervised by staff members or a designated representative of the Sponsoring Organization.
Covered Travel begins with departing from the meeting place for such travel and ends upon the release of the Insured from the Sponsoring Organization's supervision.
Clearly, Regan wasn't injured in a game or practice nor was he injured going to or from a game or practice -- but, he said, his injury was incurred during team or group travel. The entire trip was supervised by the coaching staff -- and it occurred after departing from Davenport and prior to the team's return.

But Mutual of Omaha contended that, since the injury occurred on an off day, while Regan was swimming on his own personal free time, his activities fell outside the "Covered Activities and Events" described in the policy. The insurer argued that Regan was not supervised when he went to the beach and – since team members and their families contributed to the cost of the trip, the trip was not "paid for or reimbursed" by St. Ambrose.

Both sides moved for summary judgment.

Before filing their cross motions, however, the parties engaged in considerable discovery on the issues of supervision and fund raising. The new Appellate Court opinion discusses the deposition testimony.

Regan testified that he and his teammates were allowed to walk in the area around the hotel, including out onto the beach, without having to report to anybody. Regan said he and his teammates "were basically told that if [they] were going to leave or go somewhere outside of the hotel or after a game, that [they] were supposed to tell the coaches." There were random bed checks during the players' stay at their hotel, "and if they failed to tell coaches where they were going or got caught doing something they were not supposed to do, they would probably not get to play." (Slip op. at 4-5.)

Bees Coach Callahan testified that members of the team were to go everywhere as a group. If a player wanted to go anywhere on his own, he had to have a "buddy"; even with a buddy, players had to first receive permission from one of the coaches before leaving the group.

Callahan also testified that players were prohibited from drinking alcohol within 48 hours before a game (a rule that would encompass the entire trip); they were also prohibited from having overnight guests in their hotel rooms. Room assignments were made by an assistant coach. The players were not permitted to order from room service, and long distance service was not available on room telephones. Bed check was every night at 10 p.m., at which time the players were to be in their rooms with their lights out and "attempting to sleep." (Slip op. at 4.)

"Attempting" to sleep seems about as much as one could hope for: College kids don't normally sleep at 10 p.m. – 10 a.m. perhaps.

According to Coach Callahan's deposition testimony, on the team's day off, Regan and his teammates were "pretty much left to their own devices." Players were "free to pursue individual recreational activities in south Florida with each other, their parents, friends, and girlfriends." (Slip op. at 4.)

Coach Callahan went to get his hair cut on the team's day off; the assistant coach took a side trip to Fort Myers to see the Minnesota Twins' training facility. (Slip op. at 4.)

So the team members weren't being watched on their off day; the coaches weren't even there.

This was what the insurer seized on with regard to the supervision issue: The court's opinion notes that Mutual of Omaha emphasized "Coach Callahan's deposition testimony that there were not any rules or restrictions as to where players could go on the 'off day' and that players were basically free to do whatever they wanted." However the court recognized that the coach "provided this testimony after discussing the rules to which players were subject throughout the trip." (Slip op. at 13.) Regan, the court noted, "was in compliance with those rules at the time of his injury."

But Mutual of Omaha also argued that "St. Ambrose did not pay or reimburse plaintiff for his airfare, lodging, meal, and entertainment expenses" and that, because of this, "the second prong of the definition of covered travel, which requires that the travel be 'paid for or reimbursed by' St. Ambrose, was not satisfied." (Slip op. at 11.)

This contention was supported by some of the deposition testimony: Regan and his teammates had to raise funds to cover this Florida trip. Regan testified that, to raise funds, he and his teammates "sought and received pledges from sponsors based upon the number of miles they ran during conditioning." (Slip op. at 3.) There may be some college baseball programs which do not need player fund raising in order to make Spring Training trips – but one of my sons plays baseball in college and his team needs to raise money for its Spring Training trip, too. And the Bees' fund raising efforts did not make theirs any less a team trip; in a sense, since the players helped raise the money to get them to their destination, it made the entire trip, and not just the games, a true team effort.

Moreover, the Appellate Court noted that "the players did not keep the money necessary to pay for airfare, hotel, and food but, rather, turned that money over to Coach Callahan, who in turn secured group rates for the team at the hotel and the airline. Furthermore, the university paid the entry fee for the tournament and the cost of transporting the players to and from baseball games scheduled during the tournament" as well as the cost of transporting the team to and from Midway Airport in Chicago and to and from the airport in Miami. Under these circumstances, the court found "that there is no genuine issue of material fact that St. Ambrose paid for the team or group travel." (Slip op. at 11.)

But it would not matter that Regan and the rest of the Fighting Bees were under the coaches' supervision, even on their day off, and it would not matter that the team's travel was paid for or reimbursed by St. Ambrose even though the players helped pay their way with fund raising, if Regan was not injured during the course of "authorized group or team travel."

Mutual of Omaha argued that "'covered travel' contemplates a separate coverage evaluation for each segment of team travel and argues that plaintiff's analysis 'unreasonably assumes that Covered Travel must be a single all-encompassing event.'" The insurer argued that, under Regan's construction of the policy, the policy would be 'distorted' into a "24-hour-a-day comprehensive accident medical expense coverage during the entire Florida trip." The insurer suggested that "coverage may extend to certain segments of travel, but not to other segments of
travel, depending upon whether the three prongs of the definition of Covered Travel have been
satisfied for each leg of team travel." (Slip op. at 14.)

But the Appellate Court rejected the contention "that determining what constitutes 'covered travel' requires breaking down the team's trip to Florida into various segments." (Slip op. at 14.) Even though Regan was not "physically moving or being transported directly to or from a game or practice session at the time he was injured," the policy "does not state 'covered travel' means team or group transportation directly to or from a covered event. Rather, that provision defines 'covered travel' in part as team or group travel directly to or from a covered event. As plaintiff points out in his brief, in today's world travel is not simply limited to transportation, but also entails being away from home for a period of time and includes meals and lodging as well activities incident thereto." Staying at the hotel, using the facilities, using the beach – all were "part and parcel" of Regan's 'travel directly to the remainder of the games on the Florida trip and [were] in no way a detour or diversion from his destination - the remaining locations in Florida for the rest of the travel schedule.' Accordingly, we conclude there is no genuine issue of material fact that plaintiff was engaged in team or group travel directly to or from a covered event at the time of his injury." (Slip Op. at 10.)

The Appellate Court affirmed the Cook County Circuit Judge Peter Flynn's decision in Regan's favor: Mutual of Omaha was obliged to provide coverage.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It may have been HisSpace, but contents of MySpace blog puts part-time Nevada judge on the shelf, off the bench

Many people, in many different walks of life, maintain blogs.

Thus, it will come as no surprise that some judges also blog. The blog maintained by Judge Richard Posner (along with University of Chicago colleague Gary S. Becker), The Becker-Posner Blog, is the only local example that springs immediately to mind, although I am sure there are others.

A part-time Nevada judge, Jonathan MacArthur, was also a blogger, according to an August 14 story by Martha Neil posted on the ABA Journal Law News Now page. He apparently is a blogger still, though his MySpace blog is now private -- but Mr. MacArthur is a judge no longer, as Ms. Neil reports in her story, Temp Judge Fired Over MySpace Post.

Neil writes that MacArthur's blog contained "graphic language" and was "reportedly hostile to prosecutors." (When not serving as a part-time judge, Mr. MacArthur is a criminal defense attorney.)

MacArthur's alleged "hostile" remarks were not quoted in Neil's story for the ABA, but an August 13 story by K.C. Howard in the Las Vegas Review-Journal quoted the "personal interests" professed by Mr. MacArthur in his MySpace blog as including "Breaking my foot off in a prosecutor's ass ... and improving my ability to break my foot off in a prosecutor's ass."

One begins to see why, just possibly, the local prosecutor might have sensed some hostility.

Once he found out about part-time Judge MacArthur's MySpace blog, the local prosecutor, District Attorney David Roger, called it to the attention of the local court administrator. The court administrator, in turn, called it to the attention of North Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Natalie Tyrrell, the full-time judge for whom MacArthur sometimes substituted. They decided that Mr. MacDonald would no longer be employed as a substitute.

The court administrator, Terri March, is quoted in the Journal-Review story as saying MacArthur's remarks were inappropriate and "unbecoming of a pro-tem."

The local authorities seemed to have also taken exception to MacArthur's definition of a judge pro-tem. "Imagine" MacArthur wrote, according to the Journal-Review story, "a substitute teacher with a black choir robe and a disconcerting amount of authority."

MacArthur alleged that his remarks were taken out of context. According to the Journal-Review story, MacArthur claims that "People who know me and interact with me socially know I'm constantly trying to say things in a funny, provocative manner." MacArthur apparently told the ABA's Martha Neil that, in hindsight, he might not have put up his controversial statements, but he only did it with the intent of provoking discussion; he did not intend to be taken at face value. Neil's article quotes MacArthur thusly: "It's obvious to the casual reader this is an overstatement just for the effect."

MacArthur intends to run for his own seat on the bench in 2009. He told the Journal-Review, "My record on the bench is pristine. I've got nothing but compliments from both sides." He also told the Journal-Review that he has no problem fairly applying the law; indeed, he claimed, he makes an "extra effort" to see things from the prosecutor's point of view.

Nevada is clearly very different than Illinois. We don't have "part-time" judges here. And while, from the standpoint of a Chicago native, it comes as no surprise that MacArthur is positioning himself for a judicial election two years distant, the Journal-Review article provides one final surprise.

According to the Las Vegas paper, one Chris Lee, a former deputy district attorney now employed by the Secretary of State, intends to oppose MacArthur for the new seat on the bench.

Only one opponent?

Split 7th Circuit panel upholds Ryan conviction

Here is a link to the 74-page opinion in the case against former Illinois Governor George Ryan.

This is a link to a copy on the Chicago Tribune web site. You can access the opinion on the 7th Circuit web site through this page -- but you have to indicate that the title "contains" the name "Ryan." Every time you do this, however, you'll get a different address for each copy of the opinion opened.

I wonder why this is?