Lester: Suburban attorney victorious before U.S. Supreme Court

Stanley Eisenhammer says he was treated like the little dog in the fight by big-time law firms in Washington, D.C., and by some reporters, because he was a suburban attorney who hadn't ever argued a case before in the U.S. Supreme Court.

But Eisenhammer, an Arlington Heights resident and partner with the law firm Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn, felt a bit vindicated last week after the court handed down a 6-2 opinion in his favor.

Eisenhammer represented Elijah Manuel, who sued the city of Joliet in a police misconduct case. Manuel says police officers lied and wrongly accused Manuel of possessing the illegal drug ecstasy with the intent to distribute, then held him for weeks until the pills were found to be vitamins. Eisenhammer has been on the case since May 2013, when a judge from the Northern District of Illinois appointed him to represent Manuel. He continues to represent Manuel pro bono.

The court's majority opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, found that the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures applies not just to arrests, but when suspects are detained. She said Manuel could bring a claim of wrongful detention because the judge's order holding Manuel for trial “lacked any proper basis.”

The ruling doesn't mean the case is over. It sends the case back to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for further consideration.

Highs vs. lows

Eisenhammer, a former Northwest Suburban High School District 214 board member, was at his vacation home in Door County, Wisconsin, when he got an email informing him the court's decision had been released on Tuesday. He says the ruling is especially heartening for Manuel.

“He's looking forward to a new start,” Eisenhammer said. “But I'm proud, too. They dissed on Arlington Heights. You can have good lawyers that work in the suburbs.”

Pension surcharge bill clears House

A bill unanimously cleared the Illinois House that would stop suburban school districts with high percentages of poor students from losing out on millions of federal dollars each year.

House Bill 656 would end a requirement that school districts kick in more toward pensions for teachers paid with federal Title I funds, which go to schools with a lot of low-income students. That contribution is 39 percent of a teacher's salary and has increased steadily to pay down the state's pension debt. Democratic state Sen. Linda Holmes of Aurora is the bill's sponsor.

Education reform group Stand For Children found Elgin Area School District U-46, which has a 63 percent poverty rate among students, lost $1.1 million in federal funds in 2014, the most recent year studied. Waukegan Unit District 60, where 97 percent of students are below poverty thresholds, lost $705,549 that year. Aurora West Unit District 129, which has a 60 percent poverty rate, lost $507,321.

Local chef nominated for James Beard

Erling Wu-Bower, a former classmate of mine at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, was nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award for the second year in a row. Wu-Bower, a Notre Dame University graduate who now lives in Chicago, describes acclaimed Chicago chef Rick Bayless as a mentor and friend and says it was Bayless who inspired his love of cooking fish. Wu-Bower, who has previously worked at Chicago Restaurants The Publican and Avec (and is the son of former Daily Herald Food Editor Olivia Wu), opened Nico Osteria in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood in 2013.

‘Not the one people expected'

There's a Jewish candidate for governor, the Jewish news site Forward noted, but “not the one most people were expecting.” Democratic state Sen. Daniel Biss announced his candidacy last week, Forward's story continued, but entrepreneur and billionaire philanthropist J.B. Pritzker has not so far thrown his hat into the ring. Illinois's first Jewish governor was Henry Horner, elected in 1932.

Priests, nuns march for immigrants

The Rev. Corey Brost of the Arlington Heights-based Viatorians organized an march last Friday with 200 priests, brothers and nuns. Representing 57 different religious orders, the religious men and women hammered nails onto a cross to “express condemnation” of policies against immigrants and refugees, Brost said.


To state Sen. Cristina Castro and husband Joe McKeown, who lost his mother, Donna Lyons McKeown of Antioch. Mrs. McKeown, 76, was a fixture of the community and an active volunteer for the Girl Scouts of America, St. Barnabas, the Antioch Women's Club and the Antioch Senior Center.

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State Sen. Linda Holmes of Aurora is sponsoring a bill to end a pension surcharge schools pay for teachers hired with Federal Title I funds used to educate poor students. Associated Press File Photo
Illinois state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston is running for Illinois governor. Associated Press File Photo
Erling Wu-Bower, a St. Viator High School alum, was nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award for the second year in a row. Courtesy of Nico Osteria
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