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How Secure Are Attorney-Client Communications in Prison?

Highland Park Gun Case Supreme CourtThe confidentiality of client-lawyer communications is bedrock constitutional right in our criminal justice system. However, recent revelations have shown cracks in the confidentiality of those communications when clients are in jail. Not everyone in jail has even been convicted of a crime; some are just unable to make bail and are awaiting trial.

The Securus Hack

Securus Technologies is the largest provider of telecommunication services to jails and prisons in the United States. A recent hack and data dump revealed that not only is Securus recording calls between clients and their lawyers—despite previous denials by the company—but that those recordings are not stored in a secure manner.

In a two-year period across 37 states, over 70 million calls were compromised. Of those calls, at least 14,000 calls were between lawyers and clients.

Issues With Other Forms of Communication

In this digital age, there are many ways for lawyers and clients to communicate. However, options for communicating with incarcerated clients are limited. Some jail and prison locations are too remote for frequent in-person visits.

Email is available in some federal facilities, but, generally, those communications are not confidential and are monitored by prosecutors. Regular mail is often too slow and inefficient. This leaves phone calls as one of the primary ways for lawyers to communicate with their clients in jails and prisons.

Why it Matters

The reason confidentiality between a lawyer and client is one of the most import and protected rights in our legal system is because it is impossible to do proper job of representing a client without it. If clients do not feel safe in telling their lawyer information, they may withhold important details that would be vital to their own defense. Confidential communications are not always about illegal activity.

Sometimes, a criminal defendant may be embarrassed by the facts of his or her case. But, if the client does not feel like they can trust that the communications will be kept confidential, they will be less willing to tell their lawyer everything. In cases involving organized crime or gangs, even seemingly innocent information could put clients and their family members in danger of bodily harm or death.

Have you been charged with a crime? You need to speak with a tough and experienced Joliet criminal defense lawyer. Do not talk to anyone about your case until you have spoken to a lawyer. You deserve to have someone in your corner, fighting for your rights. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

Retrial Ordered in Fatal Police Shooting

Joliet fatal police shootingEarly this week, a federal judge imposed sanctions against the city of Chicago and one of its veteran attorneys for concealing evidence in a trial concerning a fatal police shooting from 2011. The attorney resigned just hours later but, along with the city, has been ordered to pay attorney’s fees to the plaintiffs that will likely total hundreds of thousands of dollars. Only then can a retrial take place, as the family of the shooting victim seeks damages from the Chicago Police Department and the city.

Overturning the Verdict

Last March, in the original trial, a federal jury found in favor of the Chicago PD officers who shot the man, concluding the shooting was justified. The officers had testified that the man had been pulled over because his vehicle matched a description that was given over their police radios of a car connected to an earlier shooting. Court records indicated, however, that the officers could not have heard the report as they claimed because it aired in a different zone. The attorney in question admitted during the trial that he had failed to turn over a recording of the dispatch the officers actually did hear. When pressed by the judge, the attorney acknowledged that he knew about the recording prior to the trial but did not really think it would be helpful to the plaintiffs.

In his ruling this week, the U.S. District Judge said that the attorney “intentionally concealed” the recording, and then attempted to mislead the court about his reasons for doing so. The ruling is the second in seven months in which the city’s Law Department has been sanctioned and retrial been ordered in a police misconduct lawsuit.

Concerning Trends

There are, of course, a growing number of people who believe that the incidents are not isolated, and, in fact, are more likely a systemic problem. “This has been a long-standing problem that is just now getting recognition,” said one attorney close to the case. “The city has been placed on notice that it has to do a better job and play fair.”

For his part, the judge recognized the difficulty inherent to discovery requests for such a large police department, but that it is all the more the reason to have better procedures. “Failing to do so,” he wrote, “will cost even more in the long run, not just in dollars.”

Legal Assistance

If you have been charged with a crime and you believe that police misconduct may have taken place, you need a lawyer who is fully committed to protecting your rights. Contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba. Mr. Zaremba is a former Will County prosecutor who understands how the system works and he recognizes the importance of an aggressive, comprehensive defense. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free initial consultation today.

New Law to Allow Driving Relief for Four-Time DUI Offenders

Illinois License new lawsPolice officials in Bedford County, Tennessee, last week reported the arrest of a woman on charges of driving under the influence, or DUI. While such an arrest is far from unusual, the woman’s arrest history makes this particular case especially interesting. According to reports, the current charges mark the 17th time she has faced prosecution for DUI, and, correspondingly, 16 charges of driving with a revoked license. Officials indicate that the woman’s first DUI arrest was in 1985, but that six of the offenses have occurred in the last ten years.

Another Chance for Repeat Offenders in Illinois

As illustrated by the Tennessee case, some people will always try to find ways around the existing laws to do what they want. Meanwhile, here in the state of Illinois, a new law is set to take effect that will offer those with multiple DUI convictions a legal avenue for restoring some driving privileges. A person with 16 prior convictions, as one might expect, will not qualify for relief consideration, but under the new law, four-time offenders will have the ability to apply for a restricted driving permit.

The controversial measure was signed by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner back in August and is set to go into effect on January 1, 2016. Under the existing law, a fourth DUI conviction automatically resulted in a lifetime revocation of driving privileges, with no relief available whatsoever. Subsequently, four-time offenders were left with few transportation options to get to work or school, or to care for their children or other family members.

Three Years Clean

The new law would offer four-time offenders—currently numbering more than 5,000 around the state—the opportunity to apply for a restricted driving permit through the office of the Secretary of State. The applicant will be required to provide convincing proof that he or she has not used alcohol or drugs in at least three years and has completed a substance abuse rehabilitation program. Consideration will not be offered to those whose record includes more than one conviction for driving under the influence of drugs.

Those approved for relief will have driving privileges partially restored, and may only drive in accordance with the specific terms of their permit, including restricted times, locations, and driving purposes. In addition, an approved individual will be required to have a breath-alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) installed on his or her vehicle to be used at all times. Any violation of the imposed restrictions or attempts to manipulate the BAIID could result in additional penalties, and a lifetime revocation of driving privileges.

Contact a Lawyer

If you have been previously convicted of driving under the influence, a new charge can impact your life even more seriously. Contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney for assistance with your case. We will work with you every step of the way to ensure your rights and your future are fully protected. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

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