The Katten team (from left to right): Sharyn M. Castle, Jonathan S. Feld, Bonita L. Stone, Jessica R. Price and Jonathan K. Baum.
Several years ago, Jonathan K. Baum, director of pro bono services at Katten Muchin Rosenman, became involved with the Legal Community Against Violence (LCAV). In 2008, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to keep a handgun in their home, LCAV sought volunteers to assist in defending an expected onslaught of lawsuits challenging city and state firearm regulations. Numerous Katten attorneys in several of the firm's offices offered to help.
Cook County's ban on assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines was soon challenged, but upheld by both the Cook Court Circuit Court and Illinois Appellate Court. As Wilson v. Cook County moved to the Illinois Supreme Court, Baum recruited lawyers to write an amicus brief defending the constitutionality of the county ban. Partners Jonathan S. Feld and Bonita L. Stone and Associates Sharyn M. Castle and Jessica R. Price filed their brief on behalf of LCAV, which was joined by the city of Chicago, the Major Cities (Police) Chiefs Association and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, in November.
Baum said the Illinois Supreme Court failed to resolve the heart of the case – whether the county's ban violates the Second Amendment – when it issued its opinion in April. Instead, the state's high court remanded the case to the trial court, saying it didn't have enough facts to know if the law violates the Constitution.
"When the U.S. Supreme Court said you have the constitutional right to have a handgun to protect your home, it also said there were classes of weapons that were dangerous and unusual that were not within that right," he said. "So the primary issue here is, are these assault weapons within that category of dangerous and unusual weapons not protected by the Second Amendment?"
Baum and his team included facts demonstrating that assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines are dangerous and unusual weapons in their brief, which may be presented as evidence in a future trial.
"We would like to see ordinance upheld, and we are confident it will be," he said. "You don't need this kind of gun that fires this many rounds this rapidly to defend your home. The purpose of these guns is to kill many, many people very, very fast. The Constitution does not require that those kinds of weapons be accepted for civilian use."
At the bar.
Since Troquet, 1834 W. Montrose Ave., means “neighborhood bar” in French, it appropriately offers its patrons classic, affordable bar fare such as Croque Monsieur, a classic hot ham and cheese sandwich with béchamel and Dijon, and Confit de Canard, duck confit served with fries and green salad. The bar, which opened in March in the North Center/Lincoln Square area, also serves traditional small plates like Les Moules-Frites, or mussels with fries, and lighter options like La Chèvre "chopped salad,” with candied nuts, goat cheese, dried cherries and avocado. Find the full menu at troquetchicago.com.
In the shop.
Independence, 47 E. Oak St., bills itself as the first men’s store in Chicago to carry only “Made in USA” goods. Since opening the Gold Coast store in March, George Vlagos offers handcrafted clothing and accessories by independently owned brands such as Engineered Garments, Post O’alls, Gitman Bros., Imogene + Willie and Levi’s Vintage Clothing. Vlagos, the founder of Oak Street Bootmakers, also sells the full collection of that shop’s shoes and boots. For more information, visit independence-chicago.com.
At the table.
Balena, 1633 N. Halsted St., opened in March as the first joint venture of The Bristol and Boka Restaurant Group partners. The Lincoln Park eatery, which takes the place of Landmark near the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, features Italian-inspired cuisine created from seasonal, Midwestern ingredients. Its menu includes handmade pastas, brick-oven pizzas, spit-roasted meats and wood-fired fish and vegetables. Plus, as a bonus, Amanda Rockman, who appeared on the last season of Bravo’s “Top Chef Just Desserts,” oversees the restaurant’s dessert selection. Find out more at balenachicago.com.