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Articles Posted in Criminal defense

marco-chilese-2sMbKyQvom4-unsplash-copy-200x300R. Kelly has been denied a request to seek release from jail during the coronavirus outbreak. The disgraced singer’s attorneys filed a request for bond with the U.S. District Court in Chicago. Attorneys for Kelly claimed that because of his advanced age (53) he was at high risk of contracting and suffering severe symptoms of the coronavirus. Kelly’s attorneys also stated that hand sanitizer and soap are difficult to find at the present moment and that inmates are kept in small cells and are not practicing social distancing.

Nonetheless, the court rejected Kelly’s request and the embattled pop star is not elderly enough to be considered in the high-risk group. Kelly had also undergone a recent surgery for a hernia, but the court ruled that it did not place him in a substantially higher risk group than others. Lastly, federal authorities reported that the prison has enough soap and hand sanitizer for everyone. The final nail in the coffin was that there were no reports of the virus among inmates.

Prosecutors Cite Kelly as a Flight Risk

mark-condy-ju2i2Ajqq_8-unsplash-copy-300x225Each state has its own laws when dealing with quarantine orders. There are also federal laws that lay out penalties for violating a quarantine order. These laws vary widely from one state to another. In some places, like Florida, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and face six months in county jail. 

The City of Chicago and the State of Illinois have their own measures in place for meting out punishment for those who violate a quarantine order. In this article, we will take a look at what the law says about staying indoors during this difficult period.

All Sick People: Shelter in Place

fabio-bracht-e3oE-l-rtpA-unsplash-copy-300x225In the age of the coronavirus, crime still exists even as the courts are mostly shut down across the United States and especially here in Illinois. In fact, throughout much of the U.S., the criminal justice system is on pause. However, in Missouri, one man has been charged with making terrorist threats after he videoed himself licking deodorant in a Missouri Walmart. 

Cody Lee Pfister was arrested by the Warrenton police department after posting the video to social media on March 11. The Warren County Prosecutor’s Office has charged him with making terrorist threats in the second degree. The allegations read something like: Pfister knowingly caused a false belief or fear that a condition or danger was present that involved a danger to life. He did this with reckless disregard of the risk of stirring panic, evacuation, quarantine, or closure.

Making a Terrorist Threat in the Second-Degree

tim-graf-202490-copy-300x200A Chicago jury has convicted Shomari Legghette of the first-degree murder of Chicago police officer Paul Bauer. Legghette attempted to say that the shooting was in self-defense, but the jury listened to evidence that Bauer had pursued Legghette after other officers called in suspicious activity around the Thompson Center. Bauer was in uniform at the time of the shooting but was wearing a jacket over his uniform, bolstering the defense’s argument that Legghette had no reason to believe that Bauer was a police officer. 

Bauer pursued Legghette on foot and a fight broke out. The two ended up tumbling down the stairs. The prosecution asked jurors to focus on the 25 seconds between when the fall happened and the sound of gunfire. Much of the incident was caught on video. Prosecutors said that Legghette should have figured the situation out when he saw Bauer with handcuffs and noticed his police radio on full volume. 

Legghette Fails to Testify

rawpixel-1055781-unsplash-1-300x201Monday, a judge delayed the trial of former Lake County councilman Jamal A. Washington. Washington is being charged for the third time with domestic battery. The initial date had been set for April, but Washington’s attorney asked for a continuance because he plans on calling more witnesses than he had originally listed.  

The 46-year-old Washington has been convicted twice of domestic battery. In this case, Washington is accused of striking Gary Councilwoman LaVetta Sparks-Wade and holding her against her will for nearly 16 hours in her own home. 

The continuance will allow the prosecution to depose the witnesses prior to the trial and allow the defense to introduce what is more than likely to be exculpatory evidence on Washington’s behalf. 

joshua-coleman-ZVkDLrXGMdw-unsplash-copy-300x208Federal agents have seized 100 electronic devices after executing a search warrant of R. Kelly’s property. The seizure has resulted in a postponement of R. Kelly’s trial while investigators and prosecutors determine whether or not there is any new information that can potentially be used to charge Kelly with more crimes. 

The information came out during a routine arraignment during which Kelly was being charged with abusing a minor victim over the course of four years beginning in 1997. 

The trial had been set for April 27 but is now likely to be postponed while investigators determine whether or not there is anything actionable on the iPads, cell phones, and other electronic devices found in the raid. 

matt-popovich-60437-copy-300x162The trial of Shomari Legghette is set to begin. Legghette is charged with murdering 31-year Chicago police commander Paul Bauer after the two men tussled in a stairwell outside the Thompson Center in February of 2018. Legghette faces an uphill battle. Legghette faces a first-degree murder charge along with several drug and weapons charges. Legghette, who is a four-time convicted felon, may take the stand on his own behalf. He will say that the killing was in self-defense and the defense will introduce evidence that Bauer and Legghette had a long acrimonious history.

Taking the Stand on Your Own Behalf

The decision to place a defendant who is facing criminal charges on the stand is a difficult one for an attorney to make. If you allow your client to take the stand, it opens the prosecution up to bring in other evidence of past crimes. In this case, however, the defense may have no choice. It is common for those who argue that a killing was justified because it was done in self-defense to take the stand.

ryan-ei-cl8xcbco-unsplash-copy-300x200Hours after sharing a meal together, an unnamed woman shot and killed her boyfriend, Steef Giovanni Corniel. The woman told police that Corniel had struck her several times and been physically abusive in the past. She said that Corniel had struck her while she was driving and later choked her at her apartment. He also threatened to kill her mother, according to the woman.

River Grove police chief Mike Konwinski believes the woman should be charged with murder, but Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx says that there is not enough evidence to prosecute. Corniel’s family believes that the woman should be charged and in a statement, Corniel’s grandfather claimed that the killing was not self-defense, it was murder.

What Happened?

rawpixel-1055781-unsplash-1-300x201The former Empire star who allegedly got himself beat up to provoke racial tensions could still face the same charges again. Typically, double jeopardy would prevent such a trial from ever occurring, but a little-known precedent established right here in Cook County may allow prosecutors to file charges again after charges against Smollett were dropped by lead prosecutor Kim Foxx.

Prosecutors will use the long-decided case of mafia enforcer Harry “The Hook” Aleman as precedent for bringing new charges against Smollett. In Aleman’s case, Cook County judge Michael Toomin ruled that because the judge in the original case had been bribed, the failed conviction and consequent acquittal did not count and allowed Aleman to be charged again with the same crimes

Toomin is the same judge who will hear prosecution arguments as to why Smollett should be tried again. The argument appears to be that Foxx should have recused herself from the case and since she did not, the entire episode was invalid from start to finish.

mihai-surdu-DeI2BMIMDFA-unsplash-copy-300x200Both sides finished their closing arguments and the jury began deliberating on the fate of Harvey Weinstein, the once-powerful movie producer who has been implicated in hundreds of accusations of predatory sexual abuse. The judge delivered instructions to jurors to “use their common sense” which is generally good for prosecutors and bad for defendants, as common sense has a way of siding with authority in these matters. However, in this case, the judge’s directives may have echoed the closing arguments of Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno, who specializes in sexual assault criminal defense.

Nonetheless, jurors sent a note asking for the legal definition of consent and forcible compulsion and questioned why Weinstein was not charged in connection with the alleged rape of actress Annabella Sciorra.

Further instructions stipulated that jurors who found Weinstein not guilty of one count must find him not guilty of other counts, as well. The judge defined forcible sexual intercourse and predatory sexual assault, among other terms, for the jurors.