Articles Posted in Firm News

Cook County’s court system has received a $2.5 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, an initiative aimed to reduce the number of people in jail and address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

“Local jurisdictions are proving it possible for cities and counties to rethink local justice systems from the ground up, despite challenges and an ever-changing political environment,” said Laurie Garduque, MacArthur’s Director of Criminal Justice.

“MacArthur remains committed to supporting jurisdictions as they set ambitious reform goals and pursue smart solutions that safely reduce all jail populations, address disparities and eliminate ineffective, inefficient and unfair practices.”

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The Chicago Bar Association’s Public Affairs Committee, for which Robert Kreisman is chair, and the Administration of Justice Subcommittee, for which Mr. Kreisman is also the chair, presented a panel of three experts who dissected the Chicago Police Consent Decree at the Union League Club on April 24, 2019. The program was attended by more than 115 people, including Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and two other district court judges, Honorable Ronald Guzman and Honorable Susan Cox. Lawyers in attendance received continuing education credit.

The panel of experts included University of Wisconsin law professor Linda Greene; Cara Ann Hendrickson, the state’s lead consent decree negotiator, now a partner at Massey & Gail LLP; and Karen A. Sheley of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and director of the Police Practices Project at the Illinois Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The forum was moderated by Robert Kreisman who also introduced Chicago Bar Association President Steven M. Elrod. Mr. Elrod addressed the audience as did David Kohn, executive director of the Union League Club.

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On Aug. 29, 2017, the State of Illinois filed suit in federal court against the City of Chicago, alleging that the Chicago Police Department’s use-of-force policies and practices violate the federal Constitution and Illinois law. Two days later, the parties moved to stay these proceedings while they negotiated the consent decree.

Almost immediately after the State filed the complaint, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 7 publicly indicated its opposition to any consent decree, citing fears that the decree might impair its collective bargaining rights. For months, the Lodge monitored the ongoing negotiations and met informally with the State’s representatives. The Lodge waited until June 6, 2018 to file a motion to intervene in the lawsuit.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied the motion to intervene as being untimely. The reason given was that because the Lodge had to know from the beginning that a consent decree might impact its interests but delayed its motion for nearly a year, and because its allegations with prejudice were considered speculative, the court of appeals affirmed that order.

The competition for the Kreisman Law Offices’ annual student scholarship was awarded to Sara A. Agate who is in her third year of law school attending Chicago-Kent College of Law. Sara also has a Master’s of Public Health, which she achieved at the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2014. Sara graduated in 2011 from the University of Illinois -Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in political science. She was on the “Dean’s List.”  Sara also completed academic programs in Argentina and Kenya where she promoted the advancement of reproductive rights for women and children through the Federation of Women Lawyers.

The Kreisman Law Offices scholarship of $1,000 is awarded annually to a current student in an undergraduate, JD, LLB or LLM program with a preference for individuals who are studying in the Chicago metropolitan area or have received an undergraduate or graduate degree at an accredited college or university in the Chicago metropolitan area or is attending a law school in the Chicago area.

Sara applied for the Kreisman Law Offices scholarship by submitting an essay on a topic related to her law school studies. It was with great pleasure that the Kreisman Law Offices scholarship was awarded to Sara Agate in January 2019.

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According to a recent American Bar Association Journal article written by Scott Carlson, trial consultants are turning to a proprietary software and technology information service for a product called Voltaire for jury selection. At least in my jury trial experience, selecting the jury is the most difficult and anxiety-ridden part of a trial. It must also be considered the most important aspect of the trial.

In practice, I have used trial consultants regularly to help select jurors who would be most receptive to the kind of case brought before them. Trial consultants are extremely objective in how they evaluate prospective jurors, their backgrounds, experiences, work histories and family backgrounds and are essential in the jury selection process. There’s been no practical way to search on the fly what the social media references show about a potential juror. That information could be especially valuable to deselect a prospective jury member.

The days of human-to-human contact in jury selection may be changing. Instead, lawyers could eventually rely on the technical information services of a software product such as Voltaire to pick appropriate jurors.

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The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has entered into a settlement agreement that will provide a process by which parolees will learn their rights and receive representation of lawyers during their parole revocation process.

There was no availability of assigned legal counsel for parole violators before this agreement.  This agreement was reached with the Department of Corrections in a case that was represented by Alan S. Mills of the Uptown People’s Law Center.  The U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve of the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago approved the agreement on a preliminary basis.

According to the lawsuit, the state cites a lack of funds when it denies any parolee’s request for appointed counsel during revocation proceedings.  But that practice violates due process requirements found in the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion, Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973).

It comes as no surprise for those who have any connection with or knowledge of the Cook County jail, but in a report from California states that more than 33,000 mentally ill inmates account for about 25% of the entire prison population in that state.  It is well- known in Cook County that many of the approximately 10,000 inmates squeezed into the Cook County jail are represented by at least 2,500 mentally ill persons.

In California, in recent years, the number of mentally ill inmates in its prison has nearly doubled.  The same may well be true in Illinois where the state has faced closings of mental health facilities and other state run hospitals that have cared for mentally ill patients in the past.  State budget cuts have crippled or closed many of these mental health facilities.  Those persons who are mentally ill literally have no place to go and are repeatedly picked up by the police locally, state-wide and imprisoned usually in the local county jail system.

Also adding to the prison population of the mentally ill is the fact that some states and the federal government have increased the penalties for drug use.  As a result, the mentally ill who often use drugs as a way to “self-medicate”, prisons in Illinois and around the country are filling up with these patients.

After much deliberation, two years ago Illinois lawmakers crafted a more lenient law for the transferring of juveniles to adult courts for some serious crimes. The idea was to give judges the clear opportunity to judge or to use their discretion for juveniles charged with serious crimes who were  16 years of age rather than to simply automatically transfer these juveniles to the adult court system. The new amendment increased the mandatory transfer age from 15 to 16 for crimes such as first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault.

Ronald Patterson, a juvenile, was just 15 years old when he was arrested for allegedly committing rape.  He was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 36 years in prison in an adult court after he was automatically transferred there. The issue now is whether the new law on automatic transfers, part of the Juvenile Court Act, should be applied to juveniles retrospectively. The new law and the applicable age change would have made a significant difference had the law been applied back in 2014. Should Patterson be allowed to be re-sentenced under the current law?

The nine-page Illinois Appellate Court opinion written by Justice P. Scott Neville stated that in applying the Statute on Statutes, that unless the legislature specifically says the amended provision does not apply retroactively, it generally should apply in such fashion.

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About 1,000 prison inmates, some of whom have been in prison for more than 50 years for murders they committed as teenagers, may get a chance to be free.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Henry Montgomery, who has been in prison for more than 50 years for killing a sheriff’s deputy in Baton Rouge, La., in 1963. Montgomery was then just 17 years old and was playing hooky from school when he encountered Deputy Charles Hurt. Hurt was a truant officer. Panicked, Henry pulled a gun from his pocket and fatally shot Hurt.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing the majority opinion, said, “Prisoners like Montgomery must be given the opportunity to show their crime did not reflect irreparable corruption; and if it did not, their hope for some years of life outside prison walls must be restored.”

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In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — considered by many to be the most effective piece of civil rights law ever passed in the United States. During the 50 years since its passage, it has been renewed by Congress several times without much alteration or resistance.

The purpose of the act was to make it unlawful to discriminate against minorities by state and local governments who had for all times made it difficult, if not impossible, for blacks and other minorities to register to vote and thus to vote at all. Before 1965, the registration of blacks in most of the Civil War southern states was below 10%. By the end of 1965 after the passage of the act, approximately 250,000 African Americans were newly registered voters. Just 3 years later, more than 700,000 blacks would be registered to vote. Steadily the numbers increased over the years.

And in fact — and most important — African Americans and other minorities in the South were being elected to local state and federal political positions. These advances took place even in the face of efforts to curtail registration and to gerrymander districts into places where blacks and other minorities were unelectable mostly because of the racial makeup of these districts where whites would never or most likely not vote for a black candidate.

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