Saturday, May 30, 2009

DNA Samples Gathered From Time of Arrest Upheld

On December 14, 2008, we posted a blog about the Justice Department announcing that starting on January 9, 2009, everyone arrested by the federal government will have a DNA sample taken. For the first time, a federal court considered whether it passed constitutional muster and found that it did. A California defendant charged with a sex crime was released on bail and refused to submit to a DNA sample. He argued that requiring him to submit to this DNA sample procedure was unconstitutional. In 2005 Congress mandated that DNA samples be taken for certain crimes and a subsequent act mandated that DNA samples be given as a condition of pre trial release. While federal agencies have been authorized to collect these DNA samples since 2006, they only started doing so this year. The federal court in California found that after a person is lawfully arrested, no constitutional rights are violated when a DNA sample is taken solely to be used by law enforcement to solve other crimes.

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, May 28, 2009

Supreme Court Overrules Precedent Now Allowing Police to Intiate Questioning

In yet another sign of how far right the Supreme Court has swung, it has overruled a 23 year old Supreme Court decision that had previously barred police from initiating questioning of a defendant after they asserted their right to an attorney in court. The case involved Louisiana death row inmate Jay Montejo who had been sentenced to die for the murder of a dry cleaning operator in 2002. Montejo had initially waived his right to an attorney and gave several different, conflicting stories when initially questioned by police. A few days later he appeared in court for a preliminary hearing and the judge appointed an attorney to represent Montejo. Later the same day. police went to Mantejo in jail to question him and he again waived his right to an attorney and spoke to the police without his attorney being present. While being questioned, he wrote a letter to the victim's wife confessing to the murder and apologizing to the wife. The letter was introduced at his trial. In 1986, in Michigan v. Jackson, the Supreme Court had stated that after an attorney is appointed for a defendant, the police were not allowed to initiate any further questioning of the defendant. Only the defendant could initiate the questioning.

This decision appears to be limited to these facts. In cases in which a defendant invokes his right to remain silent and requests an attorney, the police cannot initiate any further questioning. But in this case, the defendant never invoked his right to remain silent nor his right to have an attorney present prior to questioning. Apparently, the Supreme Court did not consider the appointment of an attorney to be equal to him invoking his right to remain silent or to require that an attorney be present prior to questioning. If Montejo had invoked any of those rights prior to the last questioning, he would have won the case.

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.

Supreme Court Rules Cell Phone Can't Turn Misdemeanor to Felony

The Supreme Court ruled that the government's interpretation of a statute to convert a misdemeanor to a felony was overly broad. The defendant had used a cell phone to set up the purchase of a misdemeanor amount of cocaine. The government argued that the defendant should be charged with a felony because they used a "communication facility" set up a drug transaction. A literal reading of 21 USC 843(b) made this into a felony. The Supreme Court rejected the governments interpretation of the statute because it was clearly not in line with Congress' intent when enacting the statute. The governments reading of the statute also conflicts with the classification of the drug itself as a misdemeanor. The majority opinion went on to point out the absurdity of the government's interpretation of the statute since it would expose the first time drug buyer using a phone "to punishment 12 times more severe than a purchase by a recidivist offender and 8 times more severe than the unauthorized possession of a drug by rapists."

The case is Abuelhawa v. U.S.

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.

Illinois Senate Approves Medical Marijuana

Yesterday, the Illinois Senate voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in Illinois. This is the furthest this legislation has ever gotten in Illinois. The vote, 30 to 28, was mainly along political lines. The legislation now goes to the Illinois House to see whether they approve of the senate measure. Illinois has just taken a giant step towards joining 13 other states in legalizing marijuana use for people with certain chronic illnesses such as Chron's Disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and arthritis. This bill was originally expected to be brought to a vote in April, but several state senators requested amendments to the bill which delayed the vote until yesterday. While the current bill represents a breakthrough in Illinois, it does appear, to this author, to have been watered down. For one thing the program will only be in existence for 3 years. At the end of the 3 years it will have to be approved again by the legislature or else it will end. In addition, it looks like the amount of marijuana which a patient will be allowed to possess will be limited to some extent.

It is unclear what the prospects of passage of the measure will be in the House. Earlier this year a House Committee voted in favor of the legislation but it is not quite clear whether House leaders will allow the measure to come to a vote.

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.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

State Senate Overwhelmingly Rejects Speed Cameras

In a blow to supporters of speed cameras on our public roads, the Illinois Senate rejected a modified plan to put cameras to automatically measure a vehicle's speed in school, park and hospital zones and issue speeding tickets. 35 senators voted against this proposal and only 13 voted for it. This proposed legislation was supported by State Senator Terry Link of Waukegan. This proposal was a modified proposal from an earlier Link plan that would have placed speed cameras along almost every road in the State of Illinois. The first plan had such little support in the state Senate that Link did not even bring this measure to a vote. Link tried to argue that this modified proposal was all about safety in those particular zones. However, during the debate several Senators openly ridiculed Link's claim of safety and complained that this proposal was all about the government trying to take more money out of the citizens wallet. One Senator even stated that all traffic cameras were unconstitutional and that he was planning on going forth with legislation that would outlaw all existing red light cameras in the State of Illinois.

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.

Illinois Sheriff Accused of Selling Marijuana on the Side

The long time sheriff of Gallatin County, in southeast Illinois, has been charged by federal prosecutors will selling over 1,100 grams of marijuana between April 27 and May 11. The Sheriff, 46 year old Raymond Martin, has been the Sheriff of Gallatin County since 1990. He has also been charged with carrying a firearm while distributing drugs. He is scheduled for a Detention Hearing in federal court on Wednesday. A Detention Hearing is similar to a bond hearing in state court. A Public Defender has been appointed for the Sheriff.

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.

Denver Boot Coming to Arlington Heights

The Daily Herald reports that the Village of Arlington Heights has given the go ahead to the police to start using the boot. The Village Board has approved the purchase of 5 of these boots. Each boot costs about $2,000. Drivers will be eligible to have their vehicles booted if they rack up 5 or more parking tickets. If they amass 10 or more tickets, the Village will get the Secretary of State to suspend their driver's license. Arlington Heights joins Des Plaines, Schaumburg, Evanston, Mount Prospect, Lombard and Hanover Park in using the Denver Boot.

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, May 18, 2009

Supreme Court Upholds California Medical Marijuana Law

Today, the United States Supreme Court upheld the California law legalizing medical marijuana. In 1996, California voters voted for a referendum allowing chronically ill patients to be prescribed marijuana as a pain killer provided they are properly registered with the State of California. Once a patient was registered, they are issued cards allowing them to use the marijuana. San Diego and San Bernardino counties refused to honor the cards claiming that California law could not be enforced because it was contrary to the federal law passed by Congress in 1970. The counties lost in 2 lower courts and before the court of appeals in July of 2008. The United States Supreme Court today refused to hear the appeals from the counties effectively closing the case and upholding the legality of California's medical marijuana law.

Twelve states throughout the country have similar laws. Illinois is attempting to become the thirteenth state.

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.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Source Code Software of Breathalyzer Machines Being Questioned

A case in New Jersey is revealing problems with the software used in certain breathalyzer machines. A review by professional computer programmers has revealed that the base software falls far below accepted standards and contains programming errors that could return false readings. There's been several cases in which defendants have tried to obtain the computer code used by manufacturers of breathalyzer machines. In cases in which manufacturers have refused to turn over this information, courts have been forced to throw out DUI cases. Such requests have been made in Florida and Minnesota. But an ongoing case in New Jersey has revealed flaws in the software. This issue made it all the way up to the state's Supreme Court. The breathalyzer company, Draeger, was forced to turn over it's source code for independent review. Two reviews of the source code were performed. One review was performed by a company called SysTest. This test was commissioned by Draeger. The second test was performed by Base One. This second test was commissioned by the defendant in the case. The results require a technical understanding of computer programming. The test performed by SysTest, which was the company hired by the Breathalyzer company, Draeger. SysTest concluded that in spite of the obvious flaws in the software, when the tests is performed correctly, the results are sufficiently reliable to return consistent test results. However, the tests performed by Base One is much less optimistic. Base One states that using the software poses too great a risk to the public. They suggest that the software should not be used until it is recoded to acceptable standards. Base One suggests that not only could a person wrongly be accused of a DUI, but a person who should be accused of a DUI could be allowed to walk because of the faulty software in these breathalyzer machines.

We are going to be keeping an eye on this case and see if there's any far reaching implications. It should be noted that the implications could be drastic for Draeger. There's reports that the agreement between Draeger and the State of New Jersey provides that if the breathalyzer machines are ever found to be defective, Draeger will be required to refund $7 million to the State of New Jersey.

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.

California Appeals Court Rules Juveniles Sentenced to Life Unconstitutional

On May 10, 2009, we published a post in which we discussed how the United States Supreme Court will be considering whether sentencing juveniles to life in prison violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. On April 30, 2009, the California Court of Appeals found that sentencing juveniles to life in prison constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the California Constitution and the United States Constitution. The California case involved 14 year old Antonio Nunez, convicted of Aggravated Kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Antonio had gotten into a car with 2 older men. One of the men later claimed that he had been kidnapped. When police tried to pull over the vehicle, shots were fired. Nobody was injured but Antonio was convicted of Aggravated Kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison. The California Supreme Court had ordered a review of the sentence and on April 30, the California Court of Appeals found that sentencing Antonio to life was unconstitutional under the United States and California Constitutions. As background, Antonio had lived a very difficult life. When he was 13 years old, he was riding his bicycle in a very dangerous part of South Central Los Angeles and was shot multiple times. His 14 year old brother ran to assist him and was shot in the head and killed. Antonio underwent multiple surgeries to repair damaged intestines. After he was released from the hospital he suffered severe depression and spent six months in Nevada with another family. After six months he was forced to return to the same neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. The incident in which he was convicted of occurred just a few weeks after he returned to Los Angeles.

The United States is the only country that sentences juveniles as young as 13 and 14 to life in prison.

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, May 15, 2009

GPS Tracking Devices Present Legal Questions

Recent decisions from a couple of state supreme courts have raised the issue of whether a warrant is required to be obtained prior to secretly installing a GPS tracking device on a suspects vehicle. One case is out of New York. Scott Weaver had been suspected by local police of being involved in a string of burglaries in 2005. Police secretly installed a GPS tracking device on his vehicle and tracked his movements for 65 days. Weaver was convicted of robbing a store based partly on the GPS tracking device. The device showed weaver driving back and forth in front of the store several times prior to the robbery. Weaver appealed his conviction claiming that the tracking device was planted on his vehicle without a warrant thereby violating his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The New York Court of Appeals agreed and overturned his conviction. In the majority opinion, the Chief Judge stated that a warrant was required to use this GPS tracking device because "the use of these powerful devices presents a significant and, to our minds, unacceptable risk of abuse."

However, another case out of Wisconsin came to a different conclusion. A man had been convicted of stalking charges. A secretly installed GPS tracking device secretly tracking his movements was used to convict him of the charges. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals found that the man's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated. But what is interesting about this decision is that the court stated that it was "more than a little troubled" by the lack of state and federal laws concerning the use of GPS tracking devices and urged the state legislature to look into coming up with laws and regulations.

Courts across the nation are split over the issue of whether a warrant is required prior to using a GPS device. At least 2 other states, Oregon and Washington have ruled that law enforcement officials must obtain a warrant prior to using a GPS device. But without any federal laws, or United States Supreme Court rulings, states will be left to decide these cases based on their own state constitutions.

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

Streaming Video From Gurnee Red Light Camera

At a community forum in the Village of Gurnee, a Gurnee police crime prevention technician told those in the audience, that contrary to popular belief, streaming constant live video was also being provided at red light cameras in the village. Gurnee has contracted with Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc., to provide the red light camera system for the village. For an additional $38,000 a month, Redflex will provide low-resolution streaming live video feed from 4 intersections that will always run and will always be on. This news has alarmed public privacy groups who consider such surveillance to be unwarranted. A spokeswoman for Redflex refused to answer questions about the streaming video and instructed reporters to direct their questions to the village.

Earlier this week, a similar camera was used to clear a Palatine police officer when his patrol car struck a pedestrian at the intersection of Rand and Dundee Roads.

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

Postpartum Depression Hope for Moms

Recently, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn commuted the life sentence of Debra Gindorf who had been convicted in Lake County of killing her two young children in 1995. Mental health professionals had claimed that Gindorf was suffering from postpartum depression when she committed the murders. The legal community has a much better understanding of the causes and effect of postpartum depression in recent years. While the actual cause of postpartum depression is unknown, many experts believe that hormonal changes can occur in women after they give birth which can influence their mood and behavior. In serious cases of postpartum depression, the condition can cause postpartum psychosis which can cause women to hallucinate, lose their grip on reality and have homicidal thoughts. The 2001 case of Texas mother Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in a tub, brought this condition to the forefront. Four years after the murder, Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The condition has become an accepted legal defense. Michael Waller, the current Lake County State's Attorney, supported the clemency petition of Debra Gindorf.

The commutation of Debra Gindorf's life sentence has given hope to advocates of women imprisoned for murders convicted while claiming to be suffering from postpartum depression. Prosecutors and victim's family members are not unanimous in their support of this commutation. Many prosecutors believe that this is an exaggerated defense. Supporters of imprisoned women see this commutation as reason for hope.

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, May 14, 2009

WARNING! Friday Night Police Crackdown on Route 41

Extra police patrols will be on Illinois Route 41 in Lake County on Friday evening stopping motorists and enforcing seat belt laws. Local police, along with police from across the region, will be involved in this enforcement operation. Route 41 runs approximately 800 miles, from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Indiana. This enforcement operation will run from 6 p..m. to 10 p.m. this Friday. The operation is being called "Reducing Auto Crashes Through Corridor Enforcement." While the primary focus of the operation is seat belt enforcement, officers will be keeping an eye out for DUI's, speeders and other criminal activity along Route 41.

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.

3 Suburban Police Agencies Barred From Receiving Federal Stimulus Money

Three suburban police departments have been barred from receiving any of the $1 billion dollars in federal stimulus money being handed out by the Obama Administration. The City of Chicago is scheduled to receive $20 million dollars in stimulus money. This money will be used to buy equipment and cover police overtime pay. However, three suburban police departments will not be allowed to take any of the stimulus money because of past mistakes. The three agencies are Harwood Heights, Calumet Park and Stone Park. In 1995, the Clinton Administration started the Community Oriented Policing Services Program (COPS) so that 100,000 additional police officers could be hired. These 3 agencies were given money by this program and failed to meet certain requirements. Instead of the Justice Department requiring that the money be repaid, they agreed to let these agencies keep the money but be barred from accepting any federal money for 3 years. Stone Park failed to keep officers hired because of this program for one year as required. Calumet Park misspent about $37,500 in COPS grant money.

Approximately 26 police agencies across the nation have been barred from receiving any federal stimulus money.

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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Survey of DUI Arrests in Illinois Cities

On Monday, the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists released it's 2008 survey of arrests in Illinos towns for DUI. Leading the pack was Rockford with 785. Second was Naperville with 651. Carol Stream and Barrington led the suburban Chicago area in the number of DUI arrests per officer. Each town had 9.44 arrests per officer. The town of Roscoe, just outside of Rockford, led the entire State of Illinois with 13.15 arrests per officer. The top DUI arresting officer was Sangamon County Sheriff's Deputy James McNamara with 247 arrests. Timothy Walker of the Chicago Police Department had 244 arrests. The suburban leader was Mark Harwood of Waukegan with 187 arrests.

To see the full survey results, go to their website at

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.

Lack of Funding Keeping GPS Devices From Being Used

On August 4, 2008, we posted a blog in which we announced that then Governor Rod Blagojevich had signed into law the Cindy Bischof Law. This law allows for judges to require that multiple offenders of Orders of Protection be equipped with GPS ankle bracelets to monitor their movement and track whether they are staying away from protected persons. Eight months later we can report that this law has yet to be fully implemented. The same State Legislature that thought of enacting this law failed to provide any funding to implement it. This unfunded mandate has left local counties grasping to come up with the money to provide the equipment and personnel to monitor offenders. The only counties that have implemented this program are DuPage, Kane and Champaign Counties. Most other counties simply cannot afford to buy the equipment. The devices cost between $8 and $12 a day to operate. Champaign county, which uses a private company to provide the service, which costs $10 a day, passes the cost to offenders. Same thing in Kane County, The County Board approved $100,000 to start the program but will require that offenders pay the daily cost. The Cook County Board has approved $1.4 million to fund the project but needs to approve the final details. If all goes according to plan, Cook County may have this system in effect by July, almost a year after the law went into effect.

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.

Charges Dropped Against Former Tennessee Death Row Inmate

Yesterday, Tennessee prosecutors dropped murder charges against a man who has been on death row for 22 years for a murder he had been convicted of committing in 1985. The man, Paul House, had been convicted of murdering a young mother in 1985. In 1986 the United States Supreme Court reversed his conviction and sent the case back to the federal court because they concluded that a jury may have decided differently if they knew the result of the DNA testing. The semen found on the victims clothing did not match House. A federal judge ordered that House either be given a new trial or be set free. Last July, an anonymous donor posted a $100,000 bond and House has been free on bond since then. The 47 year old ex-death row inmate, is suffering from multiple sclerosis and confined to a wheelchair.

Tennessee prosecutors believe that House was involved in the murder. However, they think that others may have been involved as well. While none of the DNA found on the victim's clothing matched House's, the victim's blood was found on House's clothing. House's attorneys claim that the investigator's sloppy tactics caused the victim's blood to be found on House's clothing. Prosecutors believe that the problems with the evidence, along with the substantial sentence already served by House justified dismissing the charges. Now prosecutors and police say they will focus on finding the others that they believe were involved in the murder.

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.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Federal Judge Sentenced

This is a final update on the case of Federal Judge Samuel Kent. On February 23, 2009, we posted a blog about the trial for Judge Kent that was about to begin involving alleged sex crimes committed by Judge Kent against a couple of female court employees. This case was notable because only a handful of federal judges have ever stood trial on criminal charges. The next day we posted another blog reporting that Judge Kent pled guilty to obstruction of justice in return for the more serious charges being dropped. Thus, the trial of a sitting Federal Judge was averted. Today we can report that Judge Samuel Kent was sentenced to 33 months in prison for Obstruction of Justice. While this brings the criminal aspect of the case to end, it does not entirely end the matter. Judge Kent has not resigned his position, thus, he is entitled to a federal pension. A couple of members of the House Judiciary Committee have indicated that they will seek to impeach Judge Kent so that he could forfeit his pension.

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.


There must be substantial evidence that German prosecutors have that the Israeli Supreme Court did not consider when it overturned John Demjanjuk's death sentenced in 1993 for crimes against humanity. The Israeli Supreme Court overturned his conviction when new evidence raised doubts that he was Ivan the Terrible. Reading from the various news reports, it appears that since 1988, new evidence has surfaced implicating Demjanjuk in the killing of 29,000 Jews, Gypsies and political prisoners at the Sobibor Nazi death camp in occupied Poland.

However, John Gill, an attorney on who was part of the legal defense team on the Israeli case ,stated that: "I don't believe there's any evidence. I think it's more like an anger or revenge situation, that they want to do something to someone that they think did something wrong."

Rabbi Marvin Hier, Wiesenthal Center Founder, stated that in part that ". . .John Demjanjuk will finally face the bar of justice for the unspeakable crimes he committed during World War. . .[and] . . .deserves to be punished..."

As for me, if he committed the crime he should get punished regardless of age or health. If he is guilty, no mercy should be given as he showed no mercy to the people that he killed or helped kill. I am surprised that someone in all these years didn't see "street justice" as an appropriate method of dealing with Demjanjuk.

We will have to wait to see what proof the German government has against Demjanjuk. Just because a person is charged with a crime does not mean that the person is guilty. How many people have been released from death row?

What seems suspicious of the Demjanjuk's story is that he alleges that he took no part in Sobibor. His story is that was a Red Army soldier who spent World War II as a Nazi POW and never hurt anyone.

Mistaken identity or not, it appears that he had many connections to Sobibor - including a photo ID identifying Demjanjuk as a guard at the Sobibor death camp. Further, in 1948 when he made an application as a displaced person - a category reserved mainly for former concentration camp prisoners and forced laborers - he stated that he worked at Sobibor. His application was for assistance as a refugee and asked for transfer to Argentina.

I can't imagine that the German government would have proceeded to bring an 89 year old man to Germany unless it felt that there was sufficient evidence to convict him. However, the fact the Israeli Supreme Court overturned Demjanjuk's conviction should not be taken lightly. We will see what develops.

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, May 11, 2009

New Detector For Red Light and Speed Cameras

Cobra Electronics has released a new radar detector with a regularly updated database of red light and speed cameras. The device uses GPS to alert drivers when they are approaching a known location of a red light camera. The color of the warning light changes as the driver gets closer and an arrow shows the driver where the camera is located. The current device offered by Cobra goes for $389. However, they plan on offering another model for $99 in June that will have fewer features but cost $1 less than a red light ticket. The current device is called "Aura" and can be found here.

Chicago currently has 141 intersections monitored by red light cameras. Since this program started in November of 2003, the city has generated approximately $122 million in revenues. In 2008, total revenue amounted to $44.8.

City officials continue to claim that the aim is to make roads safer and not to raise revenue. You be the judge.

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.

Renewed Push To Allow Cameras in Supreme Court

The departure of Justice David Souter is restarting efforts to bring cameras into the Supreme Court. Justice Souter once said that if cameras were ever allowed inside the Supreme Court, it would have to "roll over my dead body." Justice Souter was considered to be the most vocal opponent of allowing cameras into the Supreme Court. The upcoming confirmation hearings for Souter's replacement will give TV broadcasters an opportunity to push lawmakers to allow cameras into the Court. Some court observers think that younger judges, like Chief Justice John Roberts and Clarence Thomas may be more receptive to the idea of allowing cameras into the court. Currently, the court releases transcripts of oral arguments and time delayed audio tapes of oral arguments of high profile cases, such as Bush v. Gore and campaign finance reform. Since Congress controls the appropriations, they can compel the Court to allow cameras in. Sen. Arlen Specter has introduced legislation to force cameras to be allowed into the court, but these proposals have failed in the past. In 2006, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked to push for cameras in the court but she refused.

It will be interesting to see if this effort gains traction now that it's most vocal opponent is not going to be on the court. What influence, if any, that the younger Justice's have, will be interesting to see.

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.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chicago Murders Reportedly Decline by 20 Percent

The Chicago Police Department reports that in the first 4 months of 2009, the murder rate has declined by 20 percent compared to the same time last year. From January to April 2009, there were 109 murders. Violent crime dropped 2.8 percent and property crimes declined by almost 10 percent.

Superintendent Weiss is claiming that the decline is due to the departments renewed focus on gangs, guns and drugs. As the summer approaches Weiss says that he is looking at ways to get residents involved in these efforts.

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.

Supreme Court to Consider Juveniles Sentenced To Life

The Supreme Court announced that it will consider 2 cases involving juveniles sentenced to life in prison. There are thousands of juveniles sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole who would be affected by this decision. The court will consider whether sentencing these juveniles to life in prison would amount to cruel and unusual punishment. Both cases come out of Florida. In the first case, Joe Harris Sullivan was sentenced to life in prison in 1989 for a rape he committed when he was 13 years old. Sullivan had been convicted of 17 serious felonies in the 2 years prior to the rape. The victim was able to identify Sullivan as the offender because she recognized his voice and the state has destroyed the DNA evidence used in the case against him. Sullivan is only 1 of 2 13 year olds sentenced to life in prison. The second case involves 17 year old Terrance Graham who was involved in an armed home invasion robbery while on probation for a violent crime.

It will be interesting to see how the court will rule. In 2005 the court found that the death penalty for juveniles amounted to cruel and unusual punishment holding that a national consensus had been reached outlawing this practice. And last year the court declined to hear the appeal of a 12 year old sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing his grandparents in their South Carolina home. The cases will be heard in the fall, after the replacement for Justice Souter is expected to be on the court.

The cases are Sullivan v. Florida, 08-7621 and Graham v. Florida, 08-7412.

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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