Laws are about to get tougher for Illinois speeders

Yesterday, the Illinois Senate voted unanimously to prohibit sentences of court supervision for anyone who is caught speeding more than 25 miles an hour over the speed limit in an urban district, or 30 miles an hour over the speed limit anywhere else.

You can find the text of the Bill (SB2888) here.

Supervision has been described as being like “a continuance until the conclusion [at which time] the court shall discharge the defendant and enter a judgment dismissing the charges if the defendant successfully complied with the conditions of supervision.”   A supervision is not a conviction, so it would not appear on one’s public driving record, cause a suspension or revocation, or affect insurance rates.

This change in the law comes within a couple of years of our state making driving in excess of 30 miles an hour over the posted limit a Class B misdemeanor (more than 40 over is a Class A misdemeanor).

This means that anyone found guilty of driving over 30 miles over the limit will become a convicted criminal.

In my experience, the vast majority of these speeders are young men, who are probably either unaware or undeterred by these laws, and who typically have no other criminal background.  Do we really want to stick them with a criminal record merely for speeding?

Thanks to Chicago attorney Tatiana Czaplicki for making me aware of this new bill.

This blog post from Jonathan Turley provides yet another reason why it is so imperative that citizens have the right to record encounters with police.


In Florida, two Coral Springs police officers — Nicole Stasnek and Derek Fernandes — have been accused of false statements against a woman after an audio recording surfaced contradicting their claims about a roadside arrest of Susan Mait, 60.

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Worth hearing: Molly Shannon talking about her alcoholic father

Molly Shannon

If you have ever listened to Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, you will know that he has an amazing ability to get his guests to open up about parts of their personal lives that they normally don’t discuss.

That happened again last week when he interviewed Molly Shannon, who is probably best remembered for her years on Saturday Night Live.  It turns out that after her mother passed away when she was four, Molly and her sister were raised by a single father, who had a serious alcohol problem.

Molly clearly has great love and affection for her father, who is now deceased, despite the trauma that he caused, and she had a very difficult time talking about one particular incident that occurred when she was very young.  I don’t want to spoil anything further.  Go here to download or hear the podcast.  Maron usually leaves his new podcasts up for a few months before he takes them down behind a paywall for subscribers.

Melissa Calusinski’s Motion for New Trial Denied

Today Judge Daniel Shanes of Lake County, IL denied Melissa Calusinski’s attorney’s motion for a new trial.

In their Motion, her attorneys argued that Dr. Manny Montez, who testified for the prosecution, made false statements about his lack of board certification by the American Board of Pathology.  According to Ruth Fuller for the Chicago Tribune and Trib Local,

During his testimony in Melissa Calusinski’s trial in November, Dr. Manny Montez, who was consulted during the boy’s autopsy, said he was not certified by the American Board of Pathology because “I have not sat before the board for the test.”

According to records obtained through a subpoena, which was read in Lake County court Thursday, Montez took but did not pass the anatomic portion of the certification exam in September 2001. But he did not take a forensic sub-specialty portion of the exam.

Calusinski’s attorney, Paul DeLuca, said Montez was not being truthful when he said he had not sat for the exam, thus denying his client her right to a fair trial.

Prosecutors argued that Montez did not misrepresent his qualifications and that the outcome would have been the same even if the jury knew he failed the board test.

“He never claimed to be board-certified,” Assistant State’s Attorney Christen Bishop said. “He said, ‘I never sat for the test,’ singular. He didn’t lie. This fact would mean nothing to the jury.”

Montez, who has a contract to perform autopsies for the Lake County coroner, could not immediately be reached for comment…

Thursday, Judge Daniel Shanes agreed with the prosecution while denying the defense’s request for a new trial.

“I do not find that Dr. Montez lied,” Shanes said, adding he didn’t believe Montez’s testimony was enough to sway the outcome of the trial.

“This is a non-issue,” he said. “It would have had the effect of an insect hurtling itself down on an 18-wheeler while it is traveling down the highway. Shakespeare said it better when he entitled his play, ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’”

Montez performs “a significant amount” of autopsies for Lake County, Yancey said, and Montez has testified in several recent high-profile trials. According to court records, he charged the county $800 for two hours of testimony in the trial of Marni Yang, who was convicted of killing Rhoni Reuter while she was pregnant with the child of former Chicago Bears player Shaun Gayle.

The denial of post-trial motions is common, but it gives the parties an opportunity to present issues to the trial judge before the case is appealed to a higher court.

Calusinski’s lawyers have already indicated that they plan to appeal her conviction and sentence.

Massachusetts admits you have a First Amendment right to video record police

The City of Boston was forced to pay attorney Simon Glik $170,000 after he was arrested for using his cell phone to video record Boston’s finest make an arrest.  Glik, a criminal defense attorney, felt that the officers were using excessive force.

Ultimately, prosecutors dropped all charges against Glik.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that Glik had a First Amendment right to record the arrest, and that the police should have known that it was illegal to arrest him for recording him, thus making them liable.

The First Circuit covers Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico.  Since those of us who live in the Chicago area are in the Seventh Circuit, this ruling does not apply here.  However, it is in line with the recent rulings of Circuit Court Judges in Cook and Crawford Counties.

Thanks to Maryland attorney David Benowitz for notifying me about this story.

First the IL House tramples the people’s rights, then it trashes the Constitution

Rep. Jehan Gordon (D-Peoria)

Look at what has happened in the week since primary day.

First, the Illinois House voted to kill HB 3944, the bill which would have allowed citizens to video record police while acting in their official duty, by a vote of 59-45.  Without this change, it remains a Class One Felony to record a police officer, punishable from four to fifteen years in prison.

But that doesn’t mean that our General Assembly has given up on the idea of amending our Eavesdropping Statute.  Only this time, they want to make a different sort of change …

Representative Jehan Gordon (D) of Peoria has proposed HB 4081, which does away with the requirement that police obtain a warrant before eavesdropping.  For alleged “drug dealers” so I guess that is supposed to make it okay.  The bill provides that:

“With prior request to and verbal approval of the State’s Attorney of the county in which the conversation is anticipated to occur, recording or listening with the aid of an eavesdropping device to a conversation in which a law enforcement officer, or any person acting at the direction of a law enforcement officer, is a party to the conversation and has consented to the conversation being intercepted or recorded in the course of an investigation of a drug offense. The State’s Attorney may grant this verbal approval only after determining that reasonable cause exists to believe that a drug offense will be committed by a specified individual or individuals within a designated period of time.” HB 4081(q)(1)

Evidence obtained from the eavesdropping would be admissible in drug cases and “forcible felonies” whatever those are.

So much for the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

So, to recap, our legislators think it is perfectly okay for you to go to jail for up to fifteen years if you use your cell phone to record a cop who is in uniform, out on the public way, and for said cop to surreptitiously record you, without a warrant, anywhere, anytime, anyhow, in the hopes that he can catch you committing a crime.

I wonder why none of this was done before primary day.

Singer Bobby Brown arrested for DUI

According to the L.A. Times, singer Bobby Brown was arrested today for DUI.

The Times reports that:

File photo: Whitney Houston and then husband Bobby Brown.

Singer Bobby Brown was arrested in the San Fernando Valley on suspicion of driving under the influence, law enforcement officials said.

The arrest occurred at 12:20 p.m. Monday at near the corner of Victory Boulevard and Wilbur Avenue, according to California Highway Patrol officer Mike Harris. Officers pulled him over for talking on his cellphone but then administered a field sobriety test, Harris said.

The arrest comes four days after the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office released the results of its autopsy of Brown’s ex-wife, Whitney Houston.

Houston appears to have used cocaine “in the time period just immediately prior to her collapse in the bathtub at the hotel,” said L.A. County Chief Coroner Craig Harvey. Houston, 48, was determined to have accidentally drowned Feb. 11 following an apparent heart episode with cocaine as contributing factor.

Officials would not say how much of the drug was in her system. But Harvey, the coroner’s operations chief, said the toxicology findings “suggested chronic usage” of the drug.

Brown and Houston’s 14-year marriage was tarnished by drug abuse, Brown’s run-ins with the law and allegations of domestic abuse. It became fodder for the tabloids and entertainment shows and for a year was on display in the reality show “Being Bobby Brown.”

The superstar singers met at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards and married three years later.
Houston divorced Brown in 2007, winning custody of their daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown.