WBEZ | Illinois Supreme Court http://www.wbez.org/tags/illinois-supreme-court Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Cook County to join cameras-in-court program http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-join-cameras-court-program-111240 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Illinois_Supreme_Court wikimedia.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court has allowed the use of cameras and audio recording devices in Cook County courts on an experimental basis starting next month.</p><p>Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita Garman and Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans made the announcement Tuesday morning. Cook County is the largest and latest of dozens of counties in Illinois that have joined a state high court camera pilot program that launched in 2012.</p><p>Court officials say the program will begin Jan. 5 in the felony courtrooms at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago. It&#39;s been the site of many high-profile trials. Bond hearings are excluded from the pilot project.</p><p>Illinois has allowed cameras to be present during Supreme Court and Appellate Court hearings since 1983.</p></p> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-join-cameras-court-program-111240 Illinois' red light on Sunday car sales http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/illinois-red-light-sunday-car-sales-110136 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/148403096&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Judging by how many transportation-related <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/archive" target="_blank">questions Curious City receives</a>, we denizens of the Chicago region are obsessed with getting around and will ask about any <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-why-ban-pickups-lake-shore-drive-where-can-they-park-104631" target="_blank">stumbling blocks</a> &mdash; legal or otherwise &mdash; that threaten to get in our way.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/illinois-red-light-sunday-car-sales-110136#julischatz">Juli Schatz</a> of South Elgin is just one fan who&rsquo;s stepped forward with a puzzler related to mobility. Here&rsquo;s the gist of what she wants to know: &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>When did the state of Illinois begin its ban on Sunday car sales, and why?</em></p><p>The short answer? Turns out, auto dealers in Illinois have kept their doors closed on Sundays for more than three decades &mdash; from a law passed in 1982, to be specific. The state legislature sided with a group of dealers who argued that having a mandatory day off allowed employees to be with their families and practice their faith, without worrying that their competitors were open and could steal a sale.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s an excerpt of the <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K5-106" target="_blank">law </a>Illinois still follows today:</p><blockquote><p><em><span style="font-size:12px;">(625 ILCS 5/5-106) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 5-106)</span></em></p><p><em><span style="font-size:12px;">Sec. 5-106. No person may keep open, operate, or assist in keeping open or operating any established or additional place of business for the purpose of buying, selling, bartering, exchanging, or leasing for a period of 1 year or more, or offering for sale, barter, exchange, or lease for a period of 1 year or more, any motor vehicle, whether new or used, on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday; ...</span></em></p></blockquote><p>But this story about Sunday car sales goes back even further than the 1980s; Illinois has had this debate since the 1950s, with similar arguments for and against being deployed each time &mdash; including the issue&rsquo;s resurrection today.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Chapter 1: Prairie State car law, in the shade of blue</span></p><p>The state&rsquo;s Sunday auto sales ban is one of many state-level blue laws, which &mdash; as a category &mdash; prohibit certain secular activities on Sundays. It&#39;s a bent the Prairie State apparently shares with several neighbors: Iowa, Indiana, and Missouri also prohibit selling motor vehicles on Sundays. Wisconsin prohibits a dealer from selling on Sundays, unless the operator holds that the Sabbath occurs between sunset Friday and sunset Saturday.</p><p>Illinois&#39; own ban first made its way through the legislature in 1951. Dealers wanted to allow a day off, but any single dealership couldn&rsquo;t close its doors while competitors stayed open. Legislators agreed to a mandatory day off and passed a bill to make it happen, but the story got complicated as soon as the bill hit Governor Adlai Stevenson&rsquo;s desk.</p><p>Stevenson&rsquo;s Attorney General, Ivan A. Elliott, encouraged the governor to veto the bill, saying it likely violated the Illinois Constitution &ldquo;as an interference with the right of an individual to pursue any trade or occupation which is not injurious to the public or a menace to the safety or welfare of society.&rdquo;</p><p>Stevenson heeded the AG&rsquo;s word, and vetoed Senate Bill 504.</p><p>&ldquo;If such a restriction on Sunday trade is sound for automobiles, why should it not be extended to newspapers, groceries, ice cream cones and other harmless commercial transactions?&rdquo; Stevenson wrote in a veto message. &ldquo;Carried to its logical extreme, any business group with sufficient influence in the legislature can dictate the hours of business of its competitors. And if hours, why not prices?&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A short Chapter 2, and complicated Chapter 3</span></p><p>A nearly identical bill followed a similar path in 1957. House Bill 946 survived both houses, only to be defeated at the hand of Governor William Stratton days after passage.</p><p>The legislature made another attempt in 1961, only this time Governor Otto Kerner signed Senate Bill 597, making it a crime for any person to sell, barter or exchange any new or used motor vehicle on the day &ldquo;commonly called Sunday.&rdquo;</p><p>But some car dealers weren&rsquo;t jazzed about their new schedules. Employees at Courtesy Motor Sales in Chicago had been able to choose any day of the week they wished for their day off, but many of them chose to work on Sundays because they made almost twice as much as they did any other day of the week. Twenty percent of Courtesy&rsquo;s annual sales in 1960 were made on Sundays.</p><p>So Courtesy employees filed an injunction in Cook County Circuit Court that ended up before the Illinois Supreme Court. The salesmen and their lawyers argued the law was unconstitutional, as it singled out one specific group of sellers.</p><p>Attorney Joe Roddy was a senior in law school at the time, working as a law clerk for the State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s office. As the State&rsquo;s Attorney was responsible for defending the statute, Roddy helped write the briefs. He also penned an article for the Chicago-Kent Law review about the case.</p><p>&ldquo;It was a huge deal,&rdquo; Roddy recalls. &ldquo;I remember a lot of publicity. Because you know, car dealerships, everybody buys a car &mdash; even in the 60s &mdash; and the car dealers wanted to be open on Sundays. So it attracted a lot of publicity because they didn&rsquo;t single out any other industry at that time.&rdquo;<a name="lawshistory"></a></p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 1962 that the law was unconstitutional, and the debate died down for a bit.<a name="timeline"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">TIMELINE: The law&#39;s history</span></strong></span></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" src="http://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline/latest/embed/index.html?source=0Ai7E2pZ6aCZtdFd5Wllad2gzaWZpQnlGTGwxQzZNY0E&amp;font=Bevan-PotanoSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;height=650" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Blue (law) since 1982</span></p><p>In the 1980s, car dealers across the state wrote state lawmakers, arguing that a mandatory day off would protect the livelihood of sellers and would provide needed time for family or faith. A new bill banning sales on Sundays made its way through the legislature, with major support coming from trade organizations that represent car dealerships.</p><p>But the measure also had opponents.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it comes with some amazement that a bill like this would come before us. We have heard time and time again from the business community that they would like less regulation by the state, and less mandates,&rdquo; Senator Don Totten argued on the Senate floor at the time. &ldquo;I think this runs contrary to our system of free enterprise.&rdquo;</p><p>The bill ended up making it way through both houses, leaving Governor Jim Thompson with a tough decision.</p><p>&ldquo;Look, I&rsquo;m not a big fan of blue laws,&rdquo; Thompson now says. &ldquo;I think commerce should be open and free.&rdquo;</p><p>And because of that, Thompson says, he did go back and forth on this one.</p><p>&ldquo;It was not a simple decision,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It was more a complex decision, but I guess what impressed me was the unanimity of the opinion [of] the dealer and the employee group. And the notion that if people &mdash; in order to protect their livelihood &mdash; had to work 7 days a week, that was a pretty tough proposition, especially people with families.&rdquo;</p><p>Thompson ended up signing the bill on July 13, 1982, but the law wasn&rsquo;t implemented until April 1984, when the state&rsquo;s Supreme Court ruled the ban was constitutional. The state has enforced a six-day sales week for dealers around Illinois ever since.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Ice cream cones and planned purchases</span></p><p>Fast forward to early 2014. It turns out that our question from Juli Schatz question is timely. Much to the dismay of many Illinois car dealers, Republican State Senator Jim Oberweis introduced a bill at the end of 2013 that would allow all dealers to open their doors on Sundays, should they want to.</p><p>Oberweis made the argument that his plan wouldn&rsquo;t <em>force</em> dealerships to do anything. Having government decide when businesses can and can&rsquo;t be open, he says, amounts to too much regulation.</p><p>&ldquo;I believe it is wrong for government to tell a business when they can be open and when they cannot be open. That&rsquo;s what they do in Russia, not in the United States,&rdquo; Oberweis says. &ldquo;And it becomes even worse when we learn that this is an industry supported effort. They decided they don&rsquo;t want to be open themselves, and then they attempt to use government to prohibit competition on those days. That is just fundamentally wrong in my opinion.&rdquo;</p><p>Oberweis says the bill likely won&rsquo;t go anywhere in 2014, as too few Senate Democrats are on board with repealing the ban.</p><p>Dave Sloan, President of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, says the bill&rsquo;s also likely to fail because both consumers and dealers are happy with the current law. The CATA has been a long-time supporter of the Sunday closing law, and Sloan says he was surprised to see Oberweis&rsquo; bill come up in the first place. In his 20 years at the CATA, including their work running the Chicago Auto Show, he says he&rsquo;s never heard a single complaint from a consumer over not being able to shop on Sundays.</p><p>&ldquo;If the purchase of a car was an impulse buy, like if you were buying an ice cream cone from one of Mr. Oberweis&rsquo; ice cream stores, that might make a difference. But it&rsquo;s a planned purchase,&rdquo; Sloan says. &ldquo;So if you have the opportunity to keep costs lower, and the consumer isn&rsquo;t inconvenienced by that, well, then everyone wins.&rdquo;</p><p>Sloan says a six-day work week helps dealers attract high-caliber employees; he argues it&rsquo;s hard to find full-time salesmen who will commit to working on commission when the dealership is open seven days a week.</p><p>As time goes on, and technology advances, so too do auto sales, according to Pete Sander, president of the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association. He says compared to decades past, many more vehicles are financed during the purchase process. Since banks aren&rsquo;t open on Sundays either, he says, closing a sale becomes difficult, if not impossible. &nbsp;</p><p>And Sander says now that both dealers and manufacturers have websites available 24/7, the average customer only visits a dealership lot an average of one and a half times before purchasing a vehicle. Five years ago, the average customer would visit a sales lot five times.</p><p>&ldquo;By the time they get to the dealer on Saturday, they pretty much know what they want, and whether the dealer has what they want. It&rsquo;s just a matter of negotiating the price of the trade-in, and negotiating the price of the car,&rdquo; Sander says. &ldquo;So it&rsquo;s not like the old going from dealer to dealer to find the right car in the color and model you want, and kicking the tires as we used to do in the old days.<a name="julischatz"></a></p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a much different commercial transaction now.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question comes from: Juli Schatz</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JuliBW.jpg" style="float: left; height: 205px; width: 150px;" title="Juli Schatz, who asked why Illinois banned Sunday car sales. (Photo courtesy Juli Schatz)" />Our look at Illinois&rsquo; ban on Sunday car sales comes courtesy of South Elgin resident Juli Schatz, who says she can&rsquo;t quite put her finger on when, exactly, this seed of curiosity about Illinois&rsquo; ban on Sunday cars was first planted.</p><p>It likely happened, she says, decades ago when her dad helped her shop for a car. Schatz&rsquo;s dad worked five days a week, so he was only free to kick tires or test-drive on weekends. She thought it was strange that Sunday sales were off the table.</p><p>&ldquo;I asked [my dad] and he had no idea why, and that was long before the Internet or anything,&rdquo; Schatz recalled. &ldquo;We actually asked a couple of car dealers while we were shopping for my new used car, and they had no idea.&rdquo;</p><p>Schatz says she&rsquo;s been curious about it ever since. Years later, she worked in ad sales for several newspapers, including the <em>Naperville Sun</em>, and she had car dealerships as some of her customers.</p><p>&ldquo;Same thing,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Nobody really knew. And some of these dealers had been in business for quite a while and they said, &lsquo;You know, it&rsquo;s just always been that way.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ Reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 05 May 2014 17:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/illinois-red-light-sunday-car-sales-110136 Should ban on mandatory life without parole encompass old juvie cases? http://www.wbez.org/news/should-ban-mandatory-life-without-parole-encompass-old-juvie-cases-109516 <p><p>In the summer of 2012, in a case called <em>Miller v. Alabama</em>, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles are cruel and unusual punishment, and therefore unconstitutional.</p><p>The key word here is &ldquo;mandatory.&rdquo; In the 1980s and 90s there was a lot of talk about young &ldquo;super predators&rdquo; and almost every state enacted tougher punishment for juveniles who committed violent crimes. Illinois was no exception.</p><p>The Supreme Court said that mandatory sentences don&rsquo;t let a judge consider extenuating circumstances such as the person&rsquo;s age, home life, how involved he was in the crime,&nbsp; and the potential for rehabilitation.</p><p>But the decision didn&rsquo;t entirely rule out life without parole sentences for juveniles&mdash;though the Court said they should be used only sparingly.</p><h2><strong>Thorny legal question</strong></h2><p>In its wake, <em>Miller</em> has raised a thorny legal question: Should it also apply to people in prison who as juveniles received mandatory life without parole sentences but now their appeals are over, and their case is closed?</p><p>The question has come up because several such people have requested new sentencing&nbsp; hearings. And Illinois&rsquo;s Appellate Court, citing the Miller decision, granted at least five of them &ndash; unanimously.</p><p>One of those five people is Addolfo Davis. Davis was arrested two months past his 14th birthday and he&rsquo;s never seen the streets since.</p><p>Today he&rsquo;s 37 and has spent almost two-thirds of his life behind bars. It&rsquo;s Addolfo&rsquo;s case that will be presented in oral arguments today, January 15, before the Illinois Supreme Court.Patricia Soung, who will represent Davis, tells WBEZ that on the night of his crime he went with two older co-defendants, at their instruction, to rob an apartment.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Two people were shot and killed that night by the two older co-defendants,&ldquo; she tells us. &ldquo;Davis was convicted of double homicide as an accomplice,&rdquo; she says, and ultimately received a mandatory life without parole sentence.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MILLER%20NEW_1.png" style="height: 280px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="WBEZ/Patrick Smith" />Alan Spellberg, who&rsquo;s supervisor of the criminal appeals division of the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s office, will represent the State of Illinois at the oral arguments. He has a different version of what happened that night.Davis, he says &ldquo;was an active participant in the planning, as well as in the shooting and killing.&rdquo;</div><p>The lawyers won&rsquo;t just be arguing the facts of the Davis case this day. They&rsquo;ll also debate whether <em>Miller v. Alabama</em> is so ground-breaking that it should apply to cases that are already settled.</p><p>Patricia Soung explains that &ldquo;the United States Supreme Court created two categories of rules that should be applied retroactively &ndash; &lsquo;substantive&rsquo; and &lsquo;watershed&rsquo; rules of criminal procedure.&rdquo;</p><p>In her opinion Miller is so sweeping that it falls into both categories.But not everyone agrees.</p><h2><strong>High bar</strong></h2><p>How exactly the court differentiates substantive from watershed is complex and open to interpretation.</p><p>I&rsquo;m not the only one who thinks these definitions can get murky.</p><p>Matt Jones, associate director of the Illinois Office of the State&rsquo;s Attorney, Appellate Prosecutor, thinks so too.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a sort of, I know it when I see it,&rdquo; he says, talking about whether a rule rises to a level worthy of being considered retroactive. &ldquo;Can we have a fair criminal justice system without this new procedural change?&rdquo; Matt Jones asks. &ldquo;If we can&rsquo;t -- then it&rsquo;s the kind of rule that has to be applied retroactively.&rdquo;</p><p>However. If we can have a fair system without the change, he says, it&rsquo;s something that should be implemented moving forward to improve the system &ldquo;but not something that we should necessarily go back and undo every case that has been done,&rdquo; he explains. &ldquo;Even if there are questions about whether each and every case was fair.&rdquo;</p><p>Jones says the U.S Supreme Court almost never considers a new rule earth-shaking enough to actually do this.</p><p>&ldquo;And I will tell you that the only instance that they&rsquo;ve ever cited as an example of that was <em>Gideon</em> &ndash; the right to counsel.&rdquo;</p><p>Counsel, that is, for defendants in criminal cases who couldn&rsquo;t afford to pay for an attorney. That seems like a rather high bar. One that Miller doesn&rsquo;t reach, according to many prosecutors across Illinois. I asked Patricia Soung if she&rsquo;s worried that the Miller decision isn&rsquo;t significant enough to meet that standard.</p><p>Turns out, she&rsquo;s not.</p><p>&ldquo;<em>Gideon</em> provided due process where none existed before and<em> Miller</em> does the same thing,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It gives you counsel where you essentially had no counsel at sentencing. The proceeding was made hollow because you were denied an opportunity to have your counsel present, mitigating factors in the same way as in<em> Gideon</em> a defendant without counsel had no opportunity to provide an adequate defense.&nbsp; So in both cases we&rsquo;re talking about providing due process where no due process existed at all.&rdquo;</p><p>Introducing the possibility of re-sentencing hearings for juvenile life without parole cases from long ago introduces a difficult problem. There could potentially be hundreds of victims and first-hand witnesses who&rsquo;ve been assured that the perpetrators are imprisoned for life.</p><p>&ldquo;Not only are the family members dragged back through this process,&rdquo; Matt Jones explains, &ldquo;but now key witnesses who depended upon this certainty that a conviction means a conviction, that life means life-- are now going to have be dragged back potentially through the process. Now with a re-sentencing you may not have to have those key witnesses come back, but their lives are similarly put on pins and needles awaiting the outcome of this person getting out. And life doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean life for those witnesses.&rdquo;</p><p>These are gut-wrenching concerns, and so the Illinois Supreme Court will be venturing into complicated and emotional territory.</p><p>Court watchers expect a decision by the summer.</p><p><em>Clarification: While today&rsquo;s oral arguments were pending, Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Alan Spellberg declined WBEZ&rsquo;s request for an interview. &nbsp;With permission from the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s office, WBEZ used tape of &nbsp;Spellberg from an interview conducted in March of 2012 whrn we were preparing a story about Addolfo Davis&rsquo; bid for clemency.&nbsp;</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 15 Jan 2014 01:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/should-ban-mandatory-life-without-parole-encompass-old-juvie-cases-109516 Cameras allowed inside DuPage County courtroom for high-profile arraignment http://www.wbez.org/news/cameras-allowed-inside-dupage-county-courtroom-high-profile-arraignment-103968 <p><p>Photographers were allowed inside a DuPage county courtroom Wednesday for the arraignment of Elzbieta Plackowska, who was accused of killing her son and another child in her Naperville home.</p><p>It was the highest-profile event yet for a pilot program that allows cameras in some Illinois trial courtrooms.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it advances our efforts to make sure that the public - and not just children - are more familiar with civics,&rdquo; said John Thies, President of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA).</p><p>The ISBA supported Illinois&rsquo; pilot program that allows counties to apply to allow cameras inside courtrooms. Thies said media attention increases transparency and public engagement with the court system.</p><p>&ldquo;Most people never are there,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;but our courts play such an important role in society, and in our system of checks and balances.</p><p>When the Supreme Court of Illinois announced the program in January 2012, they pointed out that Illinois is one of only 14 states that generally prohibits cameras in trials courts.</p><p>DuPage County is the closest county to Chicago to give the program a try since it began in January. The program gives judges discretion over how much and what sorts of media will be allowed at courtroom events.</p><p>Judge Robert Kleeman only permitted one video camera and one still camera, and asked them to shoot from a distance. That means the <a href="http://www.wgnradio.com/news/top/wgntv-cameras-in-courtroom-for-arraignment-of-naperville-woman-20121121,0,1747945.story">three-minute video</a> mostly shows the defendant and lawyers from behind.</p><p>Plackowska pled not guilty to ten counts of first-degree murder.</p></p> Wed, 21 Nov 2012 12:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cameras-allowed-inside-dupage-county-courtroom-high-profile-arraignment-103968 Illinois court to rule on Cook County's assault-weapons ban http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice/illinois-court-rule-cook-countys-assult-weapons-ban-97950 <p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court is about to weigh in on whether it's constitutional for Cook County officials to ban assault weapons.</p><p>The county imposed the ban back in 1993. It has been upheld by trial courts and appeals courts.</p><p>But opponents think their case gained new strength when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Chicago ordinance banning handguns. They hope the state's high court will agree and toss out the ban on assault weapons.</p><p>The state Supreme Court is scheduled to announce its decision Thursday.</p><p>A key question is whether high-capacity, fast-firing weapons should be considered ordinary guns that get full Second Amendment protection or treated like machine guns and other special weapons that can be restricted.</p></p> Thu, 05 Apr 2012 09:21:56 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice/illinois-court-rule-cook-countys-assult-weapons-ban-97950 What will cameras do to Illinois' courts? http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-12/what-will-cameras-do-illinois-courts-97207 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-12/3879627035_8eebbf2246.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="375" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-12/3879627035_8eebbf2246.jpg" title="A Cook County Criminal courtroom (Flickr/John W. Iwanski)" width="500"></p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><span style="font-size:10px;">Listen to this conversation</span></p><p><span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/120312 cameras.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-127549" player="null">120312 cameras.mp3</span></p></div></div><p>In January, the Illinois Supreme Court <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/lawyers-group-supports-cameras-illinois-courts-97132">approved the pilot project</a> for allowing cameras in the courtroom, with the following rules:</p><p>• Jurors and potential jurors may not be photographed.<br> • Cameras and recording devices will not be allowed in juvenile, divorce, adoption, child custody and evidence suppression cases.<br> • No more than two television cameras and no more than two still photographers will be allowed in a courtroom at one time.<br> • Victims of violent felonies, police informants and relocated witnesses may request that the judge prohibit them from being photographed.</p><p>As drastic as this change might be for Chicagoland media, Illinois is jumping on the bandwagon of a practice that's allowed in many other states. "Until now, Illinois has been one of only 14 states where cameras in trial courtrooms were either dis-allowed or allowed on such a restrictive basis that they were hardly utilized," <a href="http://www.state.il.us/court/media/PressRel/2012/012412.pdf">said the Supreme Court in a press release</a>. However, "Illinois has allowed news cameras in the Supreme Court and the Illinois Appellate Court since 1983," and audio and video of oral reports are posted online.</p><p>The pilot program will be put in place in four counties -- Rock Island, Mercer, Henry and Whiteside. WBEZ&nbsp;criminal justice reporter Robert Wildeboer and Gene Borgida, a professor of psychology and law at the University of Minnesota, talk with<em> Eight Forty-Eight </em>about the effect this will have on the courts and on the media.</p></p> Mon, 12 Mar 2012 13:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-12/what-will-cameras-do-illinois-courts-97207 Ill. Supreme Court sides with CPS in laid off tenured teachers case http://www.wbez.org/story/ill-supreme-court-sides-cps-laid-tenured-teachers-case-96505 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-17/RS4958_AP111116039038-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that laid off tenured teachers in Chicago do not have a right to be rehired later.</p><p>The 5-2 ruling Friday came after budget cuts in 2010 forced the city to lay off nearly 1,300 teachers. The Chicago Board of Education later recalled about 715 tenured teachers. But the Chicago Teachers Union sued when laid-off tenured instructors did not get first dibs on other open positions.</p><p>The court ruled the Chicago school board's layoff and rehiring procedures do not mimic those in other districts, and that state law does not require preference for out-of-work tenured teachers.</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union has expressed discontent with the court’s decision.</p><p>"We're disappointed that neither the board nor the court recognizes the value of experienced educators. At the very least, we wished they would’ve of shown us the respect that tenure teachers in every other district in the state get—which is the right to recall, if they've been laid off through no fault of their own," said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharke.</p><p>He said that teachers should have the right to recall.</p><p>“It’s a right that auto-workers get and I don’t see why it’s something a tenured teacher shouldn’t have,” said Sharke.</p><p>He said the union will use pressure politically and at the bargaining table to get fairness for its members.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Donald Moore is Executive Director of Designs for Change, a Chicago based organization that researches the practices of effective urban schools. His organization filed an amicus brief, in favor of CTU.</p><p>Moore said the board of Chicago Public Schools has been motivated to remove veteran teachers and replace them with younger, inexperienced ones for lesser pay. He acknowledged that the city may save money from this tactic.</p><p>“It takes seven years for a person who has teaching potential to become highly effective,” Moore said. He added that younger teachers have high turnover rates and tend to leave a school after two years.</p><p>CPS called the court decision “historically significant” and said it empowers principals to make the best hiring decisions to boost student academic achievements.</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools are currently negotiating a new labor agreement. Sharke said it includes discussions about what happens to tenured teachers when they are laid off.</p></p> Fri, 17 Feb 2012 17:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/ill-supreme-court-sides-cps-laid-tenured-teachers-case-96505 Illinois Supreme Court election: Does anybody even know it's on the ballot? http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-supreme-court-election-does-anybody-even-know-its-ballot-96299 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-12/AP080908024351.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-13/IL Supreme Court_AP_Seth Perlman.jpg" title="Former Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald (right) retired in the 2010, leading to this year's election. (AP/Seth Perlman)" width="512" height="334"></p><p>Voters in Cook County this year will elect an Illinois Supreme Court justice. But with just over a month before the primary election, it's getting little notice.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">EXTRA: </span></strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">WBEZ host Steve Edwards talked with reporter Sam Hudzik about this election. Edwards also interviewed Albert Klumpp, a research analyst at the law firm of McDermott Will &amp; Emery. Klumpp has researched judicial primary elections in Cook County, and wrote his doctoral dissertation on retention elections.</span><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;"> <em>Listen below:</em></span></strong></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332731805-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-march/2012-03-02/edwards-klumpp-hudzik.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>Three of the seven spots on the court are reserved for Cook County, with one of the seats on the March 20 ballot. The Democratic Party contest includes Justice <a href="http://www.theisforjustice.com/">Mary Jane Theis</a>, who holds the seat by temporary appointment, along with two state appeals court judges, one of whom has a very familiar name.</p><p>Chances are you're like a lot of voters: If you got stopped on the street by a pushy guy with a microphone, you'd have a hard time naming the justices on the Illinois Supreme Court.</p><p>"I'm a lawyer, I couldn't name all the Supreme Court justices to be honest with you. Yeah, I doubt most people can," Jeremiah Posedel of Chicago said last week, standing in the underground tunnel near Chicago's Millennium Station.</p><p>"No, I don't think I do [know of any justices]," said Laura Kracke of Hyde Park. "Unless, what? Anne [Burke]?"</p><p>"Oh, yeah, [I can name them]: Kennedy, Breyer," answered Eleanor Truex of Homewood, making a commom mistake. "Oh, Illinois? No idea. Sorry."</p><p>So, it's no big surprise that a lot of Cook County voters are unaware they'll be asked to pick a state Supreme Court justice this year. The one guy I talked to who did know that election was coming couldn't name any of the candidates.</p><p>There's no judgment here. Reporters - myself included - normally provide relatively sparse coverage of judicial campaigns. But these elections couldn't be more significant.</p><p>Illinois Supreme Court justices last summer upheld the constitutionality of a major infrastructure plan funded by video gambling and a host of new taxes. Earlier this month, the court said criminal confessions obtained through torture cannot be used at trial. The justices are currently considering Cook County's assault weapons ban and parental notification for abortions.</p><p>"The Supreme Court of the United States gets all the publicity and applause or condemnation," said Thomas Sullivann, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. "But the Supreme Court of Illinois hears far more cases and deals with a far greater variety of subjects - just an incredible number of different areas of law."</p><p><strong>Partisan judges</strong></p><p>Sullivan was the opening speaker at a recent forum for Supreme Court candidates held recently at Northwestern University Law School.</p><p>Candidates for judge are not allowed to publicly say how they'd rule on any issue and for the most part these candidates followed that. So perhaps the most touchy and telling moment of the night came when the candidates talked about whether political parties should be involved in judicial elections.</p><p>A judge for nearly 30 years, Mary Jane Theis was appointed to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald's retirement. That was October of 2010.</p><p>A year later, when Democratic officials gathered to endorse a candidate for that seat, they gave the nod to Theis, backed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Mayor Richard Daley.</p><p>"This is a Democratic primary, and so certainly it would be helpful to engage in a discussion of what the Democratic Party means," Theis said at the Northwestern forum, defending her decision to seek the endorsement, and defending the party. "History has shown that - specifically for minorities - [the] Democratic Party has been a champion of their rights, and for those reasons I have very much respect for them. But I don't come as a partisan person. I am a judge."</p><p>"The Democratic Party in all likelihood, in all reality, has a very tight hold on who gets elected to the bench in Cook County," said appellate court Judge <a href="http://www.joycunninghamforjustice.com/">Joy Cunningham</a>, another candidate for Supreme Court.</p><p>Cunningham has the backing of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. If elected, she would become the first black woman to serve on the state's high court. Cunningham tried to get the party's support, but said she didn't expect it.</p><p>"It is my understanding that sometimes deals are made before the slating process even takes place," Cunningham said. "However, I felt that it was as a part of the process I felt that it was important to present my credentials in an open forum so that everyone within earshot could hear what my credentials are and give the party an opportunity to do the right thing."</p><p><strong>Impartiality or hypocrisy?</strong></p><p>Supreme Court hopeful <a href="http://www.pucinski.org/">Aurelia Pucinski</a> took a different tactic with the Democratic Party.</p><p>Pucinski served as Cook County Circuit Court Clerk for 12 years and as a judge since 2004. Her dad is the late congressman and Chicago alderman Roman Pucinski. Despite those Democratic roots, Pucinski said party endorsements for judicial candidates are a bad thing because judges are supposed to be nonpartisan.</p><p>"I have taken the stand that while we should be elected - because it forces judges to get out of their ivory tower - and talking to real people and answering real questions, which is good, that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans should endorse," Pucinski said at Northwestern.</p><p>That is the exact same message Pucinski told Cook County Democrats - to their face - when she went to the endorsement meeting in October.</p><p>But it's a hypocritical message, argued the chair of the party, county Assessor Joe Berrios. Berrios notes that Pucinski in the past has asked to be slated when she's run for judge.</p><p>"[This year] she knew that she didn't have enough votes in the room to get the slating, so she made the comment that there shouldn't be a slating, and that the Democratic Party, committeemen should stay out of this election," Berrios said in a phone interview last week.</p><p>There are a couple parts of "Aurie" Pucinski's biography that make it clear she was not going to win the party's support.</p><p>Case number 1: In 1998, she ran for Cook County Board President - as a Republican. She lost. Two: She's run against the party's endorsed candidate in judge elections before, including two years ago when she won a seat on the state appellate court.</p><p>"That's one thing that Aurie has done before. She's run against the party, and you know she's beat the party," Berrios said. "But we are working very hard for our endorsed candidate, Mary Jane Theis, and we will continue to do that."</p><p>But Pucinski begins the campaign with one big advantage: name recognition.</p><p>"I recognize her name, yes," Laura Kracke, of Hyde Park, said.</p><p>"Yes. Yes, because that's such an unusual name," said Eleanor Truex, of Homewood.</p><p><strong>Bar associations</strong></p><p>These voters said they'll do research before the election. Part of that could be looking at ratings from bar associations.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.chicagocouncil.org/">Chicago Council of Lawyers</a> last week finalized its ratings, finding Theis to be "highly qualified." Lawyers noted her "outstanding legal ability," scholarly writings and "unquestioned" integrity.</p><p>Cunningham was rated "well qualified" to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court. Council members called her a "solid, hard working jurist" who "asks good questions...and writes well-reasoned opinions."</p><p>The council had less praise for the two other Democrats, which it rated "not qualified." Pucinski was knocked for "play[ing] an advocacy role" from the bench, and lawyer <a href="http://www.tomforjudge.com/">Thomas Flannigan</a> (a self-described "longshot") was found to lack the broad legal experience necessary to serve on the state's highest court.</p><p>Ratings from other lawyer groups, including the Chicago Bar Association, are not yet available.</p><p><strong>TV ads and money</strong></p><p>Expect Theis and Cunningham to mention their ratings in upcoming TV ads. And while Theis' ads may not end up highlighting her Democratic Party support, the campaign says it will highlight another big endorsement: Mayor Emanuel's.</p><p>And she will have plenty of cash to buy ads. Theis' campaign reported having <span class="BaseText" id="ctl00_ContentPlaceHolder1_lblEndFundsAvail">$609,339 at the end of December and has raised at least $21,800 since</span> then, according to filings with the Illinois State Election Board. (see Theis' <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/CommitteeDetail.aspx?id=23652">filings</a>)</p><p>Cunningham reported <span class="BaseText" id="ctl00_ContentPlaceHolder1_lblEndFundsAvail">$139,330 at the end of the year, raising more than $43,500</span> so far in 2012. (see Cunningham's <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/CommitteeDetail.aspx?id=23691">filings</a>)</p><p>Pucinski had under $300 (see her <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/CommitteeDetail.aspx?id=4689">filings</a>)<span class="BaseText" id="ctl00_ContentPlaceHolder1_lblEndFundsAvail">. Flannigan, who has publicly sworn off donations, has no open campaign committee.</span></p><p><strong>The sole GOPer</strong></p><p>Next November, the winner of the Democratic primary will face Judge James Riley, who was rated "not qualified" by the Chicago Council of Lawyers. Riley is running a spirited though probably futile campaign for this Cook County seat, as a Republican.</p></p> Mon, 13 Feb 2012 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-supreme-court-election-does-anybody-even-know-its-ballot-96299 Illinois Supreme Court candidates talk gay marriage, political endorsements and campaign contributions http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-supreme-court-candidates-talk-gay-marriage-political-endorsements-and-campaign-contri <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-27/gay cake toppers_getty_david mcnew.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Candidates for a Cook County vacancy on the Illinois Supreme Court will not say exactly what they'd do if asked to rule on gay marriage. But they offered strong hints during a forum at Northwestern University Law School on Thursday night.</p><p><strong>AUDIO: </strong>Listen to the full debate</p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483869-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-january/2012-01-26/fulldebate.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-27/gay cake toppers_getty_david mcnew.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 300px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="(Getty/David McNew, file) ">Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis holds a temporary appointment to the court and said it'd be inappropriate for her to say how she'd rule on gay marriage.</p><p>"You want judges who are fair, impartial, open-minded, and for that reason I am not going to comment," Theis said. "But it is true we have taken steps forward with the legislature passing the civil unions act."</p><p>Theis added that she had a role in changing some technical Supreme Court rules relating to civil unions.</p><p>Appellate Court Judge Joy Cunningham said she would not comment specifically on the issue, but left little doubt about her sympathies.</p><p>"I will say that I absolutely support equal rights on, you know, on all issues," Cunningham said. "And I also believe that it's important for us as a state and as a people to treat everybody equally, and that defines who we are not only as individuals but as [a] people."</p><p>Cunningham told the crowd she has performed civil union ceremonies. So did former Cook County Clerk of Court Aurelia Pucinski, now an appellate court judge, who said she's signed off on adoptions by gay couples.</p><p>"The law is evolving. It's evolving in the right direction," Pucinski said. "I think the life of families is changing, our definition is changing and we have to embrace that, welcome it, and be open to it."</p><p>Lawyer Thomas Flannigan said he thinks gay marriage will eventually become law, but he warned about making sure people who oppose it have rights.</p><p><strong>Political issues</strong></p><p>The candidates also debated the sticky issues of political party endorsements and campaign contributions for judges.</p><p>Theis, who is backed by the Cook County Democratic Party, said there is nothing wrong with a judge seeking a party endorsement.</p><p>"I'm trying to find as many people as I can to tell my story about my 28 years of service, and that includes elected officials," Theis said, adding that she has "very much respect" for Democrats because of the party's record on minorities' rights.</p><p>"But I don't come as a partisan person," she said. "I'm a judge."<img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-27/Il sup court_hudzik.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis (left) was appointed to the court in late 2010. (WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)"></p><p>Pucinski said she believed political parties should stay out of elections for judges.</p><p>"We are not only supposed to be non-partisan, we're required to be non-partisan," Pucinski said. "We're not supposed to have a partisan platform."</p><p>While several of the candidates talked of possible reforms to the funding of judicial elections, Flannigan, a self-described long shot, went the farthest. He said he's swearing-off campaign contributions.</p><p>"Puts me at a certain disadvantage," he said. "But that's how I'm going to do it."</p><p>The winner of the March 20th Democratic primary faces Judge James Riley, a Republican, in November.</p><p>The Supreme Court vacancy was created in the fall of 2010, when then-Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald announced his retirement.</p></p> Fri, 27 Jan 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-supreme-court-candidates-talk-gay-marriage-political-endorsements-and-campaign-contri Ill. high court to allow cameras in courts http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-high-court-allow-cameras-courts-95765 <p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court is moving forward with a policy to start allowing news cameras and other media recording devices in the state’s trial courts.</p><p>The state’s seven Supreme Court justices voted unanimously to approve a pilot program that serves as a circuit-by-circuit experiment for how the state might permanently allow expanded media coverage in its lower courts.</p><p>“This is another step to bring more transparency and more accountability to the Illinois court system,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride in a statement issued Tuesday.</p><p>News recording equipment has been allowed in the Illinois Supreme Court and the state's Appellate Courts since 1983. In the same ruling, the court opted to continue its ban on cameras in trail courts. Up until Tuesday, Illinois was one of 14 states that didn't allow or severely restricted news electronic devices in its state trial county courts.</p><p>According to the statement, the state’s 23 county chief judges must opt-in to the program by petitioning for approval from the state Supreme Court. A spokesman for Illinois Supreme Court said the court may only approve a handful of petitions to determine whether media access and fair trials can co-exist.</p><p>Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans said he’s enthusiastic about the plan and plans to submit a petition soon.</p><p>“I believe in a democracy like ours, it’s best for the public to be well informed,” said Evans. “I want them to see the real court in action, and I believe we can do that in a professional way.”</p><p>In separate written statements, Lake County Chief Judge Victoria Rossetti and DuPage County Chief Judge John Elsner said they were reviewing the policy to determine if it was appropriate for their respective courts.</p><p>“If the decision reached is that Lake County apply, an application to the Supreme Court for approval to provide extended media coverage of judicial proceedings, on an experimental basis, shall be forwarded to the attention of the Clerk of the Supreme Court,” said Rossetti.</p><p>“I will be conferring with the other 14 circuit judges before making a decision in regards to this matter. No decision will be made until all of the circuit judges have been consulted,” said Elsner.</p><p>The new policy prohibits media coverage in any juvenile, divorce and trade secret cases, among other court proceedings. Extended media coverage of jury selection, the jury and individual jurors is also prohibited. The policy also allows judges to deny, limit or terminate media coverage without the possibility of appeal.</p><p>Witnesses may object to a request for media coverage, which would be granted at the judge’s discretion.</p><p>The ruling does not affect federal courts.</p></p> Tue, 24 Jan 2012 12:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-high-court-allow-cameras-courts-95765