Police misconduct constitutes a variety of illegal and bullying acts in which law enforcement agents partake. Misconduct includes excessive use of force, unwarranted property seizure, malicious prosecution, coercion of confession, failure to intervene, bribery, false arrest, intimidation, false imprisonment, creating false evidence, tampering with witnesses or evidence, and more. Police officers have a tremendous amount of power, and when that power is used in unlawful ways, it has a tendency to ruin lives and rip communities apart.
Unwarranted police violence has wreaked havoc on Chicago over the last half century and the problem is not being solved. While there is currently an ongoing civil rights probe of the Chicago police department that began in 2015, a consent decree may be overturned by the new white house administration. If you have had your civil rights violated by a Chicago law enforcement officer or agency, do not hesitate to call an experienced lawyer with the law firm of Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906.
Black Citizens’ Complaints Dismissed at Four Times the Rate of White Citizens’ Complaints
Police misconduct in Chicago is at a crisis level, and citizens’ complaints are not being addressed when it comes to false arrest, tampering with evidence, intimidation, and excessive use of force. While the city paid $520 million in settlements and other legal fees relating to police misconduct from 2004 to 2014, according to bettergov.org, complaints from black citizens are largely being ignored. From 2011 to 2015, there were 10,500 complaints filed by African Americans.
Only 166, or 1.6 percent, of those complaints were “sustained” or ended in discipline of an officer after an internal investigation, according to The Huffington Post. Moreover, black Chicago citizen's complaints were dismissed at four times the rate of white Chicago citizen complaints. In total, the city sustained just 2.6 percent of all 29,000 citizen complaints during that time period. In comparison, the national level of all citizen-initiated complaints being sustained is between six and 20 percent. While the national average varies greatly, it is evident that police misconduct is not being addressed in Chicago in the manner that it should.
Over 400 Shootings Since 2007 and Only Two of Wrongdoing Found Valid
Punishment has essentially been non-existent, though. Since 2007 and the creation of the disciplinary system Police Review Authority, there have been over 400 shootings, as of 2015, according to the New York Times. In only two of those cases have wrongdoings by the officers been found valid. While discipline is rare within the Chicago police department, settlements and payouts from lawsuits are common. If you have been injured, a family member has been killed, or any other civil rights of yours or your family’s were violated, there is still hope for some justice.
Call The Chicago Civil Rights Violations Attorneys of Barney and Hourihane Today
The Chicago civil rights violations attorneys of Barney and Hourihane are experienced with all types of police misconduct, and have successfully represented clients in all manners of cases. Call us today at 312-854-0906 to set up an appointment for as soon as possible.
There are many severities of punishment when it comes to murder or homicide in Illinois. For example, consider the two possible scenarios in which death could occur: 1) a driver carelessly text while driving and runs over a pedestrian in a crosswalk, and 2) a person plots and shoots their business partner over a business argument. In both scenarios the victims are equally dead, but one died of manslaughter while the other died of first degree murder. There are three general categories of homicide: first degree murder, second degree murder, and manslaughter.
When Does Second Degree Murder Occur and What Sets it Apart From First Degree Murder?
First degree murder is a premeditated plot to kill, second degree murder is a murder in the “heat of the moment,” and manslaughter is unintentional but caused by reckless or careless behavior.
Second degree murder “occurs when the defendant commits either intentional, knowing, or strong-probability first-degree murder and the defendant either acted under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by the victim or in an unreasonable belief that his actions were justified by self-defense,” according to the September Illinois Criminal Law Digest. In some instances, murder charges are reduced during the appeals process when an argument can be made in favor of the defendant’s actions or thoughts at the time of the murder.
Road Rage Incident Turns Deadly During Short Lived Fistfight
In the summer of 2016, an appellate court reversed the original charges of second degree murder when a man killed another in a road rage incident, according to the June Illinois Criminal Law Digest. The defendant entered into an argument with another man regarding road rage and hit him in the face with his fist. The blow knocked the other man back, who hit his head on the ground and died of his injuries. The defendant was charged with second degree murder.
Knowing That One’s Acts Create a Strong Probability of Death
However, the appellate court ruled that because the defendant did not know that his acts created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm, the second degree murder charges should be reversed. To commit second degree murder, a reasonable person must have knowledge that their actions would result in another’s death. According to the Illinois Criminal Law Digest, “there is a general rule in Illinois law that death is not ordinarily contemplated as a natural consequence of a blow or blows from a bare fist,unless there is a great disparity in size and strength between the defendant and the victim.” Because the victim and the defendant were of similar size, and the defendant only struck the victim once, the appellate court concluded the “defendant could not have known that death or great bodily harm was practically certain to occur.”
Call Chicago Criminal Appeals Attorneys Barney and Hourihane Today
If you have been charged with homicide of any degree, or another crime that you were wrongly, or overly, punished for, do not hesitate to call the Chicago criminal appeals attorneys of Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906.
Racial bias is everywhere, and countless individuals are not given a speedy and impartial trial by their peers. When jury is selected for trial by the prosecution and defense, there must be a concerted effort to exclude any racial prejudices. This does not always happen, however. For instance, if the defendant is black and the jury is selected to be only made up of whites, and it can be proven that potential jury members were excluded because they were not white, the defendant may have sufficient evidence to show that their trial was flawed. First, three steps must take place in order for this to happen, according to the Illinois Criminal Law Digest.
Proving Racist Intent Behind State’s Peremptory Challenges
Illinois Appellate Court Finds Defendant Correct in Claims of Race-Based Peremptory Challenges
Recently, such a trial was found to be racially biased. The appellate court ruled in favor of the defendant and found that the State used 80 percent of its peremptory challenges against African Americans and only 8.3 percent of the jury as African American. The flaws in the jury selection and trial court’s decision were as follows: the defendant showed that the State accepted three white jurors with similar characteristics of the African American jurors who were dismissed. The State challenged the defendant’s reasons for claiming that the peremptory challenges were racially biased but the trial court did not conduct the necessary third-stage evaluation of the State’s reasoning.
Contact a Chicago Criminal Appeals Attorney Today
Sadly, all around the country, including Chicago, it is common for the prosecution to weight the jury against the defendant with racist intent. This is one of the many reasons that there is a disproportionate number of people of color in prison. Statistically, all-white or heavily white juries will come down harder on black or hispanic defendants than juries that include members of the defendant’s race. If your trial was flawed because of a peremptory challenge based on race, do not hesitate to contact the Chicago appeals attorneys of Barney and Hourihane as soon as possible at 312-854-0906 today.
Former Bolingbrook Police Sergeant Convicted for Murder is Heard by Illinois Supreme Court
Sometimes, even the most unlikely cases are appealed. While there may seem to be no hope in overturning a ruling, that a mountain of evidence is in favor of the court’s initial decision, and momentum in the defendant's favor is gone due to unfavorable public opinion, there is still a chance that an appeal will be successful. Not all cases can go to appeal. There needs to be some proof of wrongdoing or mistake on the behalf of the court, prosecution, or the defense. If you believe that such mistakes happened in your case, contact an experienced Chicago criminal appeals attorney with Barney and Hourihane today .
38-Year Sentence Appealed at Appellate Court in Ottawa
A former Bolingbrook, Illinois, police sergeant was convicted of murder in 2012. He was sentenced to serve 38 years in prison for killing his third wife in 2014, and was later sentenced to an additional 40 years when it was found that he had attempted to hire a hitman to kill the state attorney who originally convicted him. However, his case went to appeals court. The initial court decision was upheld by the Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa, according to the Chicago Tribune. Allegations that the lead defense attorney had a conflict of interest and that his counsel was ineffective were found to be untrue. However, the story does not stop there.
No Confession, No Eyewitness, and No Known Time of Death
The death of the defendant’s third wife was initially thought to be an accident. However, when she was unburied, signs of foul play were detected. The defendant's fourth wife came forward with allegations that he had murdered the third wife, but she went missing and was never able to give testimony in court. Her disappearance was thought to be the work of her husband, and in order to admit her testimony in court, prosecutors admitted it with a 2010 hearsay law, called Drew's Law, that allowed her witness testimony to be heard “beyond the grave.” Despite there being no confession, eyewitnesses, or known time of death, prosecutors were still able to convict this man of murder, though not without a prolonged fight.
Case Taken to Illinois Supreme Court
After the appellate court ruled in favor of the initial court’s decision on a 38-year sentence for murder, the former police sergeant's attorneys took the case to the next step up. The defendant’s arguments were heard before the Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday, November 12th. Just getting the hearing was rare, as 95 percent of appeals requests are rejected by the Illinois Supreme Court, according to Chicago 5. A decision is expected to be reached at some time next year, according to ABC 7 Eyewitness News.
Contact a Chicago Criminal Appeals Attorney Today
Was your trial rushed through? Was their key evidence not taken into account, or bias within the courtroom? Contact a Chicago civil rights attorney at Barney and Hourihane law today at 312-854-0906 for immediate assistance.
Stop and frisk programs began in the 1960s and were aimed, as they are today, at minorities, according to Time Magazine. While crime has seen a large decline in Chicago and the nation as a whole over the past few decades, stop and frisk programs are continuing to gain ground in large cities such as New York and Chicago, wreaking havoc on millions of people’s daily lives.
Throughout its history, stop and frisk has been used not to decrease crime, which it does not actually succeed in doing, but as a crutch for politicians looking to gain votes through fear mongering. The sole reason that stop and frisk still exists is due to the fact that politicians are so adept at feed on their constituents’ racist belief systems. While, according to ABC 7 News, stop and frisks fell by 80 percent in 2015, there has been talk among politicians, including president-elect Donald Trump, to reinvigorate efforts.
Right to Remain Silent, and Ask to See Search Warrant
If a police officer stops you while you are walking along the sidewalk, there are certain steps you must take to protect yourself, as described by the New York Civil Liberties Union. First and foremost, you should remember that you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer the officer’s questions. Many people get in trouble down the road because of things they said to an officer that they did not legally have to omit. And, if the officer attempts to search yourself or your belongings, they must ask consent. If they have a search warrant, you should ask to see it. If they do not have a warrant, make sore to say that you do not consent to this search. The search may happen regardless, and you should cooperate fully if so, as it is a crime to interfere.
Stop and Frisk Procedure
Police may stop you if they have “reason to believe” that you are currently committing a crime, are about to commit a crime, or have committed a crime in the past. First, ask if you are under arrest or are allowed to leave. Do not use foul language or insult the officer, no matter what they say or do or how insulting they are being to you. Do not run from, resist, or touch touch the officer. Try to use calm rationale to deescalate the situation. You do not have to agree with the officer’s accusations, and remember that you can always remain silent if you so choose. Take the additional steps as well:
Contact a Chicago Attorney
If your civil rights have been violated by stop and frisk, contact the experienced Chicago civil rights attorneys with Barney and Hourihane law firm today at 312-854-0906 for immediate assistance.
The arrival of Autumn brings with it several long awaited traditions that many of us look forward to. Among those traditions are college football, the leaves falling from the trees, and a beginning of the holiday season. And for legal experts there is another - the Supreme Court will be back in session.
For those who follow the law and its developments, the Supreme Court is the pinnacle of the legal world. In most cases they have the final say of what the law means and how it should be interpreted. This is even more true when dealing with the developments of criminal law and procedure. This is so for several important reasons.
The world of defending criminal actions is one dominated by the U.S. Constitution and the court rulings interpreting it. When the framers adopted and implemented the U.S. Constitution and its first amendments it was largely a document of negative rights. Which is to say that it is a government document which limits what the government, its officials, and agents can do to the public.
This means that every interaction a government agent, like a police officer or prosecutor, has with the public is regulated by the standards of the Constitution. When those lines are crossed or rules are broken then a defendant facing criminal charges may have a reprieve and defense in addition to those presented the facts of a case. And those rules are handed down and defined by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Double Jeopardy Case
One of the upcoming cases the Supreme Court will decide on criminal law and the Constitution is regarding the applicability of the Double Jeopardy clause. That clause guarantees that no one will face the same charges twice once acquitted by a judge or jury. This means that a prosecutor is not allowed to charge a person with a crime, and after losing the case, try again for a second time.
In this case that the court will decide, Yeager v. United States, the court will have to decide whether double jeopardy applies in cases where a jury hands down a verdict on some charges, but is hung on others. What happened in this case was that a person was accused of insider trading among a number of other charges but under the same set of facts. In the trial, the jury handed down a verdict of not guilty on some of the charges, but not on the others. Now the prosecution is asking to re-prosecute the defendant on the hung jury charges because they never came to a decision.
The question for the Supreme Court will be whether a prosecutor can charge someone twice for thes ame facts when a defendant is acquitted of charges with the same basic elements to the crime. If the court sides with the prosecutors in this case, it will open up the public to even more prosecutions in the future, and provide prosecutors with more than one bite at the apple in criminal cases.
Contact a Chicago Criminal Appeals Attorney
Defending charges such as insider trading and other complex federal crimes requires the right kind of attorney for the job. The criminal appeals lawyers at Barney & Hourihane have the experience and dedication you need to protect your rights. If you are facing one or several federal crimes, contact us today. We will help you understand what your options are and what steps you need to take to defend yourself.
When the U.S. Constitution was adopted, the framers and ratifiers could not have imagined what impact all of the amendments to the original constitution would have on criminal procedure in the future. In fact, the application of the constitution to criminal laws and procedures takes up the majority of opinions the High Court issues on constitutional issues.
One of those all important constitutional amendments in dealing with criminal cases is the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In it, the framers forbade the government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment on those who are convicted of criminal activity in a court of law. But the exact meaning of cruel and unusual punishment has eluded a firm definition over the many years it has been interpreted.
In typical cases, the Eighth Amendment is used as a way to challenge the death penalty. Of course there are critics on both sides of this issue. Those who are for the death penalty argue that it can not be considered cruel and unusual as the framers announced it because at the time the death penalty was a common sentence for crimes that were not even murder. Then there are those who oppose the death penalty and argue that the provision should be viewed in the light of modern standards and not those of the 18th century.
Prisoners Argue Eighth Amendment Rights
Now the cruel and unusual principle of the Eighth Amendment is making an appearance in a different sort of way. Prisoners in a Texas state prison are arguing that the heat conditions they suffer through in summer, without adequate air conditioning and ventilation, constitute making them suffer a cruel and unusual punishment for their crimes. And now the case is catching national attention.
To bolster their case, the plaintiffs are presenting evidence of how the heat has affected prisoners in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. It was recently reported that since 1998, 20 inmates have died from heatstroke or hyperthermia. And the lawsuit alleges that many more have died from complications arising from overly hot conditions. Now the case is before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether forcing inmates to live in sweltering conditions while serving a sentence for a crime constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
This is just one example of the many ways in which the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments work to protect the rights of those accused of crimes. But the only way to ensure those rights are properly exercised is by having the right legal team who knows what your rights are and how to defend them in court.
Every encounter that a person has with the government or its agents related to a crime must comply with the norms and rules embodied in the U.S. and Texas Constitutions. This means that searches and seizures must be reasonable; in most cases the police need a warrant to enter a home or make an arrest; that a suspect is informed of his rights to remain silent and have an attorney, and many more. If any of these rights are violated, the court is obligated to create a solution that both punishes the wrong act and which works to prevent it from happening again. But all of this can only happen if the defense attorney knows what he is doing.
Contact Chicago Criminal Appeals Lawyers
If you are facing criminal charges by the federal, state, or military, you need the right attorney working on your side. Contact our Chicago civil rights lawyers at Barney & Hourihane to learn more about your rights.
How a judge and prosecutor come to their decisions may well be swayed by preconceived notions. If a judge has a grudge against a type of person or has strongly irrational feelings about the type of crime that a defendant allegedly committed, unfortunately there is not a lot that can be done about that. However, what a judge or prosecutor say and how those beliefs are represented in the courtroom does matter. A judge cannot pass down sentencing by slandering the defendant before the jury has reached a decision, for example.
If a judge or prosecutor is found to have behaved inappropriately and that behavior could have intentionally or unintentionally swayed the outcome of the decision, a retrial may be necessary. Or, if it can be proven at a later time, an appeal may be granted. The criminal appeals attorneys of Barney and Hourihane can be reached at 312-854-0906 for experienced, aggressive, and immediate assistance.
Cook County Judge Comments Found “Highly Offensive”
Recently, a Cook county judge was found to have said highly offensive remarks by a three-judge appellate court, according to the Chicago Tribune. The judge has a prior history of using profane language and making improper comments, and has been reassigned and disciplined before in the past. In this instance, the judge’s remarks have lead to a retrial. The defendant, accused of being part of an attempted murder of three Chicago police officers, apologized for his actions to his children at the sentencing.
Right afterwards, the judge said "I don't believe they thought about their kids in the slightest on that day. If someone said, 'Hey, man, how are your kids doing?' their response would be 'What kids? I got kids somewhere?'" The appellate decision claimed that the judge’s comments “leave little doubt that they were derisive and intended to malign an entire class of criminal defendants. ...The court's sarcasm was unwarranted and wholly inappropriate." Additionally, the prosecutor described the defendant as a “criminal” in her opening statements back in 2013, which the appellate panel also condemned.
Personal Bias is Cause for Serious Concern
Whenever a judge is in the position to make an impartial decision, there is great reason for alarm. The defendant’s future lies partially in the hands of that judge, and to make anything but an unbiased ruling is one of the greatest pillars of the U.S. justice system. According to 28 U.S. Code § 455, “Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Personal bias should not have a place in the courtroom.
It is impossible for any person to be completely unbiased in every scenario, even a judge. However, when there is reason to believe, through their actions or words, they a judge has such a bias, you must take swift action. Call the experienced Chicago criminal appeals attorneys of the Barney and Hourihane law firm today at 312-854-0906 for, aggressive and experienced representation.
Denial of Expert Witnesses Leads to Appeals
In January 2016 the Illinois Supreme Court set a new precedent in the state with their decision in the case of People v. Lerma. The appeal stemmed from a case initially heard in the Circuit Court of Cook County. In the circuit court the majority of evidence against Eduardo Lerma came from two eyewitness statements. However, the defendant was not allowed to put an eyewitness identification expert on the stand. An expert on eyewitness identification can address where faulty identifications are likely to occur. These are not always details apparent to a jury. The expert will point out details such as:
What the Supreme Court decided in People v. Lerma was that when the judge refused Lerma the opportunity to use an expert witness, he thereby failed to give Lerma a fair trial. In the opinion the Supreme Court wrote, “Advances in DNA testing have confirmed that “eyewitness misidentification is now the single greatest source of wrongful convictions in the United States, and responsible for more wrongful convictions than all other causes combined.” Illinois courts, which had up until this case been notorious for denying expert witnesses to testify on eyewitness identification, are realizing the importance of having experts on the stand when a case is based almost solely on eyewitness statements instead of forensic science.
We have already seen the impact of this Illinois Supreme Court decision within the Chicago area. In 2006 a rapper from Rolling Meadows was killed and Patrick Taylor from Chicago was sentenced in 2011 during a case that relied heavily on four eyewitnesses. Taylor’s case was recently reviewed by the Illinois Appellate Court and will now receive a new trial. One of the assistant Cook County public defenders who defended Taylor told the Chicago Tribune, “The physical evidence pointed to another man.”
Whether or not Taylor is found innocent remains to be seen, however allowing a criminal defense team to present expert witnesses is critical. As a result of People v. Lerma we expect to see more appeals such as Taylor’s. Contact the law office of Chicago appeals attorneys Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906 for immediate assistance.
There are various types of appeals that can lead to a case being reviewed by either an appellate court or the Supreme Court. An appellate court hears appeals from lower courts and makes a decision that usually brings the case to a final end. However, an appeal can be made to the Supreme Court in rare circumstances, and in even rarer circumstances the Supreme Court may hear the appeal. If you were penalized for a crime that you did not commit, the penalty is uncommonly severe, there was an unfair hearing, or your rights were violated in any other way, call an experienced criminal appeals attorneys at Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906 for immediate assistance.
What are the Possible Outcomes of an Appeal?
Appeal stems from disagreements of how the law should be applied, and from a constitutional rights violation. No new evidence is permitted during an appeal. The decision can be affirmed, meaning that the lower court’s original decision will be upheld; the decision can be remanded, meaning that the it will be sent back to the lower court for decision and review according to the higher judge’s advice; or the decision can be reversed, meaning that the appellate judge annuls the decision that came out of the previous lower court trial.
Supreme Court Hearings are Rare
Any case that involves the federal law or the constitution can be heard by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court gets around 7,000 requests each year, though it only hears 80 cases a year, roughly, and makes a decision on an additional 50 without hearing an argument, according civilrights.org. Two thirds of the cases are appealed from federal courts, one third are appealed from state supreme courts, and sometimes, though very rarely, the Supreme Court takes on cases that were not previously heard by a lower court.
Writ of Certiorari
A writ is an order issued by a higher court to a lower court. Cornell Law states that while writ of certiorari is rarely used, the Supreme Court commonly uses writ of certiorari to determine which cases to hear. When a writ of certiorari is issued, all the evidence and case files are sent up to the Supreme court for review.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
A writ of habeas corpus is issued by a court to the authority detaining a person and requires the detained person’s attendance in court so their case can be reviewed. It is possible in this scenario that the court finds the reason for detention illegal and releases the individual.
Contact a Chicago Criminal Appeals Lawyer
All appeals are “as of right” appeals, or “discretionary” appeals, depending on the specifics involving the case. The court has to hear appeals as of right, which is enforced by constitutional principles. A discretionary appeal is not mandatory for an appeals court to hear, and is only heard at the discretion of the court. If you wish to file an appeals, you need an experienced attorney with knowledge specific to Illinois appeals law. Call Chicago appeals attorney Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906 for immediate assistance.