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Judge Rules Chicago Traffic Camera Tickets Violate Due Process

Red Light Traffic TicketsAs more and more communities around the country continue to install cameras at intersections and other areas of traffic concern, a Cook County judge has found major problems with the program in Chicago. The city is now facing the possibility of being forced to refund millions of dollars collected in fines from motorists who were ticketed as a result of being caught on camera.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed almost a year ago by three named plaintiffs, alleging that the city violated its own municipal codes in the process of ticketing and collecting fines related to red-light and speed-cameras. By violating the city code, Judge Kathleen Kennedy ruled, ticketed motorists were denied due process and the proper ability to contest their issued citations.

No Second Notice

When a vehicle is caught breaking the law by a red-light camera or speed camera, the city is supposed to send a Notice of Violation to the registered owner of the vehicle. According to Chicago city code, if the owner fails to respond, a second notice is to be sent to the vehicle owner prior to the determination of liability—which is essentially a default judgment of guilt. The lawsuit against the city, however, indicates that second notices are not being sent to motorists and the liability determinations are being made too quickly. Attorneys for the claimants maintain that the second notice is a necessary step in the process to ensure a suspected violator’s right to contest the citation prior to being found financially liable. The suit further claims that late fees are being applied to fines inappropriately, failing to adhere to the timeframes and grace periods provided in the law.

Rejected Motion to Dismiss

While there has been no final verdict in the lawsuit yet, last week’s ruling was issued by Judge Kennedy in regard to the city’s motion to dismiss the case. She rejected the motion, harshly indicating that she believes that Chicago is consistently violating “fundamental principles of justice, equity, and good conscience” in its handling of camera-related violations. In addition, she declared all such tickets to be void, as the lawsuit continues. Her choice of such strong words has led many to believe that the already-financially struggling city will, most likely, be required to refund the fines and fees paid by thousands of motorists.

If you have received a Notice of Violation related to a speed-camera or red-light camera, you may be unsure of what to do next, especially in light of last week’s ruling. For more information, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney. At the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba, we understand the law and we will work hard to protect your rights every step of the way. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free initial consultation today.

Former Prosecutor Disbarred for Innocent Man on Death Row

Former ProsecutorTo many people, and especially those working toward the abolition of the death penalty in the United States, the application of capital punishment in the state of Texas represents a cause for serious concern. While proponents of the death penalty continue to point to the alleged deterrent factor, the danger of condemning the wrong person is one that is certainly very real. This week, a disciplinary committee upheld the disbarment of former prosecutor over actions that led to an innocent man spending more than a decade waiting to die for a crime he did not commit.

The criminal defendant at the center of the case was convicted and sent to death row for the deaths of six people in 1992. His conviction was overturned in 2006, but it took an additional four years to secure his release from prison, when a special prosecutor finally took a closer look at his case, declaring him to be innocent and deserving of freedom.

According to court documents, the prosecutor in the original trial not only withheld evidence that may have exonerated the defendant, but allowed—and even encouraged—witnesses to provide demonstrably false testimony. The prosecutor left his post as a county district attorney in 2000, and the State Bar revoked his law license last summer following an extensive investigation. The Board of Disciplinary Appeals recently upheld the disbarment, effectively ending the former prosecutor’s career.

Wrongful Convictions

In 2011, Illinois became the 15th to completely abolish capital punishment. Eliminating the death penalty, of course, does not end the possibility of wrongfully convicting a defendant. In fact, some would argue that the increased scrutiny inherent to capital cases makes wrongful convictions statistically more likely for less serious crimes.

No matter what the charge may be, there is nothing minor about a false accusation or a wrongful conviction. The penalties for any crime are extremely serious, obviously, but are all the worse if the defendant did not actually commit the offense for which he or she is being punished. That is why it is so important to enlist the assistance of a defense attorney who understands the law and how to protect your rights.

If you have been falsely accused of any type of criminal activity, there is no time to lose. Contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense lawyer right away. Attorney Jack L. Zaremba is a former prosecutor who understands the tactics and techniques that district attorneys and others will use to secure a conviction. He is ready to put that knowledge and skill to work on your behalf. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free initial consultation.

Aurora City Official Picked Up on Second Theft Charge in Three Years

Highland Park Gun Case Supreme CourtA simple look around any retail establishment will demonstrate the store’s concerns regarding shoplifting and retail theft. Conspicuously placed surveillance cameras, security tags, and other ant-theft devices are all designed to help reduce theft-related losses that cost retailers around the country hundreds of millions of dollars each year. In most communities, government officials and lawmakers continue to look for ways to help business owners and retail outlets protect their investments, but at least one such area representative seems to have a slightly different take on the matter.

Alderman Arrested Again

An alderman from the city of Aurora, Illinois, was arrested on misdemeanor shoplifting charges Sunday evening as she left a Meijer store on Route 59, according to police records. The woman, who represents Aurora’s 10th Ward on city council, was allegedly seen by store loss prevention personnel hiding more than $55.00 worth of merchandise in her purse, then leaving the store after paying for other items without ever opening her purse at the checkout.

Reports indicate that the woman was arrested outside the same store back in 2013, subsequently pleading guilty to retail theft for failing to pay for about $150.00 worth of grocery and health and beauty items. According to the Chicago Tribune, she was placed on court supervision for the offense, but when the charge came to light early last year, city officials called for her resignation. She declined to do so at the time, but with a second alleged offense following so closely, her future with the city government may be in jeopardy.

Retail Theft in Illinois>

In the state of Illinois, the seriousness of criminal charges for retail theft or shoplifting will vary depending upon the circumstances and the value of the merchandise in question. Charges can range from a Class A misdemeanor for theft of property valued at less than $300.00, to a Class 3 felony for a single theft of a property valued at more than $300, or a series of thefts that occurred over time valued at more than $300.00. Other factors, such as previous convictions of property crimes on the person’s record can also impact the classification of the charges and potential penalties.

If you have been charged with retail theft, it is important to seek legal counsel immediately so that your rights are not compromised in any way. Contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney today to discuss your available options and find out how we are equipped to help you. Call the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 to schedule your free, confidential consultation with a lawyer who understands how to assist you in protecting your future.

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