Riding the Circuit: Benton, IL Part 2; of Beatles, Charlie Birger and Bankruptcy

As a Mount Vernon, Illinois attorney, I travel throughout the state practicing law and meeting with clients on topics ranging from bankruptcy to estate law, from divorce to litigation. In my travels, I enjoy seeing the courthouses of our county seats. Occasionally in my blog I will stop to describe these wonderful buildings and the towns and cities in which they set.

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Benton is a lucky town: it has two active courthouses. It is the county seat of Franklin County and has the circuit (state) courthouse in the town center. You can read about the courthouse and Benton in general here.

It also has the federal courthouse for the Southern District of Illinois Eastern Division. I have appeared at this courthouse on a near-weekly basis for over 21 years! This is the courthouse in which bankruptcy hearings in the eastern part of southern Illinois are heard.

In these hateful times I am leery of taking photographs and describing federal courthouses. So, the photo in this blog is from the internet – not my own (the photographs from the rest of this series are mine). The following description is from Wikipedia:

“The Benton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse is located a block from the town square … . Constructed in 1959, the two-story building houses U.S. District and Bankruptcy courts. The Benton Courthouse was constructed in 1959 from steel and block with brick veneer and clip-on aluminum panels.”

For security and safety’s sake I will not describe the interior in detail, but I will say the courtrooms are large and grand – mostly decorated in bright colors (as opposed to deep brown and burgundy walls, for example) – with plenty of seating and stations for the clerks before the large judges’ benches.

The rest of the courthouse is not as ornate as, for example, the federal courthouse in East St. Louis – there is no large echo-y central lobby. Because it is a fairly new courthouse, there are no lines of portraits of former judges or historical features. On the other hand, it is not utilitarian either. It has been my home courthouse for over 20 years and I always feel safe and comfortable there.

It is the courthouse in which I learned of the attacks of 9/11. I never saw so much activity in the building than that day – there were more than the usual (always polite and courteous) guards and bailiffs. Some were dashing through the hallways. The judge (since retired) explained what had happened and said we would get through the docket quickly and then close for the day.

It was also the courthouse in which I was sworn into the federal bar.

I spent that morning at my uncle’s funeral. He died suddenly and was a shock to the entire family. He was beloved by all and we still mourn his passing.

That afternoon, while the family attended the dinner for us sponsored by our local church; I and two other friends/fellow law school graduates drove to the federal courthouse in Benton. We met our sponsor – a law school professor and good friend – and were sworn into the federal bar. The funeral dinner was wrapping up when I returned home.

But just before the swearing in, my friends and I walked through the swinging gate that separated the benches and the attorney tables in the main courtroom. I was the last of the four to walk through. The low swinging door swung back and banged into my left heel – I had not yet made it through the courtroom divider. The force was so great it split the back seam of my dress shoe and broke the skin of my heel through the sock (I did not realize it did that until I got home). It hurt like heck and I limped a bit but I made it through the swearing in. Later, a band-aid  and anti-biotic cream helped heal my heel. My shoe was ruined.

I lost my uncle, I lost a good pair of shoes. I gained a membership to the federal bar.

Hardly an even trade …

No offense to the federal bar, of course. In this courtroom bankruptcy, federal criminal and civil cases are heard. The website for the Northern District of Florida gives a good list: “Federal court jurisdiction is limited to certain types of cases listed in the U.S. Constitution. For the most part, federal court jurisdictions only hear cases in which the United States is a party, cases involving violations of the Constitution or federal law, crimes on federal land, and bankruptcy cases. Federal courts also hear cases based on state law that involve parties from different states. While federal courts handle fewer cases than most state courts, the cases heard tend to be of great importance and of great interest to the press and the public.”

It is one of the few courthouses I call home.

***

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Logan, West Frankfort, Centralia or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

 

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Riding the Circuit: Benton, Illinois

Of Beatles and Charlie Birger…

As a Mount Vernon, Illinois attorney, I travel throughout the state practicing law and meeting with clients on topics ranging from bankruptcy to estate law, from divorce to litigation. In my travels, I enjoy seeing the courthouses of our county seats. Occasionally in my blog I will stop to describe these wonderful buildings and the towns and cities in which they set.

***

Benton-Franklin County

Benton, Franklin County, IL

Benton is the county seat of Franklin County, Illinois

From Wikipedia:

“Benton … took its name from the prominent senator from Missouri, Thomas Hart Benton. The village of Benton was organized in 1841 …

Franklin County was platted in 1818, the year Illinois became a state, at twice its current size. It included the territory that is now Williamson County. In 1839 the county was split roughly in half and the county seat was permanently fixed “at a hill at the south end of Rowling’s Prairie”, the site of the future city of Benton.

The Franklin County Courthouse sits in the center of the Public Square. It is the third courthouse that has served the people of Franklin County. The Italianate building was constructed in 1874-75 …

On April 19, 1928 Benton was the site of the last public hanging in Illinois, when local gangster Charles Birger was executed on the gallows next to the county jail for the December 12, 1926 murder of Joe Adams, mayor of nearby West City, Illinois. A replica of the gallows and hangman’s noose … remain standing today next to the old Franklin County Jail turned Museum.

In September 1963, George Harrison of The Beatles visited Benton while on vacation, the first time any member of the group visited American soil. … ” (The Museum still has the DJ booth and equipment from the time of his visit, it reminds me very much of the equipment I trained on back in the Stone Age)

***

The Benton Courthouse is old and lovely and chocked full of history. The walls are filled with photographs and documents of Charlie Berger and his trial as well as past judges, sheriffs, etc.

Twice since 2015 the voters rejected tax hikes to upgrade the current courthouse and/or to build a new facility.  I’m glad I got to stroll the old building while I could still do so.

The square surrounding the courthouse is typical of smaller counties: attorney’s offices, banks, antique shops and restaurants circle the roundabout, where two major Illinois routes meet. Further west is Interstate 57, which means fast food, a Wal-Mart and other franchises thrive a few miles from the city square.

Benton it a lovely and friendly town and it is a pleasure to practice there. The town has the honor of housing two courthouses – one state and one federal. I’ll discuss the federal court in part 2 …

***

Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois (http://michaelcurrylawoffice.com/) has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Logan, West Frankfort, Centralia or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

You can also access my website at http://www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com

Michael Curry, Curry Law Office, receives AVVO 2016 Top Contributer Award

Attorney Michael Curry, Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois received the 2016 Top Contributor Award from AVVO. This award is given to attorneys who have responded to a set number of legal questions asked on AVVO.com.

AVVO’s main mission is “to help people make the best decisions for their important legal needs.” At AVVO.com, you can find answers to a multitude of legal questions or ask a question yourself. The best news about this website is that lawyers are the ones answering your questions.However, you should consult with an attorney about your legal issues – the answers provided is for informational purposes only.

If you have a legal question, please call Michael at 618-246-0993 or visit the Curry Law Office website at http://www.michaelcurrylawoffice.com/ or www.mtvernonbankruptcylawyer.com.

 

 

What Bankruptcy Can Do – now on Kindle!

The ebook What Bankruptcy Can Do is available on Kindle here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LWIDO5U.  At only $0.99 it makes a great gift to yourself or your family or friends who might be suffering under the stress of too much debt during the holidays.

800,000 people and businesses per year file for relief under bankruptcy to eliminate or restructure their debt.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you should know that there are a lot of factors involved in filing – there are a lot of moving parts.

What Bankruptcy Can Do will show you the difference kinds of bankruptcies available, how each type of bankruptcy affects different types of debt as well as other rules and procedures under the bankruptcy code.

Eliminating your debt load through bankruptcy can be a bumpy and confusing ride.

What Bankruptcy Can Do will make the trip a little smoother…

I’ll explain the story behind the book next time.

***

About the author: Michael Curry of Curry Law Office in Mount Vernon, Illinois has helped thousands of individuals, family and small businesses in southern Illinois find protection under the Bankruptcy Code for almost twenty-five years. He is also available to help individuals and families with their estate planning (wills, power-of-attorney) and real estate and other sales transactions.

He is also the author of books on finance and bankruptcy available on Kindle through Amazon!

Whether you live in Mount Vernon, Salem, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Lawrenceville, Centralia, Louisville, Xenia, Grayville, Effingham, Dieterich, Vandalia, McLeansboro, Dahlgren, Albion, Flora, Clay City, Kinmundy, Chester, Sparta, Olney, Mount Carmel, Nashville, Fairfield, Cisne, Wayne City, Carmi, Grayville, or anywhere in Southern Illinois call Curry Law Office today at (618) 246-0993 and Finally Be Financially Free!

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A Biography

FIRST POST: A BIO

Here is the biography I wrote for the website of the firm I used to work for – Bankruptcy Clinic PC. I have updated it to include my current solo practice.

Michael G. Curry was born and raised in Coulterville, Illinois by his father, who worked in the Air Force, and his stay-at-home mother. He was raised with two sisters. He loved school and was president of his senior class. Coulterville was and still is a small farming and mining community of 1,100 people in Randolph County. Michael believes that being from such a small town and school instilled in him values such as a strong loyalty to home, church and to friends he still keeps in contact with nearly thirty years later!

Michael attended Eastern Illinois University in Charleston for two years where he drew a daily comic strip and advertising illustrations for the college newspaper. He graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television Communications and a minor in Journalism. While in college, Michael was a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, an Honorary Music Fraternity, and Sigma Delta Chi, an Honorary Journalism Fraternity. At SIU he co-founded Radio Action – a student-run radio production company for southern Illinois businesses and was its first President; as well as hosting music programs for WSIU-FM. Outside of his radio interests, Michael also tutored and proctored the learning disabled for Project Achieve.

After graduation, Michael concentrated on his radio career which would total ten years. His work included radio stations in Springfield, IL, and Carbondale, IL. He hosted the first new age music program for WSIU-FM. At another station his oldies show featuring music exclusively from the 1960s was once the number one rated program in its time-slot. His commercial and other radio production pieces included weekly comedy sketches for the morning drive program and spokesperson for a then-up-and-coming sandwich chain called Jimmy Johns – his ads playing in Chicago, Champaign, IL (University of Illinois), and West Lafayette, IN (Purdue University).

Going to law school and becoming an attorney was a goal of Michael’s since he was a child. After his success in radio, Michael decided to enter the legal field in order to help others whereas he would only entertain them. He applied and was accepted at law schools at the University of Illinois, Northwestern, and Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. Michael selected SIU because it was closer to his family and it would allow him to continue part-time radio work.

Michael juggled work and school throughout his law school experience. Despite the seeming lack of time, Michael did join the legal fraternity Phi Delta Phi and was a member of the Products Liability Moot Court team for two years. He was also elected Third Year Representative for the Student Bar Association – effectively the Senior Class President again.

Michael worked in the Belleville, IL, law firm of LeChien & LeChien in real estate and family law, juvenile criminal representation as well as creditor work. He began representing individuals in bankruptcy law in 1993 and has since filed over 6,400 bankruptcies in southern Illinois as an associate with The Bankruptcy Center in Mount Vernon from 1995-2009 and now with The Bankruptcy Clinic.

He feels that helping others out of financial troubles is one of the most satisfying of the areas of law in which he has practiced. “I’ve seen thousands of people whose lives are devastated by debt caused by health problems, divorce and job loss. Add to this the sometimes vicious ways banks and lenders treat their customers to collect those debts – when a person instead needs sympathy and understanding and … well … a break – it makes me happy and proud to help them through bankruptcy.”

Michael enjoys listening to music in his spare time as well as playing guitar, piano, trumpet and violin. He has traveled to England once and Ireland three times – where he got to visit the village in which his great-grandfather lived in the 1840s. He enjoys writing and has been published in Whosoever e-magazine and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Michael has lived in Mount Vernon since 1995 and married his wife, Esther, a librarian, in 2000 and in 2009 adopted a daughter. They attend Meadowbrook Christian Church in Mount Vernon.

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois, 1992
  • Southern District Court Southern District of Illinois, 1993

Education

  • Southern Illinois University School of Law, Carbondale, Illinois
    • D. – 1992
    • Honors: Highest Grade: Senior Writing, Education Law
  • Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois
    • S. – 1987
    • Major: Radio-Television Telecommunications

Classes/Seminars

  • Featured Speaker: Changes/Issues in BAPCPA, BASIL, 2005
  • Featured Speaker: Ethical Issues – Bankruptcy Attys, BASIL, 2009

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • National Association Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, 1997 – Present
  • Bankruptcy Association of Southern Illinois (BASIL), 2004 – Present

Past Employment Positions

  • Bankruptcy Clinic PC, 2009-2016
  • Law Office of Mueller & Haller (Bankruptcy Clinic), Associate, 1995 – 2009
  • Law Office of LeChien & LeChien, Associate, 1993 – 1995

Fraternities/Sororities

  • Phi Delta Phi
  • Sigma Delta Chi
  • Kappa Kappa Psi