2014 Maine Township National Night Out Against Crime

national night outJoin Laura Morask, Maine Township Trustee, for National Night Out Against Crime next Tuesday, August 5th at Dee Park.  The National Night Out promotes “family fun and neighborhood unity” while also educating “residents on crime prevention and safety.  We ask that you turn your front porch light on between 7 and 10 pm on August 5th to show you support for Maine Township’s National Night Out Against Crime.

A Bit of History: The National Night Out Against Crime began in 1984 as “an effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.”  Over the past 30 years, National Night Out Against Crime has expanded with 37.8 million people getting involved each year in 16,124 communities.  The event traditionally takes place on the first Tuesday evening in August.  Check out the National Night Out website, Facebook page, and Press Release for this year’s events.

We encourage you to stop by the Maine Township event at Dee Park.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Voting for ABA’s Top 100 Blawgs Now Open!

The American Bar Association has announced it is now accepting nominations for its 8th Annual Blawg 100!  Click here to vote for your favorite Blawg!

These “blawgs” provide the legal community with up to date information on case law, state and federal, stories from the inside, and a plethora of other useful information for the day-to-day practice of law.

Vote for you favorite Blawg by 5 pm on August 8th!  And don’t forget to check out last year’s Top 100 Blawgs!

Red Light Camera Operators Caught Red-Handed?

photo enforced better version-page-001The Chicago Tribune conducted an investigation of over 4 million red-light camera tickets issued since 2007, and found roughly 9000 tickets were issued during red-light camera “spikes.”  These drivers may be eligible for a refund.  After the Tribune published its report, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced “drivers will have 45 days to request a review of their violation by email, phone, or in person.”

The Tribune’s investigation revealed red-light camera spikes at intersections, which typically generated a few tickets per day, were issuing up to 56 tickets.  During the spikes, almost all the tickets were issued to drivers making right turns, when typically only 1/3 of red-light tickets are issued to drivers who fail to come to a complete stop before turning right at a red light.  Traffic experts who reviewed the Tribune’s report opined that the spikes result from either “faulty equipment or human tinkering.”

The Emanuel administration called for daily violations to be posted on the Internet for each of Chicago’s 352 red-light cameras.  In addition, City Hall announced plan to send letters to the 9,000 drivers detailing the review process to determine whether the City should refund the $100 ticket cost.  To determine whether the drivers should be entitled to a refund, still photos taken at the intersections will be reviewed and if the “photos and/or video do not clearly prove the law was broken, drivers will receive a refund.”

red light photo enforce-page-001The Tribune has created a system for drivers to check and see whether they were issued a red light ticket during a spike.  Check it out here.

This past Friday, City Hall’s Inspector General Joseph Ferguson announced the beginning of an investigation into the city’s red-light camera program.  This investigation comes after Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired the original red-light camera operator amidst bribery allegations.

If you believe you have been unfairly issued a red-light ticket, either during the spike or at any other time, call the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask to discuss your options including appeal.

Illinois’ Medical Marijuana Law: Understanding the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program

Medical Marijuana Graphic-page-001This past Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules approved the proposed rules for Illinois’ new medical marijuana program.  Here are ten facts about the new system:

 

 

1.  The law allows for 21 marijuana cultivation centers and 60 dispensaries.  The law does not allow for a cultivation and dispensary     combination structure.

2.  Registration fees are $100 and $50 for eligible patients on Social Security Insurance and Social Security Disability Insurance.

3.  A 15-member Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee including patients, a health care provider, and nurse practitioners with experience working with medical marijuana patients will review each application.

4.  Illinois has the strictest medical marijuana laws among the 23 states with approved medical marijuana programs.

5.  Only patients with a debilitating medical condition are eligible to apply for medical marijuana treatment.  Some of those medical conditions include:

      • Cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s, Tourette’s

6.  Patients with a last name beginning with A-L will be able to apply in September and October, and patients with a last name beginning with M-Z will be able to apply in November and December.  It takes roughly 30 days for the Committee to review an application.

7.  Marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, but most federal prosecutors have chosen not to target medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivators, prescribing doctors, or patients.

8.  Medical marijuana won’t be available in Illinois until sometime next year because the cultivators must first obtain the license then begin the growing process.

9.  There are 100,000 to 200,000 patients that will be eligible to participate in program based on documented medical conditions.

10.  Patients are advised to begin having talks with their physicians and caregivers if they intend to apply for participation in the program.

Check out the full text of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program and Chicago Tribune and Sun Times articles.  Check back here for updates regarding Illinois’ medical marijuana law and contact the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask with any questions!

The United States Supreme Court Strikes Down Warrantless Cell Phone Searches

A warrantless search?  Of course that should be unconstitutional.  We have been taught since we were children that the police may not search you or your home without a warrant.  The group of us that went to law school, and some who did not, understand there are exceptions to the warrant requirement, but only in exigent circumstances.  But a warrantless cell phone search?  In this day and age, where our whole lives are stored on a tiny device (often multiple devices) we carry with us everywhere?  That seems outlandish.  But the issue only presented itself to the Supreme Court last term in Riley v. California, and the court held the police cannot search your cell phone, after you have been arrested, without first obtaining a warrant.

In reaching that decision, and in response to the Justice Department’s Argument, the Chief Justice noted how modern cell phones “implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse.”  It is more likely than not an individual’s entire life is stored on a cell phone including access to sensitive financial and personal information.  When the police searched the pockets of an arrestee or his flip phone circa 2005, it was highly unlikely they would find the individuals’ bank statements for the past five years, but today it is more likely than not the police could access that information if they have immediate unrestricted access to an arrestee’s cell phone.  This raises serious privacy concerns, as firmly noted by the Supreme Court.

The June 2014 ruling requires police to obtain a search warrant based on probable cause the arrestee committed a crime and the cell phone has a link to that crime such that a search is justified.  The court found the individual, digital privacy concerns raised by mass use of the “smart phone” outweigh the state’s interest in protecting the public because (1) requiring a warrant to search an arrestee’s cell phone does not threaten the safety of the arresting officer, and (2) possible destruction of evidence on the cell phone is not a compelling reason sufficient enough to justify a warrantless search under the Fourth Amendment.

If you have been charged with a crime or if you have any questions or comments about the new cell phone law promulgated in Riley v. California, contact the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask.

Know Your Rights: Governor Quinn Signs Ban the Box Legislation

Ban the Box Image-page-001 This past weekend, Governor Pat Quinn signed the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, also known as Ban the Box legislation, which prohibits employers from performing background checks until after an employer finds an applicant is qualified for the job and the employee has been selected for an interview. The governor stated the Ban the Box legislation “will help ensure that people across Illinois get a fair shot to reach their full potential through their skills and qualifications, rather than past history. It will also help reduce recidivism, fight poverty and prevent violence in our communities by putting more people back to work.” Click here to view the Governor’s press release.

The Ban the Box legislation takes effect on January 1, 2015. This law does not apply to jobs where employers must exclude applicants with criminal histories.

The Illinois Department of Labor is responsible for investigating any alleged violations of the Act, the Director of Labor may impose civil penalties ranging from a written warning for the first offense to a fine of $1,500 for the third offense.

Click here to check out the full text of the Act.

Also, remember that expunging and sealing your criminal record may be an option for you to ease the job search process. Check out our previous blog posts discussing the expungement and sealing process. If you have questions about how your criminal history may affect your job search or expunging or sealing your criminal record, give the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask a call for a free consultation.

Recent Developments Regarding Illinois’ Concealed Carry Act: Remedying The Secrecy of Denial

Earlier this month, the Chicago Tribune published an article examining the 193+ applicants who filed lawsuits against the Illinois State Police to increase the transparency of the concealed carry application denial process. The Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board is the body that makes decisions regarding denials of permits, but until recently was not required to inform applicants of the reason for their permit denial.

The lawsuits claim the applicants were denied due process because of the complete secrecy regarding a Board’s decision to deny an applicant a concealed carry permit. The Tribune noted that review of application by the Illinois State Police was a necessary compromise intended to aid in terminating the ban on concealed carry.

The Illinois State Police announced this past Monday it will require the Board to provide denied applicants with more information as to why they were rejected. Under the new rules, the Board must notify the applicant if there is a “credible objection” to the application and “give the basis of the objection and identify the agency that brought it.” The applicant will then have 10 days to respond.

However, the Tribune also reported that of the more than 800 applicants who have been denied, only the roughly 193 applicants who filed lawsuits may take their case to the Board, but only with judicial approval.

The new rules are only valid for 150 days after which the General Assembly must approve the rules for them to become permanent.

Click here to check out our earlier post discussing the Rights and Remedies of the Concealed Carry Law. If you have been denied a concealed carry permit contact the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask to discuss your options.

concealed carry infographic

Office Update: What’s Happening at the Law Offices!

photoGood morning from the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask!  We hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July and are enjoying the beautiful weather!  It has been a busy week so far at the Law Offices.  Laura is preparing for trial at the end of the month and Tim is currently on trial in Michigan.  Tim is also about to celebrate his one-year anniversary of taking the Bar Exam!  Congratulations, Tim!

We would also like to take a moment to wish our beloved-rockstar office manager a Happy Birthday!  Maddy is an integral, invaluable member of the team here at the Law Offices.  She is always ready to take on the next challenge, whether it is calling the internet provider twice a week to find out why our internet and phones are down, or talking clients through difficult times and experiences.

Our wonderful legal assistant Michael has been enjoying his first post high school summer and recently returned from vacation.  Soon Michael’s responsibilities with Laura will increase as he saves money for college in the fall.

We want to hear from you!  Client contact is of the utmost importance and we want to know what you want to learn about and what is important to you.  Give us a call or leave us a comment and let us know!

Happy Independence Day!

Here Are The Top 5 Tips To Keep In Mind This Fourth of July

Image courtesy of nirots/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of nirots/freedigitalphotos.net

1.  Remember DUI Checkpoints are everywhere!  The Chicago Police and the Illinois State Police plan to assign additional patrol units to the streets.  Beware of additional checkpoints with officers on the lookout for drunk drivers and law violators.  Also, July 4th is one of the deadliest holidays of the year.  Last year there were 58 fatalities in Illinois over the Independence Day weekend, almost half of which were attributed to drunken driving.  See the Illinois Department of Transportation Press Release: “Illinois Law Enforcement to Crack Down on Drunk, Unbuckled Drivers this 4th of July Travel Weekend.”

2.  Remember all of the new and old traffic laws including:

      • Julie’s Law which prohibits judges from ordering court supervision for drivers who were issued a ticket for exceeding the speed limit by more than 25 miles in a residential urban district, or by more than 30 miles in a rural area.
      • No Cellphone/Texting Law which makes it a violation to use a cellphone (call or text) behind the wheel.  Cell phone use must be “Hands Free.”
      • Don’t throw your cigarette out the window!  As of January 1, 2014, cigarettes are considered litter.  Potential penalties for littering include: a Class B misdemeanor and a fine up to $1500 for a first time conviction, a Class A misdemeanor and a fine up to $1500 for a second conviction, and three or more convictions carries a Class 4 charge and a fine up to $25,000!

3. Wear your seatbelt when driving and watch out for cameras!  School buses now have cameras on them to capture any driver who illegally passes by them at a stop.  Beware of red-light cameras and speed cameras both downtown and throughout the suburbs.

4.  Parents and kids: Remember the Curfew!  In Illinois, a child under the age of 17 violates curfew when he or she lingers or stays in a public place or even a private business during curfew hours.  Curfew hours are from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Violating curfew is a petty offense carrying hefty fines ranging anywhere from $500 to $750 depending on location and a judge can hold the parent liable and order the parent to perform community service.

5.  Have Fun!  We at the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask love celebrating the Fourth of July and hope you do too!  Some of us will be up in the north woods, some will be barbequing, and Laura will be marching in the City of DesPlaines Independence Day Parade with the Maine Township Trustees!  Grab the kids, grab you friends and come out to celebrate the Fourth of July at this wonderful event, and look for Laura on Float #44.  She will give you extra candy!

If you are arrested for DUI call an experienced and knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible.  We here at the Law Offices of Laura Morask are well versed and experienced in the ever expanding and increasingly stricter body of DUI law, so please call for a free consultation.