Monday, June 6, 2011

Passing the Gavel at the YLS

On June 2, 2011, Jill Eckert McCall, Chair of the CBA Young Lawyers Section, passed the gavel to new Chair, Justin Heather at the YLS’ Annual Meeting. Jill led the YLS through a terrific program year in 2010-11. A shining light of the YLS’ work this past year has been the terrific assistance that YLS members provided to hundreds of Chicago’s “first responders” by drafting wills and other estate planning documents for Chicago Police Officers and Fire Fighters. One of the Police Officers who was helped by the YLS this year, Sgt. Jon Hein, came in person to thank the YLS on behalf of himself and his comrades for, as he put it, “giving [them] peace of mind.”

Congratulations to the CBA YLS Wills for Heroes committee for its work on the program, which earned the chairs the Milton H. Gray Award for outstanding project leadership: Brian Jones, Rowschaun Jones, Tracy Lyerly, and Jason Metnick. Kudos also to the CBA YLS Environmental Law Committee, chaired by David Johnson, David Scriven-Young, and Allison Torrence, who walked away with the David C. Hilliard Award for outstanding committee leadership. And finally, we’ll keep an eye on Donald “Pat” Eckler, a new chair of CBA YLS Tort Litigation Committee, who won the CBA YLS Rising Star award.

Justin Heather, who takes the reins as Chair for this coming year, has been active in the YLS for many years, and was one of the architects of the “Serving Our Seniors” program, created by the Chicago YLS last year under Past Chair Scott Henry’s leadership. Justin brings great experience and enthusiasm to the job of Chair, and we look forward to great things from him in the coming year.

It was my pleasure to serve with Jill McCall this year. We in the “Big Bar,” as they refer to us in the YLS, look forward to more good things from Jill as she “graduates” to serve on the CBF Board of Directors this coming year and then returns to the CBA Board of Managers for the following three years.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Terri Mascherin (left) is shown with Christmas Spirits cast
members Joseph Stone, Sonja Johnson, Corey Berman,
Mary McNichol and Julian Frazin.
 Each December for each of the past 87 years, the talented writers, performers and directors of the Chicago Bar Association’s Christmas Spirits show have entertained audiences in Chicago with their music and wit. The show is a wonderful vehicle for lawyers to laugh at ourselves, and at those in the judicial, political and business communities with whom we deal every day. Over the years the show has raised the ire of the judiciary, prompted a ringing defense of the importance of free speech from the Chicago Tribune and made many, many audiences laugh.

Today, the Chicago Bar Association Board of Managers adopted a Resolution saluting the members, past and present, of the Christmas Spirits show. The Resolution comes at a time when three key members of the show who have led productions for the past several years pass the microphone to new leaders and prepare to take their seats in the audience (or so they say). Special kudos go to Sonja Johnson, Corey Berman and Mary McNichols upon their retirement from Christmas Spirits. The text of the Board Resolution follows.
This Resolution honors the past and present members of The Chicago Bar Association’s Annual "Christmas Spirits" show, and memorializes the Board of Managers’ heartfelt appreciation to these extraordinary men and women who have entertained us, and have provided us with so much laughter and so many fond memories for eighty seven years (and counting):

WHEREAS, the annual production of the "Christmas Spirits" Bar Show is a cornerstone of holiday entertainment for Chicago Bar Association members and their clients, families and guests;
WHEREAS, "Christmas Spirits" was organized in 1924 by John D. Black, the first Chairman of The Chicago Bar Association's Entertainment Committee, along with Entertainment Committee members, Russell Whitman, Edwin C. Austin, Homer H. Cooper and Richard Bentley;WHEREAS, Using their keen wit and freewheeling sense of humor, the founding members of the Chicago Bar Association's Entertainment Committee charted an ageless course for this "rollicking, impudent and uninhibitively perceptive annual frolic known as Christmas Spirits";
WHEREAS, Since its debut performance in 1924, the curtain has continuously opened on a brand new "Christmas Spirits" production every year for 87 consecutive years;

WHEREAS, on December 7-11, 2010, the 87th Annual Performance of "Christmas Spirits" was presented by a cast of 58, including choreographers, directed by Mary McNichols, lyrics and book by Art Garwin and Julian Frazin, and a Writers Committee consisting of John Corkery, Clifford Berman, Sonja Johnson (who also served as Business and Road Show Manager for many years), David Miller, Joseph Stone, Richard Vittenson, and accompanist Corey Berman;

WHEREAS, "Christmas Spirits" has withstood and weathered the harshness of critics for its impertinent and satirical assaults on important local, national and international figures - - - In 1930 George Packard prophetically wrote:

"Bootleg liquor and Christmas Spirits grow deadlier every year, but the stouter they are the better their patrons seem to enjoy them…The perpetuation of Christmas Spirits as a yearly event seems assured.";

WHEREAS, President Frank Greenberg wrote following considerable criticism of a number performed by John Tucker in the 1969 Christmas Spirits show:
"The show is either worth keeping as a free expression by the Entertainment Committee without censorship by the Board of Managers, or it is not worth keeping at all. We have seen the risks. But it seems to me that you either take the risk of the kind of reaction we have just had or you take an even less acceptable risk of reducing the show to a level of cautious banality, guaranteed to offend nobody and to interest few.";
WHEREAS, in 1929 George Swain, who was described as "an inveterate lyricist," penned the show’s most famous and enduring song "The Junior Partners," which has been performed annually by the cast at every Christmas Spirits show since 1929;
WHEREAS, year after year, the "Christmas Spirits" cast delivers a finely tuned, professional quality performance, with cleverly crafted lyrics poking fun at the legal profession, government at every level, and the sports and entertainment industries, while at the same time reminding us that the "Junior Partners" are the aces who win the cases, and are the ones who bring in all the fees;
WHEREAS, The Chicago Bar Association is fortunate to have had, and have, within its own ranks the most creative, talented, and dedicated members of a professional association of lawyers anywhere in the world.

I, the undersigned, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and complete copy of a Resolution adopted at a meeting of the Board of Managers of The Chicago Bar Association duly called and held at the quarters of the Association, 321 South Plymouth Court, Chicago, Illinois, on the 26th day of May, 2011, a quorum being present, and said Resolution is now in full force and effect.
Dated: May 26, 2011
Terri L. Mascherin
The Chicago Bar Association

Our special thanks also to all the Chairs of the Entertainment Committee (listed below) for their outstanding leadership.
1924 John D. Black
1925 Edwin C. Austin
1926 Edwin C. Austin
1927 Edwin C. Austin
1928 Ernest Palmer
1929 Franklin E. Vaughan
1930 George W. Swain
1931 Holman D. Pettibone
1932 Henry G. Miller
1933 John R. Heath
1934 Don Kenneth Jones
1935 Ralph D. Shanesy
1936 Ralph D. Shanesy
1937 Warren D. Buckley
1938 Warren D. Buckley
1939 Cranston Spray
1940 Chester R. Davis
1941 Thomas R. Mulroy
1942 L. Duncan Lloyd
1943 L. Duncan Lloyd
1944 Pressly L. Stevenson
1945 Thomas J. Underwood
1946 John Jones Sharon
1947 Charles R. Sprowl
1948 Allen D. Holloway
1949 Edwin R. Eckersall
1950 William H. Murphy
1951 Norman B. Eaton
1952 Gene C. Davis
1953 Russel M. Baird
1954 Arlindo S. Cate
1955 Vernon A. Peterson
1956 Robt. W. MacDonald
1957 Edward Hershenson
1958 Robt. F. Gudmundsen
1959 Farrington B. Kinne
1960 Robert F. Hanley
1961 Melvin C. Holmes
1962 Richard G. Kahn
1963 Fred Lane
1964 Gilbert H. Hennessy, Jr.
1965 Charles H. Scholfield
1966 Robert Jay Nye
1967 John H. McDermott
1968 Graham E. Heniken
1969 Royce Glenn Rowe
1970 Joseph L. Stone
1971 Phillip M. Citrin
1972 James R. Dowdall
1973 Julian J. Frazin
1974 E. Leonard Rubin
1975 J. Timothy Ritchie
1976 Joseph Winslow Baer
1977 Leonard Kravets
1978 Howard I. Wittenberg
1979 Dean M. Trafelet
1980 John E. Corkery
1981 Geoffrey A. Anderson
1982 Charles N. Goodnow
1983 Nathan G. Brenner, Jr.
1984 Chloe Arlan
1985 Stanley Zimmerman
1986 Frank T. Steponate
1987 Frederic S. Lane
1988 Gary S. Saipe
1989 Amy T. Dickinson
1990 Evan B. Karnes, II
1991 Chester R. Davis
1992 Mary J. McNichols
1993 Brian R. Gilomen
1994 Jeffrey M. Marks
1995 Sonja R. Johnson
1996 Allen S. Gabe
1997 Arthur H. Garwin
1998 Nandia P. Black
1999 Robert Canel
2000 Clifford Berman
2001 Corey Berman
2002 Loretto Kennedy
2003 Edith Schiller
2004 Richard L. Nagle
2005 Daniel Teinowitz
2006 Keri-Lyn Krafthefer
2007 Diana Vargo-Lewandowski
2008 Larry H. Aaronson
2009 Kathryn A. Kelly

2010 Richard J. Vittenson

Terry Mascherin (left) is pictured with cast members of Christmas

Spirits: Joseph Stone,Sonja Johnson, Corey Berman, Mary

McNichols and Julian Frazin.

that the Chicago Bar Association’s Board of Managers hereby recognizes, and proudly supports, the extraordinary contributions of past and present cast members who have written and performed "Christmas Spirits" through the ages, making it a wonderful holiday entertainment tradition that continues to make us laugh and smile at ourselves and our world. The Board of Managers extends its profound thanks, gratitude, and appreciation to the supremely talented men and women of the legal profession who make "Christmas Spirits" possible. They're each and every one of them a credit to the Bar.



Friday, March 11, 2011

Learning to Live in Italian Time

Chancery Court, Rome
Alore! Today we got to experience an Italian institution – the “general strike.” More on that in a couple of minutes.

We started the day with three great CLE programs. In the first, Professor Francesco Francioni of the European International Institute spoke on “Investment Arbitration and Human Rights.” Those are two topics which one would not normally think are corrected. But, as Professor Francioni explained, as more national governments enter into contracts and joint ventures with foreign investors, issues usually found in the realm of Human Rights litigation – like protection of the environment, the right to earn a livelihood and indigenous peoples’ rights to land – are creeping into disputes in international arbitration. Some international legislation – like the Vienna Convention – specifically allows for the consideration of International law, which may include human rights law. 

At the Chancery Court
 The second panel was a rousing participatory session on ethics, moderated by our Conference Chair Tim Eaton, and featuring commentary from Judge Sophia Hall, Ian Fisher and Dan Kotin. That discussion was made more interesting because Professor Francioni stayed with us and offered his thoughts about EU ethics law – which is in many ways very different from our Code.
Finally, Bishop Danieli, Secretary of the Apostolic Signatura (the Vatican court of last resort) spoke about that Court and the types of cases that it hears.

 We then headed out for a tour of the Apostolic Signatura. Due to the aforementioned “general strike,” with which our private charter bus drivers were in sympathy, we piled into about 15 taxis. That was well and good, until we discovered that all the main streets had been closed for a parade of protestors who were part of the general strike. After 45 minutes of circling Rome by taxi, we gave up and walked the rest of the way to the Signatura.

 A reception room at the Chancery Court
 The roundabout travel was worth it – the Apostolic Signatura, along with the other Vatican or Chancery Courts – are located in a beautiful palazzo – the first Renaissance palace built in Rome. Originally built as the home of a Cardinal who came from a wealthy family, the palace was eventually taken over by the pope, and in the 19th century the Vatican Courts were moved there. We toured two of the public re caption rooms in the palace, guided by a priest from New Jersey who has worked in the courts for several years. It was a special experience to be able to visit the Vatican Courts.

Our special thanks to CBA member and long-time supporter Bishop Tom Paprocki of Springfield for arranging both for Bishop Danieli’s talk and for the tour of the Vatican Courts, and for joining us here in Rome.

The General Strike

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When in Rome . . .

The main courtroom of the Court di Cassazione,
the Italian Supreme Court.

On March 9 a group of 65 members and friends of the Chicago Bar Association kicked off the CBA’s fifth annual CLE Abroad trip in Rome, Italy. We began in regal style with a wonderful reception hosted by the Italian law firm Gianni, Origoni, Grippo & Partners. Gianni, Origoni’s Rome office occupies three floors of a 15th Century Palazzo (palace) at the Corner of Four Fountains in Rome. The Palazzo is still decorated as it was when a 15th century Bishop and his family occupied the building. The law firm greeted us with a buffet of Italian delicacies worthy of a State visit. Our sincere thanks to Francesco Gianni, name partner in the firm, for so generously and graciously hosting us.

The next morning, March 10, we hosted four different CLE sessions, which included distinguished guests from the Rome Bar and from the faculty of Loyola University Chicago’s Rome campus, including Emilio Iodice, Claudio Lodici and Alexander Guttieres. CBA members and friends who participated included Judge William J. Bauer, Judge Timothy C. Evans, Judge Cheryl Cesario , YSL First Vice Chair Justin Heather, John H. Morrison, Carrie DiSanto, Willie Miller, Saverio Mirarchi, and Notre Dame Law Professor Douglass Cassel.

Our group with officers of the Rome Bar at the Court di Cassazione

With our Italian colleagues
on the staircase at the Court di Cassazione

Following the CLE sessions, we gathered at the Court di Cassazione, the highest court in Italy, and the equivalent of the United States Supreme Court. There we met with officers of the Rome Bar, then toured the Courthouse. We were honored to meet with a panel of judges from the Court (except in extraordinary cases the Court sits in three separate 5-judge panels). We learned that there is a right of appeal to the Court di Cassazione in all cases, civil and criminal. The criminal division of that court alone disposes of over 4,000 cases each year, and the judges have no clerks or assistants – they write all of the decisions themselves. The Court reviews only errors of law – unlike the Italian appellate courts, which can when they see fit conduct a retrial in any case. We also learned that because of this three-level court process and the absolute right to appeal at each level, cases can take many years to be resolved.

We are making many friends here in Rome. As always when we make trips abroad, we are finding that there is much to be learned – good and bad – from our brothers and sisters in the law in Italy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

CBA Members Admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar

This morning, I ran my record in the United States Supreme Court to three and one – in motions to admit attorneys to the Bar of that Court. Today, I had the pleasure of moving the admission of 11 Chicago Bar Association Members into that Bar. Kimberly Taylor moved the admission of another four of our members.

We assembled in the East Conference Room of the Court.
Our group assembled bright and early in the morning for photos on the steps of the Supreme Court, then enjoyed a breakfast in the East Conference room of the Court. That Conference Room, used for official Court functions, is decorated with portraits of past United States Supreme Court Justices, including Rehnquist, Warren, Burger and Taft. We heard from retired Major General William Suter, the Clerk of the Court, who regaled us with stories about oral arguments past.

Our group on the steps of the Supreme Court building.
 Then the highlight of the day – we filed into the Supreme Court Courtroom, where, before arguments began, I got to stand before the justices and move the admissions of our members. I am happy to say that the Court granted my motion without a moment’s hesitation (and with no difficult questions).

We then settled in to watch two oral arguments – in Camreta v. Green and Schindler Elevator Corp. v. United States ex rel. Kirk. The Camreta case is a closely-watched case coming out of the Ninth Circuit, in which the court below held that a child abuse investigator with the State of Oregon violated the Fourth Amendment by failing to obtain either a warrant or parental consent before pulling a child from class at school and questioning her about whether her parents were abusing her. The Court was very lively during argument, and appeared to be very interested in whether the case is now moot and whether it should simply vacate the portion of the Ninth Circuit’s decision finding a Fourth Amendment violation. The second case presented the question whether a FOIA response can fall within the exception to the right to bring qui tam actions under the False Claims Act where a claim is based upon information discernable from a government “report.” On that issue, as well, the Court engaged in very active questioning.
Justice Alito greets my mother, Kathryn Mascherin,
and me in his chambers

A highlight of the morning for me (and my mother, Kay, who was my guest for the morning) was the opportunity to visit briefly after the morning court session with Justice Samuel Alito, the son of family friends, who attended the same high school that I attended back in Hamilton, N.J.

It’s always a pleasure to be able to visit the Supreme Court. Whenever I see the Court in action I am convinced that we have the best justice system in the world, and I am proud to be a part of it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who Wants to Be a Lawyer?

The Chicago Bar Association is honored this week to participate in tours of the Daley Center Courthouse in celebration of Black History Month. This week, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans of the Circuit Court of Cook County is hosting visits by groups of students from Chicago middle and high schools. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to three groups of students.

I engaged the students in a discussion about the skills that lawyers need to bring home to them that they can become lawyers. “Who likes to argue?” I asked the students. “Who likes to dress up and perform?” “Who likes to write?” These are the kinds of things that lawyers need to like to do, I explained. The students showed a good knowledge about our court system – explaining to me who both Justice Sonya Sotomayor and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor are, and why they are important. I shared with the group the url for Justice O’Connor’s civic education website,, which includes several good computer games designed to teach students about the Constitution, the court system and government.

The session yesterday was hosted by Judge Evans, and the other speakers included Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Judge Leonard Murray, Chair of the Illinois Judicial Council, Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago President, Tonya Wilkes Moore, and Cook County Bar Association President Lawrence Hill. Later this week, CBA officers Aurora Abella-Austriaco and Dan Cotter, and YLS leaders Jill Eckert McCall and Justin Heather will take turns speaking to the students. The CBA is delighted to be involved in this important civic education program.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Keys to the Ritz

One of my favorite quotations about access to justice, often attributed to a Justice Sturgess, goes like this:

“Justice is open to everyone in the same way as the Ritz Hotel.”

A group of Chicago lawyers, working through the Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Foundation, are getting ready to pass out lots of keys to the Ritz Hotel in the courtrooms of the First Municipal District of the Circuit Court of Cook County. The CBA and the CBF, in partnership with the Circuit Court, the Judges of the First Municipal District, and CBF grantees CARPLS and the Chicago Legal Clinic, have formed a new Municipal Court Pro Bono Panel Program to provide pro bono counsel to indigent litigants who face mandatory arbitrations or jury trials in the First Municipal District. Today I was privileged to address a group of about 70 lawyers who have volunteered to be the charter members of that Panel.

Four law firms have answered the call to provide lawyers for the Municipal Court Pro Bono Panel pilot program: Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP, Segal, McCambridge, Singer & Mahoney, Winston & Strawn LLP, and my own firm, Jenner & Block LLP. Our thanks to those four firms for supporting this program, to the willing associates from those firms who have volunteered to represent Municipal Court litigants, and to the partners from those firms who have agreed to provide supervision and guidance to their associates.

Our thanks also to CARPLS for supporting our training and agreeing to screen cases for pro bono placement, to the Chicago Legal Clinic for supporting our training and providing volunteer support, to Megan McClung and Scott Henry, both former CBA YLS Chairs, for putting in lots of legwork to get the program organized, and, especially, to former YLS Chair Judge Thomas Donnelly for bringing the need for pro bono representation in Municipal Court to the CBA/CBF’s attention and for conceiving the idea for the Pro Bono Panel.

Thanks to this wonderful group of lawyers, access to justice is about to become a reality for many, many litigants in the First Municipal District.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Conversation with Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Judge Ann C. Williams (left) interviews Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
It was our great pleasure on Monday, January 21, 2011, to host A Conversation with United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Sotomayor impressed us all with her warmth, insights and dedication to service of her country.

Justice Sotomayor and I
Judge Ann Claire Williams of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals conducted a “Barbara Walters” style interview of Justice Sotomayor before a sold-out crowd of over 700 in the Ballroom of the Standard Club. The Justice spoke openly of her compelling life story – a journey from the projects in the Bronx (she is a big Yankees fan) to the highest court of our land. She told a story of the father of a high school classmate who in her presence callously commented, seeing a Puerto Rican Day Parade on TV: “Those people are ruining our country.” The Justice spoke of how she spent a summer in college reading several English-language classic children’s books because she felt she was missing references to their stories in her literature classes at Princeton because they were not the stories she knew as a child. And she laughed as she related how frustrated she was, as a new freshman at Princeton, when she could not locate and dispose of a cricket that was disturbing her sleep at night – you see, she told us, there were no crickets in the Bronx.

Justice Sotomayor spoke equally compellingly about advice that she received from her predecessor, Justice Souter, and from Justice John Paul Stevens. Justice Souter counseled Justice Sotomayor that he enjoyed his job immensely once he realized that all of his colleagues on the Supreme Court were motivated by the same love of our Constitution that he feels, and that they while they sometimes disagree with each other, each of the Justices is acting in good faith in furtherance of the same goal. Justice Stevens, she told us, advised her that serving as a Supreme Court Justice is a constant growing process, that she has all the tools she will need to succeed, and that she should allow herself to grow.

Justice Sotomayor with Judge Williams (left)
and Judge Ilana D. Rovner, 7th Circuit U.S. Court
of Appeals.
The Justice told us that she still feels she is having an out-of-body experience when she thinks about the fact that she serves on the Supreme Court. Asked whether she ever has to pinch herself, Justice Sotomayor responded, “I don’t pinch myself because I don’t want to wake up.” Justice Sotomayor said that she considered saying no when President Obama asked her to serve on the Supreme Court, out of concern whether she would be able to continue to spend time with her aging mother. When she related her intention to her mother, the Justice said, her mother responded , “I have sacrificed my whole life for you and your brother so that you could get to this point . Don’t deprive me of this.”

It is clear that Justice Sotomayor feels a strong call to serve our country. She spoke of the importance of giving back to our community, and to answer the call when our country calls. She talked of how, throughout her career, she has been involved in pro bono work, and how even now she frequently meets with groups of citizens to educate them about the Court.

Joining me at a reception before the event are (left to right) Justice Mary Jane
Theis, Illinois Supreme Court; Justice Sotomayor, Chief Justice Thomas
Kilbride, Illinois Supreme Court; and Justice Anne Burke, Illinois Supreme Court.
It was an inspiring afternoon. Our great thanks to Justice Sotomayor for being willing to share the afternoon with us, and to our good friend, Judge Williams, for inviting Justice Sotomayor to come to Chicago to speak to us.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Judicial Arrogance? No. Judicial Independence? Yes.

This week, the Chicago press has engaged in extensive coverage of the legal proceedings involving the challenge to Mayoral Candidate Rahm Emanuel’s residency. The proceedings, understandably, hold great public interest. But the press has gone beyond the bounds of responsible journalism in impugning the integrity of several distinguished jurists who have been or will be involved in the legal proceedings before this case is over. Members of the legal community should speak out against the unfair, and unfounded, accusations that the Tribune has leveled against these judges.

The Chicago Tribune, in one supposed “news article” and two editorials (one entitled, “Judicial Arrogance”), has suggested that Illinois Appellate Justices Thomas E. Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall were motivated by politics in issuing the majority appellate decision in the case. The Tribune suggests that both were “anointed by a Chicago political power broker who openly supports an Emanuel opponent.” The Tribune’s statements are baseless and unfair. Both Justice Hoffman and Justice Hall, who collectively have served the people of the State of Illinois as judges for 47 years, were, it is true, slated to run for office by the Democratic Party of Cook County. But so was Justice Bertina E. Lampkin, who penned the dissent in the case, and the Tribune does not question Justice Lampkin’s motives. All three are well-respected judges who have consistently been found qualified by this Bar Association and others.

What all three Justices did in this case was exactly what judges do in every case – they read the briefs, heard the arguments, studied the law, and reached what they believed were the correct decisions interpreting the law and applying it to the facts of the case. We express no opinion on the merits of the Appellate Court’s decision, but it is common in litigation that reasonable lawyers and judges, acting in good faith, reach different decisions. What is important to the rule of law is that we jealously guard judicial independence. If judges are not free to decide cases based upon their best judgment and are instead put under political pressure to reach one conclusion, then our legal system is deserving of no respect. The Tribune is irresponsible in suggesting that any of the three justices who participated in hearing this case was motivated by anything other than his or her honest interpretation of the law.

Even more irresponsible, both the Chicago Sun Times and the Tribune have attacked Justice Anne Burke of the Illinois Supreme Court, suggesting that she should recuse herself from participating in the Illinois Supreme Court’s review of the case because her husband is a “key Chico backer.” The editors of the these two distinguished papers should be ashamed of themselves for impugning Justice Burke’s independence and integrity. There is absolutely no basis on which to suggest that Justice Burke, whose reputation is beyond reproach, would decide any case based upon anything other than her best judgment of what the law requires. And, as a woman, I find particularly offensive the suggestion that Justice Burke would squander her reputation and her sacred oath in service of political views which the press attribute to her husband.

The press should know better. As retired Illinois Appellate Justice Gino DiVito said in an op-ed piece published in today’s Tribune:

“Totally unjustified is the destructive tendency by some to attribute judicial decisions to some sort of bias: to a preordained result, to political identity or payback, to downright corruption. Flippant and erroneous remarks by those who have the privilege of influencing large segments of the public serve no proper purpose and undermine the trust that is so vital to our system of justice. Critical review of court decisions, of course, is desirable. But we owe it to our courts and to ourselves to base such analysis on evidence and applicable law. Criticism should not be based on imagined impropriety or demonization of parties or judges.”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jerold S. Solovy

This is the text of a letter to the Editors of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin that I wrote on behalf of the Chicago Bar Association in memory of our long-standing member and good friend, Jerry Solovy.

On January 19, the Chicago legal community, and the Chicago Bar Association in particular, lost its heart and soul with the passing of Jerold S. Solovy. Jerry was always a leader in the Bar, and especially in the Chicago Bar Association.
As a young lawyer, Jerry was a mainstay of the CBA Defense of Indigent Prisoners Committee, recruiting his partners and associates to represent countless defendants in criminal trials at 26th and California. Jerry ultimately chaired that Committee, as well as the CBA’s Special Committee Studying the Adequacy of Legal Representation Afforded Indigent Defendants, the CBA Commission to Study the Criminal Justice System in Cook County, and the CBA Continuing Commission on Administration of Criminal Justice in Cook County. Beyond his formal committee service, Jerry could always be counted on to chair an event and to raise money for any worthy cause sponsored by the CBA.

I am proud to have called Jerry Solovy my law partner for the better part of the past two decades. On behalf of the Chicago Bar Association, I express our condolences to his family and to the many whom he touched with all the good works that he did for the people of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois. As Jerry was fond of saying, “You are not put on this earth just to make money. You are put on this earth to do good for your fellow persons.” Jerry Solovy did that every day. He will be greatly missed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Barristers’ Big Band Selected for Lawyers Rock Legends Concert

Congratulations to the Chicago Bar Association Barristers’ Big Band for being selected to play in the ISBA Lawyers Rock Legends Concert on February 3, 2011. The BBB was one of eight bands who won the right to play at the concert, which takes place at Buddy Guy’s Legends, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Please come out and cheer on the BBB as they represent the CBA on February 3. Tickets are $85 and $125 for VIP Main Floor Seating (which includes food and beverage), or $35 for Upper Level Seating (which includes only two free drink coupons). You can purchase tickets through the ISBA by calling (312) 726-6072 or emailing A video of the BBB’s audition piece (“25 or 6 to 4”) can be found on You Tube at:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Presidential Action on Travel to Cuba

Following the Chicago Bar Association’s trip to Cuba last fall, several of us who traveled on the trip contacted the White House to urge the President to take action to loosen restrictions on travel by Americans to Cuba. Currently, there is a statutory ban on travel in place, and, since George W. Bush’s first term in office, travel by non-Cuban Americans has been permitted under only very limited circumstances.

On the afternoon of Friday, January 14, I was invited to participate in a conference call in which the White House announced the issuance of new Orders expanding Americans’ ability to travel to Cuba for study and for religious purposes, expanding the number of domestic airports from which airlines may operate direct flights to Cuba and expanding Americans’ ability to send remittances to Cuba to support non-family members. These changes essentially restore where were known as “people to people” policies previously in place during the Clinton administrations in the 1990s, and will make it possible for Americans to engage in broader humanitarian and educational travel to Cuba.

It was an honor for the Chicago Bar Association to be invited to participate in this important announcement. You can find a summary of the new policies at the following link: