Union Golf Outing Rescheduled 7/24/08

Local 3315 will be having its annual golf outing on July 24, 2008 at Eaglewood in Itasca.   This was the place where we held our outing last year and were having an excellent time — until of course the tornado laden weather hit the area. This year we will be hoping for better weather.  The outing includes 18 holes of golf with a cart, dinner, drinks and a myriad of door prizes.  Our annual chair is Brother George Grezeca of the Homicide Task Force.   More details about tee times and costs for guests as these details become available.  Please mark your calendars (or correct them) for this annual gathering of members on the links.

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Hearing on Resolution to be Held May 7, 2008

The County Board will address the proposed resolution to remove the Public Defender on Wednesday, May 7, 2008.   All members are encouraged to take time off to attend the hearing, which will probably be scheduled for 10 am, but when it will actually be heard is another matter.  The official agenda for the meeting is not yet out but can be found a few days before the hearing on the County website.  Please do not confuse the County Board’s hearing with the hearing that will take place two days earlier.  That is the hearing before Judge Riley of the Chancery Division in the case of Burnette v. Stroger.  Please come out and show your support for fairness.

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Theodore Thomas wins Summer 2008 Jack Carey Scholarship

The Jack Carey Memorial Scholarship committee voted on April 8th to award the Summer 2008 Jack Carey Memorial Scholarship to Theodore Thomas.  Theodore is currently a second year student at DePaul Law School and has been clerking for Gina Pimonte and Julie Koehler of the Murder Task Force.Theodore has participated in several jury trials, numerous investigations, and has helped work on the briefs in the Degorski case.  Theodore plans on continuing his work with the attorneys from the Task Force this summer.The $2000 scholarship is awarded three times a year to law students who clerk at our office and Theodore is the 17th scholarship winner.  The deadline for the Fall/Winter scholarship is July 1, 2008 and the application is available on this website under the Scholarship tab. 

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Center Console of a Vehicle Qualifies as a Case for Aggravated UUW Statute Exception

Per People v Diggins, 2008 Ill App. LEXIS 195, the Third District Appellate Court ruled on March 11, 2008, that  the center console of a vehicle constitutes a case for the “enclosed in a case exception” to the Aggravated UUW statute. “ Allowing drivers to hide weapons anywhere in the vehicle, so long as the case is portable, while prohibiting the storage of such weapon in a glove box or center console {is} absurd, illogical and unjust.” In Diggins there was a factual dispute as to whether the console was locked or open and the court thus remanded for a new trial rather than reversing the conviction outright.  


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Constitutionality of Consecutive Sentences at Issue Again

As a result of the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in People v. Wagener, 196 Ill.2d 269, 752 N.E.2d 430 (2001) we thought the attempt to apply Apprendi v New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000) to consecutive sentences was dead. But maybe not!!!  On March 17, 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Oregon v. Ice,  2008 U.S. LEXIS 2387 to decide the issue of whether the Sixth Amendment requires that facts (other than prior convictions) necessary to imposing consecutive sentences be found by the jury or admitted by the defendant. Members involved in cases involving consecutive sentencing situations should raise the issue and check out the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision on which cert was granted at State v Ice, 2007 Ore. LEXIS 815 (2007).





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Julia Nowicki Confounded by Stroger Administration’s Failure to Hire a HR Bureau Chief

Well the compliance administrator for the Shakman SRO will appear before the County Board  today (4/9/08) and remind the county of its failure to hire a “highly qualified politically neutral individual” to the position of Chief of the Bureau of Human Resources.  Read her letter to President Stroger and the Commissioners here.

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Hearing Postponed

The union has confirmed that the notice, given by the President of the Cook County Board to Edwin Burnette regarding the proposed resolution, has been withdrawn.  A new date and time will be set and when and if it is, we will inform the membership on this blog. 


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The Proposed Resolution Concerning the Removal of the Public Defender

Well, so much for relaxing following approval of the 2008 budget.  Here we go again with the political machinations of the Stroger Jr. administration.  Rumors began yesterday, April 3, 2008 and were confirmed within hours that County Board President is scheduling a hearing on April 9, 2008 before the County Board to determine whether Edwin Burnette should be relieved of his duties for “good cause or dereliction of duty.”Now most unions don’t really take a position when it comes to such situations because we represent the members and are not beholden to Management.  So why should we care who the manager is?  Well the situation is a little different when the manager is doing everything he can to keep his office free from political influence and well staffed.  Even if everything he can do includes suing his boss (Burnette v. Stoger 07 CH 33805).But that seems to be the very crux of the proposed resolution which cites six counts of alleged willful negligence.  A clear example of the pot calling the kettle black.Although Burnette and his attorney can speak for themselves, (and if the hearing is not a sham, they will have an adequate opportunity to defend him) some of those counts are so outrageous that they deserve comment.Yes, sometimes clients spend years in jail waiting for trial.  And it is entirely possible that 34 clients have waited for over 5 years for a trial.  But there are many reasons for delay: interlocutory appeals, change in counsel, extensive and voluminous discovery, illness of judge or counsel, death of counsel, fitness for trial, delay in obtaining DNA testing, delay in obtaining documents, etc.  Not to mention that a majority of the cases are death penalty cases which require experts and an extensive mitigation history workup.  There are even times when attorneys wait for up to an hour at the jail to see their clients because of the lack of staffing at the Cook County Department of Corrections.  Some of our clients are housed at facilities hundreds of miles from Cook County and their representation imposes logistical burdens that most people do not appreciate. Some of us work way more than 40 hours a week representing our clients.  Some of us work less.  But we all work consistent with our professional responibility- as we are contractually and professionally obligated to.  And we are paid for working hours consistent with our professional responsibility, not for working 40 hours a week. If the Law Office of the Public Defender was solely responsible for hiring and staffing, then there would probably be no lawsuit captioned Burnette v.  Stroger.  To say that the public defender is responsible for the lack of staffing is insulting.  Human Resources, under President Stroger, controls when someone is hired by the office.  My understanding is that to this day, no postings are up at Human Resources for the hiring of entry level public defenders.  The ones hired recently are from a batch who interviewed for the job years ago.  As to managers, they are seriously understaffed and underpaid.   I can only speculate that the reason supervisors are not being hired is because Mr. Burnette does not want our office to be the political dumping ground that we all fear. As to the Special State’s Attorney issue, it seems best left to the forum in which it is pending – Chancery Court.  The resolution appears to be a retaliatory and collateral attack on the pending suit and is perhaps an effort to render it moot or at the least, intimidate the plaintiff.So here is the  part where I am going to tell my brothers and sisters what I think you should do.  Our job is to defend people.  It shouldn’t be out of character for us to defend Mr. Burnette – especially when the allegations are as spurious as the ones contrived by Stroger Jr. & Co.  At a minimum, we should ensure that the hearing isn’t a sham and has all the trappings of a proceeding where Mr. Burnette receives due process.On Wednesday, take time off to attend the hearing and show your support for Mr. Burnette.   Also, make sure you call your commissioner and tell them how you feel.  The commissioners who sponsored the resolution are: PERAICA, BEAVERS, GOSLIN, MORENO, SILVESTRI, MURPHY, SIMS, STEELE AND DOODY-GORMAN.  Be sure to tell them to vote “no” on this resolution. 

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Brothers and Sisters, do you know a hard working law student who would be interested in winning a $2000 scholarship?  If you do, please direct them to our website and the Scholarship tab on the left hand side.  There, they can find information about the scholarship available to law students who clerk in our office.  The application is online and can be sent via email.   The deadline for the summer scholarship is April 1, 2008.

And don’t forget to mark 9/3/08 in your calenders for the next fundraiser for the scholarship – a Cubs night game with special pre-party!

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The Jack Carey Scholarship Committee is pleased to announce the next fundraiser.  Cubs v. Houston, September 3, 2008, Wrigley Field.  More information on tickets and exclusive pre-game festivities when they become available.  Mark your calenders!

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