Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Laws Effective January 1, 2015

I just wanted to pass along THIS succinct chart that outlines each of the new laws take take effect in Illinois on Thursday. I've seen several news articles that highlight three or four interesting laws, but this chart lists each of the more than 150 new laws for 2015. 

I am especially in favor of SB 2015, which increases the interstate and tollway speed limit to 70 miles per hour. But long-time Blog readers already know about my driving habits, as I more fully explained in THIS classic post from January 2012.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Legal Writing 201 by Judge Mark P. Painter

I was browsing the law blogs this morning when I saw a link to Judge Mark P. Painter's 30 Suggestions to Improve Readability. HERE is a link. This document is brilliant. Please print it out, read through it, and keep it sitting on your desk for the next couple of months. 

The 30 suggestions cover a lot of material, but you can read through the entire document in about 15 minutes. It is presented very simply. Judge Painter makes it look easy.

Pay particular attention to the Words and Phrases chart contained on pages 25-27. I will be referring to this chart the next time that I draft a motion or pleading. And I might personally serve that chart on my opposing counsel before the response is due. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Less Jurors, More Pay

Beginning on June 1, 2015, Illinois jurors will receive $25 for their first day of service and $50 for each subsequent day of service. Senate Bill 3075 (here), signed by Governor Quinn yesterday, further provides that all civil juries will consist of 6 persons regardless of the nature of the case.

Depending on population, 55 ILCS 5/4-11001 currently requires counties to pay jurors from $4 to $10 per day unless a county sets a higher rate. Cook County jurors now earn $17.20 a day (here), Will County jurors earn $10 a day (here), Winnebago County jurors earn $13 per day (here), and Du Page jurors earn $10 for their first day of service and  $15 thereafter (here). The main criticism of this part of the new law comes from counties because they must fund the pay increase.

Currently, 735 ILCS 5/2-1105 provides for 12 person civil jury trials unless the plaintiff seeks $50,000 or less in which case the jury consists of 6 persons. But the current statute permits a party to demand a jury of 12 in any civil case regardless of the amount claimed. Senate Bill 3075 amends section 5/2-1105(b) by requiring that all civil juries consist of 6 persons and by eliminating the provision permitting a litigant to increase the jury size to 12 persons. This change has been criticized by the Chicago Tribune (here) and the Chicago Council of Lawyers (here). The criticisms vary but include claims that smaller juries reduce minority representation, reduce debate, and reduce the tolerance for dissenting voices on the jury. Proponents argue that 6 person juries will shorten voir dire, reduce litigation costs, and disrupt the lives of fewer citizens.

It is unclear how much research and discussion preceded the enactment of these significant changes to the jury system.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mutual and Correlative Orders of Protection

Section 215 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act (here) flatly prohibits a judge from entering mutual orders of protection. While discouraging the entry of correlative orders of protection, Section 215 allows for the entry of such orders if the statutory requisites are met. In re Marriage of Kiferbaum, (here) provided the appellate court with its first opportunity to discuss the difference between the two types of orders of protection.

Two years after an acrimonious divorce including allegation of threats, sexual abuse, and damaging automobiles with urine, feces, and vomit, Judith and Hanan Kiferbaum filed petitions seeking orders of protection against each other. The trial judge set the “cross-petitions” for hearing on January 30, 2013. The judge conducted a hearing on Hanan’s petition first because he filed it two weeks earlier than Judith. After granting Hanan’s petition, the judge dismissed Judith’s petition considering it a request for mutual orders of protection which were barred by Section 215. On appeal, Judith claimed that she requested a “correlative” order of protection, not a “mutual” order of protection.

In siding with Judith, the appellate court first noted that no court had previously considered the difference between mutual and correlative orders and that neither term was defined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. The court when on to characterize mutual orders as typically appearing in a single document, based on a single petition, and entered even if one party did not seek an order of protection. The court found good reason for strictly prohibiting mutual orders because they tend to violate due process, exacerbate violence, and are difficult for the police to enforce.

The court did not find the same drawbacks with correlative orders because under the statute they can only be obtained when separate written petitions are filed, both parties prove past abuse,  both parties give prior notice (unless excused), and  the trial court enters separate orders justifying each  remedy granted. The court concluded by stating that if the “clear roadmap” set out by Section 215 is followed, correlative orders of protection, while disfavored, remain an available remedy.