Monday, November 3, 2014

Chicago Criminal Attorney Reminds You to Vote!

But why is voting important? In Cook County over seventy judges are on the ballot, many to be retained.  This is your chance to give voice to what you think is important.  And yes there are guides from an array of Bar Associations who are recommending, and in some cases not recommending which judges you should vote for and which judges should be retained, it is a small, and important act for you to do your own research.  Some of the judges have been featured in the news for their own legal woes.  Some have been featured in the news for how they treat citizens who come to court to watch proceedings.  Still others have been featured for their actual rulings.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Comments on Convicted Felon Jon Burge Keeping His Pension

This Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney has commented here and here about former, and notorious, Chicago police officer Jon Burge.  He was a commander in the Chicago Police Department during an era fraught with police torturing confessions from accused.  Several years after his reign, in 2010 he was found guilty of obstruction of justice and perjury.  He was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.  He is scheduled for release from prison this fall.

Now the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that although he is a convicted felon, his pension remains intact. After his conviction, the pension board met to determine whether the felony convictions triggered forfeiture of his pension.  
The board was comprised of four civilians, appointed by then mayor Richard Daley, and  four police officers, some retired, and others active.  Burge argued that his convictions were not related to his police duties.  He had retired from the police force more than a decade prior to the convictions.  The board split with the mayor's civilian appointees voting to deny Burge his pension.  When the board splits the decision falls in favor of the pensioner.  After this ruling the Attorney General filed suit. 

The Circuit court agreed with the pension board and Burge.  That the pension board was the exclusive decision making body in this area, pursuant to statute.
  People ex. rel Lisa Madigan v. John Burge 2014 IL 115635, 
section 5-189 of the Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/5-189 (West 2012)), states in pertinent part that “[t]he Board shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in all matters relating to or affecting the fund, including, in addition to all other matters, all claims for annuities, pensions, benefits or refunds.” The circuit court further noted that, while the statutory prohibition against providing pension benefits to a person convicted of a felony relating to, arising out of, or in connection with his service as a policeman is absolute, “in each individual case, the statutory standard will have to be applied to discrete facts and circumstances.
 The circuit court concluded that this was a “quintessential adjudicative function” which section 5-189 (4) conferred exclusively on the Board.
The Attorney General appealed.  The appellate court reversed the Circuit Court ruling finding that the Circuit Court did have subject matter jurisdiction.  It found that the Court could indeed decide whether Burge's felony convictions,  "related to, arose out of, or were connected with his service as a police officer in violation of section 5-227."  Burge and the pension board sought leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled, in a 4-3 decision, that:

This opinion should not be read, in any way, as diminishing the seriousness of Burge’s actions while a supervisor at Area Two, or the seriousness of police misconduct in general. As noted, the question in this appeal is limited solely to who decides whether a police officer’s pension benefits should be terminated when he commits a felony. On this issue, the legislative intent is clear. The decision lies within the exclusive, original jurisdiction of the Board under section 5-189 . Accordingly, the judgment of the appellate court is reversed and the judgment of the circuit court dismissing the Attorney General’s complaint is affirmed.

Somehow, I think this ruling will generate some legislative activity.  But even if it does, Jon Burge will keep his pension.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Chicago Criminal Lawyer Knows It Is Cold, But Cook County Courthouses Are Open

This Chicago Criminal lawyer knows today is one to stay inside.  The windchill levels could make today, and the rest of the week,the lowest recorded temperatures on record for the city of Chicago.  How low you ask?  Schools are closed in the City of Chicago.   Public transportation is delayed.  Non-essential, excluding court personnel, County Services are closed.  Cook County Department of Corrections inmates will not have jail visits prior to Wednesday of this week. Additionally,  if an inmate is slated for release but lacks transportation and/or shelter the inmate can choose to remain in custody.  But the courts are open.  Inmates will not be transported to any courthouse in Cook County today, except for Leighton, also known as 26th and California.  And yes, that courthouse is literally a couple of doors down from the residence of Cook County Inmates.

Now what happens if you have court today and can't appear?  If it is a civil matter, call the courthouse and get connected to your judge's clerk.  Some judges are automatically giving status dates.

If you have a criminal matter, this includes misdemeanor courts and traffic courts where there is the possibility of jail as a sentence, you should also call the courthouse, but I've been informed that no warrants will be issued for the accused if she or he is absent today.

I will update as I get additional information.

The most important thing you can do today is stay safe.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Chicago Criminal Lawyer Knows That Vets Have Unique Needs

This Chicago criminal defense lawyer has posted here and here about vets.  I tend to do this on Veterans Day because I know this is a day when people are outwardly thinking about soldiers.  Those serving now as well as those who have served before.

But I don't believe that service to this country is adequately honored by remembering them today.  That's not to say that doing so isn't nice, it's just that I think the men and women who serve this country frequently don't get the benefit of the doubt.  Just last month there was a partisan shut down of the government.  Apparently by people that don't understand that while there maybe a lot of things they don't like about government, there are many important and essential functions that are solely that of the government.

For example, death benefits could have been stopped but once those clamoring for a shutdown of government realized that would happen without any additional action, they quickly stopped that horror from occurring.  It is this very type of acting without thinking through the ramifications that troubles me about those giving lip service to vets.

So if you know a vet that needs services, I'm asking you to help her or him get those services.  If you know a vet that needs a lawyer, I'm asking you to help her or him get those legal services.  If you know a vet that has a lawyer, remind her or him to make sure that the lawyer knows they are a vet.  It can make a substantial difference to the outcome of their legal matter.  Finally, I'm not interested in whether you do this today or not, I want to know if you can do it the other days of the year that aren't called Veterans Day?

RIP Marty. My BFF saw to it that you got a home so you wouldn't have to stand on the side of the expressway asking for money.  That you got treatment.  That we visited you at Hines.  That you knew you had friends you could introduce to the medical staff.  That your service and sacrifice were respected.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chicago Criminal Attorney Wonders If the Public Believes the Accused Have No Rights to Privacy

This Chicago criminal defense attorney remains stunned by the number of people who earnestly seem to believe that if you have nothing to hide then you don't need to worry about encounters with the government. Although in light of the realization that the Patriot Act is working and through it the NSA combs routinely, and regularly, through folks' communications may have shifted the opinion of many in the " if you've got nothing to hide you don't need to worry camp".

Still, the ability of many to just throw away their rights is shocking to me.  Fortunately, perhaps, albeit too late, there is a renewed interest in the citizen's desire for privacy from intrusions from the government.  Thankfully, the government sometimes crosses the line leaving us all shocked and dismayed that you can be searched for anything, anywhere, any how, and any time, even numerous times, to satisfy the government.

November 6, 2013, Deming, NM

As KOB-TV reports, police stopped David Eckert on Jan. 2 after he failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign outside a Walmart parking lot in Deming, N.M. Things began to go wrong when the authorities asked him to exit his vehicle.
“They say when he stepped out of his car he was standing in a manner that looked as if he was clinching his buttocks,” Shannon Kennedy, Eckert’s attorney, told KOB-TV, according to CBS Las Vegas.
This led police to believe Eckert was hiding drugs in his anal cavity. After obtaining a search warrant from a judge allowing for an anal cavity search, cops took Eckert to an emergency room in Deming, but a doctor there refused to perform the search, calling it “unethical,” KOB said.
Eventually, police moved Eckert to Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City, where doctors agreed to perform the anal cavity search. According to the lawsuit and Eckert’s medical records, which were released to KOB, Eckert’s abdominal area was X-rayed twice, doctors performed a colonoscopy on him, an enema was inserted anally three separate times and doctors examined his anus twice with their fingers.
No drugs were ever found and Eckert never gave his consent for doctors to perform the procedures.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chicago Criminal Lawyer Comments on Voting Rights for Felons

This Chicago Criminal lawyer posted here about voting rights for felons.  She wants to remind you that each state has different laws on whether felons can vote, and if so when can they vote and how can they vote.

In Illinois, being a convicted felon is not a bar to voting.  That said, convicted felons are barred from voting while they are incarcerated.  This is the case in every state, except for Maine and Vermont.  Those states do permit convicted felons to vote while incarcerated via absentee ballots.  

Constitution of Illinois:

A person convicted of a felony, or otherwise under
sentence in a correctional institution or jail, shall lose
the right to vote, which right shall be restored not later
than upon completion of his sentence.
(Source: Illinois Constitution.)
There is no bar to voting while a case is pending. There is no bar to voting for misdemeanor convictions in Illinois state courts.

Tomorrow is Election Day!