Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Supreme Court Considers Lawyers Bad Advice

Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a very interesting case. In 2001 Jose Padilla plead guilty to drug charges in Kentucky. Padilla had lived in the United States for 40 years as a permanent resident. He asked his attorney if a plea of guilty to the drug charges would have any immigration consequences and was told that it wouldn't. Of course, Padilla's attorney was wrong and Padilla is now facing deportation. Padilla is claiming that the faulty advice by his attorney amounted to a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. Padilla is arguing that defendants need to be informed of the immigration consequences of a guilty plea since Congress has mandated that a conviction of certain crimes can lead to deportation. During oral arguments Justice Scalia expressed concern of opening a Pandora's box. Scalia wanted to know what the extent of the possible consequences could be. For instance, would the attorney have to advise the client that a plea of guilty could affect their client's right to own a gun, or to obtain financial aid, or affect their ability to have visitation of their children in a divorce proceeding. Justice Kennedy suggested that judges warn defendants that there may be collateral consequences to their guilty plea when they are being admonished at the time of the plea.

We will keep an eye out for the court's decision and pass it along to you.

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, October 12, 2009

Chicago Murder Rate Declining

The number of murders in Chicago are declining. The murder rate declined by 11 percent through the first nine months of 2009 compared to the same period last year. Through September of 2009, there were a total of 348 murders compared to 393 for the same period last year. Through September 15, 2009, the number of murders of youths between the ages of 6 and 18 declined by 14.5 percent compared to last year. Throughout the year, the figures being released by law enforcement officials have been showing a decline in the violent crime rate and the murder rate. The current numbers suggest that this is a sustained drop. This follows a 2008 that showed that the murder rate and the rate of violent crimes had been increasing. This was discussed in our post on January 16, 2009.

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, October 11, 2009

Motorist Beats Red Light Ticket

A Lake Zurich motorist took time to review the video of his alleged red light ticket violation and was able to win his case. The camera had been placed at the intersection of South Rand Road and Illinois Highway 22 by the Village of Lake Zurich. On August 1, 2009, Kevin Mahanay made a right turn at that corner without stopping and received a $100 ticket in the mail for disregarding the red light at that intersection. Instead of doing what most citizens do when they receive such a ticket in the mail, which is to just mail in a check for $100, Kevin Mahanay actually took time to go to the web link referred to in the ticket he received and watched the video of his alleged violation. It turns out that enough leaves had grown on a tree in front of the camera that the view of the traffic light was obscured. Kevin requested a hearing and the hearing officer threw out the ticket because the leaves had obscured the view of the traffic light and he couldn't determine what color the light was when Kevin made the turn. Since earlier this year, 3,191 red light tickets have been issued by this camera. About one third of the tickets involve the right turn. When the problem of the leaves obscuring the camera became known to the village, the camera was turned off. It was turned off about a month after Kevin Mahanay received his ticket. It's unknown how many people simply paid the ticket without reviewing the video. This case serves as an important lesson to all.

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, October 6, 2009

Video Disputes Officers DUI Arrest Report

An attorney representing several individuals suing a Chicago Police officer in Federal Court for what they claim were false DUI arrests has revealed a video which contradicts the officer's DUI report. The officer is Richard Fiorito. The camera was mounted inside Fiorito's squad car. On June 21, 2009, Fiorito pulled over Michael Vaughn for suspicion of drunk driving. Fiorito had Vaughn perform a field sobriety test. The video shows Vaughn walking in a straight line with his arms at his side. However, Fiorito's police report indicates that Vaughn couldn't keep his balance and raised his arms from his side more than six inches. In addition, the video shows Fiorito being very rude and mean to Vaughn who was cooperating with the officer. The attorney representing the individuals in the federal lawsuit claims that Fiorito made up DUI against his clients so he could rack up overtime when he appeared in court.

Part of the lawsuit alleges that Fiorito would harass gay and lesbian motorists. Fiorito has been with the Chicago Police since 1999.

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.

Overhaul In Immigrant Detention Announced

Today, the Department of Homeland Security announced sweeping changes in the way that illegal immigrants are detained. The system houses an average of 32,000 detainees throughout the United States every day. The current system has been criticized for being cruel and inhumane. Currently, detainees are held in prison like facilities which are costly. The department announced that they will be coming up with new ways to detain nonviolent immigrants. Two new facilities will be built that will probably house the more violent immigrants. A facility in Texas will be converted to only hold women. The department plans on developing a system to electronically monitor immigrants and house them in converted hotels. The 350 contracts to state, county and municipal prisons will be reviewed and controlled by a centralized office. There's also plans to set up an online system to allow families to check on the status of their loved ones. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a $2.5 billion budget to deal with the detention and deportation of illegal immigrants. Current detention procedures cost up to $100 per day per inmate. Some of the alternatives announced by the department may cost as little as $14 a day. The goal is to place inmates in appropriate places until they are deported. For instance, a nonviolent immigrant should not be treated the same way as a violent immigrant.

In researching to post this blog, I was surprised by the different headlines from different newspapers. For instance, the Christian Science Monitor headline read, "Some Illegal Immigrants to be Held in Old Hotels, Nursing Homes." The Houston Chronicle headline read, "More Detained Immigrants May Be Released." One New York Times article read, "Salvaging Immigration Detention." All of these articles were about the same story. Illegal immigration is a volatile and emotional issue. It's interesting how the views of a particular author or newspaper editor come out in the headlines. One article suggests we are salvaging immigration detention and the other starts off by saying that more illegal immigrants may be released.

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

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ohio Death Penalty System In Disarray

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, has postponed the execution of an inmate scheduled for this Thursday. The controversy arises out of the botched execution attempt of an inmate on September 15. Technicians tried for two hours to find suitable veins on Romell Brown. The botched attempt called into serious question Ohio's lethal injection procedures. Lawrence Reynolds, Jr., is scheduled to be executed on Thursday. Earlier in the day, the Ohio Attorney General asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let Reynolds execution go forward. However, later in the day, Governor Strickland announced that he would be granting a temporary reprieve to Reynolds until at least March, 2010. He also granted a temporary reprieve to Darryl Durr, who was scheduled to be executed in a few weeks, until at least April, 2010. In his announcement, Governor Strickland indicated that additional time was needed to thoroughly examine Ohio's lethal injection procedure to make it legal in accordance with Ohio law. Brown's execution has been delayed indefinitely.

All of the inmates are arguing that Ohio's lethal injection procedures violates the constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Judges reviewing these matters have been split.

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 Refuses To Hear Death Penalty Cases

The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear 2 cases involving the imposition of the death penalty in murder cases. The first case is out of Illinois and involves the case of Dr. Ronald Mikos. Dr. Mikos was facing allegations of Medicare Fraud. In 2005 he was convicted of the murder of a former patient so he could keep her from testifying against him and sentenced to death. At his trial, he refused to testify. During the sentencing phase the prosecutors argued that his unwillingness to testify showed a lack of remorse. After he was sentenced to death, jurors cited his lack of remorse as a reason for imposing the death penalty. Mikos argued that his unwillingness to testify did not show a lack of remorse and objected to the prosecutor arguing to the jury that it did. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld the death sentence and the United States Supreme Court refused to review the case without comment.

The case is Mikos v. United States, 08-1280.

The Supreme Court decided not to get involved in a case involving how the death penalty is imposed in Louisiana. In this case, the defendant was sentenced to death for her role in a brutal murder. A co-defendant was also convicted of murder and also received a death sentence. The case presented an opportunity for the Supreme Court to determine whether the death penalty in Louisiana is arbitrarily imposed on some defendants while others in similar circumstances are sentenced 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 1-800-28-7295.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Clerk of Cook County Court Introduces Online Orders of Protection

The other day I saw the following new page added to the Clerk of the Circuit Court's website. This new page simplifies the preparation and filing of a request for an Order of Protection in Cook County. It establishes a simple online process for preparing the proper documents necessary to obtain an Order of Protection. It is important to note that in order to obtain an Order of Protection, you have to present the prepared documents to the Clerk of the Circuit Court and be seen by a judge. In order for a valid Order of Protection to be obtained, it must be signed by a judge.

Word to the wise: Once you prepare the documents online, make sure you sign off of the website so as to close any access to what you just did on that page.

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.

Highlights Of Important Supreme Court Cases For Fall Term

This week, the United States Supreme Court announced which cases it will be considering in the upcoming Fall Term. In the backdrop of this announcement is the fact that a new Justice, Judge Sotomayor, will be taking her seat, and speculation that Justice John Paul Stevens could be retiring at any time. We first posted a post discussing the speculation surrounding his retirement on September 2, 2009. To read that post click here. The addition of Sotomayor is not expected to change the philosophical balance on the court. But the expectations for this term surround the cases that the Supreme Court has agreed to decide. Below you will find a brief synopsis of the interesting cases the Supreme Court has agreed to consider.

Guns and the Second Amendment: This case promises to get the greatest attention. On Wednesday the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving a challenge to Chicago's ban on handguns. Last year the Supreme Court overturned Washington D.C.'s ban on handguns. Chicago has a similar ban and is arguing that the decision overturning the Washington D.C. ban on handguns does not apply to state and local governments because Washington D.C. is governed by federal law. The Court of Appeals agreed with Chicago and the Supreme Court will now take up the issue. How the Supreme Court decides this case will have a tremendous impact on handgun bans throughout the country.

The case is McDonald v. Chicago, 08-0521.

Right to a Lawyer, Miranda Related Decision: How long is a suspects request for a lawyer valid? In 2003, Michael Shatzer was questioned for the sexual abuse of a boy. The case was dropped after Shatzer demanded an attorney. Three years later, after the boy was older and able to recount more details to a new detective assigned to the case, he was questioned and confessed to the crime. He was convicted by the trial court but the Maryland Court of Appeals overturned the conviction because he had requested an attorney in 2003. The United States Supreme Court will decide how long the request for a lawyer will last.

The case is Maryland v. Shatzer, 08-680.

Life without Parole for Juveniles: The court will decide whether a sentence for life without the possibility of parole violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The case comes out of Florida where 2 juveniles, 13 and 17 years old, were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Neither juvenile was convicted of a crime involving murder. We first posted a post about this case on May 10, 2009. Click here to read that post. On May 16, 2009 we posted another blog about a decision out of California holding that sentencing juveniles to life in prison was unconstitutional. To read that post click here.

We will update our readers on any other cases which may be added to the docket along the way.

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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