Judge Allows suit challenging Chicago ban on Topless Female performances to proceed

 

By Jake Morask

Per Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABAJournal, a Transgender Woman’s ongoing lawsuit against Chicago’s ban on  topless female performances at liquor establishments will be allowed to proceed thanks to U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood.

Bea Sullivan-Knoff is claiming in her suit challenging Chicago’s ban on topless female performers that the ordinance is a double standard that violates the equal protection clause and is “unconstitutionally vague when applied to Transgender people.”  There is no ordinance against male topless performances and according to Judge Wood, Chicago’s justification for that is based on the notion that a woman’s body has a higher capacity to excite arousal than a males, but noted that notion may be founded in sexist assumptions and “societies sexual objectification of women.” A motion to dismiss the suit was denied just a few weeks ago, so this is another victory for Bea Sullivan-Knoff. As for what the actual performance is, Weiss explained “In one of Sullivan-Knoff’s acts, she appears on stage with a brown paper bag over her head that reads, “Touch Me.” She wears only a sheet, Wood wrote. Audience members are invited to touch Sullivan-Knoff’s body, and after a set period of time, she removes the bag. Sullivan-Knoff says she fears legal repercussions if she continues to perform the act.” The act was intended to show how the government controls and objectifies Transgender bodies and dictates the terms of their identities. If Sullivan-Knoff succeeds in her suit, the victory would highlight how there is a double standard in how male, female, and transgender bodies are allowed to be depicted is undoubtedly true. In so many sporting events and public places in general, men’s bodies are flaunted freely and without issue but there are ordinances controlling how women can express theirs.  So, there has been a clear attempt by society to control women’s bodies through attempts at abortion bans, attacks on maternity leave, and yes, ordinances such as the ones Sullivan-Knoff is challenging. There has been an even clearer attempt at controlling and demonizing Transgender bodies; i.e. bathroom bans, bans on Transgender people serving in the military, dog whistling political ads and yes, again ordinances like this one. Hopefully the wave of hatred and hypocrisy ends soon.

if you find yourself having any employment law legal needs feel free as always to contact the Law Offices Of Laura Morask.

Chicago Department of Transportation pushing for expansion of traffic cameras

Per Megan hickey of CbsChicago, the Chicago Department of Transportation is pushing for new traffic cameras that would monitor who blocks busy intersections. Drivers are already pretty pissed off about the idea, although a study from Northwestern University Transportation Center found that more red light cameras decrease accidents and increase safety benefits. But drivers aren’t sold. From the article, people like Dan Wyrobek think they “cause more harm than good” and implied this was more about revenue making than keeping people safe. Laura Perry, another driver interviewed in the article, stated she just wished people would use their brains. As the article notes, more red light cameras would require changing the current law to expand the amount of red light cameras the state is allowed to use. This was what CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld was pushing for in her statements Tuesday. Expanding police powers is dangerous to privacy in my opinion and like some of the interviewees from the article, I question if there is better use of police time.

Chicago Department of Transportation pushing for expansion of traffic cameras

Per Megan hickey of CbsChicago, the Chicago Department of Transportation is pushing for new traffic cameras that would monitor who blocks busy intersections. Drivers are already pretty pissed off about the idea, although a study from Northwestern University Transportation Center found that more red light cameras decrease accidents and increase safety benefits. But drivers aren’t sold. From the article, people like Dan Wyrobek think they “cause more harm than good” and implied this was more about revenue making than keeping people safe. Laura Perry, another driver interviewed in the article, stated she just wished people would use their brains. As the article notes, more red light cameras would require changing the current law to expand the amount of red light cameras the state is allowed to use. This was what CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld was pushing for in her statements Tuesday. Expanding police powers is dangerous to privacy in my opinion and like some of the interviewees from the article, I question if there is better use of police time.

Illinois state troopers no longer face zero tolerance marijuana testing

Per Rachel Doze of Newschannel20, the Illinois state legislature has decided to override a governors veto of a bill that would stop the automatic firing of illinois state troopers if they tested positive for marijuana. Now the law reads that state troopers may be fired if they test positive, not they shall be. The wording change may be small but it’s important. This news comes in the wake of the election of a governor in Pritzker who has vowed to make marijuana legal recreationally. There’s still some kinks that need to be worked out when it comes to how public service employees consume marijuana and the possible liability problems of being high on the job.

https://newschannel20.com/news/local/legislature-overrides-governors-veto-of-isp-zero-tolerance-bill

Montana judge rules first amendment doesn’t protect Nazis from liability for anti Semitic Harassing

◦ Per the Southern Poverty Law Institute, “Chief Judge Dana L. Christensen of the U.S. District court for the District of Montana ruled today that the first amendment does not protect Andrew Anglin, the publisher of the neo-nazi website Daily Stormer, from liability for his decision to launch an antisemitic “troll storm” directed at Tanya Gersh, a Jewish real estate agent in Whitefish Montana.” The SPLC took Gersh on as a client in 2017 to sue Andrew and his fiends from the daily stormer for the vicious harassment they dolled out to Gersh and her family, including 700 harassing messages over the course of 4 months. The terrorism began after Anglin accused Gersh of extorting money from the mother of another prominent Nazi, Richard Spencer. This made Gersh a primary target of these prominent and vicious nazis. They then used their online army of cowards to try and destroy this women’s life. Thankfully a courageous Gersh and the SPLC took them on and with this news scored a big victory for themselves and hopefully the future. The still on going lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages while outlining how Anglin violated the Montana anti intimidation Act. But this ruling is especially enormous in outlining what the plaintiffs were seeking- That online campaigns of hatred and intimidation are not free speech protected from liability.

Thanksgiving DUI Checkpoints

turkey-1509892148JyBWe here at LauraLaw want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.  With all of the family time, avoiding political debates, and football watching, you might be inclined to imbibe in some adult beverages.  Beware out there!  There are almost always DUI Checkpoints set up for “Blackout Wednesday,” Thanksgiving, and Black Friday.  The safest way to avoid DUI Checkpoints is to take a taxi, Uber, Lyft, or ride from your mom.  If you find yourself parked on the side of the road with police lights flashing in your rear view mirror, remember to be polite, refuse to perform field sobriety tests, refuse to submit to a breath or blood test, make no statements, and call one of our experienced attorneys!  We will help you navigate the complex web of DUI Checkpoint law and license suspensions law that you will have to fight.

Here’s to hoping you are not arrested for DUI, that you have a great Thanksgiving, and that you remember what it is you are thankful for!

College Sexual Harassment Contoversy Part II

U of I chancellor Apologizes for Kesan Harassment Controversy; Vows to Improve Process.

 

Per Julie Wurth of News-Gazette, the University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones apologized at an annual faculty meeting Monday for how the Jay Kesan sexual harassment controversy played out while promising to work with students and faculty on improving the process of sexual harassment cases. Last week this blog looked at Wurth’s story on the Illinois student bar calling for the resignation of Kesan and improvement in the process of sexual harassment cases. While the investigation into Kesan’s behavior found him at fault for many of the things his victims alleged, he wasn’t fired because to the investigators and university his behavior wasn’t deemed pervasive enough. Wurth notes that Kesan is a tenured professor and there isn’t much precedent in the schools history for firing tenured professors. Jones on Monday seemed to be trying to grant the students and faculty wishes for a better process on these cases. From Wurth, “At the annual meeting with the faculty, the chancellor didn’t mention tenured law Professor Jay Kesan by name but said he was saddened and angered that students and faculty members felt “uncomfortable, hurt and intimidated” by the behavior of a professor.” However, it’s important to note that Kesan is still teaching so that part of the student bars request has gone unheard as of today. Jones opening remarks, per Wurth, were “I am sorry that individuals had their lives disrupted and found their educational and professional experiences here impacted by unacceptable and inexcusable behavior.” He followed that by stating “It is unacceptable and alarming for me to know that members of our community do not feel empowered to report incidents or have reason to believe that their concerns of such a serious nature would not be addressed. We must do better, and we will do better.” He talked further about eliminating unnecessary delays in investigations and aiming to be more transparent. As Wurth mentions, this speech comes in the wake of the 17 deans of the school sending a letter to Jones asking for less delays, better consideration of the victims rights, and to expand the sanctions available to the school for inappropriate behavior. Jones mentioned that these kind of issues have been long standing problems for the University, which is part of why they revamped the way the cases were investigated over the summer in an attempt to provide more oversight to them. But clearly there are still issues that need to be resolved. The rest of the article provides further coverage on Jones finishing remarks where he talked about having the courage to get through this together. This speech seems a step in the right direction for improving how these cases are handled, but Kesan’s name didn’t deserve to be shielded during the speech. If he’s still teaching, I think Jones owes the student and faculty that much to call the professor out by name rather than innuendo.

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2018-10-30/ui-chancellor-addresses-controversy-surrounding-law-school-prof.html

Legalized Marijuana is Coming but Complications Abound

With the election of J.B Pritzker for governor Tuesday, legalized marijuana became an inevitability. Part of his platform was ran specifically on that issue and he mentioned Wednesday that’ll happen sooner rather than later. But as Georgette Braun of the Rockford Register writes, there are still some technicalities and provisions that need to be ironed out. I’ll just link the article rather than parrot it but a few of the issues mentioned are about when exactly legalized weed will be coming, possible regulations and penalties, and the amount of growers and dispensaries In the state and how that will relate to the demand for recreational marijuana. Here is the article. http://www.rrstar.com/news/20181111/georgette-braun-issues-to-iron-out-before-legal-recreational-marijuana-available-in-illinois

If you have any issues related to marijuana possession feel free to contact Laura Law

Illinois Student Bar calling on Professor to resign amid pervasive sexual harassment

Image result for university of illinois college of lawPer Julie Wurth of the News Gazette, the Illinois student bar association is calling upon the University to force sanctioned professor Jay Kesan to resign over multiple issues of sexual harassment following an investigation into his conduct in 2017. From Wurth; “The investigation was launched in 2015 following complaints filed by two former UI law professors, who are now teaching elsewhere, and a former law student now working in Chicago. The three women accused Kesan of talking with them during professional interactions about his sex life and views on adultery, inquiring about their sex lives, making veiled references to masturbation, inviting them to stay at his apartment in Chicago, rubbing one student’s thigh during a meeting in his office and failing to respect their personal space, according to the report.” 38 anonymous witnesses in interviews also suggested that Kasan’s behavior was ongoing and made for an uncomfortable work environment. Certain students even felt forced to drop out of his class altogether because of Kasan’s actions. The investigation pretty much corroborated all of this, but instead of firing the tenured professor, he has only had to undergo sexual harassment training and a few minor penalties to his salary. According to the investigation, Kasan’s actions were not pervasive enough to warrant firing, and thus the illinois student bar has responded with outrage. There’s going to be a townhall next week where administrators and law school dean Vikram Amar will face questions over their handling of the investigation and the subsequent penalties-or lack thereof- handed out. The student bar concluded that if Kasan’s actions aren’t considered too pervasive according to institution policy, than policy needs to be changed. Kasan for his part, had the usual oh I didn’t mean it did that way but i’m sorry it got interpreted like that response.  “In a statement this week, Kesan apologized for his conduct and said it was “never my intent to offend anyone.” He said he’s been careful to make sure that his words and deeds don’t cause offense moving forward. The report said Kesan “denied engaging any colleague or student in a sexual manner,” and said other friendly gestures such as hugs, reassuring pats or invitations to male and female colleagues to use his Chicago apartment may have been misinterpreted. He also said he may stand too close to people because of his hearing loss.” As mentioned before, Kasan is a tenured professor of over 20 years and continues to teach elective classes. The school i’m sure will respond that it followed the investigations recommendations on how to handle this issue but like the student bar questioned, are the schools policies even an appropriate measuring stick for this kind of misconduct? This isn’t just a one off complaint, these are allegations that an actual investigation confirmed to be viable and yet Kasan has received a slap on the wrist. Sure there are further penalties if Kasan violates any part of his punishment, but is that really incentive enough to prevent further behavior like this from other people in power? Shouldn’t the school set an example and say that there is a zero tolerance policy for this kind of behavior, especially from those in power positions? The kinds of things Kasan did he may think are harmless, but in reality he leveraged his position of power against these women and that is harmful. He made his work environment an unsafe one, and once someone does that, shouldn’t that be the last straw? There were 38 other witnesses who testified to the fact Kasan has exhibited this sort of behavior for years. The school didn’t punish him then when he was making his work environment unsafe, so why should the students believe that the school will ever punish him now? Because they made him undergo sexual harassment training? The punishment is toothless and the student bar has every right to be angry. What does pervasive enough even mean? If an investigation can conclude that Kasan “violated the spirit of UI policies prohibiting sexual harassment and sexual misconduct and violated the more general University’s Code of Conduct” without being pervasive enough than what is pervasive enough?

The Burden of Proof

burden-1296754_960_720The Burden of Proof has held a prominent place in the zeitgeist over the past couple of weeks.  With Senators and pundits arguing over what burden of proof Justice Kavanaugh should be afforded, to the case of People v. Jason Van Dyke playing out live on the internet for the world to see, discussion over the burden of proof has been front and center.  Without commenting on the substance of Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and without commenting on the outcome of the Van Dyke trial, we here at LauraLaw thought that these past few weeks created a great opportunity to talk about the burden of proof – what is it?  How does it work?  When does it apply?

The Burden of Proof Generally

Every legal case has a burden of proof.  The burden of proof determines which party is responsible for providing the evidence to prove their case.  Almost every case applies the burden of proof to the “moving party” – or, the party that brings the case to court.  In civil cases, the moving party is the Plaintiff, and in criminal cases, the moving party is the Government.  At certain stages of the case, before trial, the “moving party” can be the defendant, and at that stage, the defendant will bear the burden of proof.  For example, if a criminal defendant files a Motion to Suppress evidence, he has the burden to prove that the officer did not act within the boundaries of the Constitution.  At trial, however, the “moving party” is the Plaintiff (civil) or the Government (criminal).

Evidentiary Standards applied to the Burden of Proof

While the moving party is the party that bears the burden of proof, the nature of the proceedings determines which evidentiary standard is applied to the burden of proof.  The “evidentiary standard” is the degree of certainty that is required for the moving party to carry their burden of proof.  In other words, the evidentiary standard dictates how certain the deciding body (judge, jury, etc.) must be that the moving party proved the elements of their claim.

In criminal cases, the government has the highest burden of proof in any case – Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.  The standard of Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is so axiomatic in criminal cases that it is codified in the Illinois Criminal Code under 720 ILCS 5/3-1, is explicitly named by the Illinois Supreme Court (see People v. Weinstein, 35 Ill. 2d 467 (1966)), and explicitly held by the Supreme Court of the United States in In Re Winship, 397 U.S. 358 (1970).  While the court will not define “Reasonable Doubt” for a jury, the concept is stated to mean “such doubt as would give rise to a grave uncertainty, raised in your mind by reasons of the unsatisfactory character of the evidence or lack thereof . . . .  What is required is not an absolute or mathematical certainty, but a moral certainty.”  Victor v. Nebraska, 511 U.S. 1 (1994).  A criminal defendant is presumed to be innocent until the Government proves each and every element of their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and only upon meeting that burden of proof can someone be considered guilty of a crime in the court of law.  Such a high burden of proof exists in criminal cases because such cases infringe upon a person’s rights to liberty and those liberty rights are sacred.

In civil cases, the moving party generally bears the lowest burden of proof – Proof by a Preponderance of the Evidence.  Proof by a Preponderance of the Evidence has been defined as “more likely than not.”  In other words, if a plaintiff sues a defendant for damages arising out of a car accident, it is up to the plaintiff to provide enough evidence to make the jury think it is more likely that the defendant caused the injuries than not.  The lower burden applies in civil cases (and elsewhere) because civil cases generally do not jeopardize a person’s constitutionally guaranteed rights.  While a person’s life is at stake in a criminal case, it is usually money that is at stake in a civil case.

Some civil cases carry a burden of proof that lies somewhere between Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt and Proof by a Preponderance of the Evidence – Proof by Clear and Convincing Evidence.  Proof by Clear and Convincing Evidence requires not only proof that the fact is “more likely than not,” but proof that the fact is “substantially more likely than not.”  Such a standard is not as stringent as proof beyond a reasonable doubt but rises above the preponderance of the evidence burden.

Burden of Proof Outside the Court of Law

In proceedings outside the court of law, the burden of proof is not controlled by the criminal or civil case law discussed above.  Instead, the burden of proof is set by the body that is requesting proof.  For example, if you are applying for a job, it is incumbent upon your employer to weigh any bad facts about you against any good facts about you and give each category however much weight he or she wants.  Such facts need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt as a matter of law.  Likewise, the “court of public opinion” tends to hold people to a much lower burden of proof than the courts do – often requiring nothing more than their opinion to evaluate claims against another person.

Burden of Proof in Our Practice

Whatever the venue or whatever the circumstances, we always believe it is best practice to know our audience.  Part of knowing our audience is knowing our burden of proof if any.  After determining that burden of proof, we can effectively create a strategy of presenting evidence to meet that burden of proof.  Whether we’re representing a criminal defendant in court, where the prosecutor is required to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, or a professional in an administrative procedure, we value preparation so we know the hurdles we must clear before we move forward.

If you should find yourself facing a burden of proof – in criminal court or an administrative hearing – do not hesitate to contact us here at LauraLaw, and we will be happy to represent you in your journey toward meeting that burden.