Transcript of Debate on Senate Bill 680 in the House Judiciary I
Committee, May 30, 1991

 

Chairman Dunn:  Representative Wait, what's the name of your bill?

Rep Wait: Uh, Senate Bill 680.

Chairman Dunn: Senate Bill 680. And before you say anything further we must have a very brief introduction…uh, your witness is a former member of the General Assembly and he is the class of 1974 and, uh, (low laughter in the background) your witness and I were elected together in 1974, we welcome Bob Downs of Oak Park back here…Bob showed up two or three weeks ago… hadn't been back to the…Springfield… and here he is again…so we're glad to have you here, Bob. Uh…proceed. (Pause) Bob.

Rep. Wait:  OK. Thank you. Bob is with the Family Bar Section (sic)  of the Illinois State Bar Association, and he's the expert on this.  First of all let me say we do have an amendment here…to this bill…the Family Law Section found there were a few problems with it…

Chairman Dunn: Let me interrupt…and it's our, uh… procedure, uh, in this committee to put a bill in the form the sponsor wants, so we'll adopt the amendment. We have a motion "Do Adopt" amendment #1 Senate Bill 680 by Rep. Churchill, seconded by Representative Wenman,

Those in favor of amendment #1 signify by saying "aye," opposed "no," the "ayes" have it, the amendment is adopted. Now I would proceed on the bill as amended.

Rep. Wait: OK.  Basically what this does, it's…it came out of a situation in Woodstock in which I represent and Senator Shaffer also represents in which a 12-year-old child was… found out they were an adopted child…and found out that actually their grandmother, their mother was actually their grandmother… so this protects the confidentiality of the adoption law proceedings. And with that I'll turn it over with… to Bob to further explain it and explain it as it is amended.   

Chairman Dunn: And Mr. Downs has filed a witness slip on behalf of the Illinois State Bar Association and Family Law Council as a proponent.

Bob Downs:  Thank you, uh, Mr. Chairman…and it is a pleasure to be back. Besides being the former rep I happen to be an adoptive father, I have an interest in a newspaper which got covered by the bill in its original form and as a family law attorney I've handled a number of adoptions. The bill as amended, and it was a friendly amendment, meant to further add…is meant to further add to the existing adoption law, who may have access to the court file during the pendancy of the proceedings. The manner in which the bill was originally drafted also did other things which we do not believe were really intended, in fact would have provided…(section of tape deleted! my guess is that the deleted words were "access to the file to those who are not") allowed access to the file even now (transcriptionist's note:  the amendment deleted availability of court documents to birth parents)…there is some clarifying grammar and so on which was in the original bill which is preserved, but the amendment is meant to similarly address the problem that occurred in the, uh, Woodstock area, and, to the extent that is necessary, to add limitation that does that but without the other problems and then with that I won't take up more of your time…

Chairman Dunn: The bill becomes the amendment as I understand it, and…

Bob Downs:  Yes…

Chairman Dunn: And it seems to limit...the scope of the legislation that…to the, uh, court call. So are you saying that any time the case is called in open court the names of the parties shall not be used…is that the stretch of this legislation?

Bob Downs: That's one of the constructive things with—about which we had no problem that the original bill did… and that wasn't where there was controversy about how the original bill was drafted. It is making clear that the court call can have pseudonyms or initials and so on and names need not be actually placed on the call.  That was in the original bill, that is in the, uh, bill…as amended. We eliminated references to docket, it talks about court call or docket as though these are synonymous. They are not synonymous in various counties. I don't speak for the practice in other counties, but in Cook County the docket is just a totally separate set of records that are not at issue here. We're talking about what's in the open court where persons may walk in a courtroom  and look at the sign-in sheet for that day's call….so this makes clearer the, uh,

Chairman Dunn:  In...

Bob Downs: anonymity….

Chairman Dunn:  In section C you indicate that the, uh, attorney of record can inspect the file only on leave of court. Does that …

Bob Downs: That's correct.

Chairman Dunn: figure after the judgment is granted? Certainly not during the pendancy of the—

Bob Downs: This is during the pendancy and that's very restrictive, and we've accepted that…

Chairman Dunn: Why should…uh

Bob Downs: Those are the guideli—

Chairman Dunn:  Why should the person who filed the case not be able to look in the file? I don't understand that…

Bob Downs: Well, because…you have all filed… copies of all of the files that you would be proceeding under. If there was something else...

Chairman Dunn: No…

Bob Downs: … possibly in that file…that you need access to you would ask the clerk…

Chairman Dunn: You're a better lawyer than I am…I would have to concede that more than once I've gone to the courthouse to see what's in the court file because I'm unsure whether what's in my file is complete...

Bob Downs: Well, Mr. Chairman, personally I share that same concern…it's almost putting an attorney into a lesser status during these proceedings, nonetheless the Bar's provision…uh position… is to support the restrictive language….uh…we don't have a great problem with the concept of the bill…

Chairman Dunn: Mmmm.

Bob Downs: That's the position of our Bar…

Chairman Dunn: I don't have a problem with the first part of the bill, about, uh, the mechanics of how the uh case shall be called, but during the…especially during the pendancy of the adoption, the attorney for the petitioners, the uh attorney for the respondents, guardian, call it or not, the guardian ad litem or whatever they are…ought to be able to go to the courthouse and look in the file. I have trouble with that. I don't know what other members want… feel.  Are there any comments or questions of the witness?  (Silence.) Any comments or questions…Uh…before I support the legislation I would need an amendment with regard to that provision at least. Is there a motion? Representative Homer moves "Do Pass," Representative Wenland seconds the motion…on that motion the clerk shall call the roll.

Clerk:  Churchill?

Churchill:  Aye.

Clerk: Homer?

Homer:  Aye.

Clerk: Johnson? (mumbling sounds in the background)…

Chairman Dunn: He didn't say anything…

Clerk: Lang?  

Chairman Dunn: He's gone.  

Clerk: Magathy? (not sure of spelling of this name)

Magathy:  Aye.

Clerk: Purcell?

Purcell: Aye.

Clerk: Preston?

Preston: Aye.

Clerk: Quinlan?

Quinlan: Aye.  

Clerk: Williams? (silence)

Clerk: Young? (silence)

Clerk: Dunn?

Chairman Dunn:  What a wonderful way to welcome my colleague. I won't vote for your bill (laughter), I vote "present"…but in…you have enough votes anyway…Uh, six—on Senate Bill 680 as amended on the "Do Pass" motion there are six voting "aye," none voting "no," one voting present and Senate Bill 680 shall be reported favorably to the House floor. And thank you very much, Mr. Downs, for coming down here it sure is…

Bob Downs: Thank you, it feels wonderful to be back…

Chairman Dunn:  …nice to have you back.  Let's uh make Bob Downs blush on his way out the door. Mr. Downs beat the original Mayor Daley machine to be elected from Oak Park and parts of the city of Chicago if I recall correctly in 1974 (background laughter) but then…but then in 1976 the machine got even.

Bob Downs: They sure did. We won by 200 votes the first time around and then the district was 80% in the city…so it was a hell of a battle the next time…I was down here, they were up there…

Chairman Dunn:  Ha-ha-ha. It's good to see you…

Rep. Wait: Thank you very much.

Chairman Dunn:  Now who wants to go?