Chicago Police Algorithm Attempts to Predict Shooters, Victims
In a move that is raising racial profiling fears, Chicago Police are now using a computerized algorithm to decide where officers should patrol, according to The Chicago Tribune. The formula takes information about criminal history and involvement in shootings in order to generate a score that indicates how likely people are to be perpetrators or victims of violent crime. The Chicago Police Department is currently focusing on residents with scores over 400—that is, people who the algorithm predicts to be over 400 times more likely to be involved in a violent crime. This list of high-scoring individuals is known as the “strategic subject list.”
The department then meets with the people on the list to try to prevent them from killing, or being killed. The theory, according to The New York Times, is that a relatively small number of people are responsible for most of the violent crime in the city. The trick is identifying who they are. During the meetings, which police call “custom notifications,” police officers inform subjects that they are under intense police scrutiny. At the same time, social workers offer assistance with housing and drug rehabilitation in an effort to provide gang members with a way out of a dangerous life.
Civil Liberties Groups Worry List May Be Racial Profiling Tool
The department has been running the program for over three years. The program has come in for criticism from several different directions. There have been over 330 homicides this year to date, which is an increase of over 40%. At this rate, there will be over 600 homicides this year. It’s not just the list’s effectiveness that is raising concerns. Some groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, are concerned that the algorithm used to generate the scores may give disproportionately high scores to racial minorities or residents of high-crime neighborhoods. This, in turn, could lead to disproportionate police scrutiny on the basis of race or geography. The department defends the program, arguing that over 20% of the subjects they visited requested some kind of assistance, and that fewer than 10% were victims of violence after the visits.
Illinois Law Prohibits Racial Profiling
The Illinois Criminal Code of Procedure of 1963 lays out the law for police officers on arrest, search and seizure. In general, a police officer may arrest someone if they have:
Chicago Algorithm Could Be Unconstitutional Racial Profiling
Although the Chicago Police Department has performed mass arrests of gang-related suspects, the “custom notification” meetings are not searches, seizures or arrests. This means that they do not require a search warrant or reasonable grounds for the officers to believe that the subject has committed a crime. Because the officers are requesting permission to enter homes or speaking to the subjects outside, the officers don’t need a warrant to justify forced entry. However, if the police department did use the algorithm or list to decide who to arrest without a warrant, this would be a due process violation: the rule requires that the officer have reasonable grounds to believe that the person is committing or has committed a crime, not that they will commit a crime in the future. Likewise, if the algorithm was based entirely on race, and officers were to use it in deciding whom to detain, this would be a violation of the suspect’s constitutional rights. But even if race were one factor in the algorithm, it might still survive a court challenge.
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If you or someone you know has been falsely arrested, you need expert legal help. Contact an experienced civil rights attorney at Barney & Hourihane in Chicago to get the justice you deserve.
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State’s Attorney Drops Murder Charges on Appeal
In what may be a case of false imprisonment, two men are free after 23 years in prison, after Chicago prosecutors dropped murder charges against them, The Chicago Tribune reports. The men are Armando Serrano and Jose Montanez. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office decided to drop the charges because prosecutors could no longer carry the burden of proof necessary to uphold the conviction. The decision came after an appeals court judge issued a ruling which found that “profoundly alarming acts of misconduct” had led to the arrest.
Investigating Officer Pays Out in Wrongful Conviction Lawsuit
Over two decades ago, prosecutors convicted the two of the 1993 murder of Rodrigo Vargas in Humboldt Park. The conviction rested on evidence provided by former Detective Reynaldo Guevara. Guevara was a West Side police officer whose work has attracted increasing criticism from the courts. Guevara allegedly arrested Serrano and Montanez on the basis of a tip he received from an informant, who later confessed that Guevara provided the story to the informant.
The informant says that Guevara threatened and intimidated him to force him to give false testimony, according to ABC 7 Chicago. Authorities have previously released another person, Juan Johnson, that Guevara investigated for a 1989 murder. Johnson won a $21 million dollar wrongful conviction lawsuit against Guevara. Kimberly Foxx will take over the State’s Attorney’s Office in December, and plans to review the cases of at least two other men in prison for crimes that Guevara investigated.
Illinois Appeals Courts Can Reverse Trial Court Convictions
Under Illinois Law, all appeals of criminal verdicts go to the Illinois Appellate Court. The State can appeal when a court dismisses a charge, or effectively does so by suppressing evidence from an arrest, quashing a warrant, etc. If the state appeals, the defendant usually goes free from jail during the appeal. The time that passes during the appeal doesn’t count toward time served for the purposes of obtaining discharge if a court later convicts the defendant. If a defendant pleads guilty, they can appeal the sentence, or try to withdraw the plea. If the defendant appeals a guilty verdict, they do not go free during the appeal process.
During the appeal, the defendant’s attorney can bring to the attention of the Appellate Court any errors in the trial that substantially affected the defendant’s rights. The Appellate Court has a wide variety of options if they find that important mistakes occurred at the trial court level. The Appellate Court can reverse the judgment of the trial court, reduce the conviction to a lesser offense, reduce the defendant’s sentence, or order a new trial. United States federal law allows individuals who have suffered from wrongful imprisonment to sue those responsible for money damages, including attorney’s fees.
Serrano and Montanez Could Sue for Wrongful Conviction
Because the trial court convicted Serrano and Montanez of murder, they went to prison while their appeal was taking place. The fact that the only evidence against them at the trial court turned out to be a perjury would probably be a big enough error for the Appellate Court to reverse their convictions. The State’s Attorney probably decided to drop the charges rather than waste any more time in court awaiting a reversal. In cases like that of Serrano and Montanez, a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department for wrongful imprisonment could succeed, since the actions of the detective deprived them of significant rights.
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If you or someone you know has been wrongfully convicted, you need expert legal help. Contact an experienced criminal appeals attorney at Barney & Hourihane today to get the justice you deserve.
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Independent Authority Recommends Fewer Shootings, More Warnings
The Chicago Police Department should tighten its rules on deadly force, according to a report by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). According to The Chicago Tribune, the quarterly report argues that the circumstances in which police officers are allowed to fire at suspects should be narrower. The IPRA thinks the Chicago police should aim to avoid shootings that fall within legal rules but may be avoidable nonetheless. Specifically, they recommend that the City revise its rule allowing officers to fire at fleeing felons. The rule should only allow such shootings when the police believe the felon is an immediate threat to the physical safety of police officers or others. They also recommend that police rules require warnings before officers fire their weapons and that police officers avoid drawing their guns unless they believe they will have to shoot.
IPRA Is Soft on Excessive Force
Other recommendations included making it easier for police disciplinary authorities to fire or suspend officers involved in shootings. The Chicago Police Department has rarely taken these steps. Only 3 of the 400 incidents in which police shot someone in the last decade have resulted in findings that the officer violated department use-of-force rules. Decatur Herald & Review reports that the IPRA itself recommends punishment in less than 4% of cases with sworn affidavits alleging police misconduct. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised to replace the IPRA with a more aggressive oversight body, but so far no concrete plans have emerged. The latest report may be a sign that the IPRA is trying to reform itself in order to avoid more drastic restructuring by the mayor’s office.
Illinois Laws on Police Use of Deadly Force
The law of the land requires that officers use deadly force only to protect against likely harm. In Tennessee v. Garner, the Supreme Court held that police officers couldn’t shoot at a fleeing suspect just because they were suspected of committing a burglary. It would only have been justified if they believed the suspect posed an immediate threat to someone’s safety. In that case, the suspect was unarmed and made no specific threats. Illinois courts have concluded that, in cases where a police officer suspects that a person has committed a forcible felony, the officer it is reasonable for the officer to use force, since the fleeing suspect poses an immediate threat to others. Chapter 5, Article 2 of the Illinois Criminal Code defines a “forcible felony” as including first and second degree murder, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, burglary, arson, kidnaping, or aggravated battery. Illinois courts tend to defer to the factual findings of internal police administrative reviews, except when those reviews seem obviously at odds with the evidence in front of the court.
Will Police Rules Satisfy Illinois Courts?
The standard the Supreme Court laid out in Garner is very broad, but protects suspects who do not pose any physical threat: police officers cannot fire weapons at such suspects. Chicago police are within Illinois law when they fire at a fleeing suspect if they believe that suspect committed a forcible felony, as defined by the Illinois Criminal Code. However, specific police department rules may require the officer to exhaust other methods of arresting the suspect without using lethal force. If the Chicago Police Department implements the recommendations of the Internal Police Review Authority quarterly report, then officers may need to give verbal warnings to suspects before using deadly force. If an internal review body decides that an officer has followed the departmental rules for use of deadly force, a court is likely to respect that finding, unless the evidence clearly contradicts the finding.
Contact a Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney
If you or someone you love has been the victim of police brutality, you need expert legal advice. Contact an experienced civil rights attorney at Barney & Hourihane in Chicago today and get the justice you deserve.
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Chicago Police Officer Kills Teen and Grandmother
The family of a dead Chicago teen are suing the Chicago Police Department for wrongful death and the commission of a hate crime, according to Reuters. The victim, Quintonio LeGrier, died on December 26, 2015, after Chicago Police Officer Robert Rialmo shot him. Officer Rialmo also accidentally killed 55-year-old Bettie Jones during the confrontation. LeGrier was 19 years old.
Officer Rialmo Text Conversations Included Racial Language
The family argues that Officer Rialmo had a racial motive in killing LeGrier. Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones were both African American. The lawsuit alleges that before the shooting, Officer Rialmo exchanged texts with other officers that included racist language. The family is seeking damages under Illinois’ hate crime act, The Chicago Tribune reports. Rialmo’s lawyer argues that other officers used racist terms in the text messages, but that Rialmo did not. Rialmo also argues that LeGrier attacked him with a baseball bat, and that the use of lethal force was necessary under the circumstances. The lawyer characterized the racial terms in the text messages as “hip-hop language.” In addition, Rialmo is counter-suing the city for failing to properly train him on how to de-escalate violent confrontations with mentally ill persons. According to Rialmo, the shooting occurred after he responded to a call about domestic violence. Jones answered the door and pointed Rialmo toward an apartment. Then, LeGrier appeared in the doorway wielding a baseball bat. Rialmo fired his gun at LeGrier three or four times, killing LeGrier. He then discovered that Jones had received fatal wounds as well.
Illinois Law Punishes Hate-motivated Crime
Although numerous wrongful death lawsuits are ongoing in relation to police shootings across the country, the inclusion of a hate crime claim is unusual. The Illinois Criminal Code defines a hate crime as an assault, battery or criminal trespass, property damage, or harassment committed because of a person’s race, color, religion, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability. These are criminal laws. But to sue someone, there must be a civil law basis. The Illinois Code also provides that anyone suffering from a hate crime may bring a lawsuit against the person responsible if there has been physical damage to someone’s health or property. It provides that the victim can receive actual damages (money to compensate them for their injuries) as well as punitive damages (additional awards designed to discourage other potential offenders in the future).
LeGrier Shooting May Be a Hate Crime
In a lawsuit like the one against Officer Rialmo and the Chicago Police Department, it’s possible that the victim’s family could convince the court that the officer committed a hate crime. Because Officer Rialmo aimed a gun at LeGrier, the victims may argue that the officer committed an assault (threatening action) and battery (contact that causes an injury) against LeGrier. The more difficult questions is whether the officer had a racial motive in shooting LeGrier. This may depend on whether the jury believes that Rialmo had racist views based on evidence like his text message conversations with other officers. The court would also need to decide whether any racist views Rialmo held led to his decision to shoot LeGrier. Rialmo will likely argue that his real motive for shooting LeGrier was not the color of LeGrier’s skin, but the perceived threat of LeGrier hitting Rialmo with a baseball bat. If the court concludes that racism motivated LeGrier’s death, then the surviving family may receive both money to compensate them for the value of LeGrier’s life plus additional damages to discourage other possible offenders.
Contact a Chicago Civil Rights Lawyer
If you have been the victim of police misconduct, you will need expert help. Get in contact with an experienced civil rights lawyer at Barney Hourihane today to get the compensation you deserve.
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Under Illinois law, a police officer has the authority to search your car during a routine traffic stop if the officer smells marijuana coming from inside. Illinois continues to follow the United States Supreme Court’s analysis under the Fourth Amendment to the United State’s Constitution that the scent of marijuana provides an officer with probable cause to search the car. Other states, such as Massachusetts, where possession of marijuana weighing less than an ounce is not a crime, offer those caught with a small amount of marijuana some protection from criminal prosecution and prevent an officer from searching your car if they only smell marijuana.
Possession is 9/10th of the law
In Illinois, possession of a perceptible amount of marijuana, or cannabis, is a crime. Therefore, a police officer who smells cannabis coming from a car has the legal authority, known as probable cause, to search the car, and even the person, to find the source of the smell. Police officers have the authority to search your car--which includes any place where cannabis may be concealed--you, your possessions, and even your passengers. They can even make you take your shoes off. At least one Illinois Appeals Court considered police action reasonable after they ordered a passenger in a car remove his shoes when they smelled cannabis during a routine traffic stop. It does not have to be a strong odor. Even testimony of a faint odor perceived by an officer trained in drug interdiction will be sufficient to provide probable cause.
According to the United States Supreme Court, reasonableness is the “touchstone of the Fourth Amendment.” In other words, if the police act “reasonably” then whatever they seize from you or your car is admissible against you in court. Of course, the prosecution continues to have the burden of proving you actually or constructively possessed the cannabis beyond a reasonable doubt for a judge or jury to find you guilty.
What is Unreasonable?
If the police acted unreasonably, then the evidence seized must be suppressed. Although the law is heavily in favor of the prosecution in these cases, the defendant still has a chance to get the evidence against him suppressed. Illinois courts will suppress evidence when the police make a mistake that violates a defendant’s constitutional rights. A common mistake police make is extending a car stop longer than necessary for police to investigate the violation of the law that authorized the car stop in the first place. So, if police stop you to give you a citation because your taillight is out, the police cannot prevent you from leaving once they have cited you for the infraction. In other words, the police cannot hang on to your license after the citation is written so they can have a drug-sniffing dog come to the scene to further investigate. If they do, whatever the police seized must be suppressed.
What happens if you are charged with cannabis possession?
You should contact a lawyer who is experienced in criminal defense immediately. Failing to do so could hurt your case. If an officer seizes cannabis from you or your car at a traffic stop contact our team at Barney & Hourihane to protect your civil rights.
Like most people, you’ve probably made a few mistakes in your past. Maybe you were charged with a relatively minor crime and given court supervision instead of a “conviction,” an incredibly common occurrence. You might believe that these events from years ago won’t come back to haunt you, but that may not be the case. Past arrests, even if they did not result in convictions or formal charges, remain on your record and visible to potential employers unless you actively seek to have them removed. This misconception can have lasting impacts on your life, ranging from lost employment opportunities to an inability to receive financial aid. The only way to ensure that a record, however minor, does not affect you indefinitely is to petition the Court to expunge or seal your record under Section 5.2 of the Criminal Identification Act.
What is the difference between expunging and sealing a record?
Expungement means that your arrest record is officially removed from the files of the arresting authority (i.e. the police) and your record will no longer appear on background checks. If you have ever been convicted of a criminal offense, you cannot expunge your record, but you may still be able to seal your record.
Sealing makes your criminal record invisible from most of the public. Law enforcement agencies can still see sealed records, and employers required by law to conduct background checks (such as hospitals or schools) can still see sealed felony convictions, but they cannot see sealed misdemeanor convictions or any cases not resulting in convictions.
What kinds of offenses can be expunged or sealed?
Expungement is available when the final outcome of your case was something other than a conviction. This includes arrests where no charges were filed, charges that were dismissed, acquittals, findings of not guilty, and most cases where you received court supervision. Certain first-time offender drug probation offenses are also eligible for expungement. Criminal convictions, DUI offenses, and certain sexual offenses are not eligible for expungement, even if the offenses resulted in court supervision.
If your record is not eligible for expungement, it may still be sealed in certain situations depending on the offense and outcome of your case. Most felony convictions cannot be sealed, with a few exceptions. Many misdemeanor offenses can be sealed, but several misdemeanor convictions cannot be sealed, including DUI convictions and crimes of violence such as Domestic Battery and Criminal Sexual Abuse.
As of January 1, 2013, a new amendment to Illinois law introduced the Offender Initiative Program to make it easier for non-violent offenders to expunge their records and get back into the workforce. This amendment allows felony convictions for certain non-violent offenses, including retail theft and possession of a controlled substance, to be removed from your record after successful completion of the program. If you have been convicted of a non-violent felony offense, this new program may be your best bet for clearing your record and moving on with your life.
Do I still have to disclose arrests and convictions on a job application if my record is expunged?
No. If you successfully expunge or seal your record, your arrests and convictions are no longer part of the public record and you no longer need to disclose them.
How do I know my records are eligible for record-sealing or expungement?
The rules and exceptions on what offenses are eligible for expungement and sealing can be complicated to understand. If you are in Chicago or nearby communities and have questions about your civil rights, please contact our experienced attorneys for help you securing a better future.
Police Shooting Cases Change Use of Force
Recent headlines could change the way police use force during arrests, according to the Chicago Tribune. Criticism of perceived racism and police brutality in the high-profile shootings in St. Paul, Minnesota and Baton Rouge, Louisiana has added tension to already strained police-community relations in Chicago. The video of the fatal shooting of Laquan Davis late last year led to protests and lingering anger against police. Some police officers believe the critical attitude toward police has lead to less “proactive” policing, such as traffic stops.
Tension May Lead to Police Brutality
However, today’s shooting of five police officers at a protest in Dallas, Texas underlines the danger facing on-duty police. In the past few days, several other attacks have occurred against police in Georgia, Tennessee, and Missouri, possibly in response to the accusations of police brutality in Louisiana and Minnesota, the Huffington Post reports. It’s possible for this perceived threat to lead to more use of force in arrests if police overestimate the danger of the situation. This could lead, ironically, to more incidents of police brutality.
The Law on Deadly Force in Illinois
Even if the social and political environment has changed, the law still lays down strict rules on the use of deadly force by police officers. In Tennessee v. Gardner, the Supreme Court held that police may only use deadly force when the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm to the officer or others. The Illinois Criminal Code repeats this rule on the use of force and elaborates on the type of situations that might pose a threat of serious physical harm. One specific situation is where the person the officer wishes to arrest has attempted or committed a violent felony that involved serious physical harm to someone, and where that person is attempting to escape. The statute specifically states that the use of a chokehold during an arrest should be considered deadly force. A chokehold is any contact with the neck or throat that is meant to reduce the intake of air.
No Unreasonable Use of Deadly Force
But when is a police officer justified in concluding that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm to the officer? In general, a court will evaluate whether the police officer’s decision was reasonable in the context of the facts as they appeared to him or her at the time of the use of force. For example, if a suspect reaches into their pocket, the police officer may only conclude that this justifies the use of lethal force if the circumstances at the time justify it, according to what a reasonable person would think. Since there is no hard and fast rule about what a reasonable person might perceive as a threat of physical injury, there’s no clear line between justified and unjustified use of force during an arrest.
Get Legal Help
Have you or someone you know been the victims of police brutality? If so, you’ll need expert legal guidance to help you get justice. Contact a police brutality lawyer at Barney & Hourihane in Chicago today to get the help you deserve.
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Chicago Man Arrested on Basis of Eyewitness Identification
A Chicago man was arrested today for a shooting in Evanston, according to the Chicago Tribune.The shooting took place in the parking lot of an IHOP this past Sunday morning. The suspect, Cornelius Jones, is accused of shooting a Beach Park man multiple times. Jones was identified from a lineup by the shooting victim. Police identified Jones as a suspect based on distinctive tattoos on his forehead.
When the shooting occurred, police had an active narcotics investigation involving Jones. Police executed a search warrant at his apartment on Wednesday night. Jones was taken into custody. During the search, they discovered a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic handgun with ammunition. They also discovered a small amount of marijuana. Jones is charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, and unlawful possession of cannabis. Bail was set at $250,000, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
When Lineup Evidence is Admissible at Trial
Jones was identified using a lineup. Suspect lineups are subject to strict rules under Illinois law. The Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure sets out rules for several different types of lineups:
The person administering the lineup is not supposed to know who the suspect is and who the filler are. Otherwise, they might influence the process to bias the witness. If there are multiple eyewitnesses, they are not allowed to confer with one another. When identifying a member of the lineup, no two eyewitnesses should be present at the same time. Otherwise, they might influence one another’s judgment. The fillers must not be substantially different in appearance from the suspect. Otherwise, the witness might pick the suspect simply because he or she is the only person in the lineup that resembles the perpetrator.
What to do when Lineup Evidence is Unfair
Violating any of these rules could prevent the use of the lineup procedure as evidence. If some violation occurred, a defendant’s attorney may file a motion to suppress the identification. If the judge decides that the way the lineup was conducted was too suggestive and that it may have produced an unreliable identification, the results of the identification can be kept away from the jury. If the results of the identification are allowed into evidence, the attorney can attempt to convince the jury that they should disregard the results, since they were produced by a biased process.
Contact a Chicago Civil Rights Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been arrested, you need immediate legal help. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Barney & Hourihane in Chicago today, and defend your rights.
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When thinking about criminal prosecutions, most residents are familiar with police investigation and trial. But what about after a conviction? There are many post-trial issues to understand after a person is found guilty of a crime.
Sentencing in Illinois
If a defendant is convicted during a trial, or enters a guilty plea, the judge must determine the proper punishment, called a sentence. In many cases, especially for more serious crimes, there is a separate proceeding after the trial to determine the sentence. During this sentencing proceeding, the judge may weigh additional evidence to consider when sentencing. During this process, the judge receives a pre-sentence report with information about the defendant, including information about the family, background, and employment history.
State officials develop, implements, and administers a range of recommended sentences for use by judges in criminal proceedings. Although the recommended sentences are discretionary (i.e., judges are not required to follow the guidelines when determining the length and type of penalty for a crime), there are sometimes specific rules that judges abide by in making their decision. For some crimes, the law may require a judge to impose a prison term no less than a predefined amount of time (called a minimum sentence). Minimum sentences differ according to the crime.
Appeals in Illinois
If a defendant loses his or her criminal trial, the defendant may appeal the decision to a higher court.
Throughout the appeals process, defendants have certain rights. It is essential that individuals facing criminal charges have adequate legal representation.
Contact a Chicago Criminal Appeals Lawyer
If you have been charged with a crime, it is critical to contact a skilled Chicago defense lawyer. Understanding your rights may be the difference between freedom and criminal prosecution. The experienced attorneys at Barney & Hourihane are dedicated to representing Illinois residents in all types of criminal matters, including appeals. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.