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2017 Hon. Timothy C. Evans Law School Scholarship

Timothy C. Evans and Ron Wittmeyer

Ron Wittmeyer with Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans and Judge Neil H. Cohen at the 2016 NWSBA’s Judge’s Night

The Timothy C. Evans scholarship was established to honor the commitment and dedication that the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County has devoted to the Northwest Suburban Bar Association (NWSBA) and to the community of Cook County.

Who Is Timothy C. Evans?

As the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Timothy C. Evans presides over one of the largest unified court systems in the world. Cook County has more than 400 Judges and more than 2.4 million cases filed annually. During his tenure as Chief Judge, Judge Evans has innovated safe haven programs for children of parents attending or guardians attending court. Additionally, he has been a tireless champion of expanding opportunities for women and minorities in the court system. Also, Chief Judge Evans led the effort to open the new, domestic violence courthouse located at 555 W. Harrison Street in Chicago, which opened in 2005.

The NWSBA Foundation, which was established to increase the association’s charitable reach, is honored to recognize Judge Evans’ contribution to the legal community through this scholarship.

In 2013, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans received the NWSBA’s Public Service Award at the NWSBA’s annual Judges’ Night. Also, Judge Evans was in attendance when Judge Neil H. Cohen received the Northwest Suburban Bar Association’s 2016 Public Service Award.

Who Is Eligible for the Timothy C. Evans Scholarship?

The Scholarship is available to law school students currently attending an Illinois accredited law school who reside in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. This division includes Lake, Kane DuPage, Cook, Will, Kendall, Grundy and LaSalle counties. The law student should have demonstrated a commitment to the highest scholastic standards. Additional considerations include scholastic achievement, involvement in school and extracurricular activities, in addition to financial need.

The deadline to apply for the Hon. Timothy C. Evans law school scholarship is March 23, 2017.

“How can Cook County help you today?” – Putting Services First with New Website

As many people are frustrated with the DMV or jury duty, sometimes people are frustrated when they log onto a website that is supposed to provide services that the government offers. A lot of times, people have to click through several pages of confusing materials before they can actually find who to contact for the service that they need. Cook County has taken a seemingly revolutionary approach by making “services” the number one focus of their website.

With their new website, Cook County has made finding it easier for users to find a lost pet, apply for a job, pay for a ticket, request a birth certificate, or report something.

What Was Wrong with the Old Website?

cook county illinoisPeople rarely visit a government website to figure out how the government works. Most users visit government websites to figure out who to contact for a certain service. The old website focused more on “who does what” in the government, so the user was not really the focus of the website. Cook County saw that this was problematic, since it has long been held an American belief that the government should be designed to serve the people. After all, that’s where our tax dollars go, why should the people have to navigate through complicated websites just to find a service that the government is required to offer?

What Changes Has Cook County Made?

The new website puts the user first by focusing on services. In fact, when a user goes to the website, the first thing the user sees is a large search box with the words “How can Cook County help you today?”  When a user types in the box, suggested search terms pop up, and when a user searches for something, the results are very user friendly. After conducting a search, the user can filter the results, and a list of services related to the search term appears below the results.

What Else Is New on the Cook County Wesbite?

At the top of the page, the first main menu item says “I want to.” If a user opens that menu, a list of services will drop down. These are the most commonly requested services, and now they are very easy for users to find. Some of the most commonly requested services that are included in the drop down menu instruct people on how to apply for a job, get information regarding worker’s compensation, find where to vote or property information, pay property taxes or a hospital bill, request to postpone jury duty, and report an environmental complaint.

Several other services are now on the drop down menu so users do not have to go searching through the website to find them. It does not matter if you are using a smartphone or a computer; the website will adjust to whatever you are using.

What If Users Want to Search by Agency?

Users can still search by agency if they want, but these pages have been updated as well. On each agency page, users will find the agency’s location and contact information. The services that the agency offers will be listed as well. Users will also find a section called “Transparency” where documents that the agency holds will be listed. A list of related agencies and upcoming events are on each agency’s page.

Everything Is Connected in Cook County

cook county websiteThat’s because everything on the website is connected to make it as easy as possible for users to get to where they need to be. The creators of the new website wanted to use links to bring people to an agency within the county, another county website, or a document held at another website. Linking websites together, and linking one agency to another, is much easier than telling users to go to a different website.

About 10,000 people visit the site each day, so officials will be monitoring the website to see how people use and find information. To create this website, the County worked with Smart Chicago, an organization that works to improve people’s lives through better online access. Smart Chicago brought hundreds of testers to make sure that the website is running as efficiently as possible. Residents of Chicago can be certain that the website will become easier and easier to navigate a more users frequent the website.

Illinois Mental Health Courts

downloadCook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties have all established mental health courts which offer a sentencing program as an alternative to incarceration.  In a perfect world, courts would rule with a firm but caring hand and these mental health courts accomplish exactly that.   Mental health courts offer programs include group and individual therapy, drug rehabilitation, and anger management.  While mental health court does fulfill defendants’ therapeutic needs, it goes beyond that.  In addition to frequent court appearances and therapy sessions, mental health courts help defendants to obtain housing, employment, and refer them to mental health professionals who can continue their treatment and administer medication after they leave the Treatment Alternative Court mental health program.

[Read more…]

April Newsbriefs

In the April 2016 Northwest Suburban Bar Association Newsbriefs, Ron discusses:

  • the NWSBA held its 20th annual high school Mock Trial competition,
  • St. Baldrick’s Foundation
  • the new arrangement with IICLE to create and market selected NWBSA live CLE programs online, and
  • NEW MEMBERSHIP DRIVE – GOAL – 30 in 3! (30 New Members in 3 Months)

To read the full Newbriefs, download the PDF: April 2016 – Newsbriefs

March Northwest Suburban Bar Association Newsbriefs

In this month’s Northwest Suburban Bar Association Newsbriefs, Ron Wittmeyer discusses reaching out to the community – specifically to motivated law students and high school students interested in the law. He attended the 2015 Unity Dinner & All-Bar Swearing-in Ceremony and Reception. At this event, all bar presidents were sown in and met many recipients from the Diversity Schloarship Foundation and spoke on a panel for over 150 law students with associate Matt Hess. On a similar theme, Newsbriefs covered the 20th annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association Mock Trial Competition, which included over 400 high school students. Additionally, Ron Wittmeyer outlined the upcoming CLE programs and new partnership between IICLE and the Northwest Suburban Bar Association.

To read the full NewsBriefs, click here.

gram soon.

Illinois Nursing Home Mandatory Arbitration Clauses

6850760963_1cc9603d1b_bNursing homes in Illinois can ask residents to sign an arbitration agreement so long as it is drafted in compliance with general Illinois contract law. Although the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act nullfieid any waiver given by a resident that bars his right to litigation, a 2012 Illinois Supreme Court decision invalidated this provision. In short, the provision voided mandatory arbitration clauses. But the Court invalidated the anti-waiver provision of the Act in favor of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), which deems mandatory arbitration clauses valid, irrevocable, and for the most part, enforceable.

In 1979 lawmakers passed the primary regulatory scheme regarding the operation of nursing homes.  The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act was enacted “amid concern over reports of inadequate, improper and degrading treatment of patients in nursing homes.”  The Act gives the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) the authority to regulate the standard of care given in long-term care facilities and provides civil and criminal penalties for violations of these regulations. Among other things, the Act prohibits conduct such as neglect by employees who fail to provide adequate patient care or maintenance resulting in mental or physical injury to a resident. [Read more…]

October NWSBA Newsbriefs

golfoutingCheck out this month’s Northwest Suburban Bar Association October Newsbriefs.

In this issue, Ron discusses his objectives as President of the NWSBA:

“We pledge to do that in 3 ways this year: 1) provide plenty of substantive law meetings and seminars to help you improve your legal knowledge and skills, 2) plan select social events, which provide you with networking opportunities for new contacts, and new business, and 3) help you become more profitable, by the work of our Law Practice Management Committee.” Visit page 3 of the October NWSBA Newsbrief for the full article.

Click here to read October’s newsletter and read more of Ronald Wittmeyer’s message on page 3.

[Read more…]

Train Accidents: Real Dangers and How to Avoid Them

On October 9, 20015, two train accidents occurred in different parts of Chicago: one woman in Elmhurst and one woman on the northwest side of Chicago were killed when they were struck by Metra commuter trains. Being a Midwestern state, Illinois appears toward the top of nearly every list that features statistics on states’ total number of freight railroads and miles traveled by train.  This is no surprise as about 1/3 of all U.S. cargo travels through the centrally-located Chicagoland area.  Illinois is the only state in which all seven of the country’s Class I railroads, such as Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway and the Union Pacific (UP) Railroad, operate.  Additionally, 292,000 commuters travel on Metra lines each day from the suburbs into the city and vice versa. We run an impressive 9,982 miles of track throughout the state but as they say: with great access to the railroad comes great responsibility. ().
Waukeegan Trains
Cook County’s 2,548 railroad crossings account for 17.4% of all the crossings in the state.However, a staggering 35% of all collisions involving a train over the last 5 years have taken place here. A majority of these collisions take place at public crossings despite the presence of passive or active warning devices.  Obviously railroad crossings can be dangerous but to whom?  Both pedestrians and drivers face immense risks when it comes to trains and should likewise take precautions to ensure their safety.

[Read more…]

Welcome Matthew L. Hess

As you may have read in our recent press release, Matthew L. Hess has joined the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd.

Matthew graduated from Southern Illinois University School of Law. He focuses his practice on plaintiff’s personal injury cases.

Attorney Matthew L. Hess brings with him to the firm over seven years of combined law firm and insurance industry experience. He most recently served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Judge Sandra Tristano of Cook County’s Third Municipal District, in addition to clerking at the Alleman Law Finn, P.C. while in law school. For more information on Matthew, please check out his profile.

Illinois Judicial Elections

Your Vote Counts – For Judges Too!

Fact – Judges in Illinois are elected by the public in judicial elections on the ballot with the President, Congresspeople, and state representatives.

Problem – Many voters lack information about judicial candidates.

Solution – Use judicial evaluations conducted by Bar Associations as a reliable source of information in the judicial elections on March 18, 2014 to help you choose qualified judges. [Read more…]

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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