Thursday, June 17, 2021

Cook County courts closed tomorrow for Juneteenth holiday

Today, President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Earlier this week, Juneteenth became an Illinois state holiday and, yesterday, the Chief Judge's Office issued this statement:

The Circuit Court of Cook County will be closed on Friday to celebrate “Juneteenth,” which celebrates the emancipation of Black Americans from slavery.

Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans declared Juneteenth a court holiday on Jan. 15, 2021. It also has been declared a city and county-wide holiday, and on Wednesday, Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker made Juneteenth a state holiday.

Celebrated unofficially for decades, Juneteenth recalls June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers told former slaves in Texas that they were free. The news had come late – the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the Confederate states had already become law on Jan. 1, 1863.

During a celebration in Daley Center plaza on Wednesday, Judge Evans noted that he has family in Texas and Arkansas who are related to the people who heard the news of emancipation from Union troops. Judge Evans said that, sadly, these people didn’t know that conditions for Black Americans would get worse before they got better. Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan eliminated the rights of Black Americans, and the battle for justice continues to this day, Judge Evans said.

“That’s why we’re here today to celebrate those who had the courage to stand up for what was right…” Judge Evans said. “The ongoing struggle to secure justice for all continues unabated. And we all, each one of us, has a role to play in that fight. Keep fighting, keep struggling, and make certain it’s celebrated not only in Cook County, but that it’s celebrated all over the state of Illinois and all over this country.”

Also speaking on the Juneteenth holiday at the Daley Center on Wednesday were Clerk of the Circuit Court Iris Martinez, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Cook County Commissioners Donna Miller and Stanley Moore. The St. Sabina Youth Choir performed music for the event.

The Chicago skyline will be lighted red in honor of Juneteenth Thursday through Saturday.

For those who may be interested, the symbolism of the Juneteenth flag is explained in this article.

Chief Justice Burke: Remote court proceedings are here to stay

A few years back---before COVID-19---I had an insurance defense matter pending in McHenry County. My client was insured with an out-of-state carrier that wrote only statutory limits policies in Illinois. The carrier, being relatively new to this market, did not have any arrangements with counsel in Woodstock, but it had me, and I had a car.

When I schlepped out there for an initial status conference, I discovered that the judge handling this case had made arrangements with a company called CourtCall to permit litigants and their counsel to participate in status hearings by telephone. For a per-hearing fee, roughly comparable to the mileage charge the insurer was willing to pay, I could attend the next status hearing by phone -- and charge the insurer for only 10% of the fee that I had charged for that first hearing. I had to sign up in advance, and there was at least one subsequent hearing marred by a technical glitch, but, on balance, I felt pleased that I found a genuine savings for the carrier -- of critical import in matters with so little at stake.

Good for the insurer---if bad for me---but, then, I was never a good businessman.

No good deed goes unpunished. Later, when the carrier assigned me to a case in another outlying county (Kane, I think) that didn't have a judge who had subscribed to CourtCall, my "windshield time" aggravated the carrier more than ever because my trips to Geneva were now seen as "unnecessary." CourtCall, though a national company, was, like my insurer-client, new to the Illinois market, and not yet well-established. It was a good concept, whose time had not yet come.

Then came the Pandemic... and everything changed. Lawyers got used to Zooming in and out of hearings from their home offices, sometimes a/k/a kitchens or bedrooms. In May 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court promulgated new Rules 45 and 241. Litigants and counsel were not only permitted to attend status hearings, by phone or video, under Rule 241, litigants were also expressly permitted "to testify or otherwise participate in a civil trial or evidentiary hearing by video conferencing from a remote location." Where video links were unavailable for trial testimony, phone testimony might be permitted.

The Pandemic is officially over now, except in places where it isn't, both in the U.S. and abroad, where people won't (or can't) get vaccinated -- but never mind that now: Most of the nation, including Illinois, is making a forced march toward the New Normal.

That New Normal will include more remote hearings than were ever imagined, much less permitted, in the Old Normal. That is the directive contained in a June 14, 2021 letter from Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke to all Illinois trial and reviewing court judges. Here's a copy of the letter:

"While the effects of the pandemic are beginning to recede," the letter reads, "remote court proceedings will not." In Chief Justice Burke's view, "courts, lawyers, and litigants have [all] significantly benefitted from remote court proceedings, and the option to appear remotely will continue as a key component in keeping our court system open and accessible."

Supreme Court Rules 45 and 241 are "permanent and enduring features of our justice system," the letter continues. "Remote court proceedings are a critical part of meeting the current and changing needs of our society, and the Supreme Court continues to encourage and support remote court appearances."

This is not just an access to justice issue, according to Chief Justice Burke. "Lawyers across the state have embraced remote court proceedings as it has allowed them to appear in multiple courts, representing multiple clients, without extensive travel." Costs are reduced where "the client pays for 20 minutes, not 3 hours or more."

This, in turn, makes legal representation more affordable -- and affordable access to lawyers is itself an access to justice issue, whether the courts want to say so or not.

Anything that reduces the costs of litigation will be a benefit to lawyers. When litigation costs are reduced more otherwise 'self-represented litigants' can become clients. Remote hearings should help.

And, as long as the Supreme Court is on a roll, could it next take up the issue of zero-based discovery? Please?

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Chief Judge's Office forms "committee of criminal justice stakeholders" as criminal courts more fully reopen

Another announcement from the Chief Judge's Office, this one released yesterday:

In order to respond to the rights of defendants covered by the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions and the Illinois Speedy Trial Act, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced Monday that he had formed a committee of criminal justice stakeholders and other related groups to determine how to safely and expeditiously accelerate the reopening of criminal courts to in-person proceedings, including increasing the capacity for bench and jury trials.

Under the Illinois Speedy Trial Act, a defendant who has been taken into custody must be tried within 120 days. If a defendant is released on bond, he or she must be tried within 160 days after filing a written demand for a trial.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Illinois Supreme Court tolled (suspended) the Speedy Trial Act for cases in Illinois courts, which means that state courts did not have to comply with this deadline while the pandemic limited the ability to hold in-person court proceedings. With vaccinations causing the threat of the coronavirus to recede, the Illinois Supreme Court is discussing with local stakeholders how to safely reopen state trial courts.

“What we’re trying to do is prepare for the removal of the tolling of the speedy trial statute so that the constitutional and statutory rights of defendants can be protected,” Judge Evans said. “To do this, we have established a broad-based committee of criminal justice stakeholders and other related groups to make sure we can do this as safely and expeditiously as we can.”

These criminal justice stakeholders include the Cook County State’s Attorney, the Cook County Public Defender, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Cook County Sheriff, and all the presiding judges who handle criminal matters, along with members of the private bar. The Circuit Court of Cook County has continuously met with health officials throughout the past 15 months to determine how to keep participants in the justice system safe and prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.

It should be noted that while in-person proceedings have been limited, the courts never really closed, and the administration of justice -- including hearings, bench trials, guilty pleas, findings of innocence and dismissal of cases -- have continued throughout the past 15 months.

Between the beginning of April 2020 and the end of May 2021, about 128,000 criminal cases have been disposed in the Cook County Circuit Court, which has included nearly 13,000 guilty pleas, more than 1,000 bench trials, 27 jury trials and nearly 114,000 other dispositions, including cases being dismissed.

The reintroduction of criminal jury trials, starting on March 22, has increased the pace of resolving felony criminal cases, and the imminent end of both social distancing requirements and the tolling of speedy trial requirements will further increase this pace.

Among the most important reasons the courts of this country exist is to provide justice for both the victims of crime and the accused. The courts have been open and resolving these matters. It is disingenuous for anyone to say that the courts have been closed.

The Circuit Court will have more information regarding further reopening of civil and criminal courts to in-person proceedings in the coming weeks.

Law Division expands arbitration program to include personal injury cases

Announcement issued by the Chief Judge's Office this past Friday:

The Cook County Circuit Court has expanded a mandatory arbitration program to include hundreds of personal injury cases, which is expected to cut both costs and delays, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced on Friday.

“This will eliminate delays and aid in the prompt administration of justice in these cases, allowing them to be disposed of more efficiently while reducing costs for litigants,” said Judge Evans. “Disposing of cases through this program will also free up valuable court time for more complex matters.”

The new program will be used for cases with an estimated worth of between $30,000 to $50,000, though higher-value cases can qualify at a judge’s discretion, according to the Hon. Thomas Mulroy, who supervises the Law Division mandatory arbitration program. Auto crash cases will be the most common type of dispute referred to the program.

If a judge refers a case for mandatory arbitration, the parties will have four months to complete discovery. The parties will then appear before an arbitrator who has expertise in the specific field of law involved.

A litigant who is unsatisfied with the arbitrator’s decision may reject it, for a fee of $750. The fee goes to the State of Illinois, which funds arbitration programs across the state. If the litigant who rejected the arbitration decision then goes to trial and loses, that litigant must pay the other side’s attorney fees for the work on the arbitration.

“Our hope is that the fee-shifting provision will increase the number of cases in which the arbitration decision is accepted,” Judge Mulroy said.

In 2015, the Cook County Circuit Court instituted a similar arbitration program for commercial cases of up to $75,000 in value, or more at a judge’s discretion. Commercial cases include employment disputes, interference with business relationships and breach of contract cases. About 300 cases annually go to arbitration under this program.

The fee-shifting provision for commercial cases has led to a low rate of rejection for arbitrator decisions, said Judge Mulroy. More than half of all cases that are referred to arbitration settle before the hearing, which contributes to the program’s success, Judge Mulroy said.

“The longer a case goes on, the more it costs,” said Judge Mulroy. “People want their cases heard – they don’t want to wait for years. This is really a vehicle to get the parties together to start talking settlement. Nothing focuses the mind for lawyers like a trial date -- or an arbitration hearing date.”

As many as 2,000 personal injury cases a year could be referred to the new arbitration program. The most common type of case which would qualify is auto crash litigation, which represents 9,400 of the 24,000 cases pending in the Law Division, or almost 40%. Cases involving asbestos, construction, medical malpractice, nursing home and product liability case are not eligible for the program, unless the parties agree to arbitration.

Circuit Court judges adopted the personal injury mandatory arbitration program earlier this spring, and a training program for lawyers interested in being arbitrators will be held on July 22. Lawyers can contact Arbitration Administrator Kimberly O’Brien at (312) 793-0125 or at for more information.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Supreme Court issues updated order on judicial resignations

Yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an Order modifying the procedure that judges must follow when resigning from judicial office. That's a link to the Order in the preceding sentence; here is an image:

The changes do not appear particularly substantive, at least to my untrained eye. A requirement has been added that the resigning judge specify the date and time when the resignation will be effective. And, while copies were always required to be sent in various directions, yesterday's Order now specifies that the resignation letter must state that the required copies were sent.

But now, judicial wannabes, you see what a full-service site this is: Not only can you use FWIW to help get on the bench, you can also use this site to help you off the bench as well.

For sitting judges, may I add this suggestion for the distribution list of your resignation letter, whenever that time may come? Send a copy my way, too.

Why? Well, as of this morning, for what it's worth, the "Judicial Vacancies" page on the new Supreme Court website is still blank.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Lawyers' Assistance Program Fundamentals and Foundations training event set for June 25

The Illinois Lawyers' Assistance Program has announced a Foundations and Fundamentals training event to be held virtually on Friday, June 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

LAP says the program "will cover the core foundations of LAP and emerging from post-COVID isolation: clinical well-being education, services, and involvement," all in a single three hour, three Illinois mental health/professional responsibility course.

The program will include the following:

  • Recognizing Impairment Issues Post COVID-19
    Dr. Diana Uchiyama, LAP Executive Director

  • Stages of Change
    Dr. Diana Uchiyama, LAP Executive Director

  • Recognizing Substance Use Disorders & Compulsive Behaviors
    Tony Pacione, LAP Deputy Director & Joe Scally, LAP Clinical Director

  • Adapting & Developing Resiliency Skills in the 'New' Normal
    Dr. Diana Uchiyama, Tony Pacione, & Joe Scally

Tickets for the presentation are available at this link and cost $75.

Don't read too much into this, but the Supreme Court has already issued an order "pausing" the implementation of the new Judicial Redistricting Act

In an Order entered yesterday, the Illinoia Supreme Court ordered all appeals and other matters shall "continue to be filed in the judicial districts as they existed on June 3, 2021, until further order of the Court."

The June 3 date is specified because it is day before the June 4 effective date of P.A. 102-011, the act that redraws the State's four judicial districts outside of Cook County. The press release issued by the Supreme Court with yesterday's Order maintains the polite fiction that P.A. 102-011 changes "the judicial district boundaries for the first time since they were established in 1964."

FWIW readers know that this is not quite so. As the linked article explains, the General Assembly tried to redraw the appellate districts in 1997, but that attempt was struck down as unconstitutional in Cincinnati Insurance Co. v. Chapman, 181 Ill.2d 65 (1998). (Section 50 of P.A. 102-011 expressly provides, "The Judicial Redistricting Act of 1997 (which has been held unconstitutional) is repealed.")

Yesterday's Order does not mean that P.A. 102-011 is in any sort of constitutional jeopardy.

It probably does mean, however, that, in their zeal to craft four new appellate districts which would enhance the chances for the election of a fourth Democratic member of the Supreme Court in 2022, the Republicans weren't the only ones with whom the Democratic map-makers failed to consult. The cartographers almost certainly also did not consult with the Clerks of the various Circuit and Appellate Courts in the many affected counties or with those practicing there. You, Dear Reader, many not see this as a particularly troublesome issue -- but if you were, say, an attorney in Wheaton, looking to appeal a judgment from the 18th Judicial Circuit entered 29 days ago, this order comes as a blessed relief.

Friday, June 04, 2021

SB0072 signed into law: This bill really does introduce prejudgment interest in Illinois

Back in January, after the 101st General Assembly concluded its business in the traditional, confusing whirlwind (confusing, at least, to those not "in the know," namely, everyone not in the General Assembly and probably most of those in the General Assembly as well), I did a couple of posts documenting the strange, and very sudden, journey of HB3360, which spent most of its existence as a modest little bill amending two sections of the Mortgage Foreclosure Article of the Code of Civil Procedure only to metamorphose, in the course of the last 48 hours of the 101st General Assembly, into a bill allowing prejudgment interest in Illinois tort cases. My two posts on the subject, "Illinois adopts prejudgment interest in tort cases: Part 1 -- A look at the process" and "Illinois adopts prejudgment interest in tort cases: Part 2 -- a look at the statutory language," turned out to suffer from a fatal flaw, namely, an assumption that a bill passed by overwhelming Democratic majorities in both houses would be promptly signed into law by the Democratic Governor.

As it turned out, my seemingly safe assumption was anything but: Gov. Pritzker vetoed HB3360. Shame on me for not noticing sooner.

Indeed, I don't know when I might have noticed but for my stumbling across this May 28 post from the indespensable Rich Miller, "Pritzker signs renegotiated trial lawyers bill." (Mr. Miller's comment on the timing of this news: "Late Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend while the rest of the news media is focused on the remap. Not buried at all /s…")(your kids can tell you what "/s" means, if necessary).

This bill, SB0072, was merely signed in the chaos of the concluding moments of the Spring Session; as reference to the legislative history shows, it had been sent to the Governor on April 1.

But do not despair, cynical citizens. This bill, too, had its share of Springfield shenanigans. It started off life as a bill to create an Electronic Wills and Remote Witnesses Act and amending the Electronic Commerce Security Act to conform. Filed on January 29, it breezed through the Senate unanimously on March 10. I will leave it to probate practitioners to speculate whether this might have been a good or necessary proposal, but it seems, if only by the title, to have been an appropriate subject for legislation, given our recent isolation.

It doesn't matter, of course, because the text of the bill was jettisoned in the House. On March 16 and March 18 "amendments" were filed to the bill, one in case the Governor signed HB3360, the other not mentioning HB3360 at all. There were substantive differences between the two, but it really doesn't matter, does it? In short order, on March 18, the House opted for option 2. On March 25, the day of Gov. Pritzker's veto of HB3360, the Senate concurred in option no. 2. Can you say "done deal"?

So SB0072 now becomes P.A. 102-006.

The new Act adds a new subsction (c) to §2-1303 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Effective July 1, §2-1303(c) will provide:

 (c) In all actions brought to recover damages for personal injury or wrongful death resulting from or occasioned by the conduct of any other person or entity, whether by negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, intentional conduct, or strict liability of the other person or entity, the plaintiff shall recover prejudgment interest on all damages, except punitive damages, sanctions, statutory attorney's fees, and statutory costs, set forth in the judgment. Prejudgment interest shall begin to accrue on the date the action is filed. If the plaintiff voluntarily dismisses the action and refiles, the accrual of prejudgment interest shall be tolled from the date the action is voluntarily dismissed to the date the action is refiled. In entering judgment for the plaintiff in the action, the court shall add to the amount of the judgment interest calculated at the rate of 6% per annum on the amount of the judgment, minus punitive damages, sanctions, statutory attorney's fees, and statutory costs. If the judgment is greater than the amount of the highest written settlement offer made by the defendant within 12 months after the later of the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 102nd General Assembly or the filing of the action and not accepted by the plaintiff within 90 days after the date of the offer or rejected by the plaintiff, interest added to the amount of judgment shall be an amount equal to interest calculated at the rate of 6% per annum on the difference between the amount of the judgment, minus punitive damages, sanctions, statutory attorney's fees, and statutory costs, and the amount of the highest written settlement offer. If the judgment is equal to or less than the amount of the highest written settlement offer made by the defendant within 12 months after the later of the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 102nd General Assembly or the filing of the action and not accepted by the plaintiff within 90 days after the date of the offer or rejected by the plaintiff, no prejudgment interest shall be added to the amount of the judgment. For the purposes of this subsection, withdrawal of a settlement offer by defendant shall not be considered a rejection of the offer by the plaintiff. Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, prejudgment interest shall accrue for no longer than 5 years.
  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, neither the State, a unit of local government, a school district, community college district, nor any other governmental entity is liable to pay prejudgment interest in an action brought directly or vicariously against it by the injured party.
  For any personal injury or wrongful death occurring before the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 102nd General Assembly, the prejudgment interest shall begin to accrue on the later of the date the action is filed or the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 102nd General Assembly.

Illinois now has an "offer of judgment" procedure, at least as a way around prejudgment interest. But timing is limited: Settlement offers must be made within one year of filing (or within one year of the July 1 effective date of this new statute) and not accepted within 90 days thereafter. Of course, if they are accepted, there's no problem... right? But I believe this provision has been included to prevent any "pocket veto" of a settlement offer; no outright rejection is required before the settlement offer "counts" for purposes of §2-1303(c). And if the ultimate verdict is lower than the highest timely settlement offer, there is no prejudgment interest. And prejudgment interest interest accrues only on the difference between the highest timely settlement offer and the ultimate verdict.

Where it applies, prejudgment interest will be assessed at a rate of 6%.

No matter how long a case pends, there is a five year limit on prejudgment interest.

When a case is voluntarily dismissed, prejudgment interest stops accruing. It starts up only when the case is refiled.

Schools and other units of local government are exempt from prejudgment interest.

In January I made a prediction that I think still makes sense. To wit, there are probably two categories of tort cases where the new amendments to §2-1303 are most likely to increase settlements or judgments, and they are typically viewed as being at the opposite ends of the litigation food chain: medical malpractice cases and soft tissue auto accident cases where a substandard carrier insures the defendant. These are not coinicidentally the two most common types of tort cases to go to trial. In soft tissue cases with substandad carriers, the prospect of prejudment interest may prompt some behavior modification -- the low-ball final settlement offer will have to come sooner, or be made in a few more cases. But substandard carriers and med mal carriers take their very different types of cases to trial for the same reason: They generally do pretty well. There's no interest to pay on a defense trial verdict.

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again: Updating links

The Supreme Court updated its website this week, with splashy new colors, increased functionality, user-friendliness, mobile-compatibility and so on and so on.

All good, right?

Not so great, actually, for FWIW. Every link to every post-2011 public domain Illinois case citation changed when the new website launched. Every case citation I've linked to here... no longer worked. I ascribe this to the Law of Unintended Consequences, not to any conspiracy, vast or otherwise, or animus on the part of the Supreme Court or any court personnel. But it's still a pain in the neck to go back and fix links.

I've tried to do that this morning, and I've gone back through a few years of posts in search of newly-bad links. I'm sure I've missed some. I'm equally sure that you, Dear Reader, will enlighten me as to any I have failed to correct that you may happen across.

I'd have settled for a little less mega in the mega-menu if the links could have stayed the same.... Sigh.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Shell game in Springfield: A shell bill transforms into a proposal to put polling places in all county jails and then mutates (twice more) into a bill moving the primary from March to June

And so much more besides....

What follows, gentle readers, is the full text of SB825 as introduced on February 25, 2021 by Senate President Don Harmon. I include this as an image, lest I be accused of exaggerating.

This landmark legislative proposal was duly referred to committee, passed out of committee, and thereafter sailed through its First and Second Readings in the Senate.

And yet some say our legislature is ineffective!

The day after this historic bill was scheduled for its Third Reading in the Senate, on April 14, an "amendment" was offered. This "amendment" purported to replace everything after the enacting clause (all that careful draftsmanship gone to waste!) with an amendment to amend §19A-20 of the Election Code to allow county sheriffs outside of Cook County to establish temporary branch polling places in their county jails. (Section 19A-20 had previously allowed this to be done at the Cook County Jail.) A subsequent amendment was offered in the Senate on April 21 providing an effective date for this statutory amendment, but let us not get too bogged down in the legislative minutiae at this point, especially because none of it matters.

Suffice to say that SB825, now a substantive piece of legislation, albeit only three pages long, zoomed through the Executive Committee on April 21, arriving back on the Senate floor on April 22 where the "amendments" were adopted and the bill passed, arriving in the House and receiving its First Reading on April 23.

The bill was assigned to the House Ethics & Elections Committee on May 4; it was approved by that committee on May 11 and, on May 25, received its Second Reading.

Then, on May 30, the penultimate day of the legislative session, an "amendment" was filed in the House, once again deleting everything after the enacting clause, and adding 156 pages of stuff. Tucked away in there were provisions needed to move the March primary into June. This was the big story. The rumor that this was in the works had been circulating for some days. After the rumor appeared in Politico Illinois Playbook, I even reported it here (on May 28). Capitol Fax linked to this first House "amendment" in a May 31 post.

But the dough had only begun to rise. On May 31, just this past Monday, the very last day of the session, the 156 page House Amendment No. 1 was withdrawn and a new House Amendment No. 2 was substituted in its stead. This "amendment" also deleted everything after the enacting clause and added 447 pages of stuff.

Now, I ask you -- even if you support everything in these 447 pages -- and how could you know what was in there -- not even Evelyn Wood could plow through all that text in the few minutes legislators had to consider it, along with all the other things foisted on the General Assembly in its closing hours -- is this any way to run a government?

Anyway, yes, SB825, as ultimately amended (the Senate promptly concurring in the bill as amended) also moves the March primary to June 28. That did not take 447 pages. So what else does SB825 purport to do? SB825 also:

  • Requires election authorities to use ".gov" website addresses and take steps to insure the integrity of those websites;

  • Requires the ISBE to prepare a one-page document explaining the voter registration process to high school students and requires high schools to provide this document to students;

  • Prohibits high schools from prohibiting nonpartisan voter registration activities on school grounds;

  • Requires the ISBE to provide guidance to local election authorities about ballot tracking procedures and related terminology and summarizing requirements for voting, curbside voting, early voting, and vote by mail;

  • Sets January 13, 2022 as the start date for circulating petitions for the new June primary;

  • Specifies signature requirements for 2022 only -- and, if I'm reading this correctly, reducing the expected judicial signature requirement by one-third (but, please, consult your election lawyer on this---I am not an election lawyer and I am not giving legal advice here);

  • Permits vote by mail ballots to be requested between March 30 and June 23;

  • Creates a petition filing period of March 7 to March 14;

  • Sets an April 28 deadline for write-in candidates in the primary election;

  • Provides for early voting to begin on May 19;

  • Requires vote centers to be set up for the 2022 elections "at an office of the election authority or in the larges municipality within its jurisdiction" where voters can vote on election day regardless of the precinct in which they are registered;

  • Repeals all of these special dates and requirements, including the many I did not mention, as of January 1, 2023;

  • Makes Election Day -- November 8, 2022 -- a state holiday, but only for 2022;

  • Provides that aldermen in Chicago and statewide will now be referred to as "alderpersons";

  • Provides generally for gender-neutral language in the Election Code, deleting references to "males" and "females," referring to "committeepersons" instead of committeemen, and so forth;

  • Changes the rules regarding the use of motor vehicles by political committees;

  • Changes rules regarding the random audit of certain political committees;

  • Adds a new section on curbside voting;

  • Allows voters to join a list of permanent vote by mail status voters and specifies a procedure to be followed in this regard;

  • Requires election authorities to notify qualified voters of the option to vote by mail and apply for permanent vote by mail status;

  • Allows inmates in county jails outside Cook County to vote in temporary branch polling places within the jailhouse (the one-time full extent of SB825... remember?)

  • Specifies public notices to be given when a vacancy occurs in the office of State Senator or Representative in the General Assembly;

  • Specifically provides for members of the General Assemby to also seek election to any unit of local government (allowing St. Rep. Thaddeus Jones to run for reelection as Mayor of Calument City when his present term expires, and if he so chooses), and prohibiting any further moves by municipalities to prevent this;

  • Extending the reapportionment deadline for county boards outside Cook County to December 31 and to develop or revisit any reapportionment decisions made this year in November, after actual Census data becomes available; and

  • Making convicted felons eligible for municipal office after receiving a restoration of rights from the Governor (effectively reversing a recent decision of the Illinois Appellate Court which would have barred Markham Mayor Roger A. Agpawa from office);

That's not an exhaustive list; I'm merely exhausted. Also, the change to §7-10.2 of the Election Code, pertaining to name changes, probably deserves its own post, given the importance of that statute in a number of recent judicial elections. And I apologize in advance for any errors of omission or comission in the foregoing summary.

Anyway, SB825 now awaits the Governor's signature which, presumably, will be forthcoming. Mind you, presumption and reality sometimes differ -- but that's a story for a different day.

Cook County Bar Association Installation will be available online -- but will be conducted in person

Don't get me wrong. All bar association installation events are newsworthy and noteworthy. I don't always put up notices, but that's because of my own limitations: Because I am not always asked to share these notices, they often take place before I am aware they were scheduled.

But next week's Cook County Bar Association installation is particularly newsworthy because it marks another halting step on the road to post-COVID normality.

As you will note from the event announcement on the CCBA website (a portion of which is reproduced above) people will be actually able to attend the CCBA's 107th Installation and Awards Program live and in person, albeit with masks.

That's right: Persons wishing to do so can actually purchase tickets for, and thereafter travel in person to, Abbington Distinctive Banquets, 3 South 002 Ill. Rt. 53 in Glen Ellyn, on Friday, June 11, and actually mix and mingle with fellow humans. The program starts at 6:00 p.m. A block of rooms has also been set aside at the Hilton Hotel & Conference Center, 2111 Butterfield Rd., in Downers Grove, for persons who wish to stay nearby.

In addition to installing Cannon D. Lambert, Sr. as CCBA President, the CCBA will confer a number of awards at this event. Honorees include:

  • Richard E. Westbrook Award - Wiley Adams

  • Edward H. Wright Award - Nicholas Cummings

  • Kenneth E. Wilson Award - Ill. App. Ct. Justice Bertina Lampkin

  • Ida B. Platt Award - Ill. House Speaker Emanuel C. Welch

  • J. Ernest Wilkins Award - Cong. Robin L. Kelly and Cong. Lucy McBath

  • William R. Ming Jr. Award - April Preyar

  • Junior Counselor Award - Antonio Lee

  • Senior Counselor Awards - Ill. App. Ct. Justice Marcus Salone (Ret.) and Valee Salone

  • Meritorious Service Awards - Alexzandria Johnson, Antonio Lee, Tracie Porter, Raymond Rushing, and LeDeidre Turner

  • R. Eugnen Pincham Award - Lonita Baker

  • George N. Leighton Award - Ill. Sup. Ct. Justice P. Scott Neville

Darryl Dennard of V103 will serve as moderator and Master of Ceremonies. In addition, a number of persons will receive CCBA Presidential Awards at the event. These include Kenneth Carr, Urie R. Clark, Nicholas Cummings, Natasha Jenkins, Alexzandria Johnson, Cannon Lambert, Antonio Lee, Judge Celestia Mays, Tracie Porter, Delores Robinson, Raymond Rushing, and LeDeidre Turner.

In-person tickets for the event are $125 apiece and may obtained through the CCBA website or by clicking here. As the headline of this post indicates, the event will also be livestreamed, and online tickets are available for $50 each. Sponsorships and hotel rooms can be reserved via this link as well (and hotel rooms must be reserved by June 8 in order to secure the discounted price).

Yes, the Supreme Court has a redesigned website

I noticed it yesterday, as at least one commenter did, too. The Supreme Court's press release about the new site can be found here.

Pending contradiction by OED, or at least by Lexis, I will submit that this press release probably marks the first use of the word "mega-menu" by a state's highest reviewing court.

The commenter (named "Anonymous," to absolutely no one's surprise) gripes, correctly, that, while the new site purports to list all Cook County "at large" judges (i.e., countywide judges) and "resident" judges (i.e., subcircuit judges), the latter are no longer idenfitied by subcircuit, but only alphabetically. This, certainly, will make the process of guessing vacancies before they are publicly announced (seemingly as late in the election cycle as the law allows) that much more difficult.

But, perhaps, applied Kremlinology may no longer be required: The new website has a Judicial Vacancies page.

That's the good news. The bad news is that, so far, the relevant sub-page is blank.

But... who knows? The new website is just a couple of days old. Perhaps this public information will be soon be publicly available.