Monday, November 12, 2012

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Judge's Acquittal Made by Mistake

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a Michigan case which involves the Fifth Amendment.  The case involves a defendant charged with setting fire to a vacant house.  Midway through the trial, the judge stopped the jury trial and found the defendant not guilty based on a mistaken reading and interpretation of the law.  The question presented is whether the criminal defendant can be retried after he is acquitted by a judge  if the mistake is based on a mistaken interpretation of the law?  The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits a defendant from being tried twice for the same offense.  This is commonly known as the Double Jeopardy Clause.  The Michigan courts ruled that the Double Jeopardy Clause does not apply and that the defendant could be retried because the mistake means that the defendant was not truly acquitted.   In oral arguments before the Supreme Court last week, the Justice's appeared to be reluctant to uphold the Michigan Courts interpretation of the Double Jeopardy Clause.  Both liberal and conservative justices expressed skepticism at the Michigan Courts reasoning and it appears as if the Michigan ruling will be struck down and that the defendant will not be retried again.

A ruling is should be coming by next June.  The case is Evans v. Michigan, 11-1327.

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, November 11, 2012

Supreme Court to Consider Whether Police Can Collect DNA at Arrest

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case which will determine whether the police can collect the DNA of people who are merely arrested for serious crimes.  The case involves the rape conviction of Alonzo Jay King Jr. in Maryland.  The Maryland Supreme Court threw out his conviction because he was arrested for an unrelated charge years later and a cheek swab was taken which linked him to the rape.  26 states and the federal government routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested.  The Maryland Supreme Court ruled that DNA samples contained highly personal information and that the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from having to provide DNA samples before they have been convicted of a crime.  In July, Chief Justice John Roberts blocked the Maryland Supreme Court ruling which had been blocking the State of Maryland from collecting DNA from people who have been arrested.  Earlier this year, in a 5 to 4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the strip searches of newly arrested citizens.  The decision in this case will have national ramifications.  Maryland is linked to a national DNA database which stores DNA samples.

Oral arguments will be held in February or March and a decision should be released by June of 2013.  The case is Maryland v. King, 12-207.

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, November 10, 2012

Supreme Court Hears Immigration Warnings Case

The United States Supreme Court has heard oral arguments on animmigration case that could have sweeping ramifications for thousands of criminal defendants.  In March of 2010 in Padilla v. Kentucky, theSupreme Court ruled that immigrants must be informed of theimmigration consequences of a plea of guilty to a criminal charge.  The question before the Supreme Court in this case is whether the rule inPadilla should be applied retroactively.  If the court does apply the Padilla rule retroactively, this would open the door to countless criminal defendants who were sentenced for a criminal conviction and had never been informed about the immigration consequences of a plea of guilty.  These defendants could come back to court and seek to have their criminal convictions set aside of the court applies the Padilla rule retroactively.  Since the Padilla decision in 2010 courts have been split on whether to apply the Padilla rule retroactively.  The current case involves Mexican citizen Roselva Chaidez  who applied for citizenship in 2009 and disclosed that she had been convicted for an insurance fraud scheme many years earlier.  Chaidez had a green card.  Once the conviction was disclosed the government sought to remove her from the country because of the criminal conviction. Chaidez argued that her lawyer never informed her of the immigration consequences of her guilty plea, thus constituting ineffective assistance of counsel.  In August of 2001 the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Chaidez by finding that since Padilla introduced a new constitutional requirement, based on Supreme Court precedent, the Padilla rule could not be applied retroactively.  In arguments before the United States Supreme Court, Chaidez's attorneys argue that Padilla merely confirmed a longstanding principle that criminal defendants have the right to a reasonably competent attorney.  The government argued that the 2010 Padilla decision announced a new rule.  Twenty-eight states joined the Federal Government fearing that if Chaidez prevails there will be a flood of old cases opened up seeking to throw out criminal convictions.

The case is Chaidez v. United States, No. - 11-820.

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

Schaumburg Police Getting Cameras

The Village of Schaumburg has appropriated $334,620 to equip all of their police squad cars and motorcycles with cameras.  The Village has hired CDS Office Technologies to provide 40 in camera systems for the Villages police cars and motorcycles.  The Village is paying $34,802 of the cost while the remainder is being paid by the State of Illinois.  The plan is to install the Panasonic Toughbook Arbitrator 360 degree system in all the squad cars.  The system will feature a forward facing camera in front of the squad car, a rear facing camera and two outward side facing cameras.  The camera installation is expected to be completed by January of 2013.  The purpose is to provide for officer safety and to provide evidence in criminal cases, such as DUI cases.  Another reason for installing cameras is to assist in cases where citizens file complaints against police officers.  A 2006 study the International Association of Chiefs of Police shows that roughly half of such complaints are withdrawn once video evidence is shown.  The cameras will only be installed in vehicles driven by patrol officers.  They will not be installed in vehicles driven by detectives, community service officers or canine units.

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, November 6, 2012

Troubling Fourth Amendment Ruling in Wisconsin

A federal judge in Wisconsin has ruled that the police did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they secretly placed cameras on private property without a warrant.  The police suspected that the defendants were growing marijuana in an open field in Wisconsin. They placed cameras on the field and recorded incriminating images and discussions by the defendants. They eventually obtained a warrant but want to use the images recorded by the cameras before the warrant was obtained.  The defendants were seeking to suppress the images obtained before the warrant was issued.  The federal judge presiding over the case denied the Motion to Suppress by ruling that the Fourth Amendment only protects private residences and not open fields far from any residence.  The property in question was heavily wooded and clearly marked by "no trespassing" signs.  In spite of this the judge did not find that this established a "reasonable expectation of privacy" requiring the application of the Fourth Amendment.  The judge reasoned that if the police could conduct surveillance in person they could use electronic means to conduct the same surveillance.  But aside from the fact that the property was clearly marked with signs indicating that the public was not invited, the fact that the court allows such surveillance is a dramatic increase in the power of government to infringe on the public's right to privacy.  Its much easier for the police to install electronic surveillance devices in more places than they could use officers to conduct that surveillance. That dramatically increases the power of government to conduct surveillance. The Courts should be looking at this type of surveillance in a much more strict manner than this case suggests.

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 Hears Eavesdropping Case Today

The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a lawsuit brought by lawyers, journalists and civil rights organizations challenging the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which allows for the government to eavesdrop on telephone and email communications between people in the United states and foreign countries without a warrant.  The plaintiffs claim that the fear that they may be intercepted causes them to adopt costly measures to avoid having their communications intercepted.  The Supreme Court is not considering the legalchicity of this law. Rather, they are considering whether the plaintiff's in this case have the legal standing to even bring such a lawsuit.  The warrant-less wiretapping program was put into effect by President Bush after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 without any Congressional authority. The program ended in 2007 but was reinstated by Congress in 2008.  The government is claiming that the plaintiffs cannot show that they have personally been harmed by the measure or by any wiretapping.  The plaintiffs argue that nobody could ever know if they are being wiretapped and that some of the people being listened in to would be foreign nationals who would not be allowed to contest the law anyway.  The decision in this case is not going to resolve this issue anyway.  The court is not considering the legality of this law at this time and even if it were to ever have to consider the legality of the law, the government could always claim that any challenge to the law would involve exposing state secrets.  

The case is Clapper v. Amnesty International.

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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