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tim-graf-202490-copy-300x200The 7th circuit appeal court has just considered the case of Joseph Doornbos. This case highlights some of the important things for residents of Chicago to consider when they are stopped and searched. It specifically looks at pat-downs and whether the police have to have reasonable grounds for suspicion before they act.

In this case, the search was done by law enforcement agents that were not in uniform (plain clothes agents). They confronted the suspect and tackled him to the ground as he was leaving a train station. Later on, they charged him with resisting an arrest, but he was acquitted on that charge.

The Issues of the Case

kristina-flour-185592-copy-300x192In a case of double jeopardy, a Chicago cop pleaded the Fifth at trial involving friend’s shooting at his home.

A police officer recently refused to answer questions regarding a baffling shooting that took place near his house almost seven years ago. The officer, following advice from his counsel, pleaded the fifth in a federal court regarding his integrity and wrongful shooting attempts. Patrick Kelly, a veteran patrolman, declined to give answers to a number of questions on the mysterious shooting and his puzzling record before Judge Harry Lienenweber. The United States District Magistrate dismissed the police officer as a witness during the hearing of the domestic case. Anthony Monaco, the attorney defending Kelly, did not give any reasons as to why his client did not testify.

On the 12th of January, 2010, Kelly and his childhood friend, Michael La Porta, were at Kelly’s home on the South Side. Michael was shot in the back of his head by Kelly’s service gun. They had been drinking heavily that night. According to Chicago police, the shooting was classified as an endeavored suicide. This decision was reached based on Kelly’s account since he was the only one at his place during the incident.

sebastian-pichler-25154-copy-300x200After a conviction for any type of criminal offense in Chicago, the defendant is given the chance to post a criminal defense appeal. It is the right of the defendant. Often, excluding certain cases, this appeal takes place in an intermediate appellate court. Every defendant in Chicago who is condemned of a crime has the right to put in an appeal. The appellate court cannot deny hearing the case.

Let’s say the appeal is unsuccessful in the intermediary court. The defendant is convicted of the crime yet again. As such, the defendant’s further petition is not sanctioned. This was proved in one recent case. In it, the defendant filed an appeal to disqualify the trial judge from future post-conviction proceedings. But when the motion was filed, the defendant had no pending cases. The defendant’s petition was thus denied since the motion was void ab initio.

That being said, a defendant can put forward a request to appeal to the Supreme Court of Illinois in hopes that the court will accord his or her request. Such requests are rarely granted. Often, the court accedes to appeals in cases in which interesting legal topics have been settled in different ways by several intermediary courts hearing the case.

kristina-flour-185592-copy-300x192On August 24th, 2017, Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 2373. This bill creates a better future for citizens with criminal records. It increases the amount of convictions that can be sealed by Illinois law. It has made Illinois the national leader in restoring the lives of those affected by the system. It concentrates on lowering habits related to crime. This ensures that Illinois families get better housing, education, and employment.

The new House Bill (HB) 2373 assists those in Illinois with criminal records fulfil their potential. Such citizens can now request judicial action to remove these records from public access.

Many organizations were busy pushing this law through. The same were claiming victory when the law was enacted on August 24, 2017. According to Governor Bruce Rauner, “Signing HB 2373 is another important step forward in our ongoing effort to make the Illinois criminal justice system more efficient and effective. This law will help people with criminal records obtain jobs, safe housing, and high-quality education, thereby reducing the likelihood of re-incarceration.”

javier-villaraco-235574-copy-300x225There has been a preliminary hearing to consider whether the civil rights of a prisoner who has been in solitary confinement for eight years were violated. This was not a final ruling but rather permission to proceed with the case. That means that there was either probable cause or serious constitutional issues that had to be dealt with by the court on the case.

The full court reversed a summary judgement that had earlier been passed against a federal inmate. The prisoner had brought a petition about his constitutional due process and rights. Aaron Isby had been convicted of robbery as well as serious bodily harm in 1989. He was imprisoned at the Pendleton Correctional Facility.

When an inmate, Isby had had an altercation with a counselor. He was gassed and apprehended by a cell-extraction team. A dog died during the incident. The inmate actually stabbed two officers. This led to a charge and conviction of attempted murder as well as battery. Another 40 years were added to his sentence.

dan-gold-240112-copy-169x300The use of dogs for gathering police evidence has been debated at the highest levels of the criminal justice system. The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals recently considered the matter and made a ruling that could potentially have far-reaching consequences.

The key issue was the extent to which the law enforcement agencies should be able to rely on K-9 partners when making a decision as to whether to search a person or not. There are vehicle sniff directives for law enforcement agencies in place even without this trial.

In the case of Lex, the dog was not considered to be adequately trained or talented enough to be able to make a decision either way. The case was brought by Larry Bentley Jr. He had been sentenced to 20 years in jail for being found in possession of controlled substances.

aidan-bartos-313782-copy-300x200Although the entrapment defense against a charge of bribery is considered to be largely ineffective by many lawyers, it is nonetheless quite capable of leading to an acquittal. For recent cases, the collapsed trial of former Representative Ray Frias has shown that it is quite possible for an effective lawyer to make use of this unique defense strategy.

The defense in this case was so unlikely that other parties to the trial, including Lawrence Bloom, considered it to be a model for their own trials. Nevertheless, it is imperative that defendants think carefully before choosing this option.

For a start, it requires a complete confession and admission of the material facts in the case. For a politician, that can spell political doom since opponents will have a pre-prepared oppositional research statement from the admission.

chris-lawton-357168-copy-300x200For purposes of the law in Chicago, vehicular hijacking covers a range of vehicles, including boats. The key issues that arise when facing such a charge can be understood by looking at the example of a rather hapless Chicago teen who stole an SUV belonging to the FBI. There were several criminal matters arising out of that act that would all be considered during the trial.

First of all, the teenager was on probation and already had an extensive criminal record. The probation violations were dealt with as a separate issue but also one that could aggravate the crime despite the fact that the perpetrator  was a minor. His lawyers inevitably wanted to minimize evidence of his past crimes as much as allowable under the current law.

Compounding and Relevant Factors

esther-tuttle-280714-copy-300x200There are instances in which the crime of being in possession of a stolen motor vehicle is a carrier or access crime. You need a team of competent lawyers in order to avoid upgrading the charges unnecessarily. The car being the instrument for committing the crime or getting away from the crime, it is often a minor charge when compared with the principal charge of robbery or even homicide. The case of Jamie Thurnau and Jorge Chavez demonstrates the wide range of possible charges after the arrest. The actual charge sheet included the possession of a stolen car and also resisting arrest. Further charges of burglary, aggravated battery, and fleeing police were later added.

The fact that the offenders injured a law enforcement agent during the commission of the crime is an aggravating feature that will be considered by the court during the sentencing phase. A prior warrant of arrest was being executed when the pair drove off from a Walmart parking lot. The accumulation of charges brings into question the Mens Rea element of the criminal conduct. The acts of fleeing and even injuring the police may have occurred as described by the prosecutor, but it is an entirely different matter to prove that these acts were foreplanned with malice in mind. This is often the crux of the defense strategy. They may acknowledge the factual basis of the case but then dispute the motivations in order to throw doubt on the case.

Ranking Different Crimes that Occur at the Same Moment

kevin-gent-219197-copy-300x200Of late, the DCFS (Illinois Department of Children and Family Services) in Chicago has been under fire for not properly enforcing child protection law. For example, children have died despite the fact that the department had already instituted proceedings. Many argue that the law was there to protect the victims, but its enforcement fell way below the standards that were originally envisaged by the legislature when they wrote the law. The case of Manuel Aguilar is harrowing. The 4-year-old was found burned and badly damaged in an abandoned home. The body was so malnourished and wasted that the first responders at first wrongly assumed that he was no older than a year. The lawyers started to unpack the true horror of the story during the proceedings.

The subsequent investigation showed that the victim had spent the best part of a year in an unheated room begging for food and water. He was beaten, starved, and forced to sleep in a cat litter box. His biological mother, Alyssa Garcia, and her teenage boyfriend stuffed the dead body in a bag and set it on fire in an abandoned house. Previously, the DCFS had opened and closed a number of cases relating to the family following complaints of persistent child abuse. An investigation found clerical errors in files and failures to follow up on complaints as well as muddled witness accounts.


Third Parties Who Were Never Interviewed as Part of Child Protection Proceedings