Saturday, February 27, 2010

DUI Study Released - Interesting Statistics

The Scripps Howard News Service has released some interesting figures concerning traffic deaths and the link to alcohol.  In all of Cook County there were 6,000 traffic deaths between 1994 and 2008.  Roughly one-third of the deaths can be linked to drinking and driving.  Cook County's portion of I-94 is ranked the 11th most dangerous road in the United States with a total of 301 deaths between 1994 and 2008.  More than 100 people die in traffic accidents in the United States every day.  In Lake County, 30 people were killed on Illinois 173 and 30 people were killed in Will County on I-53.  The study also suggests that people drive differently depending on the type of road.  For instance, only 24 percent of deaths on interstates involved alcohol.  However 31 percent of deaths on state roads were related to alcohol and 39 percent of deaths on county roads were related to alcohol

For a link to their statistics, click here.  You can go to the top of the page and select a state to access their statistics.

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.

Michigan Gun Laws - A Case Study

I just want to inform our readers about some interesting information I came across while working on a case.  I have a client facing an Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapon charge in DuPage County.  The client is a Michigan resident.  He was pulled over on the highway by an Illinois State Trooper for speeding.  As the trooper was giving my client a ticket, my client voluntarily told the trooper that he had a gun in his car.  The trooper pulled him out of the vehicle and discovered an unloaded gun under a pile of clothes on the driver's seat and a magazine with bullets in the glove compartment.  I am in the process of trying to get the charges reduced with the prosecutor because my client has absolutely no criminal background, owns a business in Michigan and completely cooperated with the police.  My client gave me some documents from Michigan which support his argument that he had the legal right to own the firearm in Michigan.  As I did some research on Michigan's gun laws I came across some interesting information that I would like to share with our readers.  Keep in mind that we are not licensed to practice law in Michigan.  This information is not intended to be legal advice.

Unlike in Illinois, a license to own a firearm is not required in Michigan.  You can transport a gun in your car so long as the gun is unloaded and in a container in the trunk of your vehicle or, if the vehicle has no trunk, the gun is in a container and is not readily accessible to the occupants of the vehicle, provided that the gun is being transported for a lawful purpose.  You can carry a gun in your house or your place of business.  No permit or license is required to own a rifle or a shotgun.  If you want to buy a handgun, the buyer has to obtain a license to purchase from the chief of police, if the buyer lives in a city, or the county sheriff if the buyer lives in an area without an organized police department.  The buyer must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, resident of Michigan, no felony conviction, never been found insane in court, and score at least 70 percent on a pistol safety review questionnaire.  The license has to have the signature of the buyer and the seller.  Within 10 days after the gun is purchased, the buyer must return the license to purchase along with the actual gun to the police agency and they will be issued a safety inspection certificate for the handgun.  

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, February 25, 2010

Bad Week For Miranda

This week, the Supreme Court issued decisions on two cases involving the famed Miranda warnings that have seriously weakened the warnings.  On Tuesday, the court released its ruling in Florida v. Powell.  the Court upheld the Miranda warnings given to a defendant even though they did not explicitly state that he had the right to have a lawyer present during questioning.  The warnings given to the defendant only informed him that he had a right to a lawyer before questioning.  In the majority opinion, Justice Ginsberg held that the warnings "reasonably conveyed Powell's right to have an attorney present at all times."  And the next day the court issued its decision in Maryland v. Shatzer.  In this case, the court explicitly overruled the long held precedent in Edwards v. Arizona which had long held that once a defendant invokes his Miranda rights, any subsequent waiver of Miranda is deemed involuntary.  This made it virtually impossible for police to resume questioning of a defendant once they invoked their Miranda rights.  However, in Shatzer, the court held that police can resume questioning of a defendant after he invokes his Miranda rights so long as he has been released from custody and been free for at least 14 days.  Civil Libertarians point to a pattern in which the Supreme Court has been moving towards abolishing, or seriously watering down Miranda.  The decisions issued this week certainly point to that trend.

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, February 24, 2010

Moral Of The Story - Should Have Kept Quiet At Sentencing

In 2004, Pedro Cabrera appeared in front of Judge Leo Holt, ready to plead guilty to a robbery and accepting a 6 year prison deal worked out between his attorney and the prosecutor.  Judge Holt expressed amazement at how good of a deal his attorneys had worked out being that Cabrera had previously been convicted of 4 felonies.  Judge Hold said that "it boggles my mind."  When Cabrera had an opportunity to address the court, he told Judge Holt that he was really innocent.  Judge hold immediately stopped the proceedings and informed Cabrera that he would not go along with the deal.  Judge Holt stated that, "you don't have a right to cause me to disgrace myself and the criminal justice system by accepting a plea of guilty from you when you are, in fact, not guilty."  Cabrera begged the judge to accept the plea agreement because he felt that he could not beat the case at trial.  Judge Holt rejected his pleas and the matter proceeded to trial.  At a bench trial, he was found guilty of Armed Robbery and Burglary and sentenced to a total of 27 years.  According to the Illinois Department of Corrections website, he will not be eligible for parole until 4/14/13.  If he had not proclaimed his innocence, and Judge Holt had accepted the plea agreement, Cabrera would have been released a long time ago.

Today the Illinois Court of Appeals upheld Judge Holt's rulling and found that it was within his discretion to not go along with the plea agreement.

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 On How Long Request For Lawyer Lasts

Today, the Supreme Court released it's opinion on a case we previewed in a post on October 4, 2009.  The case involves Michael Shatzer who was imprisoned in Maryland for the criminal sexual abuse of his son in 2003.  He requested an attorney and the case went dormant.  About 2 1/2 years later, when Shatzer's son was old enough to recount the details, he was arrested again, signed a Miranda waiver and confessed to the crime.  Shatzer had asked the court to suppress the statements claiming that his initial request for an attorney was valid and any subsequent questioning should be suppressed.  In the majority opinion, written by Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court ruled that enough time had passed between the release and the questioning that there was no reason to believe that his change of heart was coerced.  The prior court holdings which Shatzer was relying on were designed to keep the police from being able to badger a suspect into eventually waiving his right to an attorney.  According to this decision, so long as the defendant is released for at least 14 days and has had an opportunity to return to their normal life, the police can question the defendant again and can get them to waive their right to an attorney and obtain a confession from them.

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

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, February 23, 2010

Article Critical Of Red Light Cameras Published Online

We want to call your attention to an article published on the left-leaning website, AlterNet.  The article discusses the rising use of red light cameras and the backlash from certain communities.  Many of the issues discussed in the article have been the subject of numerous articles on this blog.  For the full article, click here.

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.

Hoffman Estates About To Join Red Light Camera Parade

The Village of Hoffman Estates is the latest local town to make it known that they want to install red light cameras at some of their intersections.  On Monday the Police Chief discussed a proposed contract with a red light camera company at a Village Board Committee meeting.  The cameras will be installed at five intersections:  Higgins and Barrington roads, Higgins and Roselle roads, Golf and Barrington roads, Golf and Bartlett roads and Golf and Sutton roads.  Prior to tickets being mailed out, an employee of the police department would review the violations.  The fine will be $100 and can be paid online.  After 90 days, an unpaid fine would increase to $200.  The full Village Board could vote on this measure by next month.  It could take up to 100 days to get the ok from the Illinois Department of Transportation.  There are no plans to use the red light cameras for right turns on red, but there are preliminary discussions about installing them at northbound Roselle Road turning east on Higgins Road and the other is westbound Higgins Road turning north on Barrington Road from the inside lane.  The Village estimates that each intersection could bring in $356,000 in revenue.  The net profit to the Village would be $312,300 per intersection.  And plans are already being made to spend the revenue.  20% of the revenue will go to the police department and 80% would go to the capital improvement fund.

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 On Miranda Case

Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling on a Miranda case which we have been following since the middle of last year.  We first reported on the case of Kevin Dwayne Powell in a post on June 13, 2009.  We also informed our readers in a post on December 13, 2009 that the Supreme Court had heard oral arguments on the case.  Powell had been convicted of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm.  Today we can report that the Supreme Court upheld the sufficiency of the Miranda warnings given to Powell.  Powell had been informed by the police officer that he had the right to a lawyer before questioning.  He was not informed that he could have a lawyer present during questioning.  The Florida Supreme Court overturned his conviction and found that the warnings given to Powell did not adequately convey that he had a right to an attorney throughout the questioning.  The United States Supreme Court disagreed and found that the warnings given to Powell reasonably conveyed to Powell that he could have a lawyer present throughout the questioning.  The majority opinion was written by Justice GinsbergGinsberg stated that Miranda did not dictate the exact words that have to be in the warnings but that warnings given to Powell essentially conveyed the message required by Miranda.

The case is Florida v. Powell, 08-1175.

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, February 22, 2010

Update on McHenry Prosecutor Case

On June 1, 2009 we published a post about a possible scandal brewing in the McHenry County Prosecutor's Office.  We reported about allegations that were being made by a former secretary to McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi who was alleging that she was doing campaign work for Bianchi while she was working for McHenry County.  On June 10, 2009 we published another post about Bianchi filing a motion in court requesting that an outside prosecutor be appointed to investigate the allegations.  The court eventually appointed outside attorneys to investigate the allegations.  This morning, the Daily Herald is reporting that the McHenry County Finance Committee will soon be considering spending $100,000 to pay for the investigation.  The resolution will permit the county administration to pay up to $100,000 out of the county's general fund contingency budget to pay the legal fees for the outside attorneys hired to investigate the allegations.  A former McHenry County Judge and a former federal prosecutor have been hired to investigate the allegations against Bianchi.  An earlier investigation by a special prosecutor retained by Bianchi's office has already cost the taxpayers of McHenry county $64,155.00.  This earlier investigation led to the arrest of the secretary for removing files from Bianchi's office which led to the secretary's allegations of campaign work being done on county time.

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, February 21, 2010

Red Light Camera Firms Hiring Lobbyists - Getting Ready For Fight

This morning, the Daily Herald published a front page article discussing how the two main red light camera providers in the area, are getting ready for a fight brewing in Springfield over the use of red light cameras.  On February 10, 2010, we published a post about legislation that has been proposed in Springfield that would seriously curtail the use of red light cameras.  Apparently, RedSpeed and Redflex are getting concerned that the growing public outrage about the use of their red light cameras could seriously impact their earnings.  RedSpeed, the main red light camera company for the Northwest suburbs just added a fourth lobbying firm.  Three of the four lobbying firms working for RedSpeed are headed by former state lawmakers.  The article in the Daily Herald details meetings between one of the heads of the lobbying firm with current state lawmakers.  The article details breakfasts and lunch meetings with state lawmakers and email updates that are putting pressure on current state lawmakers to oppose legislation that would curtail the use of red light cameras.  Redflex, the only red light company for Chicago, recently went from one lobbying firm to three.  One of the lobbying firms they hired includes the election attorney for the Democratic Party and top aides to ex-Senate President Emil Jones, Jr and House Republican Leader Tom Cross.  Redflex is clearly trying to cover all their bases.  The article also goes on to list monetary contributions to state lawmakers from the camera firms since this summer.

For the full article, click here.

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, February 19, 2010

Red Light Cameras Coming To Carpentersville

The Village of Carpentersville, in Kane County, has approved the installation of red light cameras at two intersections.  One intersection is Randall Road and Huntley Road and the other is the intersection of Route 68 and Routes 25.  Village Trustees approved the use of red light cameras by a 4 to 3 vote.  They must obtain approval from the Kane County Department of Transportation for the intersection of Randall Road and Huntley Road because Kane County controls that intersection.  The also have to get the approval of the Illinois Department of Transportation to install the red light cameras at the intersection of Routes 68 and 25 because that roadway is controlled by the State of Illinois.  The Village of Carpentersville will be using Redflex for the cameras and will pay them $4,395 per month for each intersection.

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, February 16, 2010

"Covert" Cameras Coming To Chicago

Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weiss has told a local media outlet that the Chicago police department is making plans to someday use tiny "covert" cameras that "fit inside of a match box" and can be moved around without anybody knowing.  Currently, blue-light surveillance have been placed in high crime areas.  They are easy to see and they have flashing blue lights on them.  They virtually announce their presence.  Weiss said that the plan is to turn in some of those big cameras and use the money to buy tiny cameras that can be moved around and keep the bad guys guessing.  No plans for any time table have been announced but clearly some thought and planning has taken place and plans are being made.  
This is something that we should all keep an eye on.  Chicago is clearly committed to moving ahead on a very advanced and involved video surveillance strategy that has gotten the attention of civil libertarians.

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

Valentine's Day Protests Against Red Light Cameras

On Valentine's Day, roughly two dozen citizens gathered at the corner of Addison and Western Avenue in Chicago and protested the use of red light cameras.  They carried signs and urged motorists to honk their horns to protest the use of red light cameras.  They believe that red light cameras are more about generating revenue, at the expense of motorists, than to promote safety.  The City of Chicago starting using red light cameras since 2003.  Recently, the use of these cameras has come under scrutiny as studies are showing that the at many intersections, accidents have actually increased.  

This is the first time we have heard of actual organized protests of red light cameras.  

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, February 13, 2010

FBI May Be Tracking You Through Your Cell Phone

A case pending before the Federal Court of Appeals in Philadelphia is spotlighting the issue of how easy it is for the FBI to track our location through our cell phones.  The case involves an FBI agent who admitted that  he obtained cell phone records on 150 occasions to track the locations of federal fugitives.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU have filed a lawsuit claiming that this raises serious privacy concerns.  On Thursday the Court of Appeals in Philadelphia heard oral arguments on the matter.  People need to understand that cell phones have evolved into pocket-sized computers that allow cell phone operators to be able to pinpoint your location to as little as 150 feet to be able to connect you to the nearest cell phone tower.  In addition, the federal government has required that all cell phone operators provide E911 service that allows emergency response units to know where you are when 911 is called from your phone.  While the ability to find your location may help provide you with the best service and allow emergency personnel to locate you in case of an emergency, it opens to door to serious privacy concerns which need to be addressed by our courts.  Whenever you place a phone call from your cell phone, the location information is stored somewhere by your carrier and can be retrieved later on.  The current laws are outdated and this issue needs to be addressed by our government.

This also raises another issue that I would like to bring to the attention of our readers.  It involves expungement and how it relates to what the federal government knows and how it affects any potential questioning with the federal government.  If you are able to have your state criminal case expunged, there is no guarantee that your record has been expunged from the federal government's records.  A state court judge has no legal authority to order the FBI or Immigration and Naturalization to remove something from their records.  I received a phone call from a potential client this morning who informed me that he has applied for job with the federal government and wanted to know whether he should reveal an arrest for a local offense which was expunged many years ago.  I informed him that there's no way of knowing if the arrest is in some federal database and that the best policy is to answer their questions truthfully if this comes up.  We frequently run into the same issue with clients who have interviews with INS on immigration issues and the question is asked about a crime in which the client was able to have the matter expunged.  The best advice is to answer the question truthfully and assume that the federal government knows about the arrest even though it was expunged at the state level.

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, February 12, 2010

White House Quietly Preparing For Supreme Court Appointment

Sources are indicating that the White House is secretly preparing for a possible opening on the United States Supreme Court.  Sources are indicating that 90 year old Justice John Paul Stevens may be getting ready to announce his retirement.  While Stevens has not been talking about retiring he has not been discouraging talk about his possible retirement.  We first reported about rumors surrounding Justice Stevens possible retirement on September 2, 2009.  Supreme Court observers were noticing that Stevens was hiring fewer clerks as usual.  A possible sign that he was going to be retiring.  When asked about why he hired fewer clerks than necessary Stevens stated that at his age you cannot prepare too much into the future.  The sources are indicating that the same people involved in the appointment of Justice Sotomayor are putting together a game plan.  Speculation is that there would be less pressure on President Obama to appoint a female justice.  Many of the same names that were considered for the Souter vacancy are being mentioned.

We will keep an eye out for any developments.

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.

Obama Urged To Commute Excessive Crack Cocaine Sentence

President Barack Obama is being asked to commute the 27 year prison sentence of a woman charged with dealing crack cocaine.  The woman, Hamedah Hasan, formerly known as Stephanie Lomax, was convicted in 1993 for being involved in a multistate conspiracy to sell crack cocaine.  She had no prior criminal record.  She initially received a life sentence that was reduced to 27 years.  The trial judge reduced her sentence to 12 years but was overturned by the Court of Appeals.  If she had been convicted of dealing powder cocaine, she would have been released from prison a long time ago.  The Obama administration has been vocal in its criticism of the sentencing disparities between powder cocaine and crack cocaine.  The have even called upon Congress to take action on eliminating the disparity.  This case would seem to be a perfect example of the unfairness of the Sentencing Guidelines.  Critics of the Sentencing Guidelines are pleading with President Obama to step in and commute the prison sentence for Hasan.  President Obama, like Presidents Clinton and Bush, has not used his pardon power in his first year in office.  President Clinton ended up pardoning 396 people and commuted the sentences of 61 others.  President Bush ended up pardoning 189 people and commuting the sentences of 11 others, including "Scooter" Libby.  

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, February 11, 2010

Block Bill Collectors: Knowing When They've Crossed The Line

Attorney Sergei Lemberg is a nationally recognized expert in consumer law who has earned a reputation as a tireless consumer advocate.  Mr. Lemberg is an expert in lemon law (, fair debt collection practices (, and other areas of consumer law (  As a service to our readers and our clients, we have invited him to post the following blog:

In today's economy, bill collectors are out for blood, doing everything they can to squeeze every last dime out of consumers.  Like vultures, debt collectors know that you are vulnerable, and they circle around, waiting for an opening to strike.  A bill collector will use a variety of tactics - some legal and some illegal - to break a person's spirit, to incite panic, and to make him or her take desperate measures to make the harassment stop.  Debt collection agencies count on the fact that most consumers don't know the difference between legal and illegal tactics, and don't know hot to block bill collectors.

Knowledge is power, which is why you should know where the law draws the line when it comes to bill collectors.  The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act outlines in detail what constitutes legal and illegal behavior.  Here's a brief rundown:

Phone Calls:  Debt collectors are allowed to call you, unless you've sent them a cease and desist letter (which will effectively block bill collectors, although it won't erase your debt).  However, they can't call you early in the morning, late at night, or at work (unless you've given them permission to do so).  They also can't call so often that you feel harassed by their calls.

Letters and Postcards:  Debt collection agencies can send you letters through the mail, but they're prohibited from sending postcards.  When they send letters, the outside of the envelope can't say that it's from a debt collection agency, or indicate in any way that they're trying to collect a debt.  The prohibition against postcards and blatant envelopes is because the law is meant to protect you from public embarrassment.

Threats:  Debt collectors are notorious for making threats.  Sometimes, they will tell you that they will take away your car or your home.  Unless you've used your vehicle or house for collateral, this is an empty and illegal threat.  Other times, they'll threaten you with arrest or jail time.  Again, this is illegal, and you'll never get arrested for being behind on your bills.  In extreme cases, a debt collector will threaten a consumer with violence, which is totally against the law.

There are many other behaviors and practices that are illegal under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Familiarize yourself with the FDCPA and let the debt collector know in very certain terms that you are aware of your rights and that you will stand up for yourself.  Chances are the bill collector will back down.

We strongly encourage you to contact attorney Sergei Lemberg if you have any questions or need any attorney for consumer law matters.

Photographs Proposed To Be Required With Parking Tickets

Chicago alderman Ginger Rugai, of the 19th Ward, has proposed a sweeping change to the way parking tickets are issued by requiring that parking tickets be accompanied by a photograph.  The proposed ordinance would require that a photograph be attached to every parking ticket issued.  If a photograph is not attached, it would be grounds for dismissal of the ticket.  This proposal would make it easier to challenge a ticket.  Currently, only about 12 percent of parking tickets end up being challenged.  Of the tickets challenged, about 56 percent of those end up going in favor of the motorist.  The thinking is that motorists are reluctant to challenge parking tickets because they don't have any evidence.  Photographs would provide motorists with evidence and make those issuing tickets think twice about whether they have proof of a violation.  Alderman Rugai says that she thought of this after she found out that parking attendants already take pictures 60% of the time they issue a parking ticket.  Her thought was that if they take pictures 60% of the time then why not 100% of the time?  Two years ago the City of Chicago purchased 140 hand-held devices that issue parking tickets and take pictures at the same time.

The City of Chicago issues roughly 2.7 million parking tickets 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.

Cook County Judge Upholds Lidar

A Cook County Judge upheld the admissibility of the Lidar speeding tickets issued by the Chicago Police.  This ruling may put an end to the routine dismissal of the tickets issued as a result of the use of the Lidar device.  Judge Eileen Burke ruled on the admissibility of the device without holding an evidentiary hearing.  The 2nd District Appellate Court upheld a decision by a DuPage County Judge that found that Lidar was scientifically admissible citing rulings by courts throughout the United States.  Based on that decision, Judge Burke ruled that Lidar was scientifically admissible in Cook County.  Whether Judge Burke's ruling will be upheld is yet to be determined.  The attorney for the Defendant in this case has indicated that he may appeal her ruling on the basis that the opinion out of the 2nd District is not binding on Cook County, which is in the 1st District.  And the Cook County States Attorney's Office is not so sure that this decision will be upheld.  They are gearing up for a Frye hearing next month.

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.

Reforms In Processing DNA In Illinois Taking Shape

Efforts are underway in Illinois to change the way DNA evidence in rape cases is processed.  The Chicago Tribune conducted an exhaustive investigation of the problems associated with the Illinois State Police Crime Lab and discovered that many rape kits were not being tested.  A rape kit allows a nurse or a doctor to collect semen, saliva and other potential sources of DNA samples from victims.  The process of securing the DNA evidence can take up to 8 hours but the results can be very powerful.  The results may link an offender to a crime or even exonerate a suspect.  Even when rape kits are submitted to the crime lab, the lab sometimes refused to conduct any testing and returned them to the police agency.  At least 88 rape kits were found to have been returned to the Chicago Police untested.  On February 1, 2010, we published a post describing how an arrest for a 2004 rape was made as a result of the analysis of a rape kit recovered from the basement of the Village of Harvey Police Department in a raid from local authorities in 2007. The International Human Rights Watch estimates that there are at least 4,000 untested rape kits throughout the state.  This is considered a low estimate because only 82 police agencies throughout the State of Illinois have agreed to participate in the reporting process.

The reasons that these rape kits are not being tested are numerous.  One reason is that the prosecutor decided not to press charges.  For example, if a victim acknowledges there was sex but that it was consensual, or the victim recanted the charges, or the victim no longer wishes to pursue charges or the prosecutor and police determine that the victim is not believable.  Another reason given is that federal law requires that that DNA profiles in databases come from a crime.  Their position is that if no charges were filed then no crime.  However, the FBI does not agree with that interpretation of the law.  As long as the prosecutor believes that a crime was committed they can have the DNA analyzed.  However, consensus seems to be gathering around the idea that analysis of all rape kits is required, regardless of whether charges are ever brought.  The main reason seems to be that analysis of all these rape kits may help solve other crimes.  For instance, analysis may reveal whether a serial rapist is involved in the case.  

The Illlinois Attorney General's Office is working on legislation that would require police to submit sexual assault evidence to the state's crime lab with 10 days of picking up the rape kit from the hospital.  In addition, the proposed legislation would require all police agencies to submit all untested rape kits in their possession to the crime lab within 30 days.  

However, the backlog and lack of sufficient funding may cause additional problems.  If the crime lab is swamped with these rape kits, it may force a delay in the testing of DNA evidence from other violent crimes, including ones that are currently pending in court.  In 2009 the lab received 5,758 cases.  About one-third of them involved sex crimes.  The backlog was becoming a problem but after they received a $2.5 million federal grant, they have made great progress in reducing the backlog.  However, if thousands of rape kits are are submitted, the resources of the crime lab will be stretched.  Any proposed legislation must address this potential problem.

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, February 10, 2010

Proposed Legislation Affecting Red Light Cameras

In response to the public complaints regarding red light cameras, Illinois legislators are proposing legislation that seeks to address these complaints.  Illinois State Senator John Millner, a Carol Stream Republican and former police chief has proposed legislation that would require that red light cameras be painted yellow and signs would be clearly posted that would remind drivers that they must stop at a red light.  In addition, the legislation would require that police officers review violations before tickets are mailed out.  However, this legislation does not address the numerous stories published in the past year about these red light cameras.  Most of the $100 tickets issued were because of people turning right on a red light.  Most experts consider this maneuver to be much less dangerous than driving straight through on a red light.  In addition many cameras were found to have been set up at intersections that had a history of  very few accidents.  And at many intersections in which red light cameras were placed, accidents actually increased.

On the other end of the spectrum, State Senator Dan Duffy, a Barrington Republican, is putting together legislation that would bar local police agencies of their ability to use red light cameras.  Under his proposal, red light cameras could only be used at rail crossings and at construction zones.

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 Court Overturns Precedent On Strip Searches Of Prisoners

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that strip searches of all incoming inmates does not violate the Fourth Amendment.  This decision overturned a 1984 decision by the same court which limited strip searches to inmates accused of violent or drug related crimes.  The Court upheld the strip search policy of San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey who enacted a policy of strip searches of all incoming inmates.  Sheriff Hennessey claimed he enacted the new policy in response to the rising amounts of drugs and weapons being brought into his jail.  Procedurally, the trial court had denied Sheriff Hennessey's Motion for Summary Judgment.  By ruling that the policy did not violate the Fourth Amendment they reversed the trial court and granted Sheriff Hennessey's Motion for Summary Judgment.  The Court found that the policy is reasonable considering the nature of the prison system and the documented evidence of illegal drugs and weapons entering prisons.

What remains to be seen is what impact this decision and this policy of strip searches will have on the amount of drugs and weapons that enter Sheriff Hennessey's prison.   In other words, is the problem with drugs and weapons a result of what is brought in by the inmates or what is brought in by visitors or employees of the Sheriff's Department?

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.

Illegal Immigrant Population Declined Last Year

The United States Department of Homeland Security released a report today which estimates that the total number of illegal immigrants living in the United States fell to 10.8 million during the year ending January of 2009.  This figure represents a seven percent decline from 11.6 million in January of 2008.  The 10.8 million figure is the smallest number of illegal immigrants since 2005 when there were an estimated 10.5 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.  A Pew Hispanic Center report released in July of 2009 seems to suggest that the decline is attributable to decreased numbers of immigrants coming into the United States rather than illegal immigrants leaving the United States and going back into Mexico.  While the recession has played a role in the decreased number of illegal immigrants, it is not yet clear to what extent the recession has impacted these figures.

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, February 4, 2010

Ex-Niles Cop Charged With Stealing From Dead Man's Room

An ex-Niles police officer has been accused of stealing about $1,700 from a dead man's YMCA room.  William Christie surrendered to police today and appeared at the Skokie Courthouse for a bond hearing.  He is charged with theft and official misconduct.  In November of 2009, Christie responded to a call of a man found dead in a YMCA.  Christie sealed off the room and informed personnel at the YMCA that they could not enter the room.  Over the next few days he entered the room numerous times.  This made the YMCA personnel suspicious and they contacted the Niles police.  Apparently, the Niles police placed a camera in the room which showed Christie stealing cash and putting it in a cardboard box.  Bank records from Christie's credit union account show that on the day he was taped putting the money in a cardboard box he deposited about $500 in coins into his bank account.  Shortly after the man died, Christie contacted the victim's only survivor, his sister, and offered to clean out the room for her.  He ended up sending her $274 claiming that this amount represented all the money he recovered from the room.

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.

Criminal Charges Will Not Be Brought Against Cop Accused Of False DUI Arrests

The Cook County States Attorney's Office has decided not to file criminal charges against Chicago police officer Richard Fiorito.  We first reported about Officer Fiorito in a post published on October 6, 2009.  Officer Fiorito is the subject of several federal lawsuits claiming he made up evidence that motorists he was arresting were driving under the influence of alcohol.  Our post of October 6, 2009 detailed how a video of an arrest made by Fiorito showed that the driver was not intoxicated and that Fiorito had falsely arrested the motorist.  On Tuesday the Cook County State's Attorney decided not to file any criminal charges against Fiorito claiming that they did not have sufficient evidence to convict him of any crimes.  On November 17, 2009 we published another post about Officer Fiorito.  In that post we gave credit to the Cook County State's Attorney, Anita Alvarez, for doing the right thing and dismissing DUI charges against many motorists who had been arrested by Fiorito.  It is hard to understand how the same State's Attorney who decided to drop DUI charges against motorists arrested by Fiorito determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge him with any crimes.  Some things just don't make sense.

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, February 1, 2010

Evidence Recovered From Raid Of Harvey Police Department Leads To Charges

In 2007, the Cook County States Attorney, State of Illinois Police and The Cook County Sheriff's Department raided the Village of Harvey police station in search of lost evidence of serious crimes that had gone unsolved for years.  Approximately 200 rape kits were recovered from the basement of the police station.  None of the rape kits recovered had been tested.  One of the rape kits recovered led to charges in a rape that occurred in 2004.  The DNA recovered from that rape kit led to a hit in a national computer database.  The individual, currently in custody on an unrelated drug charge, was brought to Cook County where bond was set at $1.5 million.  The individual arrested has an extensive criminal record having previously been convicted of weapon and drug charges.  The evidence seized from the raids of the Harvey police station has already lead to dozens of arrests and charges in murder cases, shootings and rape cases.

At least one investigator continues to work on the evidence seized from the raids.

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 Stresses Importance Of Open Criminal Trials

Last week, the United States Supreme Court issued a per curiam decision stressing the importance of criminal trials being open to the public throughout all its stages.  A per curiam decision is one that is based on written pleadings without any oral arguments being heard.  The case involved Eric Presley, who was convicted of trafficking cocaine in Georgia.  He challenged his conviction on the basis that the public, namely his uncle, were excluded from the courtroom during the jury voir dire process.  The judge believed that there was not enough room in the courtroom and did not want his uncle sitting next to a juror and possibly tainting the jury.  The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the conviction but was divided on the issue.  The United States Supreme Court disagreed and ruled that the trial court had an affirmative duty to seek alternatives to preserve the notion of open trials.  They stated that the public has a First Amendment right to have access to the court proceedings and the defendant had a Sixth Amendment right to a public jury selection.  The court held that "trial courts are obligated to take every reasonable measure to accommodate public attendance at criminal trials."    They also stated that "the public has the right to be present whether or not any party has asserted the right."  The dissent, lead by Justice Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, criticized the majority for deciding the issue without hearing oral arguments.

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.

Moving Into 21st Century - Chicago Police To Text And Email Alerts

The Chicago Police have announced that they have set up a service that sends text messages and email alerts from everything to child abductions to traffic jams.  The City signed up with Nixle, a free service that sends text messages and email messages to registered users.  The service went live in Chicago on Sunday.  About 6,000 people had signed up for the service by the time it went live yesterday.  Users can sign up to receive messages for their neighborhood, their child's school, or citywide.  The messages may also include photographs, such as for alerts involving missing persons or abducted children.  Roughly 3,600 police departments and public service agencies have signed up with Nixle since it started last year.  Last year the Chicago Police launched their own Facebook page called Blog 501.

To sign up to this service please click here.

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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