Friday, February 27, 2009


The Northern Law Blog has been added to the Blawg Registry. This is a comprehensive directory of almost every legal blog out there. Hopefully this will bring us some more readers (and contributors).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lock him up.

Last week I wrote about Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. My comment that his December refusal to execute on eviction orders was a publicity stunt elicited some of the strongest reactions yet from the readers of this blog.

Well, today I opened the Chicago Tribune and saw that Chicago Police Superindendent ("Judge & Jury") Jody Weis has put himself into the same spotlight for his intentional refusal to obey a court's order.

Federal Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez had ordered Weis to turnover by this Friday a list of all Chicago police officers who have had multiple citizen complaints made against them. This order was entered during the course of a lawsuit which alleged that a Chicago police officer beat two children at a Beverly playground in 2007.

Weis indicated today that he will not be complying with the court's order because naming the officers in question would "hurt department morale"!!! These guys are menaces to the justice system of Illinois.

I would really like to hear the opinions of the readers again on this one. Should he or shouldn't he be jailed for contempt of the federal court?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Extreme Debt Collection Tactics

Porter County, Indiana police report that someone broke into the home of Signature Construction Company's president Bryan Siewin and spray painted "Pay your bills" on the walls. The intruders also caused $70,000 damage to the home; stole five guns and a safe containing jewelry and $15,000 cash; and stole a 2007 BMW X5 sport utility vehicle that was parked in the garage. The vehicle was eventually found floating down the Iroquois River, about 40 feet from the riverbank, with its lights activated and the keys in the ignition.

Someone is in a whole lot of trouble. I wonder how long it will be before they catch the vigilante creditor. Especially once he starts trying to sell the stolen guns. But I also wonder about the circumstances of Mr. Siewin's bills. Why was he keeping his money in a safe in his house rather than the bank? And how could he afford a $40,000 SUV if he did in fact have substantial outstanding debts? Looks to me like we might have two people in the wrong once the IRS gets involved.

Article courtesy of the Northwest Indiana Times.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fees capped at $925 per hour in Tribune bankruptcy

Bloomberg reports that U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Carey capped Sidley Austin's legal fees at $925 per hour for their work on the Chicago Tribune bankruptcy case.

Certain lawyers working on that case had originally requested $1,100 per hour, but the Judge capped them at $925.

That is outrageous. How is anyone worth $1,100 per hour? Except heart surgeons. Under the right circumstances, I would pay a good heart surgeon $1,100 for an hour of his time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Disobeying Evictions?

The New York Times reports that a broad civil disobedience campaign is growing among homeowners, community leaders, and some politicians throughout the Upper Northeast to support families in their attempts to refuse court orders to vacate their homes following sheriffs' sales.

Organizers have been creating vast networks via text messages, web sites, and phone trees to alert neighboring homeowners, and the media, when an eviction has been scheduled and when deputies are on the way. Volunteers will summon friends and relatives to converge at the site to occupy the house in an attempt to block the eviction. People have already started to attach themselves to their porches to attract attention. A central theme in these protests seems to be a willingness to be arrested. Some police departments are arresting people and some are not.

The Times links to the websites of several of these organizations. They appear organized and very well funded. Over the past several weekends, these campaigns have drawn nearly 500 participants to separate protests in New York and four other cities. Certain people speculate that the number of volunteers will reach into the tens of thousands within weeks. Sit-ins are scheduled in upcoming weeks for New York, Los Angeles, and more than twenty other cities across the country hardest hit by foreclosures.

This movement can't be good for the economy at large. If banks cannot repossess their collateral, how are they supposed to survive. We can't continue to bail out the banks forever. Eventually they will have to start making their own money in order for the economy to rebound.

County sheriffs need to get creative in thier attempts to combat this civil disobedience movement. They can't arrest everybody, but they can't arrest nobody either, like the Sheriff of Cook County did (or did not do) in a recent publicity stunt. It is not up to local sheriffs to decide which court orders to obey and which ones to disobey.

Maybe the banks should dispatch hundreds of volunteers out to these people's doors on the first of every month to demand mortgage payments.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Welcome DJ Evans!!

I am once again pleased to announce the addition of another contributor to our site. DJ Evans practices at the Woodruff & Johnson Injury Law Offices in Aurora.

DJ is an accomplished writer. In addition to serving as the Lead Articles Editor on the NIU Law Review, his articles have been published in the DuPage County Bar Journal and the Trial Briefs newsletter of the ISBA's Section on Civil Practice and Procedure.

This is a great addition to the Northern Law Blog. We look forward to many interesting and informative posts from DJ.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mailbox Rule Does Not Apply to UPS

An interesting opinion issued last week from the 2d District in the case Baca v. Trejo. There are several interesting parts of that case that I would like to highlight.

In that case, plaintiff took a default judgment for $18,000 on October 22, 2007. Defendant (through his attorney) mailed a motion to vacate the default judgment on November 21, 2007 (the day before Thanksgiving). For some reason, defense counsel sent the motion via overnight UPS, even though he presumably knew that the circuit clerk was closed on Thanksgiving. The circuit clerk did not receive and file the motion until the following Monday, November 26, 2007.

Plaintiff argued in response that defendant should have filed a 2-1401 petition because no motion to vacate had been filed within 30 days. Defendant argued that the mailbox rule should apply.

I did not know that the mailbox rule applied to posttrial motions, but it does. When a party deposits a posttrial motion in the mail within 30 days of the entry of a judgment, the time of mailing constitutes the time of filing for purposes of the time restrictions imposed by section 2-1203 (Motions after judgment in non-jury cases). A.S. Schulman Electric Co. v. Village of Fox Lake, 115 Ill.App.3d 746, 749 (1983). The court in Baca notes in a footnote that it sees no basis to distinguish between post judgment motions filed under 2-1203 or traditional motions to vacate within 30 days under 2-1301. So, the mailbox rule applies to both of them.

But, the mailbox rule does not apply to private carriers like UPS or FedEx. The court analyzed several different statutes and Supreme Court rules and decided that all references to mailing referred to the U.S. mail, not private carriers. So, defendant's motion to vacate would have been timely had he simply dropped it in the mail, but because his lawyer paid extra to send it overnight UPS, the motion was not timely filed.

It is interesting to note that defendant argued on appeal that the "article tracking" capabilities of private carriers are better than those offered by the U.S. post office, so the court should extend the mailbox rule to private carriers. The court offered a brilliant tip for those who wish to get the benefits of both the mailbox rule and the private carriers' article tracking capabilities: use both!!

"For the price of a copy of the paper and a first-class stamp, he or she may send the original by mail, using the private carrier to send a backup." Huh? It seems unnecessary to me to track a copy of a document, if the original was already deemed filed when you dropped it in the mail. Maybe the court was being sarcastic.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

ARDC Disqualifies 587 Lawyers

The ARDC disqualified 587 active attorneys from the state's master roll this year when they failed to file the paper work showing they had completed 20 hours of CLE training between July 1, 2006, and June 30, 2008. The lawyers were officially removed from the roll after being sent three reminder letters late last year.

As all of you hopefully already know, Illinois adopted new CLE rules and requirements in September 2005 and created the Minimum Continuing Legal Education Board to enforce compliance. Lawyers with last names in the first half of the alphabet were to meet the new 20-hour education standard by June 30, 2008 and those in the second half are required to complete their CLE credits by June 30 of this year.

The two-year study requirements will rise to 24 hours in the next cycle and eventually to 30 hours. There were about 2,000 lawyers out of compliance as of December, but the commission made phone calls to many of the lawyers to remind them about meeting the new CLE requirement. About 1,400 lawyers immediately came into compliance, but the remaining 587 did not. That number probably includes some lawyers who have moved, died or retired, said James Grogan, the adminstrator of the ARDC.

How do they get reinstated? Report compliance and pay a reinstatement fee of $250.00.

Friday, February 6, 2009

This has to be some kind of a record.

A Boynton Beach, Florida man has been arrested on more than 50 different traffic citations...ALL IN ONE DAY!!!!

Elvis Alonzo Barrett, 46, fled from police who were trying to stop him for a traffic violation. He then ran through multiple red lights, crashed into another car, and crashed into a fence. When he was eventually stopped he was found to be in possession of crack cocaine, a crack pipe, and police discovered that his license was suspended.

This article states that in addition to charges of fleeing and eluding and reckless driving, Mr. Barrett was issued more than 50 traffic violations including speeding, running red lights, and not wearing a seat belt.

What type of retainer do you need for this one? It will take three hours just to sift through the tickets to see what he was actually charged with!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Welcome Linda Pieczynski!

I am pleased to announce the addition of another guest contributor to our site. Linda Pieczynski practices in Hinsdale. Her practice has a special emphasis on municipal prosecution in the areas of zoning, property maintenance and building code violations, traffic and quasi-criminal offenses, criminal defense, and juvenile law.

Linda also publishes the blog Please check out the publications and training seminars sections of her website. She has published some very informative books relating to code enforcement and the building process.

Glad to have you Linda!