My Law Life

by Scott Ealy (Effingham, Illinois, USA)

Archive for July 2010

This “Top Cop” List: A Bad Idea

  

  

Image: http://www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net - (Simon Howden)

  

  

The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM) thought its “Top Cop” lists would be helpful.

In reality though, lists like these are incredibly counter-productive.  Even my prosecutor friends agree.

  

  

AAIM’s annual designation of “Top Cops” and “Top Departments” is based solely on the number of DUI arrests “scored” by each officer or department.

  

Not wise.

  

  

Result:  Officer motivation gets called into question:  “Are you trying to make the list again this year?”

“Isn’t it true that this designation is based solely on how many arrests you make, rather than convictions?”

“Does this listing help serve as motivation for you — to pull drivers over more often than your colleagues?”

  

  

  

Scott Ealy

  

Written by scottealy

July 30, 2010 at 6:19 am

Posted in Top Cop List A Bad Idea

Tagged with , ,

Calling No Witnesses?

  
  
  

Image: http://www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net - (jscreationzs)

  

    

As courtroom action came to a halt Tuesday in the case against Rod Blagojevich, speculation began to emerge that the former Governor’s defense would “rest” . . . without calling a single witness to testify.

  

That’s an unusual tactic, but occasionally it’s a tactic that works – as longtime residents of South – Central Illinois may recall.

  

In 1993, jurors in Effingham County found a Shumway businessman not guilty on a felony charge of bribery.  The defense called no witnesses in the highly-publicized case — after vigorous cross-examination of witnesses presented by the prosecution.

  

The defendant’s representation was handled by Anton R. Valukas, a partner in the prestigious Chicago law firm of Jenner & Block and former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Official court records of the case have been expunged.

  

  

Anton Valukas

  

  

[Note:  I personally have employed the “no witnesses” defense strategy sparingly, but as recently as July of 2011 in a felony DUI matter (after this post was originally published).  My client, too, was found “Not Guilty.”  It was a very unusual case].

 

 

 

Scott Ealy

 

Written by scottealy

July 21, 2010 at 5:50 am

Posted in Calling NO Witnesses

Tagged with ,

Embracing The Drug Test

  

  

  

  

Nothing causes more fear and consternation in our local legal system than . . . court-ordered drug testing.

It catches some people off guard.  But, it shouldn’t.

  

Perhaps a new approach is needed.

  

Drug testing is an opportunity to prove himself / herself for the person who may have made mistakes.

It can help a defendant establish a track record of compliance with the law, bolstering that person’s status during plea negotiations or at a possible sentencing hearing.  Drug test results are not opinion but fact.

[As a defense attorney, I am well aware of the possibility of false “positive” test results.  But, most of our clients are behind the 8-ball (no pun intended) already, and additional review is usually available].

  

Frankly, there’s no stronger evidence than consistently clean test results to assist the Court in making the following necessary findings “in mitigation” with regard to nearly any charged offense:

  

8.  The defendant’s criminal conduct was the result of circumstances unlikely to recur.

9.  The character and attitudes of the defendant indicate that he is unlikely to commit another crime.

10.  The defendant is particularly likely to comply with the terms of a period of probation.

  

  

A person who cannot comply with court-ordered drug testing should face the facts and seek help.

  

Although initially it may seem like punishment, in reality drug testing is supposedly there to help.

So, why not be bold and encourage clients to request random testing — up front — in any case in which an allegation involves the use of narcotics?

  

  

Few people have done more to help steer our people away from illicit drug use than our daily court Judge in Effingham County, the Honorable Sherri L.E. Tungate.

“It helped me to see what a jerk I was becoming,” one of my clients said recently about the testing program that Judge Tungate had ordered in his case.

“My friends say I’m different now.  I was wasting lots of time and risking my job with (cannabis use).  I am different now.  Better.  I’m back to being myself.”

  

  

So, the next time a Judge orders – or offers – even the possibility of drug testing, here’s my legally recommended response:

  

  

  

  

  

Scott Ealy

  

Written by scottealy

July 13, 2010 at 5:23 am

Posted in Embracing The Drug Test

Tagged with

July 02: More Fitting For A Holiday

  

  

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net - (Liz Noffsinger)

  

  

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?  To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.  There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

  

“The Meaning of July Fourth For The Negro,” Frederick Douglass (1852)

  

  

  

Scott:  I find it intellectually insulting – if not blasphemous – when Caucasian ministers suggest at this time of year that the morality of the “founding fathers” merited special blessing for our nation.

  

  

Do not say, ‘Why is it that the former days were better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.

Ecclesiastes 7:10

  

  

In lieu of the Fourth of July, the Second of July seems more appropriate for a holiday celebration:  Civil rights leader (and World War II veteran) Medgar Evers was born on this date in 1925, and the USA’s most significant Civil Rights Act was signed into law on this date in 1964 . . . prompted in significant part by grief over the assassinations in 1963 of Evers and President John F. Kennedy.

In part, the Civil Right Act of 1964 provided that:

  

All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

  

  

  

Analysis:  “The Way It Is” – Bruce Hornsby and the Range (1986)

  

  

  

Scott Ealy