August Case Law Update

law-books-291683__180As September draws to a close, our friend Samuel Partida, Jr. of Illinoiscaselaw.com has released his August Case Law update for us to study, and as usual we wanted to pass it along to you. This month’s list brings us a number of interesting cases related to search and seizure, appellate procedure, and obscure evidence rules. As usual, Mr. Partida also provides his smart analysis. Head over to his website to read these cases and get more information about Illinois legal news. As always, if you have any questions about any of these cases, or if you have a legal concern of your own, do not hesitate to contact us, and one of our skilled team members will be happy to assist you!

Cook County Judge Orders Expansion of Illinois Medical Marijuana to Include Post-Operative Chronic Pain

illinoisThis week, a Chicago judge made another important ruling for medical marijuana in this state.

Cook County Judge Neil Cohen issued a ruling that requires the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to add Post-Operative Chronic Pain to its list of conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed. In fact, it’s the second time this year that Judge Cohen has ordered the IDPH to add a condition to that list. In June, he ordered Illinois to authorize Medical Marijuana for treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an Order that was later codified when Governor Rauner signed SB10.

This latest ruling seems to be in line with an overall trend in Illinois of embracing the medical benefits of marijuana and relaxing the criminal consequences of recreational Marijuana use. Although full legalization does not seem to be coming any time in the near future, these two recent expansions of the medical marijuana laws combined with recent efforts to decriminalize possession in small amounts indicates that Illinois is following the national trend toward tolerance.

It also appears that we might see rulings on other disorders in the near future.  Specifically, there are currently cases pending in Cook County that seek to add migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), polycystic kidney disease (PKD), osteoarthritis, intractable pain, and autism to the list of qualifying conditions.  Notably, Judge Cohen, who presided over the PTSD case and the Post Operative Chronic Pain case, is the Judge presiding over the Osteoarthritis case pending in the Chancery Division.

Other states have received criticism for supporting measures for medical marijuana that are broad enough to include use for chronic pain, but sufferers will be happy to hear that there are other avenues of relief available to them. Post-operative chronic pain is also a condition that advocates of medical marijuana have been hoping would receive approval for some time.

We’ve covered medical marijuana in the past, specifically its relation to DUI law and the things you should know in regards to your rights. It’s an important topic that will become more prominent as more developments like this occur throughout the state and throughout the country.  It is important to stay informed about this area of law, so please stay tuned to the LauraLaw blog for continuing coverage of the developments in this and other important areas of law. As always, if you have any questions about how these changes in the law affect you, or if you have been arrested for a case involving marijuana, do not hesitate to contact us; one of our skilled team members will be happy to assist you.

Profanity Appears More Frequently in Recent Opinions

shield-1286293__180In a more amusing sign of the times, law.com has a new report on one topic judges have been wrestling with for the last few years: whether they should include expletives in their written opinions. But that debate might be over for good. According to the report, the F-Bomb has been quoted in its entirety in 2016 appellate decisions as much as it has in previous four decades combined.

The use of profanity it court opinions has always been a thorny issue. Some judges always substitute the full word for some censored version like “F-word” or simply “expletive.” But others judges believe it’s important to quote the record in full.

Judge Richard Posner of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agrees with the latter.

Look at what judges deal with—you have murderers, people who steal hundreds of millions of dollars. To the extent that their activities are connected with obscenities, obscene messages, that’s part of the case.”

Other lawyers either avoid quoting profanity or advise doing so only when strictly necessary.

“Even if they’re accepted in many situations or not entirely disapproved of, still I think that a judicial opinion is sacred and why of all places should you include it unless it’s relevant?” said Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gerald Lebovits.

As use of profanity has become more casual and widespread, this is a problem that was bound to arise sooner or later. Though there is no set rule on how to deal with such language in the rigorously formal setting of the courtroom, there are basically two ways of approaching the problem, and as long as lawyers remain diligent and respectful of the judge’s preferences, it shouldn’t pose too much of an issue. Ultimately, this issue is about accuracy and ensuring proper adjudication of the record.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask

New Rules On Marijuana Lend Clarity To Upcoming Cases

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Today we have some interesting procedural news for those interested in Illinois’ recent effort to decriminalize marijuana. The Supreme Court has announced rules to govern the new type of cases created by the law passed last month.

Under the new law, offenders in possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis or drug paraphernalia seized during the offense are now charged with a civil law violation. These offenses were previously charged as misdemeanors carrying a possible penalty of a year in jail and fines up to $2,500. A civil law violation will be immensely more preferable for future offenders, but the law left the Illinois court system without a means for dealing with news cases.

Supreme Court Rules 585, 586, 587, 588, 589 and 590 are meant to address that problem. Taking effect at the start of this month, these new rules outline procedures for court and allow people charged under the statute different avenues for dealing with their cases. For example, Rule 588 allows people to simply mail in their fines and resolve the case without making a court appearance. Rule 590, on the other hand, allows courts to obtain default judgments against offenders who don’t feel like paying their fines.

LauraLaw has been following the subject of marijuana decriminalization as well as the interplay and changes as it affects dui based on marijuana. For more information, check out some of our previous pieces here and here. These news rules will be helpful in resolving cases going forward and are very important to anyone interested in DUI law in Illinois.

For more information about all the other Supreme Court rules, check out the main webpage.

If you have any legal issues that you would like to discuss, feel free to call us or visit our webpage.

Illinois Criminal Justice Reform Helps Ex-Felons Get Onto Their Feet

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Last week we wrote about some of the criminal justice reforms recently signed into law by Gov. Rauner. Today we have some more information about one of those reforms, Senate Bill 42, that might be of interest to our readers, especially those working toward certain state work licenses.

Under current law, a health care worker cannot receive a license to practice nursing if they have been convicted of a forcible felony. This can pose a problem for workers like Lisa Creason, a woman working toward a nursing certificate and who was enrolled in nursing school when the current law was passed, who are still paying for a crime they committed 20 years ago.

“The signing of Senate Bill 42 into law lifts lifelong restrictions and allows individuals to be financially self-sufficient and not dependent on government,” she said.

Instead, this new law signed by Gov. Rauner will allow people who have received forcible felonies to petition the state after 3 years to reinstate their professional license, as long as their crime was not sexual in nature or did not require them to register as a sexual offender.

This law will be a great help for people looking to turn their lives around. The previous law was too restrictive and absolute in its denial of work to people who may otherwise be great candidates and no longer pose a threat. The new law will let the state take a look and ensure that those who are contributing to society can continue to do so.

This law is a part of a trend of reform in Chicago. Another closely related bill also allows people with criminal histories to seal their records much earlier than they would otherwise be allowed. The law, House bill 3149, aims at helping reformed offenders more successfully re-enter society after completing their prison sentences.

August Illinois Case Law Update

 

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Samuel Partida, Jr., over at Illinoiscaselaw.com, has released his July list of important Illinois cases, and we wanted to give you an update to help you stay on top of recent developments. Mr. Partida’s website is a great resource and this month he brings us another great set of cases. This month includes a number of cases about evidence, post-conviction forms, and jury instruction, but also some interesting decisions regarding the proper invocation of the fifth amendment and the admissibility of involuntary breathalyzer tests. That last case will be of interest to anyone interested in DUI case law, and as always Mr. Partida provides some excellent analysis. For more of him check out the rest of his website. If you have additional questions, feel free to get in touch with us!

A Glimpse of Criminal Justice Reform in Illinois

 

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2016 hasn’t exactly been a poster year for political compromise. Given the differences of opinion between Gov. Rauner and the Democratic Illinois Legislature, you could be forgiven for thinking that any hope of change was a distant one at best. But this week an optimistic story emerged out of the gridlock for advocates of criminal justice reform and bipartisanship.

On Monday, Gov. Rauner signed into law a handful of bills aimed at making significant changes to the criminal justice and prison systems over the course of the next decade. As we wrote yesterday, the most publicized were penalties aimed at reducing gun violence

“I want those who did something wrong to face punishment, but we must make sure that the punishment fits the crime,” Rauner said. “We need to explore new avenues so that we’re balancing punishment with rehabilitation and not needlessly tearing families and lives apart.”

Senate Bill 3164 should help achieve that goal. Among the changes are a requirement for judges to view presentencing reports and explain prison sentences for first time offenders. The changes also target problems identified by inmates and seek to reduce to cost of phone calls and allow certain offenders to work for park districts. Under the rules, juveniles will be better able to expunge arrest records.

These changes also add to other changes enacted this year aimed at how marijuana is treated in Illinois. To get more in line with national trends in drug enforcement, a recent law eliminates criminal penalties for possessing smaller amounts of marijuana. Along this line, DUI’s involving cannabis now require the driver to exceed a minimum threshold of intoxication, like alcohol. Another aspect of the DUI Bill was certain expungement provisions.

Though criminal justice in Chicago is still far from perfect, these are good first steps and it’s encouraging that these reforms can still make it through the legislative process in times of such political gridlock.

Friday Feature! A Great End to a Busy Week

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Today marks the end of a busy week for the LauraLaw Offices! From Rolling Meadows to Skokie to 26th Street, the team was running all over the county taking care of clients and fixing their legal problems. This week alone we obtained 6 excellent dispositions and the clients couldn’t be happier.

If you want to stay up to date on Illinois legal news, the blog has a couple great posts detailing some of the state’s upcoming changes, most notably in regards to DUI’s and marijuana. Meanwhile Tim and Laura are hard at work staying on top the news and be prepared for the changes.

This week has also been exciting for the younger members of the LauraLaw family. Maddy’s daughter Adamaris makes the big leap to 6th grade and the start of Junior High! She’s excited to attend a new school, but Maddy is less enthusiastic about the traffic and construction she has to fight to get her there.

Remember to enjoy the weekend, but if you drink, do so responsibly! But if you need a legal problem solved as well, feel free to get in touch with us by calling or continuing to poke around our great website!

Can New Tatoo Test Prevent Drunk Driving And Dui?

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New temporary tatoo test promises more accuracy to prevent drunk driving and a dui!

As anyone who’s been to college can attest,any story that begins with someone getting drunk and ends with them getting a tattoo usually leads to intense feelings of regret once the alcohol wears off. Not to mention the other actually more life altering event of a DUI. But according to researchers at the University of California San Diego, a special kind of temporary tattoo after a night of drinking just might keep you out of jail.

This article lays out the rationale: many of the more common ways to detect a person’s blood-alcohol content can be rendered inaccurate (such as breathalyzers) or are too invasive for the demands of a typical traffic stop (such as drawing blood to be analyzed). Instead, researchers looked for a method that could provide officers with easily obtained, accurate results that did not require drawing blood or dealing with other bio hazards.

To achieve this, the National Institute of Health held a contest for researchers and inventors to design a device that could meet these demands. The winning design came in the form of a small temporary tattoo magnetically attached to a small computer chip. The tattoo itself is made with silver and silver chloride electrodes. When connected to electricity, the tattoo releases a special chemical that causes the skin to sweat, and a sensor analyzes that sweat to make an accurate B.A.C. measurement.

“Right now, the tattoo is designed for one-time use,” says Patrick Mercier, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California San Diego. “Place, detect, dispose.”

It’s not hard to see how a cheap, non-intrusive and effective way of determining a person’s B.A.C. could make roads safer. In addition to being made available to police, bars, college students, doctors and emergency responders could easily afford tattoos to help determine B.A.C. levels on the fly and possibly prevent someone from driving in the first place. Better yet, call Uber or Lyft or a taxi!

And given the number of DUI arrests in Chicago alone, this test could help greatly reduce the number of accidents. In 2015, the Chicago Police Department made 3,315 DUI Arrests. And Between 2003 and 2012, 3,866 people were killed in DUI related crashes in Illinois.

Key Changes In Marijuana Enforcement For Criminal Defense, Dui.

Govenor Rauner signs Senate Bill with changes to marijuana  enforcement of note to criminal defense and dui attorneys.

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Effective immediately, Senate Bill 2228 removes criminal penalties for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana. Govenor Rauner signed this long delayed bill after he had amendatorily vetoed  a similar proposal last year. https://www.illinoispolicy.org/rauner-signs-marijuana-decriminalization-bill/ Marijuana enforcement under 10 grams is now a civil penalty.

Public Act 99-0697 provides in synopsis;

“Amends the Cannabis Control Act. Provides that the possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis is a civil law violation punishable by a minimum fine of $100 and a maximum fine of $200. Creates the offense of unlawful use of cannabis-based product manufacturing equipment. Provides that a violation is a Class 2 felony. Provides that the provisions of any ordinance enacted by any municipality or unit of local government which imposes a fine upon cannabis other than as defined in the Cannabis Control Act are not invalidated or affected by this Act. Amends the Drug Paraphernalia Control Act. Provides that if a person is convicted of 10 grams or less of cannabis, the penalty for possession of any drug paraphernalia seized during the arrest for that offense shall be a civil law violation punishable by a minimum fine of $100 and a maximum fine of $200. Provides for distribution of these fines. Amends Illinois Vehicle Code. Provides that a person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle, snowmobile, or watercraft within this State when the person has, within 2 hours thereof, a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration in the person’s whole blood or other bodily substance of 5 nanograms or more of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol per milliliter of whole blood or 10 nanograms or more of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol per milliliter of other bodily substance from the unlawful consumption of cannabis (rather than a cannabis THC concentration in any amount). Amends various other Acts to make conforming changes. Effective immediately.”

Two key changes are noteworthy to criminal defense and dui practitioners. In the past few years, various municipalities had already decriminalized small amounts of possession of cannabis. For example, the Cook County Sheriff’s office had already given their police discretion as to whether or not to ticket a violator or charge them with a misdemeanor. Link… Cook County police enforce laws in unincorporated areas of Cook County. However, at the time the Sheriff’s department took that initiative, bordering municipalities to an unincorporated area were still treating possession of small amounts criminally. This patchwork of differing enforcement levels led to some strange yet true situations.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/23/illinois-marijuana_n_7128806.html For example if client x was arrested on the south side of Busse Highway bordering Elk Grove village, and client Y on the north side of the same street, client x on the south side-(unincorporated Cook County) could be ticketed while client Y arrested directly across the street (incorporated Elk Grove Villiage) had to be arrested and prosecuted criminally. Ultimately Cook County Board passed an ordinance allowing tickets to be issued for low level possession throughout Cook County.

Making the law uniform throughout the state is helpful to criminal defense lawyers in  ensuring uniformity of application and decreasing disproportionate  consequences for similarly situated offenders. While some may certainly argue that Govenor Rauner’s compromise  version using 10 grams rather than 15 as originally proposed by sponsor Kelly Cassidy, (and the standard used by Cook County ordinance)  did not go far enough, and others argue  no amount of marijuana possession should be decriminalized, this bill is a common sense  start in bringing Illinois more in line with the national trend of either decriminalizing marijuana  possession or legalizing it entirely as Colorado and Oregon and some other states presently do.

The other key portion of note to dui defense lawyers is the provision mandating a threshold amount of cannabis to be detected in a violator’s chemical test as opposed to the “any trace” standard previously in existence. For those lawyers representing clients charged with DUI (a)(6), -a person could be convicted for dui based on a trace amount of cannabis showing in his system cite….this is a welcome step in the right direction. If you had a client who was arrested for a driving infraction, perhaps with bloodshot eyes or some other “indicia” for example thus giving probable cause to arrest and he or she consented to a urine test showing traces of marijuana, they would be charged for dui despite the possibility that they were driving sober as a rock yet be convicted of Dui since cannabis remains in a person’s system for up to 28 days , leading to punishment for conduct that did not occur on the date charged or may not even have been in violation of any  law if the person had a medical marijuana card and had imbibed days earlier while not driving. This led to potentially unfair, or arguably unconstitutional convictions and extremely damaging collateral consequences.

This law also seems to attempt to reconcile the medical marijuana act provisions with contradictory provisions of the dui statute. But as those of us who practice DUI defense in cannabis cases know, much more work needs doing to make marijuana enforcement provisions uniform with new DUI statutes.