Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Get Ready for E-Tickets

On Tuesday, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County demonstrated a new electronic ticket system for traffic tickets. Instead of writing out a traffic ticket, the police officer will plug in the information on a computer and the information will be immediately transmitted to the police department and the Clerk of the Court. Judges will be able to view tickets on a computer and there will no longer be any second guessing the officer's writing on the ticket. The county is paying the cost for the new system to hand out traffic tickets. Some towns are paying up to $900 to place a printer in each squad car so as to make sure you get a copy of the ticket. The system is expected to be in place by the end of the year. The counties surrounding Cook County are also working on similar systems.

Our local governments are continually looking for more efficient ways of collecting money from their citizens.

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Waukegan Clerk Shoots Robber - May Face Charges

On Monday night a 20 year old man walked into a Waukegan store with a gun and demanded money from the store clerk. The store clerk gave the gunman money and the gunman fled the store. The store clerk grabbed a gun under the counter, ran out the door and saw the gunman trying to get away on a bicycle. The clerk fired the gun and struck the gunman in the chest several times and in the leg. The gunman continued riding the bicycle a short distance and fell to the ground unconscious. The gunman was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. There was a second suspect that was apparently a lookout for the gunman. That second suspect tried to flee on foot and was struck by a car. The police are still searching for the second suspect.

The clerk apparently had a license to carry a firearm. However, police and the Lake County State's Attorney's Office are considering whether to file criminal charges against the store clerk. It is possible that the store clerk can be charged with murder or aggravated battery with a firearm for shooting the gunman after the gunman was leaving the store.

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

New Law Means Pardon No Longer Required

A new bill was just passed which allows inmates who have been wrongfully convicted from no longer having to obtain a pardon from the Governor before seeking compensation for being wrongfully incarcerated. Prior to this new law, in order for an inmate who was wrongfully convicted to obtain compensation for their wrongful imprisonment, they had to obtain a pardon from the Governor. The current backlog for clemency and pardon petitions on Governor Blagojevich's desk is enormous. The wait is years long. As a result, state legislators passed this bill to bypass the Governor's desk. But when this bill was passed in late August, Governor Blagojevich vetoed it. Legislators introduced it again and this time it passed with a veto-proof majority.

This new bill allows defendants who have been cleared by appellate courts to file for Certificates of Innocence directly from circuit courts. Many wrongfully convicted inmates are eager to take advantage of this new law so they can begin to rebuild their lives.

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

Won Preliminary Hearing at Grand and Central

I won a preliminary hearing at Grand and Central this morning. The client was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance. The officer testified that he and his partner were patrolling a "high narcotics area" and saw my client standing on the street corner. They approached my client to conduct a "field interview" and patted him down for their safety. As they were patting him down a sock fell from his pants. The police officer picked up the sock and looked through it. Inside the sock he found several ecstacy pills.

On cross examination I asked the officer if he observed my client involved in any suspected narcotics transactions. The officer said no. The officer said he did not see my client interact with anyone at this location or do anything other than just stand on the street corner. After the sock fell from my client's pants, I asked the officer if he had permission from client to pick up his sock and look through it. There was laughter in the courtroom. More importantly I noticed the Judge smile and realized I had made my point. The judge found no probable cause and the case was dismissed. The client, who was in custody on a $75,000 bond, was relieved that he would be going home a free man later that day.

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

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chicago Police Superintendent Denies Slowdown

We have reported about the rise in the number of murders and violent crimes in Chicago. There is increasing criticism of Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis for the spike in these numbers. Chicago police officers are seizing fewer guns and stopping gang members less frequently than before Superintendent Weiss arrived on the scene. The criticism is that these numbers are as a result of officers working less aggressively out of fear of being second guessed by him. There are rumors that the morale among the department is at an all time low.

On Saturday, Superintendent Weiss denied the rumors and that despite what some people are saying, his officers are well supported by their superiors and are highly motivated. We will keep an eye on the ever-increasing whispers and chatter concerning this potential problem inside the Chicago Police Department.

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

DuPage County Report on Domestic Battery Cases

There's an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune today. The article discusses how the rate of convictions for domestic battery cases in DuPage County has more than tripled in the past few years but that the progress has stalled because of budget problems. Here is the article:

DuPage County Tackles Domestic Violence.

The last domestic battery case I handled in DuPage County resulted in a finding of not guilty after a bench trial. It was a case that the state should never have pursued.

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

Sheriff Moving Forward on Plans to Ease Overcrowding

The Cook County Sheriff is taking new steps to try to deal with the overcrowding problem in Cook County Jail. On Friday, Sheriff Tom Dart's attorney told Federal District Court Judge Virginia Kendall that Sheriff Dart is moving ahead on plans to move the bond court to an unused annex at the jail. The Bond Court is currently located inside the Criminal Courts Building at 26th and California. The location of the bond court makes it difficult for prosecutors to get sufficient information on criminal defendants causing judges to err on the side of caution when determining whether a criminal defendant should be released. By moving the Bond Court to the jail, the hope is that the process would be streamlined and judges could ultimately be able to determine whether an inmate can be released on electronic home monitoring. Federal District Judge Virginia Kendall is currently presiding over a lawsuit involving overcrowding at the jail.

The relocation of the Bond Court to the jail may be completed as early as September of 2009. The cost of the move is estimated to be in the range of $900,000.

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

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Update on Hearsay Bill

On August 22, 2008, we posted a blog in which we discussed a proposed Hearsay Bill which would allow the out of court statements from a witness who was intentionally murdered by the defendant if it was determined that the murder was committed so as to prevent the witness from testifying against the Defendant. In that posting we discussed how the Illinois Legislature had made a mistake in the wording of the bill which meant that the bill would not take effect until June 1, 2009. On Tuesday, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich used his amendatory veto power to give the act an immediate effective date. In order for the bill to take effect, the Legislature needs to accept his amendatory veto. The Legislature will meet next month and is expected to immediately take up the matter.

This new law will allow a trial judge to determine at a pretrial hearing whether the hearsay testimony will be admitted. Under this new legislation, if the judge determines that the defendant murdered the witness and the murder was intended to make the witness unavailable to testify, if the unavailable witness statements are reliable, and if justice is best served by admitting the statements into evidence, the statements come in even through the witness is unavailable to testify and the defendant cannot cross examine the witness.

Over a dozen other states have a similar law. In addition, Federal Courts have allowed these statements into evidence for years.

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

Lemon Law Guest Blog

Attorney Sergei Lemberg is a nationally recognized expert in lemon law. His site,, offers detailed information about lemon laws, as well as an interactive Lemon Meter for consumers who want to see if their vehicle qualifies as a lemon. As a service to our readers and clients, we have invited him to post the following blog:

Making the Case for Lemon Law Arbitration and Settlement

More than 25 years ago, the first U.S. lemon law was enacted in Connecticut. Since then, each state has adopted its own lemon law. This has resulted in a veritable patchwork of provisions and requirements, which understandably often leave consumers perplexed. Complicating the matter is that, while some state lemon laws allow consumers to take manufacturers directly to court, others mandate that car owners participate in a manufacturer- or state-sponsored arbitration program.

Usually, consumers are led to believe that they can participate in arbitration without the help of an attorney. While it’s true that you don’t need an attorney to participate in the arbitration process, manufacturers will put their legal teams to work fighting lemon law claims. More than once, I’ve seen cases where the car maker forces the consumer to jump through hoops, or runs out the clock on a lemon law claim. The truth is that consumers who have attorneys are more likely to succeed in a lemon law claim, both because the lawyer is experienced in lemon law and because it sends a signal to the manufacturer that the consumer is serious and won’t simply disappear.

Having said that, it’s also been my experience that most lemon law cases settle through negotiation or mediation. When a vehicle has a serious defect and the manufacturer refuses to buy it back or replace it, sometimes just the threat of a lawsuit encourages the manufacturer to do the right thing. This is because losing in court usually means that the manufacturer could face the prospect of paying punitive damages or a doubling or tripling of the consumer’s attorney fees. A reasonable settlement benefits both sides – the manufacturer doesn’t have to go through a lengthy court battle that it would most likely lose, and the consumer can get relief without dragging out the process.

Negotiation and settlement is also an option for the consumer whose vehicle doesn’t meet the strict definition of a “lemon” under state law. For example, we’ve often had clients who were able to get equitable settlements for the hassle of having to repeatedly take their vehicles in for repair.

The bottom line is that negotiation and settlement are always sound (and often the best) options in lemon law cases. But it’s important to have the law – and a lawyer – on your side should a lawsuit become necessary.

We strongly encourage you to contact attorney Sergei Lemberg if you have any questions or need an attorney for a possible lemon law matter.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Update on 2008 Homicide Rate

On a post from August 7, 2008, we reported on statistics released by the Chicago Police Department indicating that the murder rate in Chicago was pointing to an all-time murder rate for the year. In addition, violent crime was proceeding towards a record pace. We reported that at the end of July, 2008, the murder rate was 18 percent higher than last year. The violent crime rates for the first 9 months were released at the end of September and the numbers point to a slowdown in the rates of murder and violent crime. There have been a total of 392 murders through the end of September. This means that murder rates are up by 14.6 percent compared to last year. Overall, violent crime rates are up 2.8 percent over last year.

Some people are concerned that the increased rates of murder and violent crime are due to police workers working less aggressively due to difficult contract negotiations with the City of Chicago, staff shortages due to budget cuts and poor morale. We will keep a close eye on the violent crime rates and report them to you as they become available.

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Update on Louisiana Death Penalty Case

On June 25, 2008, we published a post about a Louisiana case in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty could not be imposed for child rapists. A month later, on July 25, 2008, we published another post in which we talked about how the Louisiana Attorney General, had filed a petitiion for rehearing asking that the Supreme Court reconsider it's ruling due to evidence discovered after the ruling was first released. In the original ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy ruled that the death penalty could not be imposed on child rapists because there was a "national consensus" against executing rapists. After the original ruling, it was discovered that the United States Congress had actually authorized the imposition of the death penalty for members of the military who had been convicted of raping children. President Bush had given the military permission to seek the death penalty in such cases. Today, Justice Kennedy, along with the 5 justices who originally joined him in the majority, declined to change his original ruling find that this prior Congressional and Executive action applied to members of the military and not civilians.

It is extremely rare for the Supreme Court to reopen a case after it issued a decision. Such a decision would require that a majority of the justices agree to reopen the case. This decision finally puts an end to this issue.

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

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