April 23, 2015

Lawsuit Alleges Chicago Police Department Conducting "Suspicionless" Stop-And-Frisks

A federal lawsuit filed on Monday on behalf of six African-American men contends that the Chicago Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy has violated their constitutional rights. The lawsuit alleges "suspicionless" street stops led to unlawful searches and seizures as well as the use of excessive force by the police department. The suit is seeking class-action status, alleging that the constitutional rights of mostly African-Americans have been violated. The named defendants are the Chicago Police Department, superintendent Garry McCarthy as well as 14 unnamed police officers.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Terry v. Ohio permits police to make a stop when there is reasonable suspicion that a person has committed or is about to commit a crime and there is a reasonable belief that the individual is armed and imminently dangerous. In these cases, a brief patdown of the individual's outer clothing in search for weapons is permitted.

Gregory Davis, 58, is a plaintiff in the case. He alleges that in July 2014, he was waiting in his vehicle for a family member to come out of Walgreens when officers asked him why he was sitting there and demanded his driver's license and insurance information. The allegations further state after looking into his vehicle, the officers allowed him to return to his home without issuing a citation. Davis was stopped again three months later as he drove through an alley in his neighborhood. He alleges that there was no probable cause for the stop and officers took his license and registration, making him wait 20 minutes while they ran his information. Again, there was no charges or citations issued.

The suit mentions an ACLU report that came out in May that found African-Americans constituted 72% of all stops, while only 32% of the city's population. It found that African-Americans, especially in white neighborhoods, were stopped at a disproportionately higher rate than whites and Hispanics. According to the ACLU, the police made more than 250,000 stops between May and August 2014, and none of those people were arrested. The Chicago Police Department's policy requires that officers who make a stop but do not make an arrest fill out a "contact card" listing the age, address, race, time and location, any distinguishable marks/tattoos and the reason for the stop.

A spokesman for the city's Law Department said officials had no comment as they were still reviewing the lawsuit.

Chicago sued over Police Department's alleged stop-and-frisk practices, April 21, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com

Lawsuit Seeks To End Police Stop and Frisk Tactics In Chicago, April 21, 2015, www.chicago.cbslocal.com

April 16, 2015

Suit Alleges Probation Officers, Chicago Cops, and FBI Conspired to Conduct Warrantless Searches

Orangelo Payne, 35, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the FBI, Chicago police, the Cook County probation department, an FBI agent as well as individual police and probation officers. He alleges that while he was on probation for a drug offense in 2013, his home was illegally searched by an FBI agent and probation officers, who found an antique shotgun. This led to 16 months in jail for Payne, before the gun charges were eventually dropped.

The lawsuit alleges that there were improper partnerships between probation officers and law enforcement agencies. Payne alleges that the probation department did not investigate or discipline these probation officers, thereby encouraging misconduct.

Less than a year ago, the Tribune ran a story alleging that the probation department's gang unit improperly worked with the FBI and other agencies to conduct warrantless and possibly illegal searches. The former Deputy Chief of the gang unit is one of the defendants in Payne's case.

The allegations arise out of different standards for the different agencies in conducting a search and arrest. Probation officers only need "reasonable suspicion" to conduct surprise searches of probationers' homes without warrants, while police departments and the FBI must have "probable cause." The Tribune revealed in their investigation that the FBI and police were acting in conjunction with the probation officers in conducting the searches, thereby surpassing their probable cause and warrant requirements.

Payne is alleging that probation officers and an FBI agent showed up at his apartment in Bronzeville and searched his home due to the fact that he was on probation. They also questioned him regarding the murder of an FBI informant who had connections to Payne's family's business. Because the antique gun was found during the search, Payne was charged with illegally possessing a gun and violating his probation.

No comment was given by any of the agencies involved.

Probation officers conspired with FBI, cops for illegal searches, suit claims, April 15, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com

Report says Chicago police, FBI joined in warrantless probation searches; law firm to investigate, May 22, 2014, www.abajournal.com

April 8, 2015

Man Charged with DUI at McDonald's Drive-thru in Aurora

An Aurora man was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving after allegedly threatening to fight a customer in the McDonald's drive-thru line.

Just after midnight on Monday, Aurora police were called to a home after reports that someone was playing music too loudly in a maroon Jeep. When police arrived, they found Daniel Garibay sitting in the vehicle. Police reports indicate that Garibay appeared to be drunk and that officers warned him not to drive. Officers then left the residence and believed the incident to be over.

However, about an hour later, a McDonald's employee called police, stating that someone in a maroon Jeep was being disruptive in the drive-thru line. The same officers that had responded to the earlier call arrived at McDonalds and quickly realized that this was the same man they had earlier warned not to drive. Besides threatening to fight another customer, the restaurant manager stated that she believed Garibay to be drunk after he seemed confused and had trouble speaking when ordering.

This is not the first time a DUI arrest took place at a McDonald's drive-thru. Less than a month ago, a man was charged with driving while intoxicated at a Delaware McDonald's drive-thru and two months ago a man was arrested for DUI after passing out in a Kansas McDonald's drive-thru.

Aurora man gets DUI in McDonald's drive-through, April 6, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com

Man charged with DWI at Oneonta McDonald's drive-thru, March 12, 2015, www.pressconnects.com

March 31, 2015

Illinois May Reduce Penalties for Possession Cannabis

Two bills introduced so far this year would reduce penalties for possession of cannabis in Illinois.

Senate Bill 753, sponsored by Senator Michael Noland of Elgin, would decriminalize the possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21. These same individuals would also be permitted to cultivate up to five cannabis plants. If under 21, the penalties would stay the same.

House Bill 218, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy of Chicago, provides that possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana be charged as a petty offense, rather than a misdemeanor. The individual would be assessed a $100 fine. It also classifies possession of 30 to 500 grams of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor for a first time offender, rather than a Class 4 felony as the statute currently provides.

An analyst at the Illinois Policy Institute says that Illinois has the fifth highest arrest rate for possession of marijuana. He explained that these changes would allow law enforcement to focus their efforts on crimes with more victims and crimes which present public safety risks.

Illinois could ease pot penalties, March 28, 2015, http://www.thetelegraph.com

Senate Bill Aims to Legalize Small Amounts of Pot, February 5, 2015, http://chicago.cbslocal.com/

March 27, 2015

Ford Announces Car That Can Prevent Your Next Speeding Ticket

Ford of Europe has announced a new technology that could help you avoid that next speeding ticket. Its new S-max car reads speed limit signs with a camera mounted on the windscreen. The car then adjusts its speed to stay within the confines of the speed limit and will slow down your car if you are driving too fast.

The new technology, known as Intelligent Speed Limiter, controls the amount of fuel delivered to the engine rather than pressing on the breaks to slow down the car. The technology may be turned on and off and pressing firmly on the gas will temporarily override the system.

This may mean that in the future, speeding tickets will be obsolete. But for now, if you receive a speeding ticket, please do not hesitate to call our office at 847-390-8500 for representation.

New Ford car automatically obeys speed limits, March 25, 2015, www.money.cnn.com

Ford Launches car that prevents you from speeding, March 24, 2015, www.cnet.com

March 11, 2015

Lake County Man Released From Prison After 20 Years For Crime He Did Not Commit

Angel Gonzalez, of Waukegan, spent 20 years behind bars before being formally exonerated of rape and abduction charges on Monday. The basis of the exoneration was DNA. While bodily fluids implicate two different men in the crime, neither DNA sample matched that of Gonzalez.

Gonzalez appeared in a Lake County courtroom, shackled at the ankles, as Judge Victoria Rossetti vacated the conviction. While the excitement was evident, Gonzalez was then sent back to prison for a 1997 charge of criminal damage to property for allegedly damaging a sink while in solitary confinement.

On Tuesday, Gonzalez's attorneys asked a Livingston County judge to vacate the charge because there was no interpreter present when Gonzalez, who speaks little English, pled guilty. Judge Jennifer Bauknecht agreed to vacate the conviction and the prosecutors then agreed to drop the charges.

Gonzalez is the fifth individual in 20 years to be exonerated of a major felony in Lake County. Two of these men, Juan Rivera and Bennie Starks, who spent years in prison, were present in the courtroom on Monday.

Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim was also present. After the hearing, he apologized to Gonzalez: "If words were enough, I'd say I'm sorry, and I am sorry."

As of Tuesday night, Gonzalez was released.

A detainer was placed on Gonzalez in 1995, which would have required that he be sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") after his release from prison. However, an ICE spokeswoman said in a statement, "Since Mr. Gonzalez has been exonerated on all charges, ICE is exercising prosecutorial discretion and has canceled his detainer." Gonzalez's immigration status is still unclear and the ICE spokeswoman referred questions to Citizenship and Immigration Services.

After 20 years in prison, Lake County clears man in rape -- but he isn't free, www.chicagotribune.com, March 9, 2015

Man cleared in '94 rape walks out of prison as 2nd case dropped, www.chicagotribune.com, March 10, 2015

Angel Gonzalez, Illinois Man Exonerated in 1994 Rape Goes Free, www.nbcnews.com, March 10, 2015

March 5, 2015

Failure to Log DUI Arrests Allows Offenders to Keep Driving

A Tribune investigation revealed that the driver's licenses of thousands of drunk drivers have not been suspended because the arrests of these drivers are not being logged into state computers. While state officials blame the police for failing to send their reports to the Illinois Secretary of State, the police departments say that they put all necessary paperwork in the mail. While the root of the problem is relatively unclear, the Tribune noted that the mistakes appear to be widespread. In fact, since 2010, more than 3,000 Chicago area drivers' arrests were not logged and as many as one in 15 DUI defendants do not have suspended licenses in DuPage County.

Police in other states are permitted to log arrests electronically, making the process more efficient and reliable. However, Illinois has not yet made this change and does not expect to for at least a year or likely longer.

In Illinois, the suspension process begins with paper forms that the officers fill out by hand which are mailed to a state office building in Springfield. The state workers then enter the information into the computer, which requires deciphering the officers' handwriting. There are many opportunities for mistakes to occur, such as the use of improper forms, forms getting lost in the mail or in Springfield and illegible handwriting.

After the Tribune investigation revealed these mistakes, a Secretary of State spokesman said that the agency will send a letter this week to all police departments to remind them that the law requires police to fill out and mail in their forms.

State will press cops to avoid DUI paperwork errors, March 3, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com

DUI paperwork mistakes allow thousands of drivers back on Illinois Roads, February 28, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com

February 25, 2015

Report Shows Lake County Leads State in DUI Arrests

According to the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists ("AAIM"), a non-profit citizens action group that has tracked Illinois DUI arrests since 1982, Lake County made the most DUI arrests in the state in 2013. The 233 officers averaged 1.49 arrests per officer, bringing the total number of arrests to 348. Right behind Lake County was Cook County. However, Cook County has more officers in their force. The statistics state that Cook County's 487 officers made 306 arrests, which is an average of .63 arrests per officer.

AAIM determined that the Chicago Police Department, with roughly 12,000 officers, made approximately 3,400 DUI arrests. The rate of .28 arrests per officer pales in comparison to Lake County.

DUI fatalities in Illinois were down 38% from the last decade. However, the seemingly sharp decline in drunk driving may be due to the lack of arrests by some police departments. Although there is a decrease in DUI fatalities, drunk driving is still a major problem in the United States. One person was killed every 52 minutes due to DUI-related accidents in 2013 across the country.

Lake County leads in DUI arrests, but are we safer?, www.chicagotribune.com, February 19, 2015

Top 25 Counties and Cities With The Most DUI Arrests in Illinois, www.rebootillinois.com, January 29, 2015

February 18, 2015

Freed Inmate Sues Northwestern for Unethical Conduct Leading to Double-Murder Conviction

A former Northwestern professor, a private investigator and a lawyer are accused of conspiring to frame Alstory Simon, who spent 15 years in prison, for a 1982 double-homicide in Chicago. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Simon, and seeks $40 million dollars in damages, alleging unethical conduct on the part of Northwestern University and professor David Protess. Protess founded both the Medill Innocence Project and the Chicago Innocence project, which are organizations that investigate what they believe to be wrongful convictions.

The suit alleges that Simon was framed in order to free Anthony Porter, who was on death row for the murders. Manufacturing evidence, coercing false statements from witnesses and intimidating Simon into confessing are among the allegations. The suit claims that students working with Protess gave witnesses money for drugs, lied about their identities and flirted with witnesses. Also alleged is that Simon was set up with a lawyer who coached him to plead guilty. The lawsuit claims that Simon was under duress and the influence of narcotics when he confessed.

Investigator Paul Ciolino who is implicated in the case said in a written statement that Porter was indeed unjustly convicted and denied a coerced confession by Simon. The suit accuses Ciolino of impersonating a police officer, confronting Simon while armed and showing Simon a video of an actor falsely claiming to have witnessed the killing. The lawsuit also alleges that Ciolino told Simon he could avoid the death penalty if confessed that the victims were shot in self-defense and promised Simon legal representation and large sums of money from book and movie deals if he gave the statement.

In late October, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez announced Simon would go free. While she said she was unable to determine who committed the murders, she said she had serious doubts regarding the tactics used in the case.

Porter's release played a significant role in former Governor George Ryan's decision to halt executions, which were eventually abolished in Illinois in 2011.

Northwestern declined to comment on the case, other than to say they were investigating the lawsuit. Protess could not be reached for comment.

Suit: Northwestern allowed unethical acts, leading to wrongful conviction, www.chicagotribune.com, February 17, 2015

February 13, 2015

Florida Attorney's DUI Checkpoint Advice

A Florida attorney has a recommendation for dealing with DUI checkpoints. He says that individuals should place their license and registration up to their window with a flyer saying that they have no comment, will not permit a search, and want a lawyer.

Warren Redlich and an associate, Jeff Gray, have created a website, posting videos of their interactions with police at DUI checkpoints. The video from December 31, 2014, has been viewed more than 2 million times. It was filmed at a checkpoint in Levy County, Florida. The video shows Gray stopping at the checkpoint and displaying a flyer stating, "I remain silent. No searches. I want my lawyer," along with his license, registration and insurance card in a plastic bag dangling out of the barely open window. The officer examines the documentation with his flashlight and allows Gray to drive through the checkpoint. The Broward County Sherriff's Office stated that Gray was allowed to go through the checkpoint because "he clearly was not driving while intoxicated."

Police are unhappy with the tactics being used by Redlich, and insist that drivers must speak with police at the checkpoints. However, Redlich is not backing down and has created flyers for 10 states, each slightly different due to differences in DUI laws. He says there are more flyers on the way.

Florida Lawyer Sparks Debate About Rights at DUI Checkpoints, http://abcnews.go.com, February 10, 2015

February 3, 2015

First Round of Medical Marijuana Licenses Issued in Illinois

While the fate of medical marijuana licenses in Illinois was questionable amid a new governor taking office, Governor Bruce Rauner made a surprising move and awarded dozens of licenses on Monday. Letters were sent out to 18 cultivation centers and 52 retail shops confirming that they have been selected to receive the licenses. Others who have spent thousands of dollars on the application process were disappointed to find out they were not selected.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner conducted an internal review that revealed flaws in the medical marijuana license award process under former Governor Pat Quinn. In a statement made by John Barclay, Rauner's general counsel, he said that Quinn's process had created "a risk of substantial and costly litigation" to the state. While Quinn said that applications were subjected to a blind review process, Governor Rauner's review revealed that state agencies conducted a "character and fitness review" subsequent to the blind scoring.

Still under review are two applications from HealthCentral LLC, an application from strip club owner Perry Mandera, and a company part-owned by Nicholas Vita, a former Goldman Sachs executive who faced lawsuits in other states for opening medical marijuana businesses.

While it is unclear how long it will be before patients will be able to buy medical marijuana, crops could begin to be harvested as soon as this year.

Rauner announces who can grow and sell medical marijuana in Illinois, www.chicago.suntimes.com, February 2, 2015

Rauner issues medical marijuana licenses after review, www.thetelegraph.com, February 2, 2015

January 22, 2015

Police Body Cameras Coming to Chicago

In the wake of highly publicized shootings by police officers across the country, there has been an increased focus on body cameras as a way to visually monitor police actions.

The Chicago Police Department has announced that Chicago police will begin wearing body cameras within two weeks, as part of a two-month pilot program. Taser International, Inc., is providing the cameras at no cost to the city or police department. The officers working the afternoon shift in the Northwest Side's Shakespeare District, which includes parts of Logan Square, West Town, and Humboldt Park will wear the 30 cameras either on their headgear, glasses or clothing.

While the cameras will be turned on during "high-risk situations," the officers will also turn the cameras on during DUI stops and foot and vehicle pursuits. The Chicago police officers will be required to inform individuals they come in contact with that they are being recorded.

The hope is that these "body cameras will strengthen police and community relations," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said.

Some Chicago police will start wearing body cameras in the next two weeks, www.redeyechicago.com, January 20, 2015

Chicago police to begin wearing body cameras today, www.wgntv.com, January 21, 2015

January 13, 2015

Medical Marijuana Cultivation Centers and Dispensaries Put on Hold as Rauner Takes Office

The question of whether medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries will receive their licenses has been put into the hands of the new governor, Bruce Rauner. Governor Pat Quinn left office without issuing the contemplated licenses and it is unclear whether Rauner will issue them. Rauner showed his opposition to medical marijuana during his campaign but sources indicate that he may be reconsidering his position. A Rauner spokeswoman said his administration is "in the process of reviewing it."

While the decision to issue licenses has not been made, on Monday morning, Governor Quinn signed into law changes to the current medical marijuana program in Illinois. One significant change is that patients charged with driving under the influence of medical cannabis will have their medical marijuana card revoked and their driver's license suspended.

Also, state regulators will have the authority to fine and suspend individuals for violating existing law. Before this change, the only penalty was to revoke a violator's license. Additionally, fingerprints of owners, investors, and employees of cultivation centers and dispensaries as well as patients and caregivers will be checked against state and federal databases.

Hundreds of businesses filed applications in September and more than $5 million dollars has already been invested in cultivation centers and dispensary licenses. In addition, more than 650 patients have already paid $100 each for their medical marijuana cards.

Patients left 'hanging' as medical marijuana decisions delayed, www.chicagotribune.com, January 13, 2015

Medical marijuana licenses in limbo as Quinn leaves office, www.bnd.com, January 12, 2015

December 30, 2014

7 New Illinois Laws You Should Know for 2015

1. The liability of parents for underage drinking no longer only applies to residences or private property. State law will be expanded in 2015 to penalize parents who allow those under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in vehicles, trailers, campers or watercrafts under their ownership or control. Parents will face a fine of up to $2,000. If a death results, parents can face a felony charge.

2. The Illinois Tollway Authority will now have the authority to increase the speed limit to 70 mph on interstates in urban areas. The law previously passed in 2013 allowed for a 70 mph speed limit only in rural areas.

3. Individuals, including children, who suffer from seizures will be permitted to be treated with medical marijuana. Although the specific rules and regulations regarding children are not finalized, it is likely that the child will be required to obtain written certification from two doctors.

4. Photo lineup procedure will change in order to help reduce wrongful convictions. The procedure will no longer allow the lineup administrator to know the identity of the suspect. An independent administrator, automated computer program, or a random folder lineup method will be among the permitted photo lineup procedures. Instead of viewing all individuals in the lineup at the same time, the new legislation will allow police departments to present each individual in the lineup separately.

5. Police department ticket quotas will be prohibited.

6. Juvenile arrests that did not result in the filing of a delinquency petition will be automatically expunged when the minor turns 18 only if the minor was not arrested within six months of the minor's most recent arrest.

7. A request for a search warrant can be made to a judge by simultaneous audio and video transmission, such as Skype. The transmission must be filed and retained in a way determined by the Chief Judge or Presiding Judge in the issuing jurisdiction.

New year brings numerous new laws to Illinois, www.buglenewspapers.com, December 29, 2014

Teen drinking, medical pot, speed limit, beer among new Illinois laws in 2015, www.rrstar.com, December 29, 2014

December 24, 2014

Beware of DUI Roadblocks this Holiday Season

In Illinois, a common practice used by police to bust drunk drivers is the use of DUI Roadblocks, otherwise referred to as Safety Checkpoints. Use of roadblocks to identify intoxicated drivers is legally permissible, only if utilized correctly by police. If you have been arrested for DUI following a roadblock stop, do not automatically assume that the stop, search, and arrest was proper, as the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution still affords citizens protection against unlawful search and seizure.

The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that, if done properly, roadblocks do not unreasonably intrude into an individual's privacy because intoxicated motorists pose a substantial risk to the safety and welfare of other motorists. With that said, police are not granted unfettered freedom of intrusion, and are still governed by principles of reasonable suspicion to stop an individual and probable cause to make an arrest.

For a roadblock to be valid, the certain requirements must be met:

1. The police agency must have made advance public notice of the roadblock.
2. The police officers conducting the roadblock must be given specific instructions for operating the traffic stops and must adhere to those standards.
3. The stop of vehicles cannot be random, but must be made in a set sequence; every other vehicle, every third vehicle, etc.
4. The use of the roadblock must be a minimal stop to check for a valid driver's license and then make brief visual observations of the interior of the car and the driver.
5. To make a more prolonged and detailed investigation of the driver, the officer must make specific and articulable observations of drug and/or alcohol use.
6. If the officer does make specific and articulable observations of drug and/or alcohol use, the officer may continue with the stop, but still must have probable cause to make an arrest.

If you have been arrested as the result of a roadblock, it is important that you consult with an attorney experienced in DUI and criminal defense. The defense attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. have years of experience handling these cases throughout Illinois including Cook, Lake and DuPage Counties.