Recreational Cannabis Closer to Legalization in Illinois

By:  Timothy Black

american-flag-marijuana-leaf-vector-clipartIt’s high time Illinois joins the blitz of states legalizing recreational cannabis.  Earlier this month, with the swearing-in of J.B. Pritzker as the State’s 43rd Governor, “the conversation has shifted from ‘if’ to ‘when” recreational cannabis will be legalized, as Jaclyn Driscoll of WNIU bluntly stated.  To that end, the joint team of Chicago’s State Senator Heather Steans and Chicago’s State Representative Kelly Cassidy hosted a Town Hall Meeting in Springfield on January 28th to lay out the terms they plant to roll into a Bill to be introduced to the General Assembly, and to field questions about their proposal.

Central to their proposal for legalizing recreational cannabis is a set of rules designed to promote responsible use among adults.  Specifically, if the bill does not go up in smoke, adults 21 years of age and older would be allowed to possess up to 30 grams and grow up to 5 plants of marijuana.  Unlike alcohol, marijuana “bars” would be prohibited, but similar to alcohol, teenagers caught driving under the influence of cannabis would not only be charged with DUI but would also lose driving privileges.

A secondary, and equally important goal of legalizing recreational cannabis is to lay the groundwork for undoing some of the destruction caused by the War on Drugs and its policies.  To achieve that, the law would automatically expunge the records of low-level marijuana possession and dealing convictions.  Then, the tax revenue would fund community development and impoverished neighborhoods.

While the bill has yet to be introduced, its merits will be debated ad nauseum.  Stay tuned to LauraLaw for more updates on the battle for legalizing recreational cannabis.  We will continue to try to clear the haze and give you the facts along the way.

In the meantime, if you have a criminal record of any kind, we here at LauraLaw advocate that you look into the sealing or expungement of that record.  If you are eligible, it’s best practice not to wait.  We can be to your criminal record what Visine is to your eyes.  Contact us now for a consultation and we will be happy to help guide you through the arduous process.  Likewise, if you have been charged with any crime – cannabis-related or not – contact us immediately for a consultation.

 

What Is a Life Sentence?

 

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Opinion Piece by: Jake Morask

Per Dana Vollmer of Illinois Public Radio, the Illinois Supreme court has to decide “what is a life sentence?” They will make a decision on whether sentencing a 16 year old to a 50 year sentence is constitutional.  As the United Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama has declared, a juvenile cannot be given a life sentence without parole.

So the question is, whether the sentencing of Dimitri Buffer- a 16 year old who mistakenly shot and killed a woman he thought was a rival gang member- effectively a life sentence? Per the article, Buffer’s attorney Christopher Gehrke argues that the sentence is unsurvivable, pointing out that a 50 year sentence for a 16 year old provides no chance for rehabilitation and reintegration into society. “The best case scenario for my client in this case, even if he survives his sentence, he’s basically doomed to live the last few years of his life homeless and impoverished.” Gopi Kashyap, the Assistant attorney general, counters that because Buffer would be due to get out by age 66 it’s not a life sentence because 66 is younger than the average life expectancy. There’s no timeline for the court to decide.

It’s a fascinating case in that it is surprising the Supreme Court took this PLA and I think a lot of it comes down to the question of what the function of our prison system is supposed to be, especially when it comes to young offenders.  I would argue that Gehrke’s point is a strong one and that the rehabilitation of prisoners should be what we strive for so they can both atone and be given a chance for a normal life outside of prison. This can’t be the ideal for every prisoner obviously as some people have committed such heinous crimes they should never see freedom again. Is Buffer’s crime so heinous? It might be. I can’t imagine the grief of the family of the women who was sensensely murdered. But context matters. This is a 16 year old and there is a reason the supreme court decided that we can’t give life sentences without parole to juvenile offenders. The sad fact is, our prison system punishes, it doesn’t rehabilitate. Buffer’s life would probably be over if he was enmeshed in the system for 50 years and therefore I think the Illinois Supreme Court should consider this ruling unconstitutional. I understand however that there is a legitimate counter argument since legally 50 years is not life without parole and secondly, where would one draw the line? The rationale behind the Miller v. Alabama ruling was that automatic life without parole removed a trial court’s discretion to consider aggravating and mitigating circumstances which arguably this Trial Court did. Further the defense argument can be a slippery slope where if the Court rules 50 years is effectively life, what about the next case that argues 45 years is “life.”  Clearly this case may not not fit a typical Miller v. Alabama analysis, and many may agree that Buffer’s life should effectively be over and I understand their reasoning. I just don’t think that’s what we should strive for our prison system to look like. 

*This is the opinion of Jake Morask. As usual, if you have any questions or legal issues please do not hesitate to contact us at laura@lauralaw.net or call us at 847-696-7185.

New Illinois laws; A Quick Glimpse

 

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Happy New Year! We at Laura Law hope it’s a fun and safe one for everyone. There are some New Illinois laws that we thought it be nice to cover. Mike Riopell and Mary Wisniewski of the Chicago Tribune were nice enough to pick out and categorize some of the most notable ones. All in all, there are 253 so for now we wanted to give you some new Illinois Laws; a quick glimpse and list just  a few. Here is a small sampling that really run a gamut of topics! In our series we will later focus on some of the more noteworthy new laws by specific areas of interest to Lauralaw readers. But for now, here are five  wide ranging new laws that range from far reaching to quite specific.

  • New gun laws- The “Red Flag Bill” will allow family members and police officers to seek an order of protection against a person who is deemed an immediate danger. If the order of protection is considered appropriate then that persons guns can be confiscated. There will also be a 72 hour waiting period on gun purchases. justice-387213_960_720
  • New transportation laws- Up until the age of 2 or until there 40 pounds/ 40 inches tall, children must now sit in a rear facing car seat. Laws have long been on the books requiring child safety seats but now these are far more specific with penalties for a first violation of $75.00 and $200.00 for each one after that. So for any parents that do not have these types of seats if your child qualifies-get one ASAP! Do quick online search and you can find quality ones at reasonable prices. http://best rear facing car seat
  • New Sexual harassment laws- There will be a new law requiring companies to provide a copy of their anti harassment guidelines to the state if they want to do business with the government/want a tax break. 
  • A second new Sexual Harassment law provides that anti-harassment training must be part of continuing education to renew a professional license.
  • New synthetic marijuana laws- After 4 people died in Illinois this year due to synthetic Cannabis, a new law is on the books banning all types of its manufacture and provides for a potential of one year in jail for possession and two to five years incarceration for manufacturing or delivering as well as up to a $25,000.00 fine.  mj
  • Other- DuPage County is now able to dissolve its independent election commission. This was due to trouble they had tallying up the March election results.
  • DuPage also will replace the word election “Chairman” with the more gender neutral “Chair”.
  • The Farmers Market Task Force has been abolished. This one struck me as I am sure many people had no idea that there even was a Statewide Farmers Market Task Force! Apparently, as they had not put out an agenda for two full years, sharp eyed legislators recognized it was not needed! In my opinion, these are best left to local governments. For example, Park Ridge, IL established a Farmers Market Advisory Council. http://www.parkridge.us/government/boards_members.aspx
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    Strawberry Plant Strawberries Straw Berries

    So stay tuned for our next installment where we take a more in depth look at some new 2019 laws that affect specific practice areas. Once again, if you are faced with a legal need in this new year, please do not hesitate to contact us at Lauralaw.net!

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Friday Frolic & Happy New Year At Laura Law!

In keeping with our Lauralaw six year tradition I want to usher out 2018 with a traditional Friday Frolic to usher in a  Happy New Year and to thank our clients who daily put their trust in us to take care of them! We honor that privilege and truly appreciate it!  We thought we would showcase our 6th annual staff Lauralaw Christmas party (even though technically it was last Thursday!) and some thoughts and well wishes for the best 2019 ever! The photo below is pre-party while Tim was frantically last minute shopping since he was kept so busy on our cases, he couldn’t even start until Wednesday night! I promise you it got a lot more festive….

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Maddy, my office queen gifting me with softest blanket ever made and of course I had to dress up like Santa Clause!

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But Jake, our blog writer is Maddy’s favorite!

Now onto  gifts!

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Somehow my new Assistant and latest member of Lauralaw-Alicja, got Dean to smile-awesome gifts too! Maddy ever the troublemaker decided to give Jake (her Secret Santa) a Bears scarf and up the ante with giving Tim a Packer’s scarf! (He is from Lake Geneva!)

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Then, of course we always have to get a picture of our whole group which seems to get bigger each year…Thanks to Tim for teaching us all how to use the timer function on the IPAD photo so we did not need to grab an unwitting passerby to take our picture!

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Finally, we raise a glass to Christmas cheer, a fantastic New Year and a thank you to ALL of our team and of course our clients who put their trust in us to take care of their legal health! Here’s to you!

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As we head out into the dark and stormy night, LauraLaw wishes everyone a very safe New Year! Feel free to revisit some of our blog posts about celebrating safely and Illinois’ DUI laws. Hint-take an Uber or a Lyft! As always though, feel free to call, email, text us for help should the need arise. Happy New Year!

love,

Laura

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!