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Illinois Supreme Court Overturns Law on Weapons Possession Near Public ParksIn the interest of public safety, Illinois restricts the areas in which people are allowed to carry weapons. Police may arrest a person who caught in possession of a weapon within 1,000 feet of a:

  • School;
  • Public park;
  • Courthouse;
  • Public transportation facility; or
  • Public housing complex.

It is a class 3 felony to carry a firearm near any of these locations unless the firearm is dismantled or unloaded and in a case. Allowing laws such as this must be weighed against a person’s constitutional right to carry a weapon for self-defense. The Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled that the weapons ban for 1,000 feet around a public park is unconstitutional.

Recent Case

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Third Party Injury Claims for Independent ContractorsConstruction workers who have suffered on-site injuries can seek multiple forms of compensation. They may be eligible for worker's compensation benefits through their employers, and third parties may be liable for personal injury damages. To receive damages, the plaintiff must establish that the third party's negligence was responsible for the injury. A recent Illinois Supreme Court case considered whether a company that hired an independent contractor is liable for a catastrophic injury to a worker.

Case Details

In Carney v. Union Pacific Railroad Road, the defendant accepted a bid from an independent contractor to dismantle three railroad bridges in Chicago. The independent contractor brought on an experienced subcontractor to help with the project, which the defendant claims it was not aware of. The plaintiff, who is the son of the subcontracting company's owner, was employed as an additional laborer on the project when a girder fell and severed his legs. The plaintiff received worker's compensation through his employer and reached a personal injury settlement with the independent contractor. The plaintiff also sought damages from the defendant, citing Illinois construction negligence laws in claiming that the defendant:

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Error in Jury Instructions Leads to RetrialA simple matter of semantics can greatly impact the outcome of a trial. Such was the case in a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision, which remanded a criminal case for retrial due to an error in the instructions given to the jury. The decision recognized that the possibility of jury bias is enough reason to question the outcome of a trial, especially when both sides present compelling cases. The court said it must err on the side of caution to ensure that a defendant receives a fair trial.

The Case

The People of the State of Illinois v. Montana Sebby concerned a man charged with resisting a peace officer, which is a class 4 felony. A jury found the defendant guilty of the charge, and the court sentenced him to two years in prison. The defense appealed the decision, citing court error in its instructions to the jury. When questioning potential jurors, a trial court is required to inform them of the standards of innocence applied to the defendant. Illinois calls these the Zehr Principles, named after a 1984 Illinois Supreme Court case. They include that:

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mandatory minimum sentences, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyMandatory minimums are minimum sentences that judges must impose for crimes without discretion, if a person is convicted. However, mandatory minimums are controversial.

Although they were introduced to promote fairer, more uniform sentencing based on criminal activity rather than irrelevant factors such as race or a particular judge's strictness, the laws have created various unintended consequences. The laws make it easier for prosecutors to extract plea bargains from innocent suspects, and they take discretion away from judges, which can result in overly harsh penalties.

Pleas Bargaining

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McHenry County traffic attorney, red light camera law, traffic offenses, Illinois Supreme Court, red light camerasRed light cameras are one of the most noticeable ways in which law enforcement technology affects people's lives. A charitable interpretation of the cameras is that they keep the streets safer and allow police departments to utilize officers to fight more serious crimes. However, opponents of the cameras see the hundreds of millions of dollars that the cameras have brought in, and point out that the cameras are prone to making mistakes, they circumvent ordinary due process, and are just about generating money for the municipality.

Because of these complaints, some opponents brought a lawsuit challenging the validity of Chicago's red light camera system, as well as the state law that authorizes it. The lawsuit made it all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, but then it ended with more of a whimper than a bang. The Court ended up upholding the law on procedural grounds with a three sentence opinion.

Challenges to the Law

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