Ryan P. Farrell

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

Governor Set to Sign Legislation Expanding Employee Background Checks

On May 25, 2018, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 2907 and on June 22 sent it to Governor Bruce Rauner where it awaits his signature. The bill, which amends the current Criminal Identification Act, would allow agencies in Illinois that can either perform or receive national criminal background checks to participate in the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) Rap Back Service. This service, which will be administered in Illinois by the State Police, allows authorized agencies to receive notification of arrests anywhere in the country on employees who have had their fingerprints submitted to the FBI database. Such fingerprints could be taken as part of a background check run at the time of hire. This service eliminates the need for repeated background checks on a person from the same applicant agency. Prior to this legislation, employers in Illinois only received a one-time snapshot of an employee’s criminal record at the time of hire along with updates only on any crimes the individual committed within the state. Participation in the FBI’s service would allow employers to receive real-time notifications of infractions of law anywhere in the U.S.

This capability has obvious benefits for agencies employing persons in positions of trust, such as school teachers or daycare workers, but the program raises some potentially serious issues as well. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois is opposed to the measure because, as a part of the system, the fingerprints submitted to the FBI database are retained by the federal agency indefinitely, and the FBI is not restricted to using the prints solely for the Rap Back System. Furthermore, employers could be notified of mere arrests, not just convictions, potentially impacting an employee’s livelihood before guilt of any wrongdoing is proven. While the Illinois State Police indicate they do not intend to send out notifications of arrests, but rather only convictions, the possibility remains.

A second concern is the accuracy of the information the Illinois State Police could relay to employers. In 2004, the National Institute of Standards and Technology reported that fingerprint identification was 99.6% accurate. This is an impressive figure to be sure, but it still allows for a .4%, or 1 in 250, chance that there will be an error. Add to this the fact that the FBI’s fingerprint database, the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) which the Rap Back system draws from, had more than 70 million prints in the criminal master file alone as of 2012. Countless law enforcement agencies across the county access this FBI system daily to look for matches with alleged perpetrators. While the chance for error is low, the sheer volume of prints and cross-checks that occur make it a virtual certainty that errors will occur.

While there are definite benefits to the FBI’s NGI Rap Back Service for municipalities employing persons in positions of trust, there are also potential issues to consider. These include the security of the prints submitted to FBI’s system, the potential for misuse, and the possibility of a false criminal identification greatly impacting an innocent employee. We will be closely monitoring whether the governor chooses to sign Senate Bill 2907 and make the FBI NGI Rap Back Service available to Illinois employers.


Author: Ryan P. Farrell, Matt Marcellis

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Wakeman, Farrell to Serve as Mentors in MCBA Program

Ryan P. FarrellElizabeth Felt WakemanElizabeth Felt Wakeman and Ryan P. Farrell will participate this year in the McHenry County Bar Association’s “Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program.”

The program is a partnership between the MCBA and the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.

Mentees must complete the program within their first three years of practice. To participate, mentors must have been admitted in Illinois to practice law for six years.

They cannot participate if any formal disciplinary complaints are pending against them or if they have ever been suspended or disbarred in any jurisdiction.

Mentors and mentees who complete a comprehensive, yearlong, structured mentoring program may earn their six Continuing Legal Education credits in professional responsibility, the minimum required in a two-year reporting period. CLE credits are allowed only if the mentoring plan is preapproved by the Commission on Professionalism.

Programs require an orientation, an agreement, at least eight face-to-face meetings, and the completion of the action items in the mentoring plan.

Mentors and mentees must complete an action item in professionalism, legal ethics, civility, diversity and inclusion, and wellness, mental health, and addiction.

The program aims to help new lawyers develop the needed judgment and practical skills to practice law competently and ethically. For more information about the program, contact Margaret Bengtson at the MCBA.

For more information about Liz Wakeman and Ryan Farrell, view their full biographies.

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Awards & Recognitions

Local Government Award:

  • The City of Harvard received the 2012 Governor’s Hometown Award for its support and service to the Harvard Community Center and Food Pantry. Congratulations to the City of Harvard for this prestigious recognition.

ZRFM Attorney Updates:

  • Rich Flood was named one of the Top Ten Suburban Real Estate Related Lawyers by the Leading Lawyers Network. Rich was also named a Super Lawyer by his peers for the ninth consecutive year, which is as long as the designation has existed.
  • Carlos S. Arévalo recently joined the board of directors at Mercy Harvard Hospital.
  • Ryan Farrell became a director of the Centegra Health Systems Foundation Board in December 2012.
  • The McHenry County Historical Society welcomed Greg Barry to its board of directors in 2012.
  • Timothy (T.J.) Clifton was named chair of the Community Leadership Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County.
  • The Community Action Agency recently added Bill Westfall to its board of directors.
Thursday, October 18th, 2012

ZRFM Lawyers to Address Illinois Municipal League Conference

Richard G. FloodSeveral lawyers from Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle will speak on Saturday, Oct. 20, at the 99th annual convention of the Illinois Municipal League. The gathering takes place Oct. 18-20 at the Hilton Chicago Hotel, 720 South Michigan Ave.

Between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m., Ryan P. Farrell, Kelly A. Cahill and Ruth A. Schlossberg will make presentations at a session titled “Redeveloping Distressed Properties: Clearing Out the Backlog in Order to Move Forward.” The trio will be joined by John Green, director of the special asset group at Home State Bank in Crystal Lake. Illinois State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, who also is a Calumet City alderman, will moderate the session.

Among the topics to be discussed are the nuts and bolts of calling letters of credit or bonds to complete infrastructure improvements, the need to work out underlying development agreements, and distressed property challenges such as demolition and property maintenance.

Between 2:45 and 3:45 p.m., Richard G. Flood and Schlossberg will make presentations at a session titled “Open Meetings Act and FOIA in the Internet Age.” They will be joined by Matt Rogina, an assistant attorney general for the public access counselor’s bureau.

The session will use realistic, hypothetical situations. Rich Flood, a member of the 2012 Illinois Municipal League Resolutions Committee, will act as moderator. Both of the sessions featuring ZRFM attorneys will take place in Northwest Stevens 5 on the hotel’s lower level, north.

Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle is the largest law firm in McHenry County, Illinois. For more than 50 years, the firm has represented banks and represented local government units. The firm has offices in Crystal Lake, Chicago and Oak Brook. Please view our contact page if you have any questions for our lawyers or other professionals.