7/28/2021

Case Administrator, United States Bankruptcy Court, Peoria, Illinois

UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
OFFICE OF THE CLERK

ANNOUNCEMENT NUMBER 2021-01

Position:		Case Administrator
Duty Station:		Peoria, Illinois
Classification Level:	CL 24   
Starting Salary Range:	 $38,694 - $45,150 
(Starting salary will depend upon the education, background, and prior work experience of the applicant) 
Salary Range:CL 24 $38,694 - $62,904. A CL 24 position has the opportunity to receive a within-grade-increase based on work performance**
Posting Dates:               July 27, 2021 - August 27, 2021

Position Overview: 
The Case Administrator manages the progression of bankruptcy cases and related adversary proceedings from opening to final disposition by maintaining the official case records, monitoring the completion of the required procedural steps, verifying the accuracy of documents filed using the CM/ECF (Case Management/Electronic Case Filing) docketing system and performing docketing, file review, noticing, administrative and clerical tasks.   The incumbent reports directly to the Operations Manager.  There is occasional travel to other locations in the Central District of Illinois.

Representative Duties:
Informs customers of required fees, receives payments, and issue receipts. Secures funds in cash register and reconciles cash drawer at the end of the day.  Opens cases upon receipt of initiating documents. Receives and reviews incoming documents, both electronic and on paper to determine conformity with appropriate federal rules, practices and procedures. Monitors Daily Activity Report and Deadlines/Hearings Report. Acts as a liaison to attorneys using Electronic Case Filing (ECF).  Assists pro se filers with bankruptcy questions and documents. Staffs the main bankruptcy phone lines and answers public inquiries on case status, availability and location of bankruptcy records.  Prepares and processes notices for mailing or electronic notice. Continuously tracks cases, including relationships of case events and their status.  Reviews and enters orders, including discharge of debtor, and processes for mailing or electronic notice.  Prepares cases for closing and examines files to ensure that all necessary orders are entered and proceedings completed. 
Provides excellent customer service when responding to inquiries on case status, without providing legal advice. Provides information and ECF instruction to outside customers. Tests new procedures and processes to provide necessary feedback.  
  • To qualify for this position a person must also demonstrate that she/he possesses:
  • High level reading comprehension.
  • Exceptional organizational skills, particularly priority and time management capabilities.
  • The ability to employ critical thinking skills and exercise initiative in handling problems encountered while performing assigned duties.
  • The ability to avoid errors while handling large numbers of items during customer service distractions and interruptions.
  • The ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
  • Unquestioned integrity and a positive attitude. Qualifications: The applicant must possess a high school diploma or equivalent, a minimum of 2 years of general experience, and a minimum of 1 year of specialized experience. Specialized experience is progressively responsible clerical experience requiring the regular and recurring application of clerical procedures involving the routine use of keyboard skills and use of specialized terminology and demonstrated ability to apply a body of rules, regulations, directives or laws. Such experience is commonly encountered in law firms, banking and credit firms, educational institutions, social service organizations, insurance companies, real estate and title offices, and corporate headquarters or personnel/payroll operations. Benefits: Judicial Branch employees are considered "at will" employees and are not subject to the employment regulations of competitive service. However, Judiciary employees are entitled to benefits similar to those of other government employees including: paid annual and sick leave, eleven paid holidays per year, health insurance, life insurance, dental and vision insurance, Flexible Benefits Program, Long Term Disability Insurance, Thrift Savings Plan, participation in the Federal Employees’ Retirement System, flexible work schedule, and a professional work environment. Condition of Employment: Applicants must be U.S. citizens or eligible to work in the United States. A background investigation including fingerprint and criminal record checks will be conducted. Any applicant selected for a position will be hired provisionally pending successful completion of the investigation. Retention depends on a favorable suitability determination. This position is subject to mandatory electronic fund transfer (direct deposit) for salary payment. How to Apply: Qualified candidates should submit all of the following documents in one PDF file to careers@ilcb.uscourts.gov with subject line 2021-01 Case Administrator (your name): 1. Letter of interest; 2. Resume; 3. Fully completed AO-78 (Judicial Branch Federal Employment application) which is available from the courts website at www.ilcb.uscourts.gov under Court Info and Employment Opportunities; 4. Three professional references with contact information. Please submit all required documents to be considered for this opportunity. An incomplete application package may disqualify an applicant from further consideration. If selected for an interview, the Illinois Central Bankruptcy Court uses Ciscos Meeting Server when in-person attendance is not feasible. Management may close this announcement at any time. It is therefore recommended that applications be submitted as soon as possible. Due to the expected high volume of applicants for this position, the court will only communicate with those qualified applicants who are selected to interview. THE UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER

7/25/2021

Police Officer Openings, Burlington, Iowa

Burlington, Iowa is in search of Police Officer candidates. Follow the link for details on applying, and physical agility, testing, and candidate requirements.


https://www.policeapp.com/Entry-Level-Burlington-IA-Police-Officer-Jobs/2492/?Preview=1

7/20/2021

Part-time Law Clerk or Paid Internship Opportunity with Peoria Heights Position Available

The Office of William C. Connor, Attorney at Law, P.C., is seeking a part-time law clerk/intern to assist lawyers by performing legal analysis, research, review and prepare legal files, briefs, motions, or documents.

We have a general practice but focus on small business, probate, estate planning, and municipal law.

Essential Job Functions:

  • Legal research and writing.
  • New file opening.
  • Assist attorney with the filing of Circuit Court documents, briefs, and motions.
  • Ensure tasks are completed timely and properly documented.
  • Keep cases organized by establishing and organizing files; monitoring calendars; meeting deadlines; documenting actions; inputting information into the file database.
  • Making sure filing is done and up to date.
  • Other related duties as assigned.

 

Location: 4600 N. Prospect Road, Suite 1, Peoria Heights, IL  61616

Telephone:  309-657-7128

Qualifications:

 

Education: Enrolled and attending the Paralegal Program.

Experience: Previous clerking or relevant legal experience a plus, but not required.

Must have a knowledge of legal research and the ability to perform online research. Knowledge of Microsoft 365, Word, and Excel is also a plus. 

Pay: $11.00 - $15.00 per hour depending on qualifications and experience.


email resumes and letter of introduction to: 

 
Tabitha A. Keysear
Office Manager

7/16/2021

Law Office Runners/Filing Assistants Part-time (multiple positions) - Peoria Law Firm

Law Office Runners/Filing Assistants

Part-time (multiple positions)

Downtown Peoria firm seeks students to assist staff and attorneys in general office operation; underclass preferred. Must be punctual, professional, efficient, and display initiative. Experience in Word and Excel a plus.

Responsibilities include:

• Deliver documents as directed, including filings at the courthouse

• Prepare documents as needed by attorneys, administrator or assistants, including typing, copying, faxing

or binding

• Meter afternoon mail and prepare for daily pickup

• Assist in the maintenance of client records in file room

• Cover switchboard during receptionist lunch

• Straighten common areas – kitchen, file, and copy rooms, conference rooms

Hours: Monday thru Friday from Noon to 5:00 p.m. Possible flexibility in start time and additional days may be available on occasion.

Opening: Immediate

Send letter of application and resume to: admin@ksswf.com

Christina S. Wyss

Office Administrator

7/09/2021

Paralegals Sought by Peoria Law Firm



Dailey Law Center is seeking highly motivated paralegals. The ability to be a team player is a must. Salary commensurate to experience. Send resume to daileylawcenter@outlook.com for consideration of full-time and part-time positions.

7/06/2021

Criminal Law with Tom Higgins, Fall semester 2021

CRJ 225, Criminal Law, is available wholly Online or with a Hybrid-Online course that will include a Monday morning class meeting from 9:30-10:45 a.m.

Both versions of the course will include weekly Podcasts from Professor Higgins.

Both versions of the course will be driven by relevant and interesting applications of Illinois criminal law statutes. 

The primary goal of this course is for students to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to read and apply the law to the types of real-life situations they will face in their chosen careers.

For additional information on either section of this course, email Professor Higgins or Criminal Justice Coordinator, Doug Heuermann.

thomas.higgins@icc.edu

doug.heuermann@icc.edu




7/02/2021

Legal Assistant/Paralegal, Peoria, Illinois

Brave Law Center, P.C. is a three attorney office specializing in family law, criminal law, traffic law, and Secretary of State driver’s license reinstatements.

The candidate will be responsible for assisting senior paralegals with family law, criminal and traffic cases by drafting and preparing motions and other legal documents, organizing case files, filing documents with the court, drafting discovery requests and responses, scheduling mediation and/or hearings, e-filing documents using Odyssey E-file Illinois, actively communicating with clients, managing document storage and production and handling electronic discovery processes. Provides administrative assistance by answering incoming phone calls, responding to email, and following-up with prospective family law, criminal, and traffic clients. Keeps accurate records of all communication (i.e. phone calls, emails, secure messages), expenses, case documents (such as client intake sheets, pleadings, etc.), and time entries in PracticePanther. Assists attorneys with preparing and filing legal documents for family, criminal, and traffic matters as required. Attends weekly meetings and updates attorneys and office manager on status of active family law matters. Performs other duties as assigned by partner attorneys, associate attorneys and senior paralegals to ensure success of the firm. Knowledge and mastery of MS Word, Outlook, and Excel and Adobe Acrobat a must. Working knowledge of the Illinois Rules of Civil Procedure a must. Experience with electronic discovery and case management software (such as Family Law Software, and PracticePanther/CLIO is a plus.

email resume to Patrick Moore: patrick@getbravelaw.com


6/17/2021

Full-time Legal Assistant, Peoria, Illinois

Job Description

Regional litigation firm seeks exceptional legal assistant to join our team in our Peoria office. Ideal candidate would have at least five years of experience working at a litigation firm and meet the following requirements:

  • Familiarity with state and federal court procedures and rules;
  • Knowledge of court docketing rules and ability to calculate and calendar responsive deadlines, reminders and invitations through Outlook or other electronic calendar systems; ability to manage multiple calendars for depositions, meetings and travel;
  • Proficiency in e-filing in local courts as well as courts in other states (federal and state courts) and PACER; experience in downloading documents from websites;
  • Experience in working with electronic document management systems and ability to organize and maintain electronic files;
  • Ability to work in a team-based setting with other team members supporting a group of attorneys;
  • Open to taking on new responsibilities and challenging tasks and managing a fluid job description;
  • Excellent organizational skills with the ability to integrate into a fast-paced environment;
  • Excellent typing skills with proficiency in Microsoft Office 2016/365 (Word, Outlook, Excel);
  • Experience with Adobe and ability to manipulate pdf documents;
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills and attention to detail with excellent proofing and editing skills;
  • Ability to multitask and prioritize workflow, anticipate needs and creatively find solutions to problems;
  • Must be able to adjust to periods of heavy workloads requiring occasional overtime;
  • Complex case management and trial preparation experience required;
  • Excellent general office skills, including scanning, copying, preparing check requests, mail and Federal Express or other shipping procedures, scheduling meetings and depositions, and make phone calls to obtain information.

 

Our firm offers excellent benefits including:

  • Medical/Dental/Vision insurance
  • Company matching 401(k)
  • Paid Time Off (PTO) and Holiday time
  • Paid parking or transportation reimbursement
  • Cellphone reimbursement

Salary commensurate with experience. Interested candidates, please submit a resume and list of references.

Job Type: Full-time

email your resume and letter of introduction to:

Kerron G. Route at: route@knightnicastro.com


6/09/2021

Part-time Legal Assistant, Peoria Heights Law Firm

William C. Connor, Attorney at Law, P.C. has a part-time position available that would be ideal for a Paralegal student to gain experience. Practice areas include, but not limited to,  landlord tenant, construction litigation, business law, and municipality law, estate planning and probate estates.

Duties will include, but are not limited to, communication with clients, schedule and organize tasks, legal research, prepare pleadings and correspondence. Excellent written and verbal communication appreciated.

Hours may be flexible, would prefer 1-5 p.m. but need to be consistent each week. 

Please send a resume and cover letter to brooke.barkley@wccattyatlaw.com

6/08/2021

Adopt A Duck, Help Support the Center for Prevention of Abuse

In our long time tradition of supporting our students, grads, and those we serve who have been victims of abuse or who have worked tirelessly to provide resources and support for those individuals who have suffered abuse, I would ask that you please us the link provided below to buy a duck, make a needed donation and otherwise support the Center for Prevention of Abuse and it's Annual Duck Race.

Please use this link and donate today: https://www.duckrace.com/peoria/teams/7502/16641



6/02/2021

Case Administrator, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Peoria, IL

 UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT

FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
OFFICE OF THE CLERK

ANNOUNCEMENT NUMBER 2021-01

Position:		Case Administrator
Duty Station:		Peoria, Illinois
Classification Level:	CL 24   
Starting Salary Range:	 $38,694 - $45,150 
(Starting salary will depend upon the education, background, and prior work experience of the applicant) 
Posting Dates:               June 1, 2021 - June 30, 2021

Position Overview: 
The Case Administrator manages the progression of bankruptcy cases and related adversary proceedings from opening to final disposition by maintaining the official case records, monitoring the completion of the required procedural steps, verifying the accuracy of documents filed using the CM/ECF (Case Management/Electronic Case Filing) docketing system and performing docketing, file review, noticing, administrative and clerical tasks.   The incumbent reports directly to the Operations Manager.  There is occasional travel to other locations in the Central District of Illinois.

Representative Duties:
Informs customers of required fees, receives payments, and issue receipts. Secures funds in cash register and reconciles cash drawer at the end of the day.  Opens cases upon receipt of initiating documents. Receives and reviews incoming documents, both electronic and on paper to determine conformity with appropriate federal rules, practices and procedures. Monitors Daily Activity Report and Deadlines/Hearings Report. Acts as a liaison to attorneys using Electronic Case Filing (ECF).  Assists pro se filers with bankruptcy questions and documents. Staffs the main bankruptcy phone lines and answers public inquiries on case status, availability and location of bankruptcy records.  Prepares and processes notices for mailing or electronic notice. Continuously tracks cases, including relationships of case events and their status.  Reviews and enters orders, including discharge of debtor, and processes for mailing or electronic notice.  Prepares cases for closing and examines files to ensure that all necessary orders are entered and proceedings completed. 
Provides excellent customer service when responding to inquiries on case status, without providing legal advice. Provides information and ECF instruction to outside customers. Tests new procedures and processes to provide necessary feedback.  

To qualify for this position a person must also demonstrate that she/he possesses:
•	High level reading comprehension.
•	Exceptional organizational skills, particularly priority and time management capabilities.
•	The ability to employ critical thinking skills and exercise initiative in handling problems encountered while performing assigned duties.
•	The ability to avoid errors while handling large numbers of items during customer service distractions and interruptions. 
•	The ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
•	Unquestioned integrity and a positive, “can do” attitude.

Qualifications:
The applicant must possess a high school diploma or equivalent, a minimum of 2 years of general experience, and a minimum of 1 year of specialized experience. Specialized experience is progressively responsible clerical experience requiring the regular and recurring application of clerical procedures involving the routine use of keyboard skills and use of specialized terminology and demonstrated ability to apply a body of rules, regulations, directives or laws. Such experience is commonly encountered in law firms, banking and credit firms, educational institutions, social service organizations, insurance companies, real estate and title offices, and corporate headquarters or personnel/payroll operations.  

Benefits:
Judicial Branch employees are considered "at will" employees and are not subject to the employment regulations of competitive service. However, Judiciary employees are entitled to benefits similar to those of other government employees including: paid annual and sick leave, ten paid holidays per year, health insurance, life insurance, dental and vision insurance, Flexible Benefits Program, Long Term Disability Insurance, Thrift Savings Plan, participation in the Federal Employees’ Retirement System, flexible work schedule, and a professional work environment.  

Condition of Employment:
Applicants must be U.S. citizens or eligible to work in the United States. A background investigation including fingerprint and criminal record checks will be conducted. Any applicant selected for a position will be hired provisionally pending successful completion of the investigation. Retention depends on a favorable suitability determination. This position is subject to mandatory electronic fund transfer (direct deposit) for salary payment.

How to Apply:
Qualified candidates should submit all of the following documents in one PDF file to careers@ilcb.uscourts.gov with subject line 2021-01 Case Administrator (your name):
1.	Letter of interest;
2.	Resume;
3.	Fully completed AO-78 (Judicial Branch Federal Employment application) which is available from the court’s website at www.ilcb.uscourts.gov under Court Info → Employment Opportunities;
4.	Three professional references with contact information. 
Please submit all required documents to be considered for this opportunity. An incomplete application package may disqualify an applicant from further consideration. If selected for an interview, the Illinois Central Bankruptcy Court uses Cisco’s Meeting Server when in-person attendance is not feasible. Management may close this announcement at any time. It is therefore recommended that applications be submitted as soon as possible. Due to the expected high volume of applicants for this position, the court will only communicate with those qualified applicants who are selected to interview.  

THE UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER

5/28/2021

Police Officer, City of Davenport, Iowa Apply by Next Wednesday

The City of Davenport, Iowa is currently accepting on-line applications until 11:59 P.M. on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, for:

 

  • Police Officer

 

To apply, please visit:  https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/davenport

 

The Davenport Police Department has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) since 2003.  The department is seeking highly motivated individuals with exceptional integrity, character and work ethic.   

 

3/25/2021

Enroll in Criminal Justice or Law Enforcement courses.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE, LAW ENFORCEMENT and 911 STUDENTSNew Students Seeking to Enroll in one of our programs should (1) submit an application to Illinois Central College. Applications may be completed online at http://www.icc.edu. (2) have your high school submit a transcript directly to Illinois Central College Admissions/Records Office. (3) take the COMPASS Academic Placement Test prior to enrollment. Call (309) 694-5234 for appointment times and reservation (4) after being notified of acceptance to Illinois Central College and completing your Placement Test, students should contact Criminal Justice Program Coordinator Doug Heuermann by e-mail at: douglas.heuermann@icc.edu to get registered for classes.

CURRENT CRIMINAL JUSTICE, LAW ENFORCEMENT and 911 STUDENTS:
Current students should complete the Degree Audit through E-Services and save that document as a pdf file and then contact Criminal Justice Program Coordinator Doug Heuermann by e-mail at: douglas.heuermann@icc.edu to get registered for classes.

3/08/2021

Peoria County Sheriff's Office is Hiring with a 10K sign on bonus for Certified Officers

The Peoria County Sheriff's Office is NOW HIRING! The Peoria County Sheriff's Office is accepting applications for qualified candidates to join our Patrol Division! $10,000 SIGN ON BONUS FOR CERTIFIED OFFICERS!*

Peoria County Sheriff's Deputies Receive the Following:
▸ Take Home Vehicle
▸ Pension Plan and Full Benefits
▸ 11 Paid Holidays Per Year
▸ Tuition Reimbursement
▸ Fitness Reimbursement
▸ Multiple Opportunities for Advancement

For more information and to download the application, go to: https://www.peoriacounty.org/468/Commissioned-Employment

3/04/2021

American Bar Association extends Approval status for the Illinois Central College Paralegal Programs

Illinois Central College has had a Paralegal program since 1989.  We currently have two programs, an Associate in Applied Science program and a Post Degree Certificate program for students who have already earned a college degree.  These programs have produced and placed graduates in positions working with lawyers in law offices, government agencies, and corporations throughout our region and the United States.   

Chances are that anyone receiving legal services from a lawyer in our region is also being served by an ICC Paralegal graduate.  

The program first earned American Bar Association approval status in 1992 and we have maintained this status through 6 cycles of a very in-depth program review process since 1992.  

The American Bar Association site team visited our campus over two days in February of 2020.  In their exit interview, the site team reported to Dr. Quirk-Bailey and Mr Budde that they would be recommending the program be reapproved and they noted how impressed they were with our curriculum, our facilities, our students, our advisory board, and our faculty.  

COVID-19 delayed the next two steps of the ABA approval process, a review by the Standing Committee on Paralegals and a vote of approval by the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association.  The House of Delegates voted to extend our American Bar Association approval status this past month.  

The Illinois Central College Paralegal Programs will retain full-approval status through 2026.

2/01/2021

Jobs from the Peoria County Bar Association for February

Office Manager

Office manager for law firm with 20 employees.  Office management experience required and preference for bachelor’s degree in business/accounting.  Approximately 25 hours per week with flexible schedule.  Very competitive pay range depending upon experience.  Benefits include paid time off and 401K.  Excellent working environment.  Contact Michael Marincic at mmarincic@goldfineandbowles.com.


Paralegal

Full-time Paralegal position available immediately with busy, fast paced law firm in downtown Peoria specializing in civil litigation. Candidate must be extremely organized, pay close attention to details, possess initiative, professionalism and have excellent time management skills.  Candidate must also have strong grammatical skills, communication skills and must be computer and technology proficient.  Candidate will be expected to organize and summarize medical records, communicate with clients, counsel and insurance adjusters and prepare written correspondence, pleadings and discovery.  Salary commensurate with experience. If interested, send resumes to jstieghorst@cassidymueller.com.


Full-Time Paralegal Position Family/Criminal Experienced Paralegal Preferred, New Graduates from ICC Welcome to Apply

Responsibilities Include: Correspond with clients and opposing counsel; Legal research and drafting of a wide range of legal documents; Completing written discovery, researching and drafting motions; Preparing for depositions, and assisting with trial preparation.

The candidate will be an integral and respected component of the practice. Emphasis on client service, professionalism, innovation, and ethical standards. This is a fast-paced, matrimonial law firm with some criminal (state and federal) and personal injury litigation. The right candidate will be able to work mostly independently. Once hired, candidates will be required to attend seminars and training during the year to keep up with their legal education. Candidates hired will need to be able to communicate clearly and professionally with all types of individuals, including attorneys, court reporters, clients, witnesses, other firms’ staff, and other individuals outside of the firm.

Firm Programs: Our firm uses Clio Professional management software program Experience with this program is not required but is beneficial. We use Westlaw for research purposes, Office365, and Adobe Pro. Our firm utilizes Apple products on a day to day basis.

Please email resumes, with two writing examples, to shandra@watsonlawpeoria.com.


Legal Secretary
The Peoria office of Prairie State Legal Services has a job opening for a legal secretary. For more information, click here.

Pro Bono Coordinator
The Peoria office of Prairie State Legal Services has a job opening for a pro bono coordinator. For more information, click here

Paralegal/Legal Assistant
Elias Meginnes & Seghetti, P.C. is looking to hire a full time paralegal/legal assistant in the corporation/business/transaction area.  Excellent organizational and computer skills are required.   Apply in confidence to the following:

 

John S. Elias | Elias, Meginnes & Seghetti, P.C.

416 Main Street, Suite 1400, Peoria, Illinois 61602

Telephone: (309) 672-6361 (direct)

Facsimile: (309) 637-8514

email: jelias@emrslaw.com


Legal Assistant
The U.S. Attorney's Office has an opening for a legal assistant. For more information and how to apply, click the following link: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/574774300

1/22/2021

Family Law Paralegal, Peoria, IL



Wanted: Experienced Paralegal in the Family Law area for Peoria, IL office. Starting part-time with the possibility of full-time. Compensation commensurate with experience.

Please contact Jay Edmonds Law Office at 309-674-3900 or jay@jayedmondslaw.com

1/15/2021

Illinois Criminal Justice Reform Bill - Deep Inhale through your Nose, Strong Exhale through your Mouth and Let’s take a Deeper Look

 

Podcast version of these comments

Illinois Criminal Justice Reform Bill - Deep Inhale through your Nose, Strong Exhale through your Mouth and Let’s take a Deeper Look -Tom Higgins

One of our kids' free dives. He can go 90 or so feet on one breath. I am not going to dive quite that deep into this bill, but I need to address a few of the areas of this bill that impact and concern my students, graduates, and our community.

Qualified Immunity

One of the most controversial provisions of the bill was an attempt to end qualified immunity for police officers. There has been a lot of misinformation about what actually passed and what the expectations of the bill if signed into law as written will be. Hopefully, we don’t lose good and qualified police officers due to this misinformation. But for my graduates, my friends, my students, deep inhales through your nose and strong exhales through your mouth for 5 breaths. Don’t turn in your retirement or resignation paperwork or look for a different career path just yet.

As background, qualified immunity protects government officials from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights that a reasonable person should have been aware of. The doctrine attempts to balance two important interests—the need to hold public officials accountable when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably.

The final version of the bill does not gut Qualified Immunity. It creates a yearlong Task Force on Constitutional Rights and Remedies. I hope this 18 member task force includes people who understand Constitutional rights and the law that governs the use of force, police procedures, and the realities of teaching and training the same, consistently and on an ongoing basis. And yes, I am available if you need me. But the primary charge of this task force is to investigate and develop procedures to protect constitutional rights and remedies should those rights be violated. The task force will look at qualified immunity among other things.

A report with policy recommendations must be submitted to the governor’s office and the General Assembly by May, with the task force being dissolved by the legislation at the start of the new year.

Like every aspect of this bill, my concerns center on 4 words. Planning, support, coordination, and funding. Most police agencies are underfunded, especially when it comes to on-going, quality training. In this area, training must be consistent, ongoing, facilitated, and supported. And the reality is that a well planned, supported, coordinated, and funded approach to the next topic likely eliminates the major concerns with qualified immunity.

Use of Force

According to the bill, the General Assembly intends to establish statewide use-of-force standards by 2022 while making changes to what is acceptable and unacceptable uses of force in Illinois statute.

The bill provides that the use of force is permissible only when an officer has determined it is necessary to defend either themselves or others from bodily harm when making an arrest. When a suspect is attempting to escape, officers would not be permitted to use deadly force to stop them, unless that person cannot be apprehended at a later date and is likely to harm others.

The law prohibits certain uses of force. Choke holds and restraints above the shoulders that can restrict breathing are banned unless explicitly used as deadly force. It also prohibits using force as a punishment or in retaliation when it is not authorized; using non-lethal projectiles like tasers and rubber bullets on someone’s head, groin area, or back; firing rubber or any type of round into a crowd; using tear gas and pepper spray without first allowing a crowd to disperse after being warned.

Before officers can use deadly force, they must make a reasonable effort to identify themselves as law enforcement and warn that they are about to use deadly force. Law enforcement can no longer use deadly force against someone for committing a property crime unless that crime is tied to terrorism or to another crime or action where deadly force is permitted.

Officers are also restricted from using deadly force against a person who poses a danger to themselves but does not pose an imminent threat to the officer or another person.

The police reform provisions also add two new duties to the Illinois statutes that officers must follow. The first requires law enforcement to give immediate medical assistance to an injured person, regardless of whether they were injured by the officer’s use of force. The second is the duty to intervene when another officer uses excessive force and to file a report of that incident within 5 days.

On the day the Laquon McDonald video was released I was with a group of friends. We got together to see a buddy who was in town and to celebrate the retirement of one of our other friends. Most of the individuals attending were or had been in law enforcement. Many of these individuals began their career with a service revolver.

The Laquon McDonald video became a topic more than a few times that evening. It was viewed and discussed with disbelief. Some of the criticism of the Chicago Police Department at that time centered on a lack of available tasers. Most of the individuals in this group began their careers long before tasers.

The consensus of these seasoned veterans was that, from their training and experience, the response would have been to surround the obviously under the influence 17-year-old at the opportune moment, someone would risk being stabbed as they attempted to tackle and disarm the young man. With all respect to the valid criticism of hindsight, not one person in that group, by their training, department policies, or own common sense would have fired their weapon.

I teach the law of the use of force to a diverse group of young men and young women who struggle with their desire to enter this career, to serve their community in something they have a passion for and the reality of what they saw happen to Laquon McDonald or any of the other incidents of concern that led to this legislation. I care about and try to support my students and graduates as if they were my own kids. I saw the pain and confusion in their eyes. I witnessed people who would have been great public servants choose another career path because of the obvious problems, questionable and just plain unnecessary and horrific incidents that should have never happened.

I don’t have a problem with the spirit and intent of this part of the bill. But I do have reservations centered on 4 words. Planning, support, coordination, and funding. Most police agencies are underfunded, especially when it comes to on-going, quality training. And in this area especially, training must be consistent, ongoing, facilitated, and supported.

Cash Bail

Effective Jan. 1, 2023, all bail bonds and conditions of bail will be replaced by a system of pretrial release to be developed by the Illinois courts based on a detainee’s alleged crime, their risk of not appearing for their court date, and the threat or danger they may pose to the community if released.

Twice in my life, I have participated in audits and reviews of years worth of criminal cases. I won’t bore you with the details of those studies but I will tell you that there is no doubt in my mind and there is no valid argument that I am aware of that would dispute the fact that the ability to pay bail, fines and court costs impacts some people more than others. If we can agree that the focus on the criminal side of our justice system is to prevent future crime, to see people face a penalty for their actions but encouraged to reform or change their behavior in the future, cash bail, court fines, and court costs create a burden for poor people that often puts them in a hole they just can’t get out of.

I just saw a news account of a man I know who did something incredibly stupid and criminal. He had the means to post bail. He will have the means to pay any fines, court costs, and fees in his case. Whatever his other sentence requirements will be, he will have hurdles to overcome, and depending on how he approaches his circumstances, he will get over those hurdles. But he will be on level ground and able to approach and have a good opportunity to get over those hurdles.

At the same time, my guess is that there are several individuals sitting in the county jail with similar charges. Individuals who made stupid decisions that resulted in criminal activity but don’t have the ability to post bail. If they had a job at the time they were arrested, they’ve likely lost that employment. They will face their sentence and whatever that punishment may be and that sentence will include a fine, court costs, and fees in amounts the individual will not be able to pay. Those unpaid fines, costs, and fees may, as they often do, lead to a subsequent arrest. These individuals also have hurdles to overcome, but unlike the individual who has the means or support system to pay bail, fines, and costs, they can’t take their hurdles on from the level ground. These individuals face the impossible task of getting over their hurdles from inside a hole.

I believe this is the focus of this provision but here are some realities I see with the implementation of this expectation by 2023. First, the courts, sheriffs, and jails in many areas of the state are not set up to provide what this law would require. I won’t go into the details of my concerns here at the top of the list would be supporting Judges and the Sheriff. Some rural circuits may have one Judge covering multiple counties and many Sheriff’s offices have outdated and unsupported communication systems and little chance of running “Zoom” hearings. 4 words. Planning, support, coordination, and funding.

Police Certification

A police certification provision backed by the attorney general’s office was also added to the bill. It would give the state more power over who can be a member of law enforcement and makes it attempt to streamline the process to decertify and terminate the employment of problematic officers.

Before this legislation, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board could decertify an officer only if they were convicted of a felony or a limited set of misdemeanors such as offering a bribe, prostitution, or criminal sexual abuse.

The bill would grant ILETSB greater discretion to decertify officers based on whether a Certification Review Board determines they violated conduct guidelines.

An officer could be decertified if it is determined they committed a felony or a disqualifying misdemeanor, even if they were never convicted or charged. Other actions that could result in an officer being decertified include using excessive force; failing to intervene when another officer uses excessive force; tampering with dashboard cameras, body cameras, or evidence; and committing perjury or engaging in “unprofessional conduct” such as deceiving or harming the public.

Under a new statute of Law Enforcement Compliance Verification, all officers must verify their certification with ILETSB every three years to prove they’ve completed all mandatory training and have not engaged in misconduct worthy of decertification.

No law enforcement agency could hire a person who is not ILETSB certified.

The certification also overhauls transparency and communication in the criminal justice system, creating three databases maintained by ILETSB relating to officers.

The first database, which will be private, will have every law enforcement officer’s certification status, instances of misconduct, and current or past status of employment in law enforcement agencies. The database will be available to the Illinois State Police, governmental agencies, law enforcement agencies, state’s attorneys, and the attorney general. All law enforcement agencies would be required to use and check this database when hiring an officer.

Two other public databases would also be maintained by ILETSB, one that contains all officers, their agency, certification status, and any misconduct that led to decertification; and one that contains all completed investigations of law enforcement misconduct, with the identifying information of the officers involved redacted.

On this one, at least for me, no problems or issues so long as we remember my 4 words of concern. Planning, support, coordination, and funding. In this case, I have faith in the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board. They will plan, support, and coordinate but will the legislature provide sufficient support?

And the final part of this broad stroke with a big brush bill that I will mention is Body Cameras.

Body Cameras

We have been on the path to Body Cameras for some time now. Under this bill, the Law Enforcement Officer-Worn Body Camera Act would be amended so that all law enforcement agencies must eventually use body cameras.

The largest agencies must have body cameras in place by 2022, while all agencies, no matter how small, must have body cameras implemented by 2025.

Originally, this provision was touted as the “defund the police” portion of the bill due to a non-compliance penalty that reduced how much state funding municipalities received for each year law enforcement agencies under their control violated the mandate.

Now, compliance is rewarded and the penalty has been removed, with ILETSB giving preference in grant funding to agencies following the mandate.

My view and advice has always been that body cams protect the officer as much as the public. Like dash cams, it is the best evidence available of what occurred. When the law is enforced reasonably and properly, these cameras provide the best evidence available. And when it isn’t, these cameras provide the best evidence available.

For all interests and perspectives, body cameras are a good thing. From my conversations, police officers and police agencies aren’t opposed to body cameras. The issue with body cameras is and has always been that it was an unfunded mandate on already strapped and struggling local bodies of government.

So again, the theme for concerns on this one and the entire bill comes down to 4 words.

Planning, Support, Coordination, and Funding.

Deep Breaths, Stay Tuned but please don’t quit, don’t choose another career path just yet, and trust the law you took an oath to uphold will land somewhere reasonable and hopefully planned, supported, coordinated, and funded.