The Supreme Court Affirms Your Right to Hire a Lawyer of Your Choosing

Sila Luis says she didn’t do anything wrong. The United States government says she defrauded Medicare for millions of dollars through kickbacks and overbilling. Now the government is putting her on trial to answer for these serious criminal charges, and Luis wants to hire the best lawyer she can afford. One problem: The government has frozen all her assets, including those completely untainted by the alleged fraud.Luis says the asset freeze violates her Sixth Amendment right “to have the assistance of counsel for [her] defense.” The government said it doesn’t: She can still hire counsel; she just has to find one who’ll represent her for free.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Courtsided with Luis in an important victory for the Sixth Amendment—which could use a friend these days. In his plurality opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer reminded the government that the Assistance of Counsel Clause grants a defendant “a fair opportunity to secure counsel of his own choice.” (Emphasis mine.) Put differently, the Sixth Amendment shields a defendant’s “right to be represented by an otherwise qualified attorney whom that defendant can afford to hire.” The government “would undermine the value of that right by taking from Luis the ability to use the funds she needs to pay for her chosen attorney.” So Luis must be permitted to pay her preferred lawyer with untainted funds.

Breyer acknowledges that the government has a “contingent interest in securing its punishment of choice (namely, criminal forfeiture),” and that victims have an “interest in securing restitution.” But these interests do not “enjoy constitutional protection,” and, “compared to the right to counsel of choice, these interests would seem to lie somewhat further from the heart of a fair, effective criminal justice system.” Breyer’s opinion was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Clarence Thomas concurred with Breyer, but only in the judgment. Breyer, Roberts, and Sotomayor are surely pleased by Luis’ outcome: They dissented from a recent opinion which held that a criminal defendant indicted by a grand jury has virtually no right to challenge the forfeiture of her assets. Luisdoesn’t necessarily cut back on that decision, but it does send a clear message that the Sixth Amendment’s Assistance of Counsel provision remains robust.

In a separate opinion, Thomas criticized Breyer for implying that courts may sometimes balance a defendant’s interest in hiring counsel against the government’s interest in freezing assets. “The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel of choice,” Thomas explains. “As discussed, a pretrial freeze of untainted assets infringes that right. This conclusion leaves no room for balancing.”

The Sixth Amendment denies the Government unchecked power to freeze a defendant’s assets before trial simply to secure potential forfeiture upon conviction. If that bare expectancy of criminal punishment gave the Government such power, then a defendant’s right to counsel of choice would be meaningless, because retaining an attorney requires resources. … An unlimited power to freeze a defendant’s potentially forfeitable assets in advance of trial would eviscerate the Sixth Amendment’s original meaning and purpose.

For what it’s worth, I think Thomas is absolutely correct, although his separate concurrence drew no other justices. (Might Justice Antonin Scalia have joined it were he still alive?) Still, Sixth Amendment supporters should be pleased with the final outcome of the case. A government that can prevent a legally innocent person from hiring her preferred lawyer is a government unrestrained by the Sixth Amendment’s strictures. Make no mistake: Luis is a triumph for the right to counsel, at a time whenit is in desperate need of a win.

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his is what the Illinois court system was up to in February of 2016.

This is what the Illinois court system was up to in February of 2016. Here are the 9 best and worst cases. The last one is the one the prosecution doesn’t want you to know about.

  1. People v. Boston
    Sloppy grand jury work by State’s Attorney does not prejudice defendant. Go to case.
  2. People v. Ligon
    Many objects can qualify as dangerous weapons for purposes of aggravated vehicular hijacking, but not as to armed violence.  In other other words, list of bludgeons is greater for AVH and smaller for armed violence. Go to case.
  3. People v. Zayed
    Smell of cannabis does not give this officer a free pass to search this passenger because the officer crossed the line by whipping out the defendant’s penis and essentially conducting an unreasonable strip search.  Go to case.
  4. People v. Jarvis
    The visual examination of defendant’s buttocks might have exposed defendant’s anus. Nonetheless, any search for the “person” authorizes a strip search. Go to case.
  5. People v. Little
    This DWLR conviction stands because the police officer didn’t need proof of every element of the crime he was investigating. The stop with limited information was good. Go to case.
  6. People v. Buschauer
    The trial court’s finding was against the manifest weight of the evidence in that a reasonable person in would have felt free to leave at any point during the interrogation. Trial court just can’t ignore the factors that weigh against coercion. Go to case.
  7. People v. Harrison
    This force blood draw was not suppressed because it was done before the McNeely decision and binding precedent was in place. Good faith exception applies. Go to case.
  8. People v. Moore
    Lost photo arrays were not done in bad faith, so no due process violation occurred. The proper remedy for this discovery violation was to grant Civil Jury Instruction 5.01. Go to case.
  9. People v. Nibbe
    Second degree murder conviction is vacated outright because a blow with a bare hand is not ordinarily contemplated to cause death.  Go to case.
  10. People v. Pmulamasaka
    This rape is overturned, in large part, because the State committed and the trial judge allowed gross prosecutorial misconduct. Among the list of error committed by the prosecution two stand out. He repeatedly argued the victim was mentally handicapped when there was no such evidence, and he sat in the witness box during closing argument. Go to case.

Since 1988, firm founder and criminal defense lawyer Louis M. Pissios

Since 1988, firm founder and criminal defense lawyer Louis M. Pissios has been a dynamic and leading advocate for the preservation and protection of constitutional rights—before, during, and following an arrest—as well as the defense of formal criminal charges.

The pursuit of a successful defense strategy, coupled with one-on-one client interaction, has been the hallmark of our practice throughout the past forty years. Our firm is the choice for people seeking cutting edge criminal defense representation that is both personalized and high quality. Guided by the philosophy that the situation of every person facing criminal charges is unique, we tailor our defense strategies to the facts and circumstances of each case, as they apply to the law, in order to attain the best possible results for our clients. A creative and intensive approach to criminal charges can make a big difference in your case’s results, as does the lawyer you choose to represent you.

He would be more than happy to discuss your situation at a meeting in our offices, advise you of the costs involved, and provide you with valuable and practical advice on how best to address the accusations. From DUI charges or violent offenses to crimes related to theft or traffic, or even expunging your criminal record, there is no case too large or too small. In your free consultation, you will learn that our attorneys are not judgmental; instead, we have the utmost respect for your privacy and dignity. All contacts and conversations are strictly confidential, and we accept phone calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We care about our clients and understand the anguish and stress that a person charged with a crime experiences. Being charged with a crime is a nightmare, not just for the individual charged, but for his or her family as well. We will guide you through the legal process, answer your questions, and provide you with the highest quality representation. We welcome you to compare our reputation, experience, and results with that of any criminal defense lawyer. Our professionalism and skill help us to obtain the best results and satisfaction for our clients.

We provide representation to individuals facing criminal charges in Lake County, and McHenry County. Please call us at (847) 263-0001 or email him directly at [email protected]global.net Our lawyers will answer your questions and take time to ensure that you feel comfortable in fully understanding your rights, your options, and the consequences of your decisions.

U.S. Supreme Court Unanimously Reverses Alabama’s Refusal to Recognize a Same-Sex Parent Adoption from Georgia

U.S. Supreme Court Unanimously Reverses Alabama’s Refusal to Recognize a Same-Sex Parent Adoption from Georgia

(Washington, DC, March 7, 2016)—Today, the United States Supreme Court unanimously reversed an Alabama Supreme Court decision refusing to recognize a lesbian mother’s prior adoption of her three children in Georgia. Today’s summary reversal restores V.L. full rights as an adoptive parent.

“I am overjoyed that the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Alabama court decision,” said the adoptive mother, V.L. “I have been my children’s mother in every way for their whole lives. I thought that adopting them meant that we would be able to be together always. When the Alabama court said my adoption was invalid and I wasn’t their mother, I didn’t think I could go on. The Supreme Court has done what’s right for my family.”

“The Supreme Court’s reversal of Alabama’s unprecedented decision to void an adoption from another state is a victory not only for our client but for thousands of adopted families,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Family Law Director Cathy Sakimura, who is representing V.L. “No adoptive parent or child should have to face the uncertainty and loss of being separated years after their adoption just because another state’s court disagrees with the law that was applied in their adoption.”

V.L and E.L. were in a long-term same-sex relationship in which they planned for and raised three children together, using donor insemination. To ensure that both had secure parental rights, V.L., the non-biological mother, adopted the couples’ three children in Georgia in 2007, with E.L.’s support and written consent. When the two later broke up, E.L. kept V.L. from seeing the children, fighting her request for visitation, and arguing that the Georgia adoption was invalid in Alabama, where they live.

In September 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court issued an order refusing to recognize V.L.’s Georgia adoption and declaring that it is “void.” Even though V.L. raised the children from birth and both women participated in the adoption hearing and consented to the adoption, the Court broke with more than a century of precedent requiring states to honor court judgments from other states. Disregarding this clear precedent, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that Alabama can treat the adoption as void based on the Alabama Supreme Court’s view that the Georgia court should not have granted the adoption in 2007.

In November 2015, V.L. asked the U.S. Supreme Court to Review her case, noting that the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision is unprecedented. Before this ruling, no state supreme court had refused to recognize a same-sex parent’s adoption from another state—or any out-of-state adoption—based on a disagreement with how the court issuing the adoption interpreted its own adoption laws. Under the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, states are required to respect court judgments, including adoption orders, issued by courts in other states. V.L.’s request said “this Court’s review of the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision is urgently needed” because “the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision flouts a century of precedent on the Full Faith and Credit Clause and will have a devastating impact on Alabama adoptive families.”

In December 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the Alabama court’s decision, allowing V.L. to have visitation with her children while the Court considered her case.

Secret police? Virginia considers bill to withhold all officers’ names.

Secret police? Virginia considers bill to withhold all officers’ names.

Virginia debates whether to make names of officers private

Virginia’s House is considering a bill that would make all names of police officers and fire marshals “personnel records,” exempting them from mandatory disclosure under the state’s freedom of information law. (Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post)

It started with a reporter’s attempt to learn whether problem police officers were moving from department to department. It resulted in legislation that is again bringing national scrutiny to the Virginia General Assembly: a bill that could keep all Virginia police officers’ names secret.

In a climate where the actions of police nationwide are being watched as never before, supporters say the bill is needed to keep officers safe from people who may harass or harm them. But the effort has drawn the attention of civil rights groups and others who say police should be moving toward more transparency — not less — to ensure that troubled officers are found and removed.

If it is made law, experts say the restriction would be unprecedented nationwide.

The Virginia Senate has already approved Senate Bill 552, which would classify the names of all police officers and fire marshals as “personnel records,” exempting them from mandatory disclosure under the state’s freedom of information law. The Republican-dominated Virginia House will consider the bill in hearings starting Thursday. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has not taken a position on the bill yet, his spokesman said.

State Sen. John A. Cosgrove Jr. (R-Chesapeake) — citing that he knew many police officers and their families — said: “The culture is not one of respect for law enforcement anymore. It’s really, ‘How, how can we get these guys? What can we do?’ . . . Police officers are much more in jeopardy. There’s no nefarious intent behind the bill.”

Pushback has been strong. “To say every officer’s name ought to be confidential,” said Claire Gastañaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, “is just a step too far in government secrecy. We are dangerously close to a police state in some respects.” She said shootings and attacks on police are rarely committed by anyone using public records.

Although other states have made moves to shield the identities of some officers, none would go as far as the proposal in Virginia.

In Oregon, the state House passed a bill last week allowing the name of an officer involved in a police shooting to be withheld for 90 days if a judge finds there is a credible threat to the officer. This followed the killing of a protester from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, held by armed occupiers for more than a month this year. And the Pennsylvania House passed a bill in November mandating the withholding the name of an officer involved in a shooting while the investigation is pending — which would be a change from the Philadelphia Police Department’s policy of releasing the name within three days.

Kevin Carroll, president of the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police union, said he knew of one instance when a citizen had taken an officer’s name and committed financial fraud, adding that the potential existed in other cases for danger to an officer’s family. “This is not about trying to keep information from the public, to have secret police,” Carroll said.”But it is about wanting to keep our officers safe.”

Carroll said: “With the current trend across the country, law enforcement officers have been attacked and even assassinated because of issues being driven in the media. . . . With technology now, if you have a name, you could find out where they live. It puts them at risk.”

Completely withholding officers’ names from the public is a new step nationally, according to Dan Bevarly, interim executive director of the National Freedom of Information Council. “Usually legislation is related to a specific incident, but not as a preventive measure,” he said. “To do such a blanket exemption for a high-profile government employee, what are you trying to accomplish?”

John Worrall, a criminology professor at the University of Texas at Dallas specializing in policing in legal issues, said that in his review of state freedom of information laws, “none that I’ve found have gone to this extreme. In fact, the opposite is occurring” in many states, Worrall said, with more governments and police agencies posting information promptly about police-involved shootings.

Although police supporters fear the use of publicly available records against them, “that’s largely based on a total lack of data,” Worrall said. “There’s no data on retaliatory actions against police officers. And even if the problem exists, I’m not convinced that hiding their names is the solution.”

Worrall and others noted that keeping officers’ names secret seems to conflict with the idea of community policing and building trust with citizens. “I don’t know how you have community policing,” Gastañaga said, “when nobody knows your name.”

Should the Virginia bill become law, the practical implications still aren’t clear. Some worry it would allow an officer who pulls over a driver, or stops someone in the street, to refuse to provide his or her name. Officers’ names would still appear on traffic tickets or court documents.

Police would still have the discretion to release any officer’s name if they wanted, and police officials said they would not withhold names without specific reasons. Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said he and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors remains “committed to increasing our transparency.” He said that officers would never be removing their names from their uniforms, as some have suggested the bill would allow, and that he would withhold a name only to protect a particular officer’s safety or the sanctity of an ongoing investigation. Fairfax police waited 16 months to release the name of the officer who shot an unarmed Springfield man, John Geer, in 2013. The release came only after a judge ordered it.

Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said police in the commonwealth already have the option to withhold names, and Cosgrove’s bill merely codifies that discretion. She and Carroll, the police union president, both noted that 1,500 Virginia state employees had fraudulent tax returns filed last year, which officials think originated with an online database of employee names and salaries.

“We do not expect this to be abused,” said Schrad, who sent an email to state police chiefs saying: “We caution all of our agencies to use discretion in exercising this exemption. In order to build a trust relationship with communities, agencies should make sure that the communities know who their officers are. This exemption should only be exercised when trying to protect the identity of an undercover officer or when protecting the integrity” of an internal affiars investigation.

Schrad and Carroll helped launch the bill after the Virginian-Pilot newspaper and the state Department of Criminal Justice Services reached an agreement last summer for the state to release the names, agencies and dates of employment of every law enforcement officer in Virginia. Schrad opposed the release because she said the database was old and inaccurate, saying that providing the mass data was her chief reason for pursuing the bill.

Virginian-Pilot reporter Gary Harki said he wanted to check tips he had received that officers who were fired from one department were simply rejoining a police force elsewhere, similar to the reporting done by the Boston Globe on reassignment of pedophilic Catholic priests in Massachusetts. The newspaper negotiated an agreement with the state to obtain the names of only current officers, not to publish the entire database or share it with anyone, and to indemnify the state from any legal claims.

After the agreement was signed, Schrad and Carroll objected, and the state changed its mind. No deal. But the state failed to cite a legal exemption for its refusal in the required time under the state Freedom of Information Act, and a Norfolk judge ruled that the data had to be given to Harki. The judge also ruled that police names are personnel records that can be exempt under FOIA, but he said the state had already agreed to release them. The ruling at the circuit-court level does not have the weight of legal precedent and so Schrad and Carroll sought to put it into law.

“The public has a right to know who their police officers are,” Harki said. “To me, it’s just a fundamental principle of democracy [to know] who our public officials are.” He said that the database he got was “just a piece of a larger puzzle to a problem that may or may not exist” and that he hasn’t published anything about it since the Virginian-Pilot won the court ruling in November.

When Harki worked as a reporter in West Virginia, a similar investigation of troubled officers moving between departments resulted in legislation adding oversight to the movement of officers.

Megan Rhyne of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government noted that many public servants take actions that could anger citizens — prosecutors, social service workers, judges — but their names remain public. She also said that withholding names would result in a lack of accountability for a variety of unsavory acts, such as profligate spending or hiring friends and family, actions that often are caught only when names are linked to illegal deeds.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing Thursday afternoon before a subcommittee of the House General Laws Committee, chaired by Del. James M. LeMunyon (R-Fairfax). He declined to offer his views on the bill, but he said if it passed, it would be heard again next Thursday before the entire committee, then possibly sent to the full House.

Trial set for Fox Lake woman shot by McHenry County Sheriff’s deputies

Trial set for Fox Lake woman shot by McHenry County Sheriff’s deputies

Police: 55-year-old pointed assault rifle at them after making suicidal statements

WOODSTOCK – A Fox Lake woman who was shot in the neck by McHenry County Sheriff’s deputies after she allegedly made suicidal statements and pointed an assault rifle at them will face a jury trial in July.

Elizabeth Kloss, 55, will go before a jury on July 25, a McHenry County judge ordered Wednesday. She is charged with aggravated assault of a police officer, a Class 4 felony that typically carries a sentence of one to four years in prison.

She also is charged with possession of a firearms and ammunition without a valid FOID card, all Class A misdemeanors.

The charges stem from an incident on July 20, 2014, in which three sheriff’s deputies and a sergeant responded to the 7400 block of Boston Avenue in unincorporated Wonder Lake for the report of a suicidal subject.

Police at the time said Kloss pointed an assault rifle at the deputies. The gun belonged to the woman’s boyfriend and was not loaded, police said.

Police then fired seven rounds at Kloss, hitting her once in the neck, according to a civil lawsuit she has filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago in July 2015. Kloss was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville in critical condition.

She was charged Oct. 8 as she was being released from the hospital, according to her civil suit. She has been free on $1,000 bond since the day she was charged.

As the criminal cases against her proceed, the civil suit Kloss filed against several deputies, former Sheriff Keith Nygren and McHenry County is pending.

The suit claims the department and deputies did not have the proper training, equipment and approach to handle Kloss, who had a history of depression, domestic violence and suicide attempts. Kloss is seeking an undisclosed amount of damages based on claims officers used excessive force and malicious prosecution, among other things.

Before trial on criminal charges, Kloss is due in front of McHenry County Judge Michael Feetterer for a status hearing July 8.

Antioch Township woman was sentenced to 12 years in prison for setting her then-boyfriend on fire

An Antioch Township woman was sentenced to 12 years in prison for setting her then-boyfriend on fire in May 2015.

Deborah Roberts, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery in front of Judge George Strickland, Assistant State’s Attorney Danielle Pascucci said Tuesday.

Roberts will have to serve 85 percent of the sentence before being eligible for parole, Strickland said. She received 275 days credit for time she served in Lake County jail.

Had Roberts been found guilty at trial, she could have been sentenced to up to 45 years in prison on that charge, Strickland said.

Prosecutors dropped charges of attempted murder, a second count of aggravated battery, and three counts of aggravated domestic battery in exchange for the negotiated plea agreement, Strickland said.

Roberts and boyfriend Chad Malinowski, 43, were in an argument on the front porch of the house they shared on the 25000 block of Golfview Avenue at 7:27 p.m. on May 17, when she kicked him in the right hip, authorities said.

The kick sent Malinowski tumbling down a five-foot flight of stairs in a fall that shattered his heel, authorities said.

Roberts told police she kicked Malinowski after he spit on her, authorities said. Both had been drinking before the fight began, authorities said.

At the bottom of the stairs, Roberts grabbed a red plastic gasoline can and repeatedly bludgeoned Malinowski with it, authorities said.

Roberts told police she pulled out a lighter and flicked the top of it a threatening manner, authorities said. However, gasoline that had spilled on Malinowski during the attack ignited.

Authorities said a witness heard Roberts say, “I hope you burn,” as she flicked the lighter.

Roberts told police that after the fire started, she grabbed a hose and tried to put out the flames while Malinowski stumbled to the middle of the yard. However, authorities said Roberts poured more gasoline on Malinowski when he tried to put out the flames.

Malinowski was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, then to a burn unit at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital in Milwaukee. He survived the attack.

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