Saturday, August 23, 2008

Federal Judge Fines Cook County Jail

In an interesting follow up to yesterday's blog posting regarding the Cook County Jail's electronic monitoring program, a Federal Judge in Chicago fined the Cook County Jail $1,000 a day for violating the federal class action lawsuit dealing with overcrowding and jail conditions. In June of this year, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall ordered Cook County jail officials working in the division of the jail housing inmates that have psychological and medical issues to receive special training, install special computers and to better track the medications given to those inmates. This order had not been complied with as of Friday and was more than 40 days after Judge Kendall had ordered these conditions be met.

In the same opinion issued yesterday, Judge Kendall made it clear that the responsibility for complying with the requirements of the federal class action lawsuit rests with county officials and with the Sheriff, but strongly urged that Chief Judge Timothy Evans come up with a plan to place greater control over electronic monitoring on judges rather than county jail officials.

A final report regarding compliance with Judge Kendall's June court order is due in 2 weeks and there is a possibility that Judge Kendall will not levy the fines if the court order has been complied with by then.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hearsay Bill Hits Snag

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will veto a bill that drastically changes the inclusion of hearsay evidence in murder trials. The bill would allow for the inclusion of hearsay evidence in a murder trial if the prosecution could prove in a pretrial hearing that the witness was unable to appear to testify because the defendant made them disappear. This bill has been passed by the Illinois Legislature and sent to the Governor for his signature, but the legislature failed to put an effective date in the legislation. As a result of this oversight, the bill would not take effect until July 1, 2009. This is not acceptable to Governor Blagojevich and he is considering vetoing the bill and sending it back to the legislature to add an effective date that would be much sooner. It seems as if this was a mistake by the legislature and will not be difficult for the legislature to fix this mistake. It is virtually certain that this bill will be signed by Governor Blagojevich once the mistake is corrected.

The high profile case of former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson was a major inspiration for this new law.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Drastic Decrease in Electronic Releases at Cook County Jail

Today, the Chicago Tribune reports that Cook County Sheriff, Thomas Dart, has drastically decreased the number of inmates released on electronic monitoring from the Cook County Jail. Sheriff Dart is keeping 1,000 extra inmates in jail every day because he believes that the decision to let inmates go home should be left to Judges and not to his employees.  The average daily number of criminal defendants on electronic monitors traditionally topped 1,500 per day. During the first six months of this year, that number has dropped to 406.  In recent weeks, that number has dropped to less than 300.  Sheriff Dart is being critized for drastically increasing the financial cost to Cook County.  The cost of incarcerating someone in jail for one day is over $100, whereas the cost of placing someone on electronic monitoring for one day is $35.24.  If 1000 inmates a day were placed on electronic monitoring, the savings to Cook County for a year would be over $23 million.

Electronic monitoring began in Cook County in 1998 to control overcrowding and to comply with a consent decree in a federal class action lawsuit known as Duran. Chief Circuit Court Judge Timothy Evans believes that Sheriff Dart is required to decide who can be released on electronic monitoring, whereas Sheriff Dart believes that this decision should be made by judges.  Sheriff Dart is trying to get Judge Evans to place more of the responsibility to decide who should be released on electronic monitoring on Judges.  If this effort fails, Sheriff Dart will attempt to have the Illinois State Legislature pass legislation that places this responsibility on the judiciary.

We will keep you informed of any developments in this dispute.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cook County Chief Judge Orders Review of Domestic Violence Court

The Chief Judge of Cook County, Timothy Evans, has appointed a special panel to review Cook County's Domestic Violence Court and issue a report on whether it is adequately protecting victims.  The decision to convene this special panel was made in the wake of two high-profile killings involving women who had obtained Orders of Protection from the Cook County Court.  We have previously discussed the case of Cindy Bischoff, who was killed on March 7 by her boyfriend as she was leaving her real estate office in Elmhurst.  Her case was the main inspiration behind a new law that was enacted earlier this month which would give judge's the power to place GPS tracking devices on individuals charged with violating an Order of Protection as a condition of their bail. A month after Cindy Bishoff was killed, Mersaides McCauley was killed by her boyfriend.  McCauley also had an Order of Protection against her boyfriend when she was killed.  Both men killed themselves after murdering the women.

This special panel consists of 14 members.  The panel is headed by Judge Grace Dickler, a veteran Domestic Relations judge who currently is assigned to the Skokie Courthouse.  Other members of this panel include academic experts, the head of public affairs of the Cook County state's attorney's office, the head of the Cook County Adult Probation Department, and several domestic violence activists.

Their final report, which will probably impact every domestic battery case in Cook County, is expected in a few months.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Devices To Warn Drivers of Photo Enforcement Cameras

As has been previously discussed in this blog, there is a big push, locally and nationally, to increase the placement of cameras on our nations highways to enforce traffic laws and catch drivers in the act of committing traffic violations.  As a result, a new industry has sprung up involving devices that can warn drivers as they are approaching known traffic camera locations. An example of such a device is the Cheetah GPSMirror.  It's a snap on rear view mirror that is equipped with global positioning system (GPS) technology.  As the driver approaches a known traffic camera location, a female voice warns the driver that they are approaching a camera on the roadway. The device has a memory module that stores known traffic camera locations and users can frequently update the device by uploading updates.  For those that have access to the internet, a website has been developed,, which allows drivers to check online for known traffic camera locations and submit new locations.

The City of Chicago currently has 110 red light cameras and plans to add 30 more by the end of the year.  Mayor Daley's long term goal is to install 200 more cameras by 2012.  At least 110 towns around Chicago either use traffic cameras, or plan on deploying cameras.  In the previous blog posting, we reported that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has announced an ambitious plan to drastically increase the number of cameras deployed throughout the state highway system.

The attorneys at Legal Defenders are committed to keeping the citizens of this state informed of this alarming increase in government authority so that we can all protect ourselves and be informed of what is in store for all of us.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at, or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Illinois Governor Wants Cameras on State Highways

Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich asked state lawmakers to allow the Illinois State Police to set up 108 cameras on the state's highways to catch speeders going both directions on potentially every major state highway. This proposal would mark the most expansive use of camera enforcement in the state. The new plan would target drivers going more than 80 miles per hour and the fine would start at $75. The program would cost an estimated $4 million a year. These cameras could issue tens of thousands of speeding tickets and the governors office estimates that these cameras would generate $40 million in revenue that would be used to hire 500 more state troopers. Such technology is currently in use in construction zones on some stretches of state highways.

Illinois has a bad track record when it comes to using cameras on highways. There have been difficulties with using cameras to catch toll cheats and speeders in work zones. It took the tollway more than a year to send out toll violation tickets causing many drivers to rack up thousands of dollars in fines. A Daily Herald investigation earlier this year exposed these problems along with questions about the system's appeal process and mailing procedures. The Daily Herald reports that these problems have yet to be addressed.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Chicago Cop Suspended For Trying To Get Free Coffee at Starbucks

The police board for the Chicago Police Department, suspended a veteran police officer for demanding free coffee from numerous Starbucks throughout the City of Chicago over a number of years. The same officer had been charged with retail theft at a Starbucks in 2004 for stealing juice. She was eventually found not guilty of the retail theft. This officer was found guilty by the police board of using her position as a police officer to demand free coffee when asked for payment. They alleged that when she was asked for payment, she would flash her badge, handcuffs and gun. In one incident, a Starbucks store manager testified that this officer demanded free pastries and became angry and went behind the counter when she was told they could not give out free pastries.

The officer was suspended for 15 months and ordered to undergo counseling.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Numbers Point to Increase in Violent Crime in Chicago

Statistics released by the Chicago Police Department show a sharp increase in violent crime in Chicago. For the first seven months of 2008, murders rose by 18% over the same period in 2007 and 9% over the same period in 2006. From January to July of 2008, 291 people were killed. From January to July of 2007, 246 people were killed and in 2006, 266 people were killed. If these trends continue for the rest of 2008, Chicago would finish with more than 500 murders for the first time since 2003. In 2003, Chicago had more than 600 murders. Another troubling statistic is the rise in the number of Aggravated Batteries with a Firearm. This number has historically been another marker of increased violence. For the first seven months of 2008, a total of 1,153 of such incidents have been reported compared with 245 for the same period the year before.

Police officials attribute the increase in murders and violence to increased gang activity in the city. Chicago Police have increased their attention against gangs by going after gang hierarchies. The result has been a decrease in the number of arrests overall. These numbers call into question the current police tactics.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Monday, August 4, 2008

New Illinois Legislation Provides for GPS Tracking For Those Who Violate Orders of Protection

Today, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed into law legislation that will allow judges to require defendants charged with violating an order of protection to be fitted with a GPS monitoring device as a condition of their bail. This new law was named after Cindy Bischoff, an Arlington Heights real estate broker who was killed by her ex-boyfriend, outside of her office in Elmhurst. Her ex-boyfriend then killed himself. Her ex-boyfriend had twice been charged with violating orders of protection obtained by Bischoff. This new law will go into effect on January 1, 2009. The GPS technology will be able to alert victims and authorities when someone comes close to a place that they are banned from being at by the order of protection. The Illinois program is modeled after a similar program in Massachusetts which has been in place for a little more than a year.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

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