- If you or a loved one have been arrested and charged with a crime in the Northern Illinois area, or have learned that you may be the subject or target of a criminal investigation, the most important decision you can make is deciding who will represent you in fighting against these charges….or in putting a halt to the investigation.
Being accused of a crime is a very serious matter. And having a criminal conviction on your record will have long-standing and devastating consequences for you and your family.
Given the stakes, when searching for an Illinois criminal defense attorney that you or your family can rely on, you should find a defense attorney who:
– Possesses the highest level of professional skills
– Has successfully represented people accused of wrongdoing for years
– Can assure you and your family that you will receive the kind of personalized attention and care that you deserve
– And is willing to work with you to pay for his services.
Last night, February 15, 2016, I had the privilege of hosting a fundraiser for Pat Kenneally the next States Attorney of McHenry County. We had a wonderful time and I want to thank everyone that attended including our distinguished guests among them Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, soon to be Judge Demetri Tsilimigras and the Hon. James Booras. Also Charvis Walker, John Skoubis, Ric Warchol, Sam Marinakos, Sam Markos, Robert Zalud, Mitch Brick, Spiros Poulos, Andy Poulos, Jerry Doetsch, Daniel Bechtold
and last but not least our hosts Peter Dalamangas at Chasers Sports Bar and Grill in Lake Zurich and Phyllis DeMito. Thanks to all!!
After Justice Antonin Scalia’s death Saturday at 79, the Supreme Court is now evenly divided between four liberal justices and four conservatives, even with Anthony Kennedy’s occasional swings. What a moment for Scalia to depart: The court faces a wild array of closely divided decisions. It is an election year. And President Obama has stacked the lower circuit courts with Democrats. Obama has been chewing on his legacy for months. Fate has handed him the opportunity of any presidency — to swing the balance of the Supreme Court from conservative to liberal. Scalia weighed heavily on the conservative tilt of the current court, registering as more conservative even than other Republican justices in every field except on international and defense issues. There is no other justice whose replacement would more profoundly affect the court’s orientation. The court’s docket this term shows a clear intent to rule on some of the most contentious issues in the society: abortion, unionization, presidential power, affirmative action, political representation. Nothing in the presidential election in the fall matters more than the ability to shape the court. Now everyone should know that, including an incumbent who once taught constitutional law. Any nominee, of course, would have to be confirmed by the Republicancontrolled Senate. Leaders there, and also most GOP presidential candidates, are already making clear that they intend to block Obama. But they may not realize that leaving Scalia’s seat vacant plays right into his hands. The court is not yet halfway through the 80 or 90 cases it deals with each term, but many of the most contentious have already been heard. Normally, justices meet the week a case is argued, and vote on the outcome. So they have most likely already voted on pending cases on apportionment and affirmative action, for example. But weeks or months can go by while the justice assigned the opinion circulates drafts. Any justice can change his or her vote at any point during that process, and often does. It’s all very hushhush, so there is no way to tell how far along the cases Scalia heard are in the pipeline. There is no constitutional provision, no case law and no official policy about what the court should do with cases that have been argued and voted on when a justice dies. If the vote in a case that hasn’t yet been handed down was 5 to 4, as one might expect with these controversial rulings, can Scalia cast the deciding vote from beyond the grave to change the way America chooses every legislature in the land or integrates its public universities? A court that cares about its image and constitutional role will not rule in the name of a majority that counts on a dead justice, especially on the core issues of American social life. Such posthumous decisions are so unprecedented they would make Bush v. Gore look like responsible judicial behavior. Chief Justice John Roberts, who in matters entirely internal to the court like this wields some extra power, is known for his concern for institutional prestige, and he would be right to weigh in against issuing opinions based on what Scalia did in past conferences. So in the cases that Scalia was already a part of, what’s most likely is that the court will do what it has done in the rare, similar circumstances in the past, when important cases like abortion were argued and the personnel on the court changed or where a predictable swing justice was out sick: They will order the cases argued again and voted on again. Of course, the justices will also continue to hear future arguments, but upcoming closely decided cases — such as the abortion case out of Texas also widely predicted to lead to a 5 to 4 vote — will now be tied, 4 to 4. In this term’s contentious, controversial docket, split decisions are inevitable. The court can reargue the pending cases and hear the upcoming ones, but they will be too divided to decide anything truly sweeping. Unresolved cases will stack up. That means only Congress and the White House can resolve the deadlock. And Obama has the power there, even though Republicans control the Senate. By Saturday evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (RKy.) had already said the vacancy shouldn’t be filled until the next president is in office, 11 months from now. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” he said. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” But the GOP might soon reconsider if they see the implications of refusing to allow Obama to replace Scalia: A divided court leaves lower court rulings in place. And the lower courts are blue. Nine of the 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals have a majority of Democratic appointees. That means liberal rulings conservatives were hoping the Supreme Court would overturn remain law. So if Scalia had cast the deciding vote on a case before he died, but the court rehears it and divides 4 to 4, that would leave the lower court decision in place. That’s what would happen with a proposal to apportion Congress in an entirely new way that would heavily favor Republican districts, which was argued recently. The lower court (in this case a district court which went directly to the Supreme Court for technical reasons) tossed the plan out; conservatives had been hoping the justices would restore it. The situation is not always good for liberals. Abortion, in a case that has not yet been argued, was subjected to the most onerous restrictions by the normally conservative Fifth Circuit. If the court deadlocks, most of the abortion clinics in Texas would close. On immigration, the court had announced it would take up another case from the conservative Fifth Circuit over whether Obama has the power to stop breaking up families by ordering the government not to deport millions of undocumented immigrants; the lower court ruling blocked Obama’s executive order, so a tie wouldn’t change that. Most of the country, though, is governed by appeals courts dominated by Democrats. The suit against Obama’s environmental initiative, which the Supreme Court just stayed, came from the liberal D.C. Circuit, which had unanimously refused to grant the stay. Now the Obama administration can simply have the Environmental Protection Agency come up with a slightly different new plan and run to the liberal D.C. courts to bless it and refuse to stay it. It’s unlikely the nowdivided Supreme Court would come up with a majority to stay the new rules: The vote to stay the old ones was (naturally) 5 to 4. That’s why the effect of an equally divided court has enormous potential to strengthen Obama’s hand in dealing with the Republican Senate in picking a replacement: Even if the GOP blocks his nominee, the policy outcomes would be very similar to what they’d be if the court had a liberal majority. The institutional cues for Obama are completely different than for the court. The Constitution clearly assigns the task of nominating judges to the president — with the Senate’s advice and consent, to be sure, but for most of American history, presidents got a fair amount of deference. Acting politically is consistent with occupying elected office, so that’s what Obama should do. Political considerations, after all, are what motivate Republicans to pledge to block nominees before any have been announced. This is the moment for Obama to assert his political prerogatives as firmly as his opponents always seem to do. Right now, McConnell sounds like he doesn’t recognize the peril his party is in. If Obama signals that he’s willing to take advantage of the situation by taking actions like passing new environmental rules or moving for rehearing in the pending cases, he’ll put pressure on the Senate by getting what he wants without his court pick. Twothirds of the people in the country live in bluecourt America. So maybe someone like D.C. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan —confirmed 97 to 0 just three years ago — will look better to the Senate than nearly a year of living with the appellate courts going wild while the cat’s away. Imagine the glee in the mostreversed circuit court in the nation, the liberal Ninth, which will now be able to tell Arizona and Alaska what to do without fear of contradiction. If Obama really cares about that legacy, nothing would establish it more firmly than using his unexpected advantage to appoint someone who will one day be as much of a hero to liberals as Scalia was to conservatives.
Illinois DUI Case List Expert Witnesses People v. Jones, 2015 IL App (1st) 121016 (04/22/2015) (“foundational element” used to strike a state firearms expert witness) People v. Safford, 392 Ill. App. 3d 212, 221 (2009) (court said that the admission of an expert’s testimony requires an adequate reliability foundation) People v. McKown, 236 Ill.2d 278 (2010) (HGN foundations case but see King below) People v. Floyd, 2014 IL App (2d) 120507 (March 2014) (retrograde extrapolation based on a single breath test is more speculation than science) Soto v. Gaytan, 313 Ill. App. 3d 137 (2000) (another case that talks about a foundational element) People v. Negron, 2012 IL App (1st) 101194 (2012) (another case that allows a fingerprint expert to testify but discusses Safford’s foundations test) Discovery Sanctions People v. Tsiamas, 2015 IL App (2d) 140859 (December 2015) (State can’t ignore discovery notice) People v. Moravec, 2015 IL App (1st) 133869 (November 2015) (DUI sanctions UPHELD) People v. Kladis, 2011 IL 110920 (DUI evidence suppressed after video is destroyed) People v. Aronson, 408 Ill.App.3d 946 (2011) (failure to make a copy is a sanctionable) People v. Strobel, 2014 IL App (1st) 130300 (June 2014) (no discovery violation occurred here so it was error to impose a discovery sanction) People v. Olsen, 2015 IL App (2d) 140267 (June 2015) (error for the trial judge to suppress evidence due to a purported discovery violation) People v. Moises, 2015 IL App (3d) 140577 (August 2015) (trial court’s decision to grant a discovery sanction is reversed because there was no discovery violation when officer did not record the FST) Probable Cause Navarette v. California, 134 S.Ct. 1683 (2014) (anonymous 911 call justifies traffic stop) People v. Anderson, 2013 IL App (2d) 121346 (October 2014) People v. Butorac, 2013 IL App (2d) 110953 (December 2014) (officers may board a boat to enforce registration requirements) People v. Cummings, 2014 IL 115769 (March 2014) People v. GonzalezCarrera, 2014 IL App (2d) 130968 (September 2014) People v. Timmsen, 2014 IL App (3d) 120481 (July 2014) (it’s ok to avoid a traffic roadblock so long as you don’t break any other traffic laws) People v. Santovi, 2014 IL App 2014 IL App (3d) 130075 (May 2014) (no pc to arrest defendant before cop yells at the women and orders her to open the bathroom door or he’ll kick it down) People v. Taiwo, 2015 IL App (3d) 140105 (April 2015) (proper to stop a car for a lane infraction when the cop had a hunch the car was connected to an accident he was investigating) Rescissions & Suspended DLs People v. Elliott, 2014 IL 115308 (January 2014) (recession only acts prospectively and has no retroactive effect, thus rescinding a suspension will not undue convictions based on that suspension) People v. Smith, 2013 IL App (2d) 121164 (November 2013) (DWLS can’t be revoked) People v. Clayton, 2014 IL App (4th) 130340 (March 2014) (even if notice was tampered with by the cop defendant had actual notice of his pending suspension) People v. Gaede, 2014 IL App (4th) 130346 (November 2014) (defendant withdrew his consent and implied consent statute found constitutional) People v. Morales, 2015 IL App (1st) 131207 (January 2015) (suspension reinstated defendant received proper notice from the police on the day of his arrest and had more than ample opportunity to challenge the suspension in court) People v. McLeer, 2015 IL App (2d) 140526 (February 2015) (officer amends the report after it was issued, suspension stands because SOS had enough information that the notice was given) People v. Gutierrez, 2015 IL App (3d) 140194 (July 2015) (A PBT test is not a statement, thus, the officer’s DL suspension is proper) Blood & BAC People v. Wuckert, 2015 IL App (2d) 150058 (December 2015) (625 ILCS 5/111501.4 trumps hospital policy that the results should not be used for legal purposes) People v. Armer, 2014 IL App (5th) 130342 (October 2014) (warrantless blood draw suppressed when not done with consent nor under exigent circumstances) People v. Harris, 2015 IL App (4th) 140696 (May 2015) (consensual blood draws ok) People v. Weidner, 2014 IL App (5th) 130022 (March 2014) (no error to wipe defendant’s arm with an alcohol wipe before hospital took his blood) People v. Hutchinson, 2013 IL App (1st) 1023332 (November 2013) (no error in admitting report of lab results as a business record) People v. Harris, 2014 IL App (2d) 120990 (May 2014) (state had problems showing the breathalyzer was certified) People v. Eagletail, 2014 IL App (1st) 130252 (December 2014) (logbook and printout admissible even though printout was made years after the breath test) People v. Chiaravalle, 2014 IL App (4th) 140445 (December 2014) (officer made a continuous observation even though he may have had his back to the defendant from time to time) People v. Thomas, 2014 IL App (2d) 130660 (May 2014) (speedy trial violated when police waited to issue BAC citation they already knew what the hospital blood BAC was) People v. Torruella, 2015 IL App (2d) 141001 (August 2015) (no error here when the trial judge accepted calibration records of the breathalyzer as a business record and no error when the court disregarded the defense expert’s testimony) People v. Smith, 2015 IL App (1st) 122306 (August 2015) (state failed to establish that the machine was properly certified within the 62 day window required by the regulations) Evidence People v. Blakey, 2015 IL App (3d) 130719 (November 2015) (prior inconsistent statement in this DUI huffing case was admitted in error) People v. Phillips, 2015 IL App (1st) 131147 (October 2015) (defendant blew under .08 and attacked that the officer’s opinion he was intoxicated) People v. Way, 2015 IL App (5th) 130096 (September 2015) (proximate cause defense, error to deny the defendant a chance to defend her aggravated DUI by arguing that the cannabis in her system did not contribute to the accident) People v. King, 2014 IL App (2d) 130461 (November 2014) (officer can testify to how defendant acted during instructions of HGN even though the results themselves not admitted) People v. O’Donnell, 2015 IL App (4th) 130358 (March 2015) (officer committed error when she testified it was her belief that Defendant was lying to her at the scene of the one car accident and that he was showing deception People v. Kathan, 2014 IL App (2d) 121335 (August 2014) (a drug driving case with an admission, bad driving and impairment leads to guilt) People v. Morris, 2014 IL App (1st) 130512 (July 2014) (actual physical control established when defendant passed out in front seat of parked car, the ignition off, the driver’s side door open, and keys in his right hand) Sentence People v. Lake, 2015 IL App (3d) 140031 (April 2015) (9 year sentence for aggravated DUI Death conviction upheld; it was not excessive; defendant was racing a horse) People v. Rennie, 2014 IL App (3d) 130014 (May 2014) (16 year olds 6 year sentence for aggravated DUI upheld she had weed in her system when motorcyclist died in an accident) People v. Stutzman, 2015 IL App (4th) 130889 (August 2015) (defendant inappropriately plead guilty to reckless homicide and aggravated DUI in violation of one act one crime principles) People v. Mischke, 2014 IL App (2d) 130318 (December 2014) (enhancement to a Class 2 felony occurs whenever a defendant has two prior convictions for any form of DUI, not just aggravated DUIs)
12 widely held but largely false beliefs about criminal prosecution in America.
1. Eyewitnesses are highly reliable
Eyewitnesses are highly unreliable, especially when the witness and perpetrator are of different races, or when witnesses are asked to recall a situation in which they were under the stress of violent crime or catastrophe, Judge Kozinski writes. Mistaken eyewitness testimony was a factor in one-third of all wrongful conviction cases, according to his article.
Jed Rakoff, another well-known federal judge, made the same point in a Washington Post op-ed this year.
2. Fingerprint evidence is foolproof
Prints left in the field are often smudged and incomplete — making them difficult to identify. He adds that when tested by more rigorous scientific methods, fingerprint examiners have a significant error rate.
The National Academies of Sciences has also said the work of fingerprint examiners can be flawed.
3. Other types of forensic evidence are scientifically proven and therefore infallible
Aside from DNA evidence, what is true about fingerprint evidence is doubly true about bloodstain-pattern identification, foot- and tire-print identification, and ballistics.
“Some fields of forensic expertise are built on nothing but guesswork and false common sense,” Kozinski writes.
Recently, the Justice Department exposed major problems with microscopic hair testing in criminal cases.
4. DNA evidence is infallible
Kozinski says the integrity of DNA evidence is often compromised during the collection, preservation, and testing process, and that DNA examiners are not always competent and honest.
As Mother Jones noted in April, “Real-life crime labs are a total mess.”
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
5. Human memories are reliable
Kozinski, citing a study by cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, believes the mind not only distorts and embellishes memories, but that external factors affect how memories are recalled and described.
In an interview with Slate, Loftus acknowledged that we’re all capable of fabricating memories.
“We all have memories that are malleable and susceptible to being contaminated or supplemented in some way,” Loftus told Slate.
6. Confessions are infallible because innocent people never confess
Kozinski has found that innocent people confess surprisingly often, due to a variety of factors including interrogation tactics, Stockholm syndrome, emotional or financial exhaustion, family considerations, and general feeble-mindedness.
As The New Yorker has reported, police can also produce false confessions by using a certain interrogation technique.
7. Juries follow instructions
Kozinski claims courts know very little of what juries do when they decide cases. Courts have no way of knowing whether juries follow instructions or even whether they understand them, according to Kozinski.
“We have no convincing reason to believe that jury instructions in fact constrain jury behavior in all or even most cases,” Kozinski writes.
8. Prosecutors play fair
Kozinski believes prosecutors often fail to turn over evidence that could be favorable to the defense, known as exculpatory evidence. In a case called Brady v. Maryland, the Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors have to turn over that evidence. But Kozinski claims there’s an “epidemic” of Brady violations in America.
9. The prosecution is at a substantial disadvantage because it must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt
In reality, Kozinski writes, the defendant is often at a disadvantage because prosecutors have the chance to argue their case before the defense during a trial.
That’s troubling because of psychological evidence showing that “whoever makes the first assertion about something has a large advantage over everyone who denies it later,” according to Kozinski.
10. Police are objective in their investigations
Kozinski says police have the opportunity to alter or remove evidence, influence witnesses, extract confessions, and more or less lead an investigation in such a way that they can stack the deck against somebody they believe should be convicted.
“There are countless documented cases where innocent people have spent decades behind bars because the police manipulated or concealed evidence,” Kozinski writes.
11. Guilty pleas are conclusive proof of guilt
Kozinski has found that when a defendant believes an outcome is highly uncertain or stacked against them, they might cave and enter a guilty plea to a lesser charge so that they can still salvage a part of their life.
Judge Jed Rakoff has also lamented the fact that 97% of federal criminal defendants plead guilty if their cases aren’t dismissed.
12. Long sentences deter crime
America has 716 prisoners for every 100,000 people — the most of any country in the world, Kozinski notes. America also has much longer sentences than other countries for comparable crimes. Kozinski points out that a burglary charge in the US warrants an average of 16 months in prison, compared with five months in Canada and seven months in England.
“As with much else in the law, the connection between punishment and deterrence remains mysterious,” Kozinski writes. “We make our decisions based on faith.”
If you could look beneath the blindfold worn by Lady Justice, would her eyes be closed? One of the nation’s most influential judges suggests she would be giving a wink to prosecutors seated across from the defendant.
In the latest issue of Georgetown Law Journal, Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turns a critical gaze toward America’s criminal justice system. It’s a long piece — part diagnosis of ailments and part treatment — with a broad sweep. But one of its major themes is prosecutorial advantage, both in federal and state courtrooms.
“They say that any prosecutor worth his salt can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. It may be that a decent prosecutor could get a petit jury to convict a eunuch of rape,” writes Judge Kozinski.
Among his specific concerns is what he sees is a reluctance on the part of judges to blow the whistle on prosecutorial abuse:
Defense lawyers who are found to have been ineffective regularly find their names plastered into judicial opinions, yet judges seem strangely reluctant to name names when it comes to misbehaving prosecutors. Indeed, judges seem reluctant to even suspect prosecutors of improper behavior, as if they were somehow beyond suspicion….Naming names and taking prosecutors to task for misbehavior can have magical qualities in assuring compliance with constitutional rights.
If judges have reason to believe that witnesses, especially police officers or government informants, testify falsely, they must refer the matter for prosecution. If they become aware of widespread misconduct in the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases, a referral to the U.S. Department of Justice for a civil rights violation might well be appropriate.
But he says even if judges made the referrals, Judge Kozinski doubts the Justice Department has the appetite to pursue them.
“The U.S. Justice Department seems ready enough to pursue charges of civil rights violations in cases where police have engaged in physical violence, but far more reluctant to pursue misbehaving prosecutors,” he writes.
Law Blog has reached out to a Justice Department spokesman for comment.
Judge Kozinski, appointed by President Reagan in 1985 at the age of 35, touches on other issues: He calls for more “rigorous procedures for eyewitness identification.” He thinks jurors should be allowed to take notes during trial (a few judges, he says, still refuse to do so), and he favors abolishing state judicial elections, among other recommendations.
His concerns about prosecutorial practices resurface again when he talks about discovery rules.
He thinks Congress should pass a bill proposed by Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in 2012 — called the Fairness in Disclosure of Evidence Act — that would require federal prosecutors to disclose any evidence “that may reasonably appear to be favorable to the defendant in a criminal prosecution.”
That’s a wider net than the constitutional obligation to share with criminal defendants exculpatory evidence material to guilt or punishment.
“The U.S. Justice Department, for example, takes the position that exculpatory evidence must be produced only if it is material,” he writes. “This puts prosecutors in the position of deciding whether tidbits that could be helpful to the defense are significant enough that a reviewing court will find it to be material.”
The Justice Department’s policy manual says it wants to avoid disclosures that deal with “spurious issues or arguments which serve to divert the trial process,” but it says it sets a higher standard in at least two respects: requiring disclosure of information “that is inconsistent with any element of any crime charged” or that collectively with bits of other evidence reaches the exculpatory threshold.
“If the Department of Justice wants to show its commitment to justice, it should drop its opposition to the [legislation] and help get it passed into law,” writes Judge Kozinski.
A spokesman for Ms. Murkowski said her office is considering re-introducing a version of the discovery standards bill this congressional session.
Louis M. Pissios
Attorneys and Counselors at Law
a professional corporation
9 South County Street
across the street from the courthouse
Waukegan, Illinois 60085
writer’s direct email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Direct telephone 847.263.0001
Are you in danger of losing your home? Are you afraid to open the mail or answer the phone because collection agencies are harassing you? You probably feel as if no one can help you. But help is available. I have clients who have been living in their home for 2, 4, and up to 5 years without paying their mortgage or property taxes.
Here are real examples:
09 CH 3810, Lake County, Illinois Client has been living in their house for about 4 years without paying their mortgage payment or property taxes
08 CH 1649, 10 CH 2129, Lake County, Illinois Client has been living in their house over 5 years without paying their 1st and 2nd mortgages combined amount in excess of $1,000,000.
11 CH 0627, Lake County, Illinois Client has been living in their house for about 2 years without paying their mortgage payment or property taxes. Mortgage amount about $800,000.
I understand that banks and mortgage lenders are relentless when pursuing debts. They use threats and intimidation as they attempt to take away everything you have worked for. We understand their tactics and know how to successfully combat them. Collectively our team has over 50 years experience in Litigation, Residential Real Estate, Real Estate Law, Title Insurance and Appraisals.
We provide creative, strategic residential and commercial foreclosure defense in Illinois. We are here to help you fight to keep your home, not to judge you. Having debt does not make you a bad person; it just means you need some help to battle your creditors and take control of your finances again. Our fees are fixed and capped at an annual rate. You can stay in your house and KEEP YOUR KIDS IN THE SAME SCHOOLS!
We take cases selectively so we can devote the necessary time and resources to each client. We will review your case to determine if it meets the criteria. Do not give up. For a free consultation with me please call (847) 263-0001 or email me at the email address above.
We are a different type of foreclosure firm. Unlike most firms, we do not advocate bankruptcy as a foreclosure option. Instead, we attack the opposition with substantive pleadings that have real merit. We are not just buying time; we are working to win for you.
We have some of the most innovative legal minds in the field of foreclosure defense and debtors’ law in Illinois, we take on cases that other attorneys cannot resolve. We consider foreclosure defense options and solutions that many attorneys do not understand.
When I take a case, I am are typically able to save a client’s home and do what many consider impossible. While our primary goal is to save your home, we address all possibilities and will also provide an exit plan.
To schedule a free initial consultation, please call 847 263-0001. We accept VISA and Mastercard.
Here’s a look at some of the new rules for 2016:
Law enforcement and crimeA sweeping set of new regulations regarding police body cameras is aimed at addressing recent controversies over use of force and standardizing practices across the state.Police departments would not be required to use the cameras, but now there will be statewide rules for those that do. Chiefly, officers will have to keep their cameras on when conducting law enforcement activities but could turn them off when talking to a confidential informant, or at the request of a victim or witness. Intentionally turning off cameras outside the exceptions could result in a charge of official misconduct.
Recordings generally will not be subject to the state’s open records law, however, unless they contain potential evidence in a use-of-force incident, the discharge of a weapon or a death.
To help pay for the body cameras, the state will charge an extra $5 fee on criminal and traffic offenses that result in a guilty plea or conviction. The money also will bolster an expanded training program that includes topics like use of force. In addition, the law bans the use of choke holds, creates a database of officers who have been fired or resigned because of misconduct and requires an independent investigation of all officer-involved deaths. Also, a special prosecutor can be requested if there is an apparent conflict of interest.
“This isn’t going to have a magical overnight impact, though there will be some immediate effect because your behavior changes when you know that you are being watched and recorded,” said sponsoring Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago. “So I think there will be greater sensitivity to that, and just how you interact with the public in general when being recorded that I think is valuable.”
Additionally, the state agency responsible for developing standards for law enforcement will be tasked with creating a specialized training program to teach police how to interact with those with mental illness to avoid a situation from further escalating.
On another front, it will now be a Class A misdemeanor for pet owners found to have left animals outside in extremely hot or cold weather. Violators could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and fine of up to $2,500. Judges would have discretion to impose lesser sentences.
And man’s best friend may begin to make more frequent appearances in courtrooms under a provision that would allow children and intellectually disabled adults who are victims of sexual abuse to be accompanied on the stand by a service dog for support.
Victims of sexual assault will have longer to pursue charges against their attackers under a measure that would delay the start of the 10-year statute of limitations until after a rape kit is tested. The change is aimed at preventing the accused from running out the clock because of a testing backlog as law enforcement agencies struggle to keep up with fewer resources.
Lawmakers also added powdered caffeine and powdered alcohol to the list of banned substances in Illinois, and they created a new “Silver Alert” system to help law enforcement locate missing adults who have dementia or other cognitive impairments.
Consumer and family laws
Prompted by thousands of complaints alleging neglect or abuse in nursing homes, a new law lets residents of such homes or long-term care facilities to put cameras in their rooms if they pay for them.
Nursing homes would be required to post a sign at main entrances warning that rooms may be under electronic monitoring, and everyone living in a room would have to consent to a camera being installed. If one resident of a shared room wants a camera and the other doesn’t, the resident who wants the camera would be moved to another room.
A “Right to Try” law brought about by through bipartisan negotiations allows terminally ill patients to try experimental drugs and treatments that have gone through the first phase of clinical trials but are not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Supporters say the measure affords patients more control over treatment options and prevents them from having to travel to other countries to seek treatment. Drug companies have said the FDA’s expanded access programs should be improved instead.
Meanwhile, another law attempts to modernize rules regarding parentage to reflect the legalization of gay marriage and the prevalence of unmarried parents.
The changes would remove gender-specific language to ensure that “a person” is presumed to be the legal parent of a child if that person and the mother are married, in a civil union or a “substantially similar relationship” unless a surrogacy contract is in place. If a child is born before the start of a relationship or soon after it ends, the couple are presumed to be legal parents.
The law lets parents voluntarily declare they are a parent of a child, and it provides more leeway for visitation and parental involvement as custody cases work their way through the court system. It also establishes a new set of standards when it comes to genetic testing to determine paternity.
“It’s trying to be very child-centered and acknowledge that children deserve to be psychologically, emotionally and financially supported by their parents while trying to make that work in what is often difficult and contentious adult relationships,” said sponsoring Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park.
High school students will have to take at least one semester of civics to graduate. While the law goes into effect Friday, it’s expected that schools won’t incorporate the requirement until the 2016-17 school year begins in the fall.
Schools also will be required to install carbon monoxide detectors following a 2014 leak at a rural Illinois school that sent more than 180 staff members and students to the hospital.
Meanwhile, student teachers will have to undergo background checks before they are allowed in the classroom, and child care facility employees must now get immunized for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis as well as vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.
Those who were convicted of crimes but later found innocent could qualify for special college scholarships, if lawmakers set aside money for the program.
Additionally, college students over 18 who have mental health issues would be allowed to designate someone who could be alerted about any problems or changes in behavior. The idea was brought about after the suicide of a freshman at Illinois State University. The student’s parents pushed for the bill, arguing that they may have been able to step in if alerted about conversations he had with school counselors.
Gay rights advocates are celebrating a new law that will ban conversion therapy on minors.
Under the law, mental health providers would be barred from engaging in treatment with the purpose of changing the sexual orientation or gender identification of minors. Psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, social workers and counselors caught doing so could be deemed as engaging in unprofessional conduct by state regulators and face disciplinary action such as fines, probation, or temporary or permanent license revocation. Businesses that advertise or offer conversion therapy services in a manner that represents homosexuality as a mental illness could face legal action under Illinois consumer fraud laws.
Proponents argued that conversion therapy is a practice widely denounced by mental health organizations that say it can cause severe health risks such as depression, suicidal thoughts and other mental health issues. Critics said the bill would restrict youths from seeking help for unwanted same-sex attractions and would interfere with parents’ rights to raise their children as they wish.
“Marriage was a huge, huge social justice achievement for our society, but it’s part of a broader program and that program is a comprehensive inclusion of people of a variety of sexual orientations and identities into the mainstream of life without prejudice, bias or discrimination,” said sponsoring Sen. Biss.
Further, transgender people will now be covered under the state’s hate crimes law to protect them from being targeted because of their gender identification, while lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community centers will be added to the list of facilities protected from hate-based institutional vandalism.
Supreme court: ’reasonable suspicion’ enough for traffic stop
“Reasonable suspicion,” not the more exacting “probable cause,” is threshold requirement for an investigatory traffic stop, the Illinois Supreme Court held in a recent DUI ruling.
In overturning a trial court’s order to suppress evidence in a Will County DUI case, the Illinois Supreme Court determined that a traffic stop was proper when the arresting officer witnessed the driver making slight deviations from his lane of traffic.
The trial court had granted the defendant’s motion to suppress based on arguments that the evidence of his insobriety and suspended license was the “fruit of an unlawful search,” and a divided appellate court affirmed that ruling. According to the high court’s opinion, the defendant argued that the officer lacked “probable cause” and therefore had no proper grounds to make the traffic stop.
In People v. Hackett, 2012 IL 111781, a unanimous supreme court overturned the appellate and trial court decisions and remanded the case for a trial based on evidence stemming from what the court held to be a justified “investigatory stop” of defendant’s vehicle. Reasonable suspicion, not probable cause, is the proper standard for an investigatory traffic stop, the high court held.
Assistant Appellate Defender Kerry Bryson said there was obviously some doubt in the minds of the trial judge and appellate panel about what justified pulling over a driver and investigating him and his vehicle.
“To the extent there might have been any question about that, the [supreme] court has made it clear that there shouldn’t be,” said Bryson, who did not handle this case. “To the extent that this is a concern, what clients ought to know moving forward is if they’re going to challenge the stop, the proper standard is…was there reasonable suspicion.”
‘[M]omentary crossings’ can justify stop
In affirming the motion to suppress, the appellate court relied on People v. Smith, 172 Ill.2d 289 (1986), in which a driver was convicted after driving in and out of multiple lanes of traffic for a “reasonably appreciable distance.” The appellate court distinguished Smith from the case at hand, stating that Hackett made only “momentary crossings” of a highway lane line and therefore the officer lacked reasonable grounds to make a stop.
The supreme court rejected the notion that the distance or length of time of the lane deviations made any difference in the enforcement of a statute that prohibits any improper lane usage.
“Although this court in Smith…mentioned the measure of defendant’s deviation into an adjacent lane and the distance he travelled therein, nothing in this court’s analysis indicated either was significant to the outcome,” Justice Karmeier wrote for the court in Hackett.
In this opinion, the supreme court’s analysis focused on “the loose terminology the parties and lower courts in this case have used with reference to the standards applicable to the fourth amendment issue presented for our consideration. The question we agreed to address…is ‘whether the appellate court erroneously found there was no reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop where the uncontested testimony showed defendant swerved twice across a lane divider of traffic.'”
The court explained that vehicle stops are subject to the Fourth Amendment’s “reasonableness requirement,” and the decision to stop a vehicle usually requires probable cause for an officer to believe that a traffic violation has occurred.
“However, as this court has observed, though traffic stops are frequently supported by ‘probable cause’…as differentiated from the ‘less exacting’ standard of ‘reasonable, articulable suspicion’ that justifies an ‘investigative stop,’ the latter will suffice for purposes of the fourth amendment irrespective of whether the stop is supported by probable cause,” the court wrote.
An opening for the defense?
Bryson said the Hackett case got interesting after the third district appellate court affirmed the motion to suppress “because it gave some support to challenging a traffic stop when there was just momentary drifting over the line.” But now it is clear that multiple deviations from a lane of traffic, even if slight in distance and time, are sufficient grounds for an investigative stop, she said.
“I think there’s a little more to it if you read [the Hackett decision] in depth,” Bryson added. “There has to be no reasonable explanation for the deviations” in order for an investigatory stop to be justified.
“If there is a reason for the deviation from the lane, then there might not have been reasonable, articulable suspicion to justify the stop,” Bryson said. “In some cases, there’s been no exploration of that aspect of the basis for the stop. I think that leaves this open as for what a defense attorney can be looking for as a way to challenge the stop.”
The supreme court bolstered its decision by pointing out that a police officer “can effect a lawful Terry stop without first ‘considering whether the circumstances he or she observed would satisfy each element of a particular offense.'”
Where, as in Hackett, a police officer observes multiple lane deviations for no apparent reason, an investigatory stop is proper, the court reasoned.
“For probable cause and conviction, there must be something more: affirmative testimony that defendant deviated from his proper lane of travel and that no road conditions necessitated the movement,” said the court. “An investigatory stop in this situation allows the officer to inquire further into the reason for the lane deviation, either by inquiry of the driver or verification of the condition of the roadway where the deviation occurred.”
In 2013, Massachusetts state chemist, Annie Dookhan, pled guilty to falsifying the results of over 40,000 drug tests that ultimately sent thousands of innocent Americans to prison. It has been more than four years since Dookhan’s crimes were uncovered, and yet numerous people are still locked away because of her corruption, many of which have no idea she was the one who brought about their horrid fate.
Imagine being locked in a cell and knowing you’re innocent. Imagine how you’d feel as you watch the prime years of your life taken away from you — all because of a vicious government chemist, along with the low-IQ cops who willingly enforce the corrupt “war on drugs.”
Dookhan had intentionally forged signatures and tampered with evidence to further both her career, as well as many prosecutors who she had close relations with. She would also invent fanciful job titles for herself, such as “special agent of operations” and “on-call terrorism supervisor,” and would then testify in court as an “expert.”
Prosecutors adored Dookham, referring to her as being a part of their “dream team,” and even taking her out for drinks. In one email with a prosecutor, Dookham said she wouldn’t be able to give her “expert testimony,” to which the prosecutor replied, “No no no!!! I need you!!!”
An email provided by the Boston Globe shows the close friendship Dookhan had with one particular prosecutor by the name of George Papachristos:
“Glad we are on the same team,” he once wrote Dookhan — including one day in May 2010 when he told her he needed a marijuana sample to weigh at least 50 pounds so that he could charge the owners with drug trafficking.
“Any help would be greatly appreciated!” he wrote, punctuating each sentence with a long string of exclamation points. “Thank you!”
Two hours later, Dookhan responded: “OK . . . definitely Trafficking, over 80 lbs.” Papachristos thanked her profusely.
Dookhan had sent another email to Papachristos in which she told him she needed a man “to love me and make me laugh.” In other words, some of her victims went to prison because she had a crush on their prosecutor, and what an interesting prison story that makes; what are you in for? A hormonal chemist who was hoping to get laid.
Norfolk County District Attorney, Michael Morrissey, has been set on the task of reviewing thousands of files to determine who was wrongfully prosecuted.
“I don’t think anyone ever perceived that one person was capable of causing this much chaos,” Morrissey stated. “You can see the entire walls full of boxes… in one of these cardboard boxes, there could be hundreds of cases… in each box.”
What does Dookhan have to say for herself?
“I screwed up big time. I messed up. I messed up bad. It’s my fault. I don’t want the lab to get in trouble.”
After sending countless victims to prison, many of which have been behind bars for years, she was only given a three to five year sentence. Anthony Benedetti, chief counsel of the state public defender agency, stated:
“Sadly, the saga continues for the thousands of individuals who have borne the impact of Dookhan’s misdeeds, and the lab’s scandalous management.”