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Several bar leaders from across the state are speaking out supporting the rule of law and on behalf of innocent victims of violators of Illinois’ stay-at-home Executive Order effective through May 30.
Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Executive Order requires Illinois residents to continue to shelter in place through May 30, but it has come under fire from some downstate legislators. Bar leaders from the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), Chicago Bar Association (CBA) and Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) are speaking out in support of the Governor’s Executive Order in an effort to protect Illinoisans across the state and to reinforce the rule of law.
As of Wednesday, May 13, 2020, the number of deaths in Illinois attributed to COVID-19 totaled more than 3,700 and the number of total infections in the state exceeded 84,000.
Presidents of three leading bar associations stated that they recognize the Governor’s authority to protect its citizens, particularly in a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic situation, and that the Executive Order to shelter in place must be practiced by the Illinois citizenry for the health, safety and welfare of all.
ISBA President David Sosin said, “The constitutionality of the Governor’s actions is now before the courts and we await the decision of the judicial branch, but in the meantime, we must respect the rule of law in this state. A violation of the Governor’s Executive Order may result in consequences that result in legal action, but at the same time, we appreciate the efforts being made to recognize that different areas of the state may be treated differently depending upon their experience with coronavirus and their current success with social distancing efforts.”
CBA First Vice President Maryam Ahmad, who ascends to the presidency next month, echoed Sosin’s sentiments and added, “The Chicago Bar Association supports our Governor’s efforts to assure and defend the safety of the residents of Illinois; this goal is consistent with the CBA’s mission to promote the general welfare of our members and to preserve and protect the legal profession. Governor Pritzker’s Executive Orders properly cite and rely upon broad statutory authority, particularly now, during a crisis. They are presumptively valid and have the effect of law. Parties seeking to challenge these orders should do so before a court; unless declared unconstitutional, these orders are to be followed.”
ITLA President Antonio Romanucci said, “The risk of opening early outweighs the benefit of limiting liability not only for a municipality but also for any employer who follows the guidelines of the municipality.” Romanucci said in a May 8 written statement that the “prudent course” would be to stay closed and limit any further potential spread that could lead to litigation. “Certainly, no one wants to do a second round of sheltering,” he went on to say.
Mark Prince, immediate past President of ITLA of downstate Marion, said, “I am supportive of the Governor’s Executive Order because Illinois needs to re-open only once and do it the right way. This deadly virus affects everyone across the state and even one death is one too many.”
Romanucci pointed out that the insurance industry itself pointed out that consequences for violating the Executive Order may include liability for those who become sick as a result of violating the order and denial of insurance claims should a court find the business or local government to be acting outside the parameters of what is covered in their policies.
ISBA President David Sosin, CBA First Vice President Maryam Ahmad, ITLA President Antonio Romanucci and ITLA Immediate Past President Mark Prince will hold a virtual press conference at 11 a.m., Thursday, May 14, 2020, on Zoom.