You just can’t make this stuff up folks. Broward Judge John Contini resigned on July 6, 2018. Contini became an attorney in 1983 and he joined the Broward State Attorney’s Office where he spent four years. For the next 27 years he ran a criminal defense practice in Broward. He was elected to a six year term and took the bench in January of 2015. Ten months after he took the bench, Contini was already facing his first JQC investigation. In November of 2015, the JQC filed charges alleging that Contini provided one-sided assistance to defense lawyers by emailing an assistant public defender with tips on writing motions for reduced sentences. They additionally charged that he acted unprofessionally when prosecutors complained about it. Contini admitted to the allegations and apologized for his actions toward several attorneys, defendants, investigators and victims. Fast forward to 2018, and without warning, Contini resigned two weeks ago. This week, the JQC filed their newest charges against the now former judge. 1. On numerous occasions, you have instructed your JA to create dockets of fictitious cases or hearings on particular days of the week on which you planned to be absent from the courthouse.
Your fabrication of these dockets was designed to create the impression that you were present in the Courthouse, when in fact, you were not. The list goes on for a total of 11 counts. Take the time to read some of the fascinating emails between the judge and his JA contained in the exhibits. Best of luck to our colleague David Rothman who is representing the former judge. So, you’re pregnant, and you are scheduled to give birth during the next trial setting. Your previous pregnancy resulted in you delivering a preemie six weeks early. You file a Motion for Continuance of the Trial Date and opposing counsel objects. That hearing played out in the courtroom of civil court Judge Cymonie Rowe, 15th Judicial Circuit, in Palm Beach County last month. The contestants: Plaintiff’s attorney Paul Reid of the law firm Shook, Hardy, and Bacon. He apparently represents an injured worker. Defense attorney Christen Luikart of the law firm Murphy Anderson represents defendant Genie Industries. It was recently in the news that the Florida Supreme Court was considering a proposed rule that, if passed, would require judges to grant motions for continuance for parental leave, barring exceptional circumstances. This hearing may accelerate those plans to decide whether a formal rule is actually needed. The relevant portion of the arguments for and against the MTC are contained on pages 58-70 of the transcript. NOTE: After Reid repeatedly objected and argued the same point over and over again, the judge had had enough, and she Granted the Motion. Have any of our readers experienced a similar situation where opposing counsel was objecting on similar grounds? Anyone have an experience where a judge they were before was maybe reluctant to grant a continuance on similar grounds?
You see civil rights is for everyone. Civil rights are not just about protecting the rights of minorities, people of color or people of any other orientation, or, however you wish to slice and dice us up as people. Growing up in the late 40s and 50s, left me with a special interest in the way a government treats all of its people. And so, the Supreme Court and its decisions with regards to civil rights captured my attention and I followed their decisions and their reasoning very closely. Without those men that sat on the Supreme Court in the 50s and 60s, I do not believe we would have a President Obama in The White House today. So, now it is President Obama’s turn to nominate his choice for our Supreme Court. Before becoming President, Barack Obama taught constitutional law, so we know he knows something about the history of the Supreme Court. In my mind, civil rights needs to be protected and defended every day and every generation. I hope President Obama will feel the same way. I hope he will nominate a person who believes in the importance of civil rights for all people, because that is what civil rights is all about.
A couple of posts ago, I wrote about the Affordable Care Act of 2010. I didn’t expect we would have an answer so soon. As you probably know, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling that mandating health insurance coverage is constitutional. So what does the Affordable Care Act mean for you? 95 or 1% of your income, whichever is higher. This means a lot of different things to a lot of people, and there are three variables that will affect each person’s opinion and use of the health system: Job security, your health, and finances. A mother or family with a chronically ill child requiring continual care will certainly feel different than a healthy 30 year old who doesn’t think he needs health insurance, and is made to pay the government tax. What do I believe? Politics aside, we will have a long way to go before the problems in health insurance quotes, coverage and implementation are resolved. No plan will ever be perfect. Do you think we’re closer now? Call me if you want to understand how your health insurance quote may change based on the Supreme Court’s ruling. I can help you compare plans and know your options for the best coverage and costs available. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has innovative programs, and wants to help decrease the costs of our health care system. I love helping people, and would love to help you find the best insurance match for your family. Judi Goloff is a leading North Carolina Health insurance professional award award winning insurance agent. Judi has been providing North Carolina with health insurance plan information for individuals and employers for over twenty years.
In the 12th Subcircuit race for the Devlin vacancy Democrat Pamela Loza (at left) is battling Republican Laura J. Morask (right). The Chicago Tribune recently endorsed Loza; the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Morask. Both Morask and Loza have been rated “qualified” by the Chicago Bar Association. Of Morask, the CBA stated:Laura J. Morask is “Qualified” for the office of Circuit Court Judge. Ms. Morask was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1987 and is a highly skilled and experienced supervisor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. Ms. Morask possesses all the requisite qualifications to serve as a Circuit Court Judge. The CBA said this about Loza:Pamela E. Loza is “Qualified’ for the office of Circuit Court Judge. Ms. Loza was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1978. Ms. Loza is a sole practitioner who handles her family practice well and efficiently. She has both civil and criminal trial experience. She is bilingual and knowledgeable about diverse communities and practice issues. She is smart and organized and capable of handling any cases presented to her.
The Chicago Council of Lawyers also found Loza qualified:Pamela E. Loza has been a lawyer since 1977. She is currently a sole practitioner specializing in family and criminal defense law. From 1984 to 2003, she handled similar cases as a lawyer in the firm of Cameron, Loza & Associates. From 1978 to 1981, she did appellate work as a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney. Lawyers report that she has good legal ability and that she is a zealous, but fair advocate for her clients. She has substantial litigation experience. The Council finds her Qualified for the Circuit Court. The Chicago Council of Lawyers initially found Morask “not recommended” because she failed to participate in the Alliance evaluation process. All of the other Alliance groups found likewise. There is no question that moving the primary from mid-March to early February created enormous time pressures for candidates and evaluators alike. I have been able to confirm that Morask was criticized by the Appellate Court for “prosecutorial excess” in People v. Griffith, 334 Ill.App.3d 98, 777 N.E.2d 459 (1st Dist. Illinois Supreme Court in People v. Moss, 205 Ill.2d 139, 792 N.E.2d 1217 (2001). It may be that none of the other cases cited by the Council were published. Loza and Morask were both rated “qualified” by the Northwest Suburban Bar Association for the February primary. Both Morask and Loza have posted statements about their candidacies on Cook County Clerk David Orr’s website. Here is Loza’s statement; this is a link to Morask’s statement. Ms. Morask was one of several primary candidates who submitted a statement to this blog in her own words.
Every time I see a picture of Ajit Pai, I want to kick him in his Reese’s cup. In 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that favored the 2015 net neutrality rules put in place by the Obama administration Federal Communications Commission. Several internet providers took their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping the court would throw out the ruling. On Monday, those same internet providers were probably very disappointed when the Supreme Court declined their appeal. As NBC News reports, the Supreme Court’s ruling leaves in place the Circuit Court ruling that said the FCC acted legally when it put those rules in place. This ruling is especially significant given the current battle over the FCC’s 2017 repeal of those same rules. The Circuit Court ruling is the basis for several legal challenges that have been waged against the FCC’s repeal.
Jessica Rosenworcel is the only Democratic FCC Commissioner. She and former Commissioner Mignon Clyburn were very vocal advocates for net neutrality (Clyburn stepped down from her position after eight years earlier this year). Rosenworcel called the Supreme Court’s ruling “interesting” on Twitter Monday. “It actually petitioned the Supreme Court to erase history and wipe out an earlier court decision upholding open internet policies. “Let’s call this interesting,” Rosenworcel added. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai believes the Obama era protections were a form of “micromanaging” the internet. The new rules leave a lot of room for internet service providers to find ways to skirt policy enforcement. The FTC is only able to take action against a company that violates the trust of its customers. If a company discloses what it is doing—for instance putting out a notice that it will block any content that doesn’t come from one of its subsidiaries—then it would be in the clear. That does not bode well for consumers. As such, there are many states that are putting laws on the book that form their own net neutrality rules. Additionally, 21 states and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit against the FCC over its repeal of the net neutrality rules. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) touted Monday’s ruling as a victory.
Have You Written a Policy to Cover the Holidays? It’s that time of the year when human resources managers the world over have to risk peace on earth and good will toward men by deciding on a holiday gift-giving policy. Nobody wants to be a Scrooge, but ultimately you are the one who must enforce a policy that will be both fair and festive over the next couple months. Hopefully, with some guidance and good luck, you can make it to January without getting coal in your stockings—or in your socks, as the case may be. First and foremost, your policy depends on your corporate culture. What kinds of communications between employees take place on a daily basis? Some places function best only when full formalities are observed and maintained, and others bask in an atmosphere of relaxed creativity. However, whether your own personal flavor of Muzak involves classical or hootenanny, people will want to give one another gifts, at one level or another, during the silly season. We’ll get back to that in a minute.
But second, and more important, no matter what kind of policy you decide upon, you have to make sure the information about it is out there and reiterate it every year. New employees need to know about it. Of the longer-term employees who remember the drill from last year, there will always be some who think they can pick and choose what policies to pay attention to if you don’t specifically tell them. They just need to hear you say it! For starters, just what do you call the holiday season? Being from Pittsburgh, I enjoy telling how the Pittsburgh holiday season got its name. Back in the late 1980s, a handful of Pittsburgh residents sued the City of Pittsburgh to remove a nativity scene that was set up in the Allegheny County Courthouse. The case ended up in the laps of the Supreme Court justices. Three of the liberal judges and one of the conservative judges felt that both displays violated the separation between Church and State.
However, one of the liberal justices viewed the tree/menorah display differently: He felt that the liberty message from the City’s mayor (a Jewish woman, incidentally) rendered the display nonsectarian and thus acceptable. The courthouse nativity scene was abolished, and the joint City-County display remained. Why do I love telling this story? People’s traditions for observing all kinds of celebrations vary broadly. Certainly you’ve heard about parents who don’t allow their children to go trick-or-treating on Halloween, and a teacher I know tells me that she has two students whose families do not observe birthdays. There will also be some who object to holiday celebrations, including parties and gifts, just because they like to throw a monkey wrench in the works. That’s why your policy must incorporate some kind of broad seasonal acknowledgment. It must be inclusive, and above all you must maintain consistency—so that nobody can say they are surprised or excluded by it.
In my work at a rehab center for teenage boys, I enjoy making calendars for the clients on my computer. I don’t include every holiday that comes down the pike throughout the year, but I make sure to mention the most important events. We don’t care much about Valentine’s Day in February (no girlfriends allowed) or St. Patrick’s Day in March (no beer). April Fool’s Day carries prime importance (“play jokes on Miss Angie,” says the calendar). The football draft is like a national holiday and, come late summer, I make calendars showing the schedules for both the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I also include the holidays of diverse religions and ethnicities. This is the part where I tell you that you can’t just be a humbug. Your people will be happier and less stressed out if they know what boundaries the company is setting for the exchange of gifts and the observance of the holidays.
“While the Acme Company does not observe or prefer any religion, its managers are aware that most employees enjoy celebrating various religious-based holidays. 1. The company will observe holiday celebrations including paid time off work for full-time employees for Thanksgiving, Veteran’s Day, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Part-time employees will be paid double time for hours actually worked on those days or on the actual holidays, but not both. 2. We recognize that some employees celebrate other holidays and invite those employees to submit a written description of the holiday to the human resources department for mention in the holiday newsletter or for posting on the employee bulletin board. 4. A gift exchange will take place on (date). Details will follow. Participation is voluntary. 5. Acknowledging that individual employees may wish to exchange gifts, we take no responsibility for the types or security of gifts exchanged, nor should such individual gift exchanges interfere with the daily schedule of work. ] for all employees to be scheduled on (date). 7. Any persons who wish to comment on this memo should submit such comments to the HR manager no later than (date).
Oh, You’re So Generous! Just like Santa travels round the world in his globe on Christmas Eve, I have traveled the World Wide Web in search of some great gift-giving ideas you can integrate into your corporate culture this year. From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: NOAA advocates giving gifts with the potential to save lives. How about an all-hazards radio? The American Red Cross wants you to give blood—just kidding! Seriously, it suggests that you make donations in someone’s name to provide meals, military comfort kits, vaccinations, or just aid where needed. 10 and are not cash gifts. Supervisors may accept food and refreshments shared and may participate in planning festive gatherings. If a subordinate goes to a supervisor’s home for an event, it is permitted to take a customary hospitality gift. I really like this idea of limiting gifts for supervisors. If you permit a group gift exchange, you should issue written guidelines that include a reasonable price limit per gift and ask people to stay within the limit.
It’s also okay to remind people that gifts should be fun and useful—I knew someone once who got a shower cap in the group exchange. As everybody is supposed to comply with the price limit, it’s okay to suggest that the receipt be included if possible. In your memo, tell people that attempting to recycle a gift is in poor taste; they might inadvertently include something that a coworker gave them last year. You can also prohibit items of a sexual or offensive nature. Also, remind them to wrap the gift. I once worked at a place that had three gift-exchange days. We had a name drawing a month before the holidays including only those people who opted in and identifying three gift-exchange dates. 15. At the time we submitted our names we included suggestions for each price limit. The person whose name I drew wanted a Yankee Candle tart; homemade brownies; and Steeler socks. When the third gift was exchanged the day before the holiday, we revealed ourselves to our “giftees”—it was fun. Despite the widespread celebration of the holidays by most private and government agencies, some people just feel strongly against condoning such observances. New Year’s Day is a holiday for all people, and it has the added benefit of taking place just after the religious celebrations. It’s a time for winding down from all the holiday stress, and it gives people a chance to kick back and relax. Whatever you decide on, put a comment in the box below—it helps each of us to know what other companies are doing. And—enjoy your Sparkle Season!
Judge Andrea M. Schleifer is a guest this week on Avy Meyer’s North Town News Magazine. With Mr. Meyer’s permission, you can watch that interview here. Judge Schleifer is one of the few judicial candidates who finds herself in a contested race this November. Appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the 12th Judicial Subcircuit seat for which she is now a candidate, Judge Schleifer is opposed by Republican candidate James P. Pieczonka. The Chicago Tribune recently endorsed Judge Schleifer in this race. There are only two other contested elections for the Cook County Circuit Court on this November’s ballot. Both are in the west suburban 4th Judicial Subcircuit. In the race for the 4th Subcircuit Riley vacancy, Democratic candidate Terry Gallagher is opposed by Republican Harry Fournier. I had an email this week pointing out that Fournier is the only Cook County Circuit Court candidate endorsed by the IVI-IPO for the November election. The Chicago Tribune has endorsed Gallagher in this race. In the race for the “A” vacancy in the 4th Judicial Subcircuit, Democratic candidate Edward M. Maloney is opposed by Republican Christine Cook. The Tribune endorsement went to Maloney in this race. Cook County voters who do not reside in either the 4th or 12th Subcircuits will have only one contested judicial race on the ballot, that being the race for the Illinois Supreme Court. In this race, Justice Mary Jane Theis is the Democratic nominee; she was appointed to the Supreme Court vacancy when Justice Thomas Fitzgerald stepped down. Her Republican opponent is Cook County Circuit Court Judge James G. Riley. The Chicago Tribune has endorsed Justice Theis in this race.
A former judge and a current Chicago Alderman are among the six candidates who filed for the Valarie Turner vacancy in the 2nd Subcircuit. Two filed on the first possible filing date; four filed on the last possible date. Former Judge Devlin Schoop was one of the first two candidates to file in this race. Appointed to a countywide vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2015, Schoop was unable to hold the seat in the 2016 primary. Schoop currently works for the City of Chicago Law Department. Before his appointment to the bench, Schoop was a partner in the firm of Laner Muchin, focusing on complex commercial, employment and civil rights litigation. He also served as the panel chair of a hearing board of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. I have so far been unable to find any campaign website or even a campaign Facebook page for Schoop. The other candidate filing on December 18 was Ubi O’Neal.
That’s a link to O’Neal’s campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar. O’Neal has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1993 according to ARDC. He is a sole practitioner with offices in the Chicago Loop. O’Neal sought a countywide judicial vacancy in the 2010 primary; he also filed for the Willis vacancy in the 2nd Subcircuit this past December. According to the Illinois State Board of Elections website, O’Neal has yet to withdraw from that race. The first of the four candidates to file for the Valarie Turner vacancy on December 26 was Assistant Public Defender Arthur Wesley Willis. Willis was a candidate for a 2nd Subcircuit vacancy in the 2012 primary; that’s a link to the 2012 campaign Facebook page in the preceding sentence. A single recent entry suggests that this page will soon be updated. Twenty-first Ward Ald. and Committeeman Howard B. Brookins, Jr. was the next to file on the 26th. He doesn’t yet have a campaign website, at least that I can find.