Articles Posted in Trial Practice

Late on the night of Nov. 13, 2015, Logan Bland and his friend, Kyle George, were at Q Bar, which was owned by Q-West Inc., where they were regulars.

Bland became intoxicated and was cut off from further alcoholic beverages. In the meantime, Bland got into a fight with George. Bland had to be physically removed to the office of Q Bar’s manager. Bland was told to calm down if he wished to remain, but he returned to the bar after a few minutes and began another fight with George.

Four employees were required to physically remove Bland from the building. Bland dragged all four onto the floor, kicking one in the throat and chin. Emergency services were called, and the police and paramedics responded.

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In a recent order, the Illinois Supreme Court held that “remote jury selection by video conference … in civil cases is permissible to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure so that litigants can access justice in a timely fashion while keeping all jurors, court personnel, litigants, and the public safe.”

Along with the Order, the Supreme Court adopted guidelines issued by the Court Operations During COVID-19 Taskforce.

This new procedure will try to navigate a course that follows the Seventh Amendment’s guaranteed right to a trial by jury and public health officials’ calls for social distancing to avoid spread of the contagious coronavirus in close quarters such as court facilities.

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For more than 20 years, the law under Illinois Code of Civil Procedure §2-1001(a)(2) has been that a party may move for substitution of judge one time without cause as a matter of right.  735 ILCS 5/2-1001(a)(2)

Before 1993, the Code of Civil Procedure required that a petition be filed expressly alleging that the trial judge was prejudicial for some specific reason in that particular case.  In 1993, an amendment to the statute was made that stated “one substitution of judge without cause as a matter of right” if the motion “is presented before trial or hearing begins and before the judge to whom it is presented has ruled on any substantial issue in the case, or if it is presented by consent of the parties.”

The case centered on a dispute between four siblings about the ownership of a family farm in Pike County, Ill.  The validity of a §2-1001(a)(2) motion was contested.  In this case, John Schnepf, one of the parties, filed a 2-1001(a)(2) motion before the trial started and before the judge ruled on any substantial issue.  But the judge presiding concluded that her comments during arguments on other matters “certainly indicated some issues that I have problems with” and that “the parties had an opportunity to test the waters” and thus, Schnepf’s motion to substitute judges was denied.

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