Explaining the Real ID

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  • Illinois residents now have the chance to apply for their real ID cards, which will make Illinois ID’s compliant with the Real ID Act of 2005. This was enacted in the wake of 9/11 and set strict federal standards that ID’s would have to comply with. However, it has taken some time for states to be able to complete the process, and we’re nearing the finish line. The newer ID’s can be requested now that it’s the first week of April and you must have one to be able to get on a plane by October 2020. Here is a good explanation of what a Real ID is, what it looks like, it’s purpose, etc… The acts aim was at decreasing terrorism by basically making it harder and more complicated to access domestic flights. Under the new act, state agencies like the DMV require more paperwork when considering the proof of a person’s residency and social security number. There is also new technology in the ID’s that will be supposedly make them harder to counterfeit. To signify compliance, the Real ID’s will have a gold or black star on the front. Though there are a few states,(not Illinois) that give compliant licenses without the star. It’s important to note, that you don’t need a Real ID if you’re not going to be flying domestically. It is for accessing federal facilities like airports. Just remember the date 10/1/20 as the marker for when you need to present a Real ID to access a domestic flight, although a few states were granted extensions.(Illinois is not one of them) A Real ID cannot be used as a substitute for a passport when attempting to access international flights. A few other things the new ID’s won’t affect are things like Federal benefits, voting, being licensed to drive, accessing federal facilities that do not require Real ID’s, accessing hospitals, law enforcement and constitutionally protected activities such as access to court proceedings. WQUAD 8 interviewed Illinois Deputy Press Secretary Henry Haupt who explained that the public would have to be patient when applying. “We are asking people to please be patient,” Haupt said. “We want to level with the public so they understand that the application process for a REAL ID takes longer than the standard driver’s license or ID card because more documents are required by the federal government.” The article notes that “Residents who want to switch to the new IDs will need to bring along proof of identity and lawful presence, proof of social security number, two forms of residency documents, and proof of signature, which can be provided through a current license or ID card.”

Western Illinois Correctional Center Staff being sued for fatal beating of Inmate

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From Shannon Heffernan of WBEZ, the family of the now deceased Larry Earvin are suing the guards at Western Illinois Correctional Center for their role in his death. From the article, “Larry Earvin died after an “altercation” with prison staff last May, according to coroner’s records obtained by WBEZ. Earvin had 15 rib fractures and multiple abrasions and hemorrhages. He died from blunt trauma to the chest and abdomen. The coroner ruled his death a homicide.” The lawsuit alleges that the guards in their beating of Earvin were intending not to restore order, but to inflict a cruel beating on a defenseless human being. The lawsuit also notes that poor treatment of inmates by guards is common and that Earvin’s beating and subsequent death are symptoms of a diseased system. Per Heffernan, a number of the staff involved have been put on leave.  “According to documents obtained by WBEZ, four prison staff members were placed on leave following the incident: Sgt. Willie Hedden, Lts. Benjamin Burnett and Blake Haubrich, and Correctional Officer Alex Banta. According to the the Illinois Department of Corrections, they remain on leave.” The FBI claims it’s investigating the incident, which is the excuse the Department of Corrections used when it refused to release video and documents about the case. However, according to Heffernan, “WBEZ appealed to the attorney general’s public access counselor, who determined IDOC was not complying with the Freedom of Information Act when it withheld reports about Earvin’s death.”

I truly hope that Larry Earvin’s family wins this lawsuit against the shameful prison staff of the Western Illinois Correctional Center. Making the whole situation all the more tragic, is the fact that Larry Earvin was a 65 year old human being being held in prison for theft of less than $300! He was due to be let out in a few months. Poor treatment of prisoners is wrong regardless of what those prisoners did, but the context of Earvin’s crime makes it hard not to feel pure sadness and disgust at his murder. Make no mistake, this is a homicide and the people responsible deserve to be in jail. Unfortunately in this country, law enforcement are more likely to get paid leave for murdering someone rather than being forced to face the consequences of their actions. There’s no doubt that many security guards are just decent humans going about their jobs but there is also no doubt that abuse towards inmates is a systemic issue that plagues the whole countries prison system. Inmates are seen by the public as seemingly less than human, like iron bars are the great divider between who is worthy of rights and who isn’t.

Well, Larry Earvin was a human being who loved and was loved, and he deserved much better than 15 fractured ribs and death from the cowards who ganged up on him and ended his life. He deserved better than, and he deserves justice now.

Judge overturns Deerfield’s ban on assault weapons

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According to Karen Berkowitz of the Pioneer Press, on Friday a Lake County Circuit Judge ruled that with it’s assault ban ordinance last year, Deerfield defied Illinois legislation enacted 5 years prior that gave exclusive power to the state in regards to weapon regulation. From the article, “Judge Luis Berrones issued a permanent injunction blocking the village from enforcing its ordinance. In the ruling, Berrones wrote that the plaintiff gun owners have “a clearly ascertainable right to not be subjected to a preempted and unenforceable ordinance” that prohibits possession of assault weapons, imposes financial penalties for keeping them and allows their property to be confiscated.” The ban was enacted in April of 2018 after a recent string of mass shootings caused Deerfield Trustees to worry about their villages safety. The ban included weapons such as the AR-15, AK-47, and Uzi. As Berkowitz notes, local gun owners were very quick to file lawsuits because as mentioned earlier, the Village had made some costly mistakes in when it decided to enact its ban. “The Illinois legislature had given municipalities until July 19 of that year(2013) to regulate assault weapons before a new Illinois Concealed Carry Act and an amended Firearm Owner’s Identification Card Act eliminated their ability to do so.” So, after July 19 of 2013 the villages window of opportunity to regulate/ban assault weapons was basically missed for good. However, the village tried to play another angle in arguing that it’s ban didn’t overstep Illinois legislation. They attempted to argue that the ban was not a new ordinance, but an amendment to a prior ordinance enacted before July 19 that defined assault weapons and required safe storage and transportation within the village. This would of course make the ordinance in compliance with Illinois legislation. So, the question was, could the ban on assault weapons really be called an amendment to the ordinance such as the one enacted before July 19 of 2013, or a whole new thing altogether? Judge Berrones however ruled that the ordinance was not an amendment but a new ordinance, dashing Deerfield’s hopes for the ban standing. Here’s Deerfield’s statement about the ruling: “It appears that the judge focused less on Deerfield’s actions and more on the actions of the Illinois state legislature back in 2013, the judge took issue with the way in which the state legislature drafted the state statute, and he read into the statute a complete preemption of home rule authority to regulate assault weapons. We continue to believe that these weapons have no place in our community and that our common-sense assault weapon regulations are legal and were properly enacted. In the meantime, however, we will abide by the court’s ruling and continue to not enforce our ordinance.”

Marijuana Legalization is coming to Illinois sooner than the Public may think

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According to Brody Woodell of wquad 8, legal Marijuana in Illinois is closer to happening than the public may think. The main reason being of course the recent election of Governor J.B Pritzker, who has stated in the past that he supports complete legalization mainly for financial purposes. He believes legalization may provide up to 700 billion dollars tax in revenue, with which as Chris Lindsay of the Illinois Marijuana Policy Project notes can be used to fund programs that are financially strapped and need support. From the article,  “Will it pay for everything? No,” Lindsay said. “But will it pay for some important programs that would otherwise go completely unfunded? Yeah.” Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is also in support of legalization, and so is most importantly 60% of the population according to a 2016 gallup poll. The article mainly sticks to financial issues as reasons for legalization but there are also plenty of social justice related issues that are just as important, if not more. Minorities have been targeted and jailed much more often than white people, despite similar usage rates. Keeping people out of jail and out of personal financial trouble is alone worth legalization even without considering public financial issues. Overall the case for legal weed is overwhelming.

Illinois Doctors want say in Marijuana Debate

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Per Erick Stock of Wglt.org, Illinois doctors want a voice in the states debate over recreational Marijuana. The Illinois State Medical Society and its president Paul Pederson have expressed concern about legalization, although they haven’t tipped their hand about what their stance towards it would actually be. Pederson cites the usually warnings about marijuana; that it is a gateway drug, addictive, and can impair one’s thought process. Complicating matters further is the fact that since it’s a federally banned substance, there can be no controlled study of its effects. According to the article, before the group takes a formal stance, they will hold a forum in  Peoria on April 6th to go over the possible pros and cons of legal Marijuana. It’s fair for doctors to want a seat at the table on this issue, but whether they like it or not it seems like legal pot will be coming as recently elected governor J.B. Pritzker is for it. There’s also more to the issue than health risks. Marijuana may pose some health threats like Pederson warns but that doesn’t mean it should be illegal. Cigarettes and alcohol pose worse health risks but we will never see those substances outright banned. Personal freedom, privacy, and bodily autonomy should play important roles in this debate.

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.