Archive, March 2011.

Where a person is charged with an aggravated dui or reckless homicide due to the death or bodily harm of another person, blood alcohol testing at the direction of the police or hospital personnel is of tantamount importance in the prosecution. What the accused must remember is that there are numerous ways to exclude such test results. For example, improper forms may have been used; the arresting officer may not have issued necessary uniform traffic citations; search warrants may be defective; or the administration of the blood draw may have been deficient. These are only a few examples. There…

Where persons are convicted of sex offenses, even those not involving illicit touching (such as possession of child pornogoraphy), mandatory sex registration is imposed. Many times that registration is for life. Legislators must act to modify these severe requirements, especially where the defendant is a young person. Sex registration is a concept which destroys the future of the registrant. That person's ability to marry, to have children, to live in a home, and to secure gainful employment is destroyed. There must be reasonable time limits imposed; gradations of registration, and exceptions…

There is no question that there is a bias against men charged with sex abuse as opposed to accused women. Prosecutors and judges treat men severely in these cases, subjecting them to draconian sentencing schemes. Having represented both men and women in sex abuse cases, I have come to the conclusion that the prosecution of these cases must be toned down. Where sentences are imposed, they must be applied equally. Legislators must level the playing field.

There is no question that there is substantial anecdotal evidence of gender discrimination in sexual abuse cases.   When women are accused of illicit sexual affairs with minor males, they are treated much more leniently than men with minor females.  It is time for legislatures to modify the draconian punishments male defendants face in these situations.

One of my pet peeves is how everyday media describes the burden of proof in criminal cases:  It is commonly said that a person is innocent UNTIL proven guilty.  This is incorrect.  The word UNTIL has a connotation of inevitability.  The correct statement is that a person is innocent UNLESS proven guilty.  In other words, guilt may or may not be proven.  In our criminal justice system, we do see people found not guilty on a regular basis.  It is not uncommon.

Even one mistake is too many. From Today's Chicago Tribune: SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn today signed into law a historic ban on the death penalty in Illinois and commuted the sentences of 15 death row inmates to life without parole. The governor said he followed his conscience. He said he believed in signing the bill he also should "abolish the death penalty for everyone," including those already on death row. "Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history," Quinn told reporters afterward. “I think it’s the right, just thing to abolish the death penalty.” Quinn signed the …