Monday, January 26, 2015

Association Hosts Criminal Law Seminar

By Charlie Ingrassia
Law Clerk to Hon. Susan F. Hutchinson, Illinois Appellate Court, Second District

On January 15, 2015, the Association hosted its annual "2014 Criminal Law Supreme Court Year in Review" seminar at the offices of Hinshaw & Culbertson in Chicago. The program featured a lively panel discussion on important criminal law decisions issued by the Illinois Supreme Court during 2014. Justice Daniel L. Schmidt of the Illinois Appellate Court, Third District; retired Justice Warren D. Wolfson of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District;  Leah M. Bendik, Assistant Attorney General; and James E. Chadd, Deputy Illinois Appellate Defender participated in the panel. ALA Vice President Michael A. Scodro of Jenner & Block LLP served as moderator. Each panel member shared her or his unique insight into a substantive area of criminal law and procedure, paying particular attention to recent cases from the state's high court.   

Justice Schmidt opened the discussion with a moving tribute to the late Justice Patrick J. Quinn of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District. Referring to him as one of the "best and brightest," Justice Schmidt noted that Justice Quinn, a regular participant in this seminar, had a storied career as a prosecutor and a jurist. Thereafter, Justice Schmidt focused his comments on searches and seizures under the fourth amendment. Justice Schmidt voiced his disagreement with the supreme court's holding in People v. Cummings, 2014 IL 115769, a case in which the court suppressed evidence after holding that an otherwisie valid traffic stop should not have been prolonged after the initial reasons for the stop had evaporated. Deputy Defender Chadd cordially disagreed with Justice Schmidt, commenting that Cummings was a "sensible and practical" decision.   

Justice Wolfson discussed the confrontation clause, quipping that the sixth amendment "has become his favorite amendment" because the United States Supreme Court had issued three opinions on this topic in the past five years. Justice Wolfson traced the evolution of the confrontation clause from Crawford v. Washington541 U.S. 36 (2004), to its application with respect to forensic evidence at issue in Williams v. Illinois, 132 S. Ct. 2221 (2012). Justice Wolfson advised attendees to watch out for Ohio v. Clark, No. 13-1352, (cert. granted, Oct. 2, 2014), where the United States Supreme Court is expected to discuss the meaning of "targeted individuals."

Assistant Attorney General Bendik discussed searches incident to arrests, noting that such searches have two components: the person being arrested and the area within the person's control. Bendik emphasized that criminal attendees should pay attention to which type of search incident to arrest was at issue. Bendik also discussed the aftermath of People v. Aguilar, 2013 IL 112116, where the Illinois Supreme Court held that a state statute banning the carrying of ready-to-use guns was unconstitutional under the second amendment. 

Deputy Defender Chadd focused his comments on postconviction petitions, including the appropriate standard for a successive postconviction petition involving the cause-and-prejudice test as discussed in People v. Smith, 2014 IL 115946. Chadd also discussed other noteworthy cases in the postconviction context, including People v. Hommerson, 2014 IL 115638, where the supreme court held that the failure to attach a statutorily mandated affidavit was a procedural defect that did not warrant dismissal at the first stage of the proceedings.

The ALA thanks the panel members for their insightful remarks and Hinshaw & Culbertson for hosting the program.    

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