University News

WIU's Pre-Law Symposium To Feature Alumni Presenters; Keynote "Defending the Damned"

January 23, 2009

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MACOMB, IL - - Noted criminal defense attorney and Western Illinois University alumnus Ernest R. Blomquist III will present the keynote address at the Eighth Annual Pre-Law Symposium on Monday, Feb. 16 in the University Union Lamoine Room.

The annual symposium, which is open to the University community, is hosted by Western Illinois University's Centennial Honors College, home of the pre-law minor. Guest panelists include an admissions and financial aid officer from a law school, as well as recent alumni - - one who is a law student and one who is a practicing attorney - - to share advice and personal views.

The 6-6:45 p.m. panel discussion on "Preparing for Law School" will include attorney Paul Pless, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Law; Tara (Reagor) Dahl, who earned a bachelor's degree in business from WIU (2004) with a finance major and minors in French and pre-law, her Juris Doctor (2007) from Virginia's Regent University School of Law, and is a practicing attorney in Carbondale (IL); and Jacob Webb-White, a May 2008 Western Illinois graduate with a bachelor's degree in political science and pre-law minor, who is a first-year law student at Northern Illinois University's College of Law.

Dahl gained legal experience during her senior year at Western as an intern with March, McMillan and DeJoode, P.C., in Macomb. During summer breaks in law school, she interned with the Iowa Public Defender's Office and the McDonough County and Rock Island County State's Attorney's offices. As a law student, she clerked for the American Center for Law and Justice, which advocates for First Amendment freedoms, specifically religious freedom.

"Some of my work included critiquing proposed federal legislation for several members of congress, drafting portions of a U.S. Supreme Court brief and performing research on Supreme Court candidates that was then passed on to President Bush during the time that Justices Alito and Robertson were being considered," Dahl said. "I'm now working in many areas of law including employment, bankruptcy, criminal, estates, family law and other civil litigation."

White, who received Western's competitive Keith Webb Memorial Scholarship for students with outstanding pre-law potential, was selected to participate in the prestigious 2008 Air Force Academy Assembly. A member of Western's Centennial Honors College, White interned in the McDonough County Public Defender's office from January-May 2006, researching legal precedent on issues concerning the Fourth Amendment. He also participated as a delegate at the annual Model Illinois Government simulation in 2007.

White was part of Western Emergency Management Services (WEMS) from September 2004-December 2005. He was promoted to captain in command in January 2006, responsible for overseeing 35 medical responders, providing 911 emergency response services to the WIU campus and surrounding community. He was also an emergency department technician (EDT)/EMT/
public safety officer at McDonough District Hospital from November 2007-May 2008.

At 7 p.m. Blomquist, a Western Illinois University 1987Alumni Achievement Award recipient, will present "Defending the Damned: A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Answer to the Question: How Can You Represent 'Those People'?"

Blomquist is the senior partner for Masucci, Blomquist, Brown & Hedrick in Arlington Heights (IL), where his practice is concentrated in criminal litigation and local government issues. He has been legal counsel and prosecutor for the Village of Arlington Heights since 1977.

In addition to his Illinois state license, Blomquist is licensed in the northern and southern districts of the Illinois Federal Court as well as the U.S. Supreme Court; and he has made review appearances at each of the federal courts.

He has taught and lectured at numerous academies, bar associations and universities including the National Judicial College, the University of Nevada; the Circuit Court of Cook County; Bradley University; and the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE). Blomquist represented the United States at a criminal justice exchange in the Republic of Cuba in 2002; he was appointed by Illinois Governor James Thompson to the Special Commission on Judicial Merit Selection (1987, 1988); he is a past member of IICLE's Board of Directors; and he was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to serve on its advisory board of the Commission on the Evaluation and Performance of Illinois Judges.

Blomquist is editor and author of "Defending DUI and Related Cases" for IICLE, which won the institute's 2004 publication of the year award. He also is editor and author of IICLE publications "Prosecution of Drunk Drivers by Local Governments," "Pre-Trial Discovery and Motion Practice in Illinois DUI Cases" and "Non-Alcohol Related Traffic Violations." He also wrote "The Earl Warren Court and the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidency," which is housed in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin (TX).

Blomquist is listed in the 2007-2008 Who's Who in American Law. He received the 2006 Award of Professional Excellence by the Northwest Suburban Bar Association, and he was honored in 2005 as the Illinois Crime Commission Municipal Attorney Man of the Year.

He received his bachelor's degree in history (1987) from Western Illinois University and his Juris Doctor (1973) from IIT Chicago Kent College of Law.

Question and answer sessions will follow both the panel and keynote presentations. A closing reception is scheduled from 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Sponsors for the Pre-Law Symposium include the WIU Foundation, Flack McRaven & Stephens Attorneys at Law (Macomb), McDonough County Bar Association, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Technology and the departments of English and journalism, history, philosophy and religious studies and political science.

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