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Hasty Mistrial Ruling Leads to Double JeopardyThe fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects a defendant from being tried more than once for the same crime, which is known as double jeopardy. The prosecution can seek a second trial with a new jury if the first attempt ended in a mistrial, which most commonly occurs when a jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict. A court may also declare a mistrial if it believes that a jury has been prejudiced to the point that it cannot reach an unbiased verdict. However, a mistrial must be the court’s last resort, after considering other options to preserve the trial. An Illinois appellate court recently ruled that the state could not start a new trial against a defendant because the trial court was not justified in declaring a mistrial in the first prosecution attempt.

Case Details

In People v. Shoevlin, a woman was charged with two counts of domestic battery for allegedly attacking her husband. The two parties were separated at the time of the alleged incident and filed for divorce afterward. The defense built its case on the idea that the husband had an incentive to lie about the incident in order to gain a majority of the parental responsibility for their children. During the closing arguments, the defense said that the man was trying to ruin the woman’s life with the charge because she would likely lose her children. After the statement, the judge privately met with the counsel for both sides, saying that it was inaccurate to claim that the state would take her children away as a condition of her conviction. After deliberating for five minutes, the judge brought the jury back in the room and declared a mistrial. The judge’s reasoning was that:

  • Telling the jury to disregard the defense counsel’s statement would not prevent prejudice; and
  • Discrediting the defense counsel would mean that the defendant would appeal a potential conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel.

Appeal

When prosecutors started a new trial, the defense motioned to dismiss the trial because it would be subjecting the defendant to double jeopardy. The trial court rejected the motion, but the appellate court reversed that decision. The court stated that it is important to limit a defendant’s prosecution to one trial whenever possible because having multiple trials:

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Divorcees Must Modify Deed, Mortgage for Marital HomeYou and your spouse will decide which of you will retain ownership of your marital home after your divorce. However, the division of property in a divorce agreement is not enough to completely transfer ownership of the home to one person. As long as both of your names are on the deed and mortgage, you both will have some control over and responsibility for the home. The most efficient way to settle the issue is to transfer the deed and modify the mortgage while your divorce is still ongoing.

Potential Problems

Your divorce agreement states your intention for one of you to occupy and control your marital home after your divorce. It does not automatically change your deed or mortgage. Failing to update these documents may not have immediate consequences but will eventually cause complications:

  • One of you cannot sell the home without the other’s approval if the deed still says that you both own the home;
  • The person who no longer lives in the home could be liable for property tax and mortgage payments if the occupant does not pay them; and
  • If the occupant files for bankruptcy, the mortgage lender can pressure the other person on the mortgage to pay the remainder.

It is easier to settle these issues between each other now than returning to court years later when you are having problems.

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How Would Value-Based Care Change Workers' Compensation?There is an ongoing debate in the workers’ compensation insurance industry about whether more insurers should adopt a value-based care model for paying claims. VBC proponents in the industry cite the potential to provide treatment that is more effective in cost and outcome for the patient. How would a VBC system change workers’ compensation for claimants? It may benefit them in theory, but there are still questions about how the system would actually work.

Value-Based Care vs. Fee for Service

Workers’ compensation insurers use a fee-for-service payment model, in which the insurer pays the healthcare provider for each visit or procedure that it performs. Critics of fee for service say that it puts a greater incentive on the number of visits than the quality of care provided. A VBC payment system compensates healthcare providers based on the nature of the injury and the recovery of the patient. There are several payment models for VBC, including:

  • Pay for performance;
  • Bundled payments; and
  • Outcomes-based payments.

VBC proponents call this a more holistic and patient-centered approach to workers’ compensation. The doctor’s financial incentive is to help a worker reach maximum recovery as soon as possible, which could result in injured employees returning to work more quickly. Of course, insurers could also benefit from more predictable pricing and shorter periods of disability payments.

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Building a Case After a Truck AccidentBeing involved in an accident with a truck is both frightening and perilous if you are driving a smaller vehicle. Victims can suffer serious or even fatal injuries because of the force of colliding with a such a large object. Pursuing personal injury damages will help you afford the recovery treatments you need, as well as compensate you for your pain and suffering. However, building a personal injury case involving a truck is different than with other vehicles.

Crash Causes

Driving a large truck requires greater skill and caution than with a normal-sized vehicle. A truck takes longer to stop, has larger blind spots, and needs more space from other drivers when making turns or changing lanes. Drivers have more difficulty avoiding an accident with a reckless truck driver because of the length of the vehicle. The truck driver may have been at fault for your accident if he or she:

  • Was driving too fast;
  • Did not apply the brake in time to stop from rear-ending your vehicle; or
  • Changed lanes without consideration for other vehicles.

To prove that the truck driver was reckless, you will need to recount how the driver was behaving before the accident, his or her actions that put you in danger, and how you responded. A witness may have had a more complete view of the circumstances that led to the crash and be able to corroborate your account.

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Keeping Your Attorney-Clients Conversations ConfidentialYour right to confidentiality is one of your fundamental protections when organizing a defense against a criminal charge. Your attorney cannot discuss any of your private conversations with someone else, even if you confess your guilt. If a defense attorney spoke to you but does not represent you, he or she cannot testify about what you said to him or her. Conversations with a therapist or your spouse are also confidential in most cases. However, there are situations in which your private conversation is not protected and could be used against you:

  1. Public Conversations: A witness can testify about your conversation with your attorney if you were speaking loudly in a public place. Conversations are confidential only if you make an effort to be discreet. You may not realize how loudly you are speaking if you are talking to your lawyer on a phone.
  2. Jailhouse Conversations: Though jail is not a public place, you must be careful when talking to your lawyer in a common area. Inmates may try to overhear you making an incriminating statement in hopes of testifying against you and gaining favor with prosecutors. Jailers may also be monitoring phone calls you make in a common area.
  3. Third Parties: Inviting someone other than your attorney to join your conversation may mean that what you said is not confidential, depending on the reason you invited the third party. You can claim that the conversation was still confidential if you needed the other person to provide insight into your case. However, a friend or family member other than your spouse could be asked to testify against you if you simply wanted him or her to be present.
  4. Future Crimes: Your attorney cannot disclose your confession to a crime you committed, but that does not apply if you express an intent to commit a crime in the future. Your attorney is allowed to contact the authorities in order to prevent you from committing a crime.
  5. Crimes Against Children: The exception to confidential conversations with a spouse or therapist is if you discuss a crime involving a child. A therapist is obligated to report crimes against children, and prosecutors could force your spouse to testify about such a crime.

Contact a Crystal Lake Criminal Defense Attorney

When you talk about your criminal case with someone other than your lawyer, you risk the prosecution trying to use that person as a witness. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, will protect your confidentiality during your case. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.

Source:

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Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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