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).

 

 

 

 

Posted in Hot Legal Topics | Comments closed

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.

Posted in In The News | Comments closed

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notice, given by the President of the Cook County Board to Edwin Burnette regarding the proposed resolution, has been withdrawn.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. 

DO NOT ATTEND THE MEETING ON APRIL 9, 2008 BECAUSE THE PROPOSED RESOLUTION WILL NOT BE HEARD ON THAT DATE.

Posted in In The News, President's Message | Comments closed

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. 

Posted in President's Message | Comments closed

JACK CAREY SCHOLARSHIP DEADLINE APPROACHES

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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SAVE THE DATE: 9/3/08

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!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

DNA Database Evidence at Trial

As a reminder, it is reversible error in a DNA case for the judge to permit the prosecution, over the objection of the defense, to introduce any evidence that the defendant’s DNA profile was in a DNA database. People v. Jackson, 865 N.E.2d 195 (1st Dist. 2007).  This situation comes up mostly in cold-hit cases, where the prosecution seeks to inform the jury that a database hit to the defendant’s profile occurred.  According to the First District Appellate Court, it is error to admit reference to the database.

Posted in Hot Legal Topics | Comments closed

Management’s Seniority List – Please Check for Accuracy

Recently, we posted the seniority list as known by AFSCME Council 31 in Springfield.  Many of you reviewed it and then sent correspondence indicating any errors you noticed.  Management responded by saying that they have their own list and we have now uploaded it for your review.  Please take a look at it and as we said before, send a memo to personnel if there is a mistake.  Then we will send the corrections to Springfield and hopefully arrive at a more accurate list.

Click Management’s Seniority List 022508 to see a pdf version of this list.

Posted in In The News | Comments closed

Cook County Board Finally Gets it Done

I think we can all relax now that the budget passed.  Thanks to all the members and their phone calls to their commissioners, the Cook Count Board voted 9-8 to increase the sales tax by 1% and to also give the Bureau of Health Services to an independent board for management for the next three years.  The vote on the actual budget was 10-7. The compromise which led to the deal on the final day was months in the making and appears to have been spearheaded by former public defender and commissioner Larry Suffredin.  Commissioner Suffredin advocated for an independent body to manage the hospital system but many felt  that was an issue that could be put off into the future.  His insistence on this change and the President’s need for another vote for the tax increase is what led to the compromise.  Now we have revenue and reform. 

Posted in President's Message | Comments closed

Union Sponsored Reception Follows MCLE on 3/7/08

As the Local did for members with last names from A-M in September of 2007, it will host a two hour cocktail reception following the second day of the mandatory MCLE at McCormick Place for members with last names N-Z.

All members at the seminar will receive two drink tickets which can be redeemed for the drink of their choice: beer, wine, pop , water and mixed drinks.    The bartenders will also accept cash if you run out of tickets.

*  Room E450 (one floor up from where the main seminar room.)

*  March 7, 2008 5pm-7pm

Please drink responsibly.

Posted in In The News, Uncategorized | Comments closed
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