My Law Life

by Scott Ealy (Effingham, Illinois, USA)

Shaping Young Lives / Sister Susan





Participating in the “Shamrock Race To The Cross” this weekend, I pondered my substantial indebtedness to Sacred Heart Parish and Grade School in Effingham, which I attended from 1965-1974.  (I graduated from eighth grade – with 19 classmates – during ceremonies held at the “new” Sacred Heart Church in May of ’74).


My core values were shaped in the classroom, in church, and on the playgrounds at Sacred Heart – on issues of justice and fair play, in particular.


Many of our instructors left lasting impressions.


One especially winsome soul was Sister Susan Antonacci, our 6th grade home room teacher.

Sister Susan’s affection for each student, and each life, was something to behold.


Blessed with many talents, including the gift of enthusiasm, the red-haired Sister Susan was a marvelous educator who often would read aloud to us from classic works with first-rate, role-playing expression.

She also exhibited outstanding musical abilities — and musical tastes ranging from The Carpenters to David Bowie, as I recall.

And she spoke frequently with us about the less fortunate and the tough issues of the day, begging our young minds to think deeply (without ever having to make the request verbally).


With her caring kindness and the affection that she so easily displayed, Sister Susan made a difference everywhere, encouraging each of us to live in similar fashion.




In my childhood, there was a fictional television program, “The Flying Nun,” which ran for several seasons into the late 1960s on ABC-TV.  Well, we had the real Flying Nun at Sacred Heart in Sister Susan Antonacci!





[Ironically, the unforgettable “Sister Susan” departed our world at the much too early age of 50 on the last Monday in June of the year 2000 from injuries sustained in a St. Charles County, Missouri, auto accident].







Scott Ealy



Written by scottealy

June 27, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Hot Time In The City – (Susan G. Komen St. Louis 5K)


Post-Race Relief On A Hot, Humid Morning - Courtesy Of A St. Louis Fire Department Water Truck



Like many, I was all decked out in floppy bunny ears provided by the Eveready company.  The bunny ears are a Susan G. Komen “Race For The Cure” tradition.


I struggled at the starting line of this charity running event, as I thought about my late cousin.

On a human scale, it seemed so unfair:  Here I was enjoying the day in St. Louis, but Nancy was no longer with us.  She was the kind of person who would do anything to help anybody.  Ask me how I know.


Nancy met the love of her life in her 40s.  They married.  His children became their children, and they became a loving family.

However, Nancy was claimed by breast cancer a few short years later.

She is greatly missed.






[I ran on Saturday in memory of my paternal cousin Nancy Bock of Springfield, previously of Shumway, IL, and my maternal grandmother Martha Greene of Clifton, previously of Chicago, IL].







Scott Ealy


Written by scottealy

June 11, 2010 at 2:19 pm

It Happened On A Day (Night) Like This . . .



The Family Home of Medgar & Myrlie Evers in Jackson, Miss.



On this very night nearly half a century ago, a man whom I did not know willingly sacrificed his life for others in this driveway.  No man ever gave more for his fellow human beings than Medgar W. Evers.

To have been able to independently study the courageous civil rights work of Medgar Evers and walk the streets where he walked during my law school years has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.



(June 2008 Coverage)


(January 2009 Coverage)



(June 1963 Coverage)





Raw Tape:


Via the CBS Radio Network, I covered oral arguments before the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1992 on the issue of whether Byron de la Beckwith should be tried a third time for the 1963 murder of Medgar Evers.

[The recordings below may be of significant historical value].





News Link:  “Court Allows 3rd Trial …,” N.Y. Times (December 17, 1992).



As a law student, I declined a solicitation (through a college professor) to provide assistance to the Byron de la Beckwith defense team.  I later became involved with the NAACP’s Jackson Branch in publicly advocating that de la Beckwith be brought to trial.



My thoughts and words of gratitude in response to the Evers family’s heroism are wholly inadequate.



Scott Ealy


Written by scottealy

June 11, 2010 at 12:10 am

Posted in Medgar Evers

Tagged with

No Patron Saint For Guys With Bad Haircuts?



St. Ives - Patron Saint of Lawyers



A late 13th century advocate for the poor in France, St. Ives is the legal profession’s patron saint.


In addition to standing up for poverty stricken individuals, Ives reportedly “chased immorality and sin from the village of Louannec.”  [By reputation, almost any attorney from Ives’ time would have “chased immorality and sin” . . . just minus the part about “from the village].”


Roman Catholics marked a “feast day” Wednesday for St. Ives, who died on May 19, 1303.


(Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but I do not recall hearing mention of St. Ives during my eight year stint at Sacred Heart Grade School in Effingham).



Scott Ealy


Written by scottealy

May 20, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Hearts And Minds Of Children / A Parent’s Gift




To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.


U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education




Today marks the 56th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing racial segregation in public education.


Although Brown was decided in 1954, schools in the South generally didn’t “get around” to desegregating until 1970, at which time the “whites only” private academies sprang into prominence (under the guise of Christian education, no less).  Public schools were abandoned by racist whites and the sheep who either couldn’t or wouldn’t stand up to them.

Even now, in some areas the situation has improved very little.



How did parents equip their children with self-esteem in the face of (separate and unequal) state-supported segregation prior to Brown v. Board of Education?




Listen as my late friend, civil rights leader Aaron Henry of Clarksdale, Mississippi, addresses his upbringing:



[Recorded at Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson, Mississippi (1993)].





For The Record:  During my law school years, our only school-aged child attended the public school system in Jackson.  At one point in this experience, voters in majority white precincts voted in 1991 against a bond issue to guarantee classroom air conditioning for children in the predominantly African American local public schools.


I also do not understand parents who would deny their own children the opportunity to learn not only with, but from children of other cultures and experiences.  The lesson often missed is that we all are much more alike than different.



A Thought:  The USA has been a nation for fewer than 225-years.  Most forms of racial discrimination have been outlawed (in fact) only during the last fifth of this nation’s existence.  We have much to learn.




Scott Ealy


Written by scottealy

May 16, 2010 at 7:41 pm

It’s True, THEY Beat Us — But We Still FINISHED!





OK, so a guy in a gorilla suit – and a running banana – both zipped past us in the last 100-yards.  So what?


The important thing is, we clung to our dignity (sort of) and gamely completed the half-marathon course Saturday at the 2nd Annual Illinois Marathon extravaganza in Champaign-Urbana in non-record time.  (Which means, of course, that our official times will NEVER be posted HERE).


Participants from the area legal community at the Illinois Marathon event included, but were not limited to, the following runners:  Effingham County State’s Attorney Ed Deters, the Hon. Millard Everhart (5th Judicial Circuit Court Judge – Toledo) and the Hon. Mark Shaner (2nd Judicial Circuit Associate Judge – Robinson).



Scott Ealy


Written by scottealy

May 1, 2010 at 1:23 pm

A Lesson On Sentencing Hearings . . . Via Monty Python



Please Ignore The Subtitles




During my high school years, I would wait up religiously for the late Sunday evening appearances of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” on our local PBS-affiliated television station.

Although I had no interest in law, I was more than amused by “the courteous murderer,” a sentencing skit.


Warning To Defendants:  “The courteous murderer” is a satirical comedy sketch.  It is NOT real. 


If it’s real mitigation that you earnestly seek to prove for yourself or a client, however, here are Illinois’ official “factors in mitigation,” as found at 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.1(a):


The following grounds shall be accorded weight in favor of withholding or minimizing a sentence of imprisonment:


  1. The defendant’s criminal conduct neither caused nor threatened serious physical harm to another.
  2. The defendant did not contemplate that his criminal conduct would cause or threaten serious physical harm to another.
  3. The defendant acted under a strong provocation.
  4. There were substantial grounds tending to excuse or justify the defendant’s criminal conduct, though failing to establish a defense.
  5. The defendant’s criminal conduct was induced or facilitated by someone other than the defendant.
  6. The defendant has compensated or will compensate the victim of his criminal conduct for the damage or injury that he sustained.
  7. The defendant has no history of prior delinquency or criminal activity or has led a law-abiding life for a substantial period of time.
  8. The defendant’s criminal conduct was the result of circumstances unlikely to recur.
  9. The character and attitudes of the defendant indicate that he is unlikely to commit another crime.
  10. The defendant is particularly likely to comply with the terms of a period of probation.
  11. The imprisonment of the defendant would entail excessive hardship to his dependents.
  12. The imprisonment of the defendant would endanger his or her medical condition.
  13. The defendant was mentally retarded as defined elsewhere in this Code. 



One accurate aspect of the above-displayed Monty Python video clip is its portrayal of the defendant’s right of allocution.  The defendant has a right to personally address the court to make his own final remarks –  following the presentation of all sentencing evidence, yet before the court’s final decision.

This is the defendant’s opportunity to have “the last word,” to tell the court anything relevant about himself including his capsulized life story, future plans, and perspective on particular events before the court.



Question:  Do tears and apologies “work” at sentencing hearings to elicit a lighter sentence?


Answer:  Rarely, if ever.  The better practice is an ability to point to specific post-crime conduct that demonstrates a firm and consistent resolve to make matters right . . . prior to “hammer time.”




Scott Ealy


Written by scottealy

April 26, 2010 at 4:06 pm