Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Things were different in the Luzerne County juvenile courtroom, and everyone knew it. Proceedings on average took less than two minutes. Detention center workers were told in advance how many juveniles to expect at the end of each day — even before hearings to determine their innocence or guilt. Lawyers told families not to bother hiring them. They would not be allowed to speak anyway.In what authorities are calling the biggest legal scandal in state history, the two judges pleaded guilty to tax evasion and wire fraud in a scheme that involved sending thousands of juveniles to two private detention centers in exchange for $2.6 million in kickbacks.Asked last year why he did not make a habit of telling juveniles of their right to a lawyer before hearings, Judge Ciavarella said, “I just don’t believe I have to spoon-feed people to do things in their life.”
It was a Friday, and a group of lawyers--some prosecutors, some defense attorneys--had gathered in a Loop hotel on this day for a bachelor party. But the celebrating stopped when the television news broke this stunning story: For three years, the FBI had been running an undercover operation aimed at Cook County's court system. It featured at least one undercover operative and a listening device in a judge's chambers.The allegations ranged from fixing drunken-driving cases to more serious felony charges. One lawyer was caught on tape bragging that "even a murder case can be fixed if the judge is given something to hang his hat on." By the end of the decade, nearly 100 people had been indicted, and all but a handful were convicted. Of the 17 judges indicted, 15 were convicted. The tally of convictions included 50 lawyers, as well as court clerks, police officers and sheriff's deputies.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
"Why do I continue to see illegal aliens driving without licenses, get stopped, go to court, pay a small fine, and jump back into their vehicles and drive off? This happens time after time."
Congressman Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., plans to introduce a bill that would make a third drunken driving offense by an illegal immigrant grounds for deportation."Right now, a drunken driving offense has no immigration consequences in and of itself," said Flake, "so this legislation would say, 'If you have three drunken driving incidents, then you're out. It's a deportable offense.'"
Friday, March 27, 2009
As a first time DUI offender in Illinois, you may be eligible for driving relief during your Statutory Summary Suspension (SSS) after the 31st day from the effective date. You are eligible to receive a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP) from the secretary of state. This permit will allow you to drive to any location at anytime during your suspension with the requirement that you drive a car equipped with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID). You may opt to not participate in the BAIID program, but you will not be eligible for any other driving relief during your SSS. If you opt out of the program and are subsequently caught driving during your SSS, you will be guilty of a class 4 felony.
- You are ineligible for an MDDP if your driver’s license was otherwise invalid at the time of the DUI arrest
- You are ineligible for an MDDP if death or great bodily harm resulted from this DUI arrest
- You are ineligible for an MDDP if you have previously been convicted of reckless homicide or aggravated DUI, which resulted in a death
- A MDDP will not allow a CDL holder to operate a CMV during the SSS
- If you failed a chemical test or refused a chemical test for DUI in the past 5 years (not including this arrest)
Thursday, March 26, 2009
625 ILCS 5/6‑703)
(from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 6‑703)
Effect of Conviction.
(a) The licensing authority in the home state, for the purposes of suspension, revocation or limitation of the license to operate a motor vehicle, shall give the same effect to the conduct reported, pursuant to Section 6‑702, as it would if such conduct had occurred in the home state, in the case of convictions for:
2. Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic drug, or under the influence of any other drug to a degree which renders the driver incapable of safely driving a motor vehicle
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Zero tolerance is a state law that went into effect on January 1, 1995. The law provides for suspension of the driving privileges of any person under the age of 21 who drives after consuming alcohol. Like the name zero tolerance suggests, any trace of alcohol in a young person's system can result in a suspended drivers license. There are exceptions -- minors who consume alcohol as part of a religious service or those who ingest a prescribed or recommended dosage of medicine containing alcohol.Oh by the way, I understand the young woman lost her hearing today. She faces a suspension of her driving privileges for a minimum of six months even if she had only one glass of wine.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
In Chicago, blowing a stoplight might get you a letter, complete with a $100 fine, thanks to a red-light camera.
But that might not be the end of your photo-enforcement woes, because aldermen Monday began talking about using the city's ever-growing legion of red-light cameras to check for vehicle liability insurance.Citing more vehicles—including those driven safely but uninsured—could net the city more than $100 million a year, added Rowland Day, executive vice president of InsureNet, a Michigan-based company that provides instant insurance verification.
The Transportation Committee took no action on a proposal by Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) to use red-light cameras at 132 Chicago intersections to track down uninsured motorists.
But, aldermen clearly had dollar signs in their eyes after hearing InsureNet’s pitch to enlist the city’s entire network of surveillance cameras — and install new ones at high-traffic locations — in the hunt for the uninsured.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Four years ago, Illinois lawmakers who represent districts with large African-American and Latino populations were celebrating legislation that was designed to make it easier for ex-offenders to re-integrate into society.
It was a hard-fought victory.
Expungements and the sealing of criminal records of people with low-level felony or misdemeanor arrests or convictions were viewed as critical to urban communities where unemployment figures were double-digits long before the country sank into a steep recession.
The in-depth investigatory piece by the Chicago Reporter got the ball rolling. They discovered thousands of expungements were being denied by the Illinois State Police, after Cook County Judges had granted them. Here are a few of the appalling statistics:
• Statewide, about 1,800 of the 21,000 sealing and expungement orders issued after the amendment, between 2006 and 2008, went unenforced.
• An additional 900 or so orders went unenforced before the amendment, starting in 1991, when some ex-offender advocates believe the practice began.
• Statewide, 5 percent of the 412 court orders issued in 2008 went unenforced.
• Orders issued by Paul P. Biebel Jr., presiding judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County Criminal Division, got ignored about 13 percent of the time in 2007.
The statistics differ from the numbers released by the Reporter on March 13, because the police retracted the data they issued on March 5. Lt. Scott Compton, the chief public information officer for the police, said his department miscalculated the earlier figures. Rather than counting the total number of court orders they received and denied, it tallied the number of criminal charges on each order, he said.
Even Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General, is looking for an explanation as to why the Illinois State Police would break the law by defying the orders of judges to seal or expunge these criminal records and/or arrests.
This is an unbelievable defiance of the law,” said Attorney General Madigan. “Ignoring these expungement orders negatively impacts the lives of people who deserve a fair opportunity to get a job, find housing and take care of their families. I have taken immediate action to remedy this problem and to hold ISP and Director Larry Trent accountable.”
Last week, Attorney General Madigan learned of ISP’s failure to comply with years of orders to expunge and seal records entered by circuit court judges in Cook County and in counties across Illinois. The number of orders at issue likely exceeds 6,000 in Cook County alone. Illinois law allows certain criminal and traffic offenses to be expunged or sealed. The expungement and sealing process is critical for people who are seeking employment, job licenses and certificates, or applying for housing or loans.
In these critical economic times, all I can say is well done to the Attorney General, The Chicago Reporter, and the Chicago Sun-Times. It is hard enough to get a job or keep a job, when there are arrests or old crimes you thought were expunged, because the judge told you so, and then you find out the Police refuse to comply. That's a lot of nerve, perhaps we are heading to a police state afterall.
Perhaps, once this mess is straightened out, our legislators will look to increase the number of matters covered under the expungement/sealing legislation.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The best DUI defense attorney knows how to obtain full and complete Discovery, using all available means to do so. Most attorneys who lack DUI experience (maybe they were doing real estate until last year, and now they've reinvented themselves as a DUI lawyer) will likely miss critical items of Discovery. I have seen countless tricks and other shenanigans pulled by "the other side" as they attempt to limit the Discovery I get when defending my DUI clients. One of these 'tricks' involves the video recording by Top Chicago DUI Cops of their DUI arrests.
Here's what they do. Upon detecting so-called probable cause (off-camera), the officer curbs the suspect's vehicle. On camera, the officer approaches it, gets the suspect's driver's licence and insurance information, and returns to his vehicle. After running the information, he returns to the DUI suspect's vehicle, and asks the suspect a couple of (usually inaudible) questions. Right after that the suspect is asked to exit the vehicle, presumably for Field Sobriety Tests.
Now, wouldn't you think it important that the Field Sobriety Tests are performed on camera? Apparently Top Chicago DUI Cops think otherwise; often the suspect is led off-camera to perform the tests, sabotaging the purpose of installing the cameras in the first place. I'm left looking at a video of the suspect's vehicle, curbed in the police car's headlights, while the Field Sobriety Tests are performed off-camera.
Without changes to Police operating procedures for DUI arrests, and/or to DUI laws in the State of Illinois, I fear that spending $2m of Federal stimulus money to put video cameras in 275 more Chicago Police vehicles may be just another waste of your scarce tax dollars. If we want our roads to be safer, and DUI arrests to be sound, more is needed than just money. Otherwise, we face a continuation of bad DUI Police work - convicting the innocent, and leaving the roads unsafe.
A bill to allow people falsely accused of drunken driving to clear their arrest records is making its way through the Oregon Legislature.The bill is a response to complaints arising in Corvallis in 2007, when a police officer arrested at least four drivers for driving under the influence even though they proved to be sober.The officer resigned, moved to Idaho and started a private-investigation company, specializing in helping clients defend themselves in DUI cases, the Albany Democrat-Herald reported.