From MG: How to pass money from your lawyer to the judge: use a REIT or investment club

Article in Sun Times:

https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/9/11/21431547/ed-burke-michael-toomin-james-shapiro-investment-club-table-wisdom-margarita-kulys-hoffman

2 Cook County judges, indicted Ald. Ed Burke, 3 retired judges partnered in investment club

Judge Michael Toomin presides over the juvenile justice division and is running for retention in November. Judge James Shapiro hears family law cases.By Steve Garrison | Injustice Watch  Sep 11, 2020, 5:30am CDT

Share this story

Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) enters the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Jan. 3, 2019, after being charged.
Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) enters the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Jan. 3, 2019, after being charged.

Two sitting Cook County circuit judges and three retired judges are partners in a company with attorneys including indicted Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), records show.

Participants in the company, called Table of Wisdom LLC, say it’s an investment club formed by a group of longtime friends who regularly met for breakfast and decided to pool their money so they’d have something to talk about.

Two of the partners in Table of Wisdom are sitting judges:

RELATED

Webb appointed as special prosecutor | The Killing of David Koschman

Judge appoints ex-U.S. Attorney Dan Webb to investigate Jussie Smollett case

Justice at lasts for Koschman? | The Killing of David Koschman

Who is Michael Toomin? A judge who first made news on the wrong side of the law

Cook County Circuit Judge Michael Toomin on Aug. 23, 2019, after swearing in former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb as special prosecutor in the Jussie Smollett case.
Cook County Circuit Judge Michael Toomin on Aug. 23, 2019, after swearing in former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb as special prosecutor in the Jussie Smollett case. 
  • Cook County Circuit Judge James Shapiro, who hears family law cases in the domestic relations division.

Both declined to comment.

Other members include:

  • Burke, the longtime Southwest Side alderman who is charged in a May 2019 federal racketeering and extortion indictment that accuses him of using his position on the Chicago City Council to withhold construction permits for a Burger King in his ward in an unsuccessful bid to get the restaurant to hire his law firm for property tax appeals. He has pleaded not guilty and remains in office. He didn’t respond to interview requests.
  • Retired judges Margarita Kulys Hoffman, Clifford Meachem and Warren Wolfson.
  • Attorney Barry Greenburg, who runs a firm that focuses on family law.
  • And attorneys Marvin Leavitt and Michael Stiegel, who practice family law together in the Chicago firm that Leavitt started after he retired from the Illinois Appellate Court.

Judges aren’t prohibited from joining such investment clubs in Illinois, according to retired Lake County Circuit Judge Ray McKoski, now an adjunct professor teaching judicial ethics at UIC John Marshall Law School.

But Illinois law warns of the potential for conflicts of interest when judges go into business with attorneys. Judges should refrain from financial and business dealings that “involve the judge in frequent transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court on which the judge serves,” according to the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct.

Other states have taken a firmer stand on investment clubs. Judicial ethics boards in New York and Massachusetts have said judges should not participate in investment clubs.

“In our view, if a judge should not give investment advice to a charity, a judge should not be giving investment advice to twenty private persons in an investment club,” the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s Committee on Judicial Ethics wrote in a 1995 advisory opinion.

Table of Wisdom reflects the court system’s reputation as being largely white, older men with financial and personal ties to each other and the Democratic Party. Of the 10 company partners Toomin disclosed in forms submitted to the Illinois Supreme Court, the nine who could be identified are white, and all but one are men.

More than 70 percent of the Cook County judiciary is white, compared with 42 percent of the county’s population, and nearly 60 percent of judges are men, according to 2018 statistics provided by Chief Cook County Judge Timothy Evans.

Table of Wisdom was incorporated in May 2018, according to its filings with the Illinois secretary of state’s office.

Kulys Hoffman, who retired from the bench last year, said Table of Wisdom is an investment club. She wouldn’t say how much money members were expected to contribute to the investment fund and said she doesn’t know whether the group is still active.

Though Table of Wisdom filed its annual report in May with the secretary of state’s office, Steigel said the company disbanded earlier this year over “disagreements” on where to invest.

Leavitt is the group’s registered agent and, according to Steigel, was the group’s founder. Leavitt’s law firm was the third-highest contributor to the political action committee set up to retain Cook County judges, giving a total of $20,260 as of 2018.

A former circuit and appellate judge who served on the Illinois Appellate Court with Burke’s wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, Leavitt returned to private practice in 2002. He practices family law as a founding partner of Grund & Leavitt.

Contributing: John Seasly

Steve Garrison reports for Injustice Watch, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit journalism organization.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.409.0_en.html#goog_1751104065Read more

N

2 thoughts on “From MG: How to pass money from your lawyer to the judge: use a REIT or investment club

  1. Thank you again for being our watchdog. Also I bet that one major reason that elders are dying in rest homes is because their systems are weakened by the pharmaceutical handcuffs” that you warned us about.

    • yep, they drug senior with dangerous psych drugs not only for the money but to keep them docile. it’s a form of chemical restrain which is very illegal and very ugly. thenentire system must end.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s