Once again, I was given behind the scenes access to the attorneys who presented material at the most recent Illinois State Bar Association criminal law seminar. It’s all about staying ahead of Illinois law changes.
I had a great chance to dig a little bit deeper to look for additional bits of legal learning. For online access to this CLE session, “Hot Topics in Criminal Law in Illinois – 2015”, click this sentence.
Change is Constant
Two forever legal principles jumped out and smacked me in the face. I was talking to presenters and considering the sessions…and they just hit me.
These principles are that:
- The Law Is Constantly Changing
- Attorneys Have Each Other to Make Sense Of It All
I’m pretty sure we all innately understand the first principle.
Indeed, the Criminal Nuggets Podcast, was created in an effort to try to “catch up” with the constant, never-ending stream of released cases.
Case Law Just Sneaks Up On You …
At any moment in time, a single case can be released that changes the outcome of your cases in a flash.
I have always known this. It was my guilt and feelings of inadequacy that finally pushed me into launching the podcast.
Of course, helping other attorneys keep up with the cases was a huge motivations as well…and this is just one example of the constant ebb and flow of the criminal law.
In This Thing Together …
I do think, however, that sometimes we forget about the second principle I identified above. We can rely on each other to learn what we need for any particular legal job.
It is so easy to feel the overwhelm cover us when we step into an unfamiliar area of the law. We catch a case entirely within the general scope of our practice, but there is always that one obscure issue that pops up.
If we are lucky we “know” we “don’t know” what we need to know.
We are knee dip into a case before we realize there is a big gaping hole of missing legal knowledge we completely overlooked.
These are the times when we forget that our peers can provide valuable direction. We don’t know exactly when we’ll need them, but when they can shine even the smallest flashlight for us in those moments of pure overwhelm it can feel like a lighthouse guiding us out of the dark.
ISBA “Hot Topics” in Criminal Law Seminar
At this ISBA presentation, once again I was reminded of the vastness of our legal system. Initially, the sensation was of the impossible comprehension of it all. On top of that, I have zero predictive ability of identifying where the law is going to end up.
It was with great relief that I quickly realized that the presenters were precisely there to shed some light on the current state of affairs.
Then, I remembered there was an army of attorneys out there who have been exploring areas of the law I am less familiar with.
…and those attorneys are my friends and colleagues.
Staying Ahead of Illinois Law Changes
Getting back to the substance of the presentation, I want you to know what you missed if you could not be present at the ISBA Chicago office for this session.
Stephen Komie was not on the presenters list this time. He is an ISBA board of governors member and was present at the seminar.
Mr. Komie was elected to the board in 2011.
He was kind enough to talk to me about the nature of our business.
You may have noticed that he set the tone for the podcast and for how my day went.
“The law is like the sea.” – Stephen Komie
We talked about …
- The Changing Law
- Peer to Peer Learning
Then I spoke with Lauren…
Lauren Kaeseberg is an attorney for the Illinois Innocence Project.
No area of the law is immune from the constant beat of change. So too, the work being done by the Illinois Innocence Project is affected by constant changes.
Lauren explained, in part, that her responsibilities entail…
- Keeping Up With The Changes in Forensics
- Making Sense of the Laws
- Interacting With New Organizations and Institutions
We had a great discussion on referrals from attorneys. Yes, they take those cases as well!
In Lauren’s presentation, she discusses the main factors affecting wrongful convictions. The lessons she provided have immediate practical impact on our own cases still progressing through the trial level.
Lauren actually discussed many pressing issues going on right now in Illinois criminal law. It is in our interest to listen to her message.
She establishes a framework for coming to grips with the state of forensic science, how to deal with an “I don’t want to hear about it” trial judge, and provides a place for attorneys to turn when they hit a wall.
You should also check out the Illinois Innocence Project Facebook Page.
Linda was kind enough to sit down with me as well…
In her presentation, Linda lays out an outline for the structure of a motion to admit or exclude digital forensic evidence.
This is another area of the law that is presently under constant flux.
- Cloud services and
- Other Gizmos
…are all fun and games until they become evidence in court.
This is when the headache begins.
The technology is constantly (literally) changing right in front of our noses. The good news is that (at least for now) the evidentiary foundations appear stable.
This means we can learn it and put in place a general comprehensive scheme for admitting or excluding forensic digital evidence.
Linda Watson is an attorney you need to put on your “get to know” list.
Trust me, you will have a digital forensic issue in a case in the near future.
Linda may be reached at [email protected]
Gun law is one of the most dynamic areas in Illinois criminal law right now. Talk about a changing landscape!
Well, Claudia Castro introduces us to the statutory structure defining our “Conceal and Carry” rights.
In her session, Claudia really explains the pressing issues in this area:
- The Application Process
- Dealing With Law Enforcement Objections
- The Attorney’s Role
– Have you assisted clients with obtaining a conceal and carry permit?
– Do you know the first steps required in this procedure?
– Do you want to handle some of these issues?
Claudia will orient you quite well. Even if you have no plans of broadening your practice to handling hiccups for clients who have entered this maze, there is still great practical benefit to catching up on this issue.
Claudia Castro may be reached at [email protected]
The Honorable Lawrence Fox
The judge explained exactly what these courts are and are not.
Although the Cook County system is by far the largest specialty court around, the judge’s presentation discussed the broader legislative framework around these courts.
- Drug Court Treatment Act
- Mental Health Court Treatment Act
- Veterans and Servicemembers Court Treatment Act
- Accelerated Resolution Court Act
To add to the complexity of this web and system of courts, attorneys also have to be aware of independent “programs” run outside this legislative paradigm.
Of course, I am referring to the separate “diversion” or “second chance programs” run by the almost every State’s Attorney’s Office in Illinois.
Yes I know.
Just more rules, procedures and admissions policies for all of us to keep straight. It’s true.
In your home or dominant country you’re going to get the hang of things for doing business in that county. You know who to talk to, what forms to fill out, and the expectations a defendant must meet for a particular program.
Once you leave home base though…
It is super ease to feel like a fish out of water.
It is clear the Judge has dealt with attorneys feeling a little out of their element. The judge encourages us to get informed and to get up to speed as quickly as you can.
See What I Mean?
Now, see what I have been saying?
Take a deep breath and calm down.
When you find yourself with a client who is a great candidate for a specialty court or an alternative program. Find a local attorney.
Explain your looking for direction and just want to be pointed to the county’s rules and regulations on the particular program. Hint: the public defender in that county is a great place to start.
Also, you’ll be way ahead of the game if you expose yourself to the judge’s presentation.
…And the judge also wanted you to know that these additional resources are out there:
- Illinois Association of Problem Solving Courts
- Illinois Center of Excellence
The judge can be reached at [email protected]
His presentation focused on “Medical Marijuana and the New DUI Laws.”
Noticed the word “new”?
DUI is one of the more dynamic areas of criminal law. There could be no better presenter getting us up to speed in this area.
1.0 hours of professional responsibility credit was earned. “Ethical Issues Facing Criminal Practitioners” consisted of a panel of seasoned veterans discussing the day-to-day situations attorneys in the criminal law find ourselves in.
The panel consisted of …
- Peter Rotskoff from the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commissioned in Springfield
- Daniel R. Groth Jr. from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Maywood
- Joel Simberg who is from the Chief, Trial Technology Division of the Cook County Public Defender’s Office in Chicago
For more information on how to access this presentation visit: “Hot Topics in Criminal Law in Illinois – 2015” presented by the Illinois State Bar Association Criminal Justice Section Council.