Harold Wallin ranked as one of Chicago’s Top 20 Criminal Defense Attorneys


The analysts at Expertise.com rated over 250 attorneys to come up with their list of the 20 best criminal defense attorneys in Chicago.  Yours truly made the list.

From their site:

Why These Criminal Defense Lawyers?

Our goal is to connect people with the best local experts. To do so, we analyzed and scored criminal defense lawyers on more than 25 variables across six categories to give you a hand-picked list of the best criminal defense lawyers in Chicago, IL.

Our Criteria:

  • 1. Reputation

    A history of delighted customers as a signal of outstanding service.

  • 2. Credibility

    Building customer confidence with licensing, industry accreditations, and awards.

  • 3. Experience

    Masters of their craft, based on years of practical experience and education.

  • 4. Availability

    Consistently approachable and responsive, so customers never feel ignored.

  • 5. Professionalism

    Providing customers a seamless experience both online and off.

  • 6. Engagement

    Actively engaged with their customers across a number of platforms.

Thank you, Expertise.com!

Judge LeRoy Martin, Jr. appointed as first African-American Presiding Judge of Cook County Criminal Division

From the Illinois State Bar Association website (story by Chris Bonjean):

Cook County Circuit Judge LeRoy K. Martin Jr. will be the next presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Cook County Circuit Court.

Chief Cook County Circuit Judge Timothy C. Evans announced the appointment today, which takes effect immediately. Martin succeeds Paul P. Biebel Jr., who retired in July.

“For the last 13 years, I have observed Judge LeRoy Martin emerge as a rising star in the judiciary,” Chief Judge Evans said.

“He has acquired a reputation for great legal knowledge, unquestioned integrity and a strong work ethic, and as one who always remembers what it was like to practice law and, therefore, treats members of the bar and their clients like he wanted to be treated during his 18 years as a practicing lawyer: Namely, listening closely to their presentations as submitted to him as a judge, applying the law to the facts as he ascertained them to be and always extending respect to those appearing before him.”

“I am convinced he will continue to move the Criminal Division forward as did his predecessor, Judge Biebel, with strong and innovative leadership, and that justice and fairness will always emanate from the Criminal Division under his leadership.”

A South Side native, Martin will serve alongside the 42 judges assigned to the Criminal Division, which last year disposed of 22,487 felony cases.

The Criminal Division hears most felony cases originating in Chicago in its courtrooms located in the Leighton Criminal Court Building at 26th Street and California Avenue. It also has courtrooms at the courthouses in Skokie and Bridgeview, which hear felony cases that originate in Chicago, as well.

“I am both humbled and honored that Chief Judge Evans would consider me for this position. And I look forward to serving with the hardworking judges of the Criminal Division,” Martin said.

Martin, 55, is the first African-American to serve as presiding judge of the Criminal Division.

The Judicial Performance Commission, established by Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and the Chicago Council of Lawyers, has previously said that Judge Martin “draws praise for a good legal ability and temperament. He is considered thoughtful, open to arguments and well-prepared.” The Chicago Bar Association has previously reported that Judge Martin “is dedicated, has an excellent demeanor and receives high marks from the attorneys who appear before him. Judge Martin has worked diligently in his Chancery assignment and is a credit to the bench.”

Martin graduated from DePaul University in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in history and from North Carolina Central University School of Law in 1984.

He began his legal career at Milton N. Blumenthal & Associates, where he represented plaintiffs in personal-injury cases.

He became a Cook County Assistant Public Defender in 1985, defending juveniles accused of felonies and misdemeanors. Martin also represented parents accused of child abuse and neglect in matters when the state filed actions to remove the children from the parents’ custody.

Martin entered private practice in 1987, forming the law firm of Martin & Duckworth. As part of that private practice, he represented defendants accused of felonies, including murder, in the Criminal Division, where he will now serve as presiding judge.

Martin formed a solo law practice in 1995, representing parties in both civil and criminal cases.

“I was very passionate about protecting the constitutional rights of anyone I represented. I’m such a believer in the Constitution and the idea that our system of justice is a model for every other justice system,” Martin said.

“I thought as an advocate, that it was my role to make sure the system would work for everyone – that truly justice would be blind.”
“But I acknowledge the importance of the entire process, not just that individuals accused of crimes have rights, but people who are victims have rights as well. They look to the court system for justice. And we hold people accountable for their decisions or their actions.”
In 2002, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Martin to a judicial vacancy in the Cook County Circuit Court. Voters elected him to the Cook County Circuit Court bench in 2004 and retained him in 2010.

In his judicial career, Martin has served in a variety of assignments.

He started in the First Municipal District in the Traffic Section. He occasionally presided over misdemeanor cases at branch court at 3150 W. Flournoy St., near West Harrison Street and South Kedzie Avenue.

From 2003 to 2007, Martin served in the Domestic Relations Division, where he heard matters involving expedited child support, divorce and civil orders of protection. During his time in the Domestic Relations Division, Martin served at the Markham Courthouse in the Sixth Municipal District.

Martin’s most recent assignment has been in the Chancery Division, which he joined in July 2007, where he handled class-action lawsuits and complex matters including stockholder derivative suits (for example, filed by company stockholders who allege that the company acted inappropriately, such as not properly splitting shares among stockholders); mandamus matters (such as an action against a government official to do something a plaintiff is alleging the government official is required to do); multimillion-dollar insurance disputes; and injunctions.

Cook County Circuit Judge Moshe Jacobius, presiding judge of the Chancery Division, has known Martin since 2003. He called Evans’s appointment “brilliant.”

“Judge Martin is an extremely able, intelligent and hardworking jurist who is an excellent problem solver. He is able to get along with everyone and has outstanding interpersonal skills,” Jacobius said. “He made major contributions to the Chancery Division, and the judges as well as attorneys who appeared before him in the Division will miss him. I know he will be an extremely positive force in the Criminal Division.”

Two Supervising Judges in the Criminal Division – Joseph G. Kazmierski Jr. and Evelyn B. Clay – commended the appointment by Chief Judge Evans.

“I appreciate the efforts of Chief Judge Evans to bring to the Criminal Division a judge of integrity with a broad background in both criminal and civil law. Judge Martin has expressed a willingness to do everything he can to further the aims of the court in the interest of justice,” said Kazmierski, who served as Acting Presiding Judge since Biebel’s retirement.

Clay said: “This is an excellent choice to lead the criminal justice system at this time. Given Judge Martin’s background, training and experience, this is a quality selection. This is a person who is committed to the administration of justice, and we appreciate Judge Evans’s thoughtfulness in bringing him to this position. He will be an excellent leader.”

Martin believes educational and athletic pursuits can make a difference in the lives of others less fortunate than he – and has often volunteered his services in the inner city. He coached an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team consisting of teenagers from the South and West Sides, and many of the teenagers that Martin coached from 2006 through 2010 went on to college.

“These kids needed to see positive male role models because many times in their neighborhoods, they didn’t see that,” Martin said.
A married father of two, Martin is the son of Constance Martin, a retired Chicago public school principal, and the late LeRoy Martin Sr., who served as superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.

Martin has previously served as an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, as part of a four-teacher rotation teaching a class on trial practice.

In addition, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed him to serve on its Civil Justice Committee, studying ways to improve the civil jury trial system. He also serves on The Chicago Bar Foundation Board of Directors; the CBF is the charitable arm of The Chicago Bar Association.

A conservative Federal Appeals Court Judge lists the 12 legal fallacies that have caused over 1,500 false convictions to be overturned since 1989

In a masterful law review article in the Georgetown Law Journal, Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, lists the twelve legal fallacies that he believes are common factors in the more than 1,500 exonerations since 1989.  Judge Kozinski was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and is considered a conservative.

He has spent the last thirty years on the appellate court hearing appeals from people who have been wrongfully convicted.

The twelve fallacies are:

1.    Eyewitnesses are highly reliable;

2.    Fingerprint evidence is foolproof;

3.    Other types of forensic evidence are scientifically proven and therefor infallible;

4.    DNA evidence is infallible;

5.    Human memories are reliable;

6.    Confessions are infallible because innocent people never confess;

7.    Juries follow instructions;

8.    Prosecutors play fair;

9.    The prosecution is at a substantial disadvantage because it must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt;

10.    Police are objective in their investigations;

11.    Guilty pleas are conclusive proof of guilt; and

12.    Long sentences deter crime.

He follows his discussion of each item on this list with the sentence, “What I have listed above are some of the reasons to doubt that our criminal justice system is fundamentally just.”

I cannot do justice to the article, entitled “Criminal Law 2.0” in a blog post.  Please go to http://georgetownlawjournal.org/files/2015/06/Kozinski_Preface.pdf and read it for yourself.

Proposed new law will help Chicago Police to conduct preliminary field tests of suspected narcotics

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office is about to get a bill passed that will save police and prosecutions all the time and effort of accurately determining whether someone actually possesses narcotics before charging them with a felony.  If the law passes, they will be able to get felony charges approved using the results from less accurate field kits.

From the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin:

SPRINGFIELD — A proposal to equip Chicago police with field drug tests is one step closer to becoming law.

The legislation, which passed unanimously through the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee on Wednesday, would create a pilot program for Chicago police officers to test suspicious controlled substances at police stations instead of waiting for a result from a crime lab.

It would also deem the tests — which can check for marijuana, heroin and cocaine — admissible to establish probable cause in preliminary trial hearings.

Under current law, probable cause hearings in illicit substance cases cannot happen until an Illinois State Police chemistry lab sends drug test results back to a state’s attorney.

That process, according to the bill and Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney John P. Carroll Jr., takes about two weeks.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Michael J. Zalewski, D-Riverside, said implementing the field tests would not only expedite that process, it would also lessen crime labs’ burdens so they can focus on more important tests such as rape kits…

Carroll said field-testing benefits would be twofold.

Administering a field test could potentially allow a defendant to leave the police station as soon as it indicated a negative result, he said, and it would save money because the Cook County Department of Corrections spends $143 per day per defendant to hold someone while awaiting the same results from a crime lab.

He pointed to 2013 preliminary court hearing numbers to highlight the time that could be saved by allowing field drug tests. About 6,000 of that year’s 22,000 preliminary hearings resulted with a no probable cause finding.

He said a vast majority of those cases involved low-level narcotics.

“I think this represents a really good bill that would move low-level narcotics cases through the system much faster,” he said

While the bill would allow the tests to establish probable cause in a preliminary hearing, an official lab test would still be necessary for trial. Once a field test comes back positive and establishes probable cause, Carroll said, only then would the state’s attorney call for an official lab report from the state police.

More proof that the “War on Drugs” has gone too far

So you are pulled over for a traffic violation, and the police find a small amount of marijuana in your car.

Of course, being forcibly injected with a muscle relaxer, then intubated with a breathing tube and having the police probe your buttocks is just what you expected to happen next.

Oh you didn’t?  What country do you live in?

From RT.com:

Police violated a suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights when, in an attempt to find drugs on his person, they temporarily paralyzed him and administered an anal probe, a US federal court has ruled.

Felix Booker and his brother were driving through Oak Ridge, Tennessee in February 2010 when police stopped their vehicle. Smelling marijuana, police brought a K-9 unit to the scene, which alerted them to drugs in the car. Even though police are only authorized to give a ticket when finding less than 14 grams of marijuana, officers arrested Booker after finding .06 grams in his car.
The suspect was booked for felony possession of marijuana and strip-searched at the police station. At that point investigators noticed Booker was “fidgeting” and a doctor threatened to temporarily paralyze him if he did not consent to an anal probe.
Booker, who was handcuffed and naked except for a thin hospital apron, consented but doctors later testified that he still “clenched” during the invasive search. He was injected with a muscle relaxant with a tube forced down his throat to regulate his breathing.
Dr. Michael LaPaglia then found 10.2 grams of crack cocaine hidden in Booker’s rectum. The doctor estimated that Booker had been physically incapacitated for under ten minutes and strapped to a breathing machine for an hour. He was convicted of possession with intent to distribute and sentenced to five years in prison.
The US Court of appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in a 2-1 ruling Monday, overturned his conviction and said that police could not use the drugs obtained from inside Booker against him because the paralysis, intubation, and anal probe were in clear violation of Booker’s Fourth Amendment rights.
An attorney for the police said LaPaglia, not officers, was responsible for the cavity search. The court, not entirely disagreeing, said police frequently took suspects to LaPaglia when they suspected drugs were in an individual’s rectum and that they “effectively used Dr. LaPaglia as a tool to perform a search on Booker’s person.”
The judges, as quoted by Think Progress, said a medical procedure of this sort does not “immunize the procedures from Fourth Amendment scrutiny” and that such cooperation between police and the doctor “is one of the greatest dignitary intrusions that could flow from a medical procedure.”
In another recent incident of police testing the limit of “reasonable search and seizure,” two Texas state troopers were indicted earlier this year for sexual assault and oppression after they were recorded searching a woman’s anus and vagina when she threw a cigarette out of her car window.

New Law will require Police to video record interrogations in certain felony cases

Apparently, the Illinois legislature is concerned about wrongful convictions in cases besides murders.

Under a new law signed by Governor Quinn, police will have to record interrogations in eight violent felonies.  Police have been required to do this in homicide investigations for the past ten years.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Illinois police will have to record more interrogations of criminal suspects under legislation Gov. Pat Quinn signed Monday that aims to prevent false confessions and wrongful convictions.

The law expands on legislation passed in 2003 mandating the recording of homicide interrogations. The new requirements will take effect in phases over the next three years, and by June 2016, police will have to record interrogations of people suspected in any of eight violent felonies, including aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated battery with a gun and armed robbery…

A decade ago, Illinois was the first state to pass a law requiring recorded homicide interrogations, a fix enacted as the state dealt with faulty death penalty cases. Other states soon enacted more sweeping rules, and Illinois’ new law will make it the 17th state that — along with the District of Columbia — requires the recording of interrogations for crimes other than homicide, Sullivan said.

Illinois has carved out an unwanted reputation as a leader in wrongful convictions, with the bulk coming from Cook County and surrounding areas. Drury, a former federal prosecutor, represents part of Lake County, where four defendants have been exonerated by DNA since 2010. Three of those suspects confessed after long, aggressive interrogations that were not recorded.

Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim, who took over the office after those cases fell apart, said he supports the new law, though he said he would support an even broader bill that would call for the recording of all interrogations.

“I hope that’s where we’re headed. I think (that’s) where we should go,” he said.

Read the whole story here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-ct-met-videotaped-interrogations-law-20130827,0,4894506.story

Illinois Legislature votes to expand eligibility for sealing criminal records

Both the Illinois House and Senate have approved a new bill that would expand the types of felonies that are available to be sealed from public view.  Under the change, courts could seal convictions for theft, retail theft, deceptive practices and forgery, possession of burglary tools and small amounts of cannabis, controlled substances, methamphetamine ingredients, steroids, so long as it was the person’s only conviction and they have not had any arrests in four years.The bill now awaits Governor Quinn’s signature in order to become law.

From the Chicago Tribune (story by Robert McCoppin):

Lawmakers have approved a proposal that would significantly expand the list of felony convictions that people seeking to escape their criminal pasts could ask to have sealed.

The measure, which aims to give ex-offenders a better shot at jobs, housing and education, awaits a decision by Gov. Pat Quinn on whether to sign it into law.

The bill would require convicts to have a clean record for at least four years. If so, they could ask a judge to seal their convictions from the public, so only law enforcement officials, judges and professional license regulators could see them.

Currently, the law generally allows the sealing of convictions for nonviolent misdemeanors and only two felonies — prostitution and the possession of small amounts of drugs.

The proposed changes would allow the courts to seal from the public record convictions for theft, retail theft, deceptive practices and forgery, as well as convictions for lower-level possession of cannabis, controlled substances, methamphetamine ingredients, steroids and burglary tools.

The changes could offer a chance for clean records to a much broader swath of people than the small percentage of convicts who are now eligible.

“This would be huge,” said defense attorney Matt Fakhoury, a former prosecutor who specializes in clearing up past convictions.

“People are most frustrated when their economic opportunities are limited because of the trouble they got themselves into when they were younger,” he said. “It’s going to give them hope for a brighter economic future.”

Perhaps the most common violation that shadows low-level offenders, Fakhoury said, is retail theft. Under current law, walking out without paying for a pair of jeans worth more than $150 could result in a felony conviction that would follow someone the rest of his or her life.

Almost half of prior offenders without jobs commit another crime, compared with only 8 percent of those who have jobs — yet most employers won’t hire someone with any kind of criminal conviction, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The bill also sets the criteria that judges may consider in weighing such cases, including the petitioner’s age, criminal and work history, and how long it’s been since the last offense.

Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Chicago Democrat, sponsored the bill. Ford said the subject is important for minorities, who are often denied jobs because of criminal records. He said that may lead to them becoming tax burdens rather than taxpayers.

Ford himself has pleaded not guilty to bank fraud charges, but they are at the federal level and would not be affected by the legislation.

“We should do everything we can to give people a second chance,” he said. “That’s what this country is about — opportunity.”

Opponents raised concerns about keeping offenders accountable for their actions, but Ford said under the bill anyone who commits another crime would have their records made public and could never seal them again.

After negotiations with lawmakers and prosecutors to remove more serious crimes from the bill, Ford said, some opponents dropped their objections and the bill passed with some bipartisan support. The Senate approved it 42-13 last week. The Illinois attorney general and Cook County state’s attorney took no public position on the idea, and neither has the governor’s office, Quinn spokesman David Blanchette said.