Articles Posted in Clemency

Last Friday, July 1, 2016, Governor Rauner granted clemency requests of 7 petitioners: 6 in the form of executive clemency with authorization to expunge and 1 in the form of a commutation of sentence.  With regard to the pardons and expungements, the underlying crimes ranged from residential burglary to robbery, from keeping a gambling place and gambling to theft, and from delivery of a controlled substance to manufacture and delivery of cannabis. The counties at issue were Cook, Lee, McLean, Macon and Will and the years of the offenses ranged from 1977 to 2006.  None of the 6 pardons and expungements authorized restoration of firearm ownership/possession rights which may have been forfeited by the convictions; in Illinois, a petitioner must proactively ask for his or her firearm possession and/or ownership rights to be restored by the Governor prior to being able to obtain a Firearms Owner Identification (FOID) Card.

In this most recent batch of decisions, Governor Rauner denied 150 Petitions for Executive Clemency.  I have not yet seen any information concerning the types of cases that were denied relief. I do know that this total group of 157 petitions had some dating back to the 2012 docket and that there are still approximately 500 undecided petitions remaining from previous administrations.

Please join me at this year’s Expungement Summit, sponsored by the Honorable Dorothy Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County and the Southland Regional Mayoral Black Caucus and Thornton Township High School District 205, on June 4, 2016, for an all-day event where you can consult with on-site pro-bono attorneys to discuss your criminal record. Attorneys will be assisting people in preparing both Cook and non-Cook County expungement and sealing petitions (Cook County petitions can be filed on-site that day, with or without a fee waiver, if one is granted) and advising individuals about what other legal remedies are available if one is not eligible for either expungement or sealing. People will also be able to get on-site drug tests, which may be needed for certain petitions, and members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board will be present to discuss the executive clemency/pardon process in Illinois.

The event will take place at Thornton Township High School located at 15001 Broadway Avenue in Harvey, Illinois; registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and doors will close at 6:00 p.m. More information about the Summit can be found here.

I will be supervising the non-Cook County expungement and sealing area at the Summit and I look forward to seeing you there!

In keeping with the tradition of releasing clemency petition decisions on or around major holidays, Governor Rauner granted 8 individuals clemency with authorization to expunge (1 with the authorization to seek a Firearms Owner Identification Card) on Friday, March 25, 2016 – Good Friday. 152 clemency petitions were denied as part of this same batch of decisions. These decisions lower the backlog of pending petitions left by previous administrations to approximately 650 petitions. Of course, however, new petitions for executive clemency are being submitted each quarter.

With regard to the 8 granted petitions for executive clemency with authorization to expunge, the underlying cases ranged from 1980 to 2002, and included offenses such as domestic battery, theft, forgery and burglary.

The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice has approved new statewide forms for expunging and sealing records in Illinois. This will greatly streamline and simplify the expunging and sealing process as there will no longer be different forms from county to county that pro se petitioners and attorneys alike must familiarize themselves with. Moreover, the new forms deal with a wide range of possible scenarios a petitioner is confronted with, including when/if he or she is receiving an expungement post gubernatorial pardon: pursuant to 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(e), “Whenever a person who has been convicted of an offense is granted a pardon by the Governor which specifically authorizes expungement, he or she may, upon verified petition to the Chief Judge…have a court order entered expunging the record of arrest from the official records of the arresting authority and order that the records of the circuit court clerk and the Department be sealed until further order of the court…” (emphasis added). While this is patently unfair, in my professional opinion, and a person who has been granted a pardon with authorization to expunge should receive the full benefit of the expungement (i.e., not sealing), this is how the statute is currently worded. In the past, an entirely separate form dealing with this particular type of petitioner was necessary. The new forms, specifically the Order to Expunge and Impound, account for this scenario along with many others.

While it may be too early to say this decisively, it certainly looks as though Governor Rauner is attempting to make clemency decisions a monthly activity during his 2016 tenure. Yesterday, he decided an additional 100 clemency petitions, granting 2 individuals pardons with authorization to expunge and denying the other 98 petitions for relief. I will say once again I am very pleased with the speed with which Governor Rauner is addressing the pending petitions, however, I am all but certain there were more than 2 individuals deserving of relief in the batch of petitions that were reviewed by the Governor.

Of the 2 people who were fortunate enough to receive the coveted pardon authorizing expungement yesterday, one had a felony conviction for burglary stemming from a 1993 case and the other had received a sentence of court supervision on two misdemeanor charges dating back to 2007: fleeing/attempting to elude an officer and driving under the influence (DUI). Typically, a sentence of court supervision (assuming it stands in isolation on a person’s record) is expungeable without gubernatorial intervention, however, DUI cases are an exception to that rule under the Illinois Criminal Identification Act.

In his first act of executive clemency this calendar year, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner decides a total of 154 clemency petitions, granting 5 and denying 149. Once again, I am pleased to say that I have a client among the 5 who was fortunate enough to receive this extraordinary remedy! The offenses pardoned ranged from forgery, battery and domestic battery to burglary and the offenses ranged in dates from 1987 to 2004. Moreover, the decided petitions dated back to 2009 and reduce the backlog of undecided petitions from previous administrations down to approximately 900 petitions.

Congratulations to the individuals receiving pardons with authorization to expunge! If you or someone you know is in need of executive clemency, please feel free to contact me for a free analysis of your case.

In what is very likely his final grant of clemencies this year, Governor Bruce Rauner has granted 7 people pardons with authorization to expunge their past convictions in Illinois on December 23, 2015. I am proud to say that one of these deserving individuals is my client; I couldn’t be happier for him! Unfortunately, Governor Rauner denied 247 petitions for clemency in this latest round of decisions.

According to news sources, there are still around 1,000 petitions for executive clemency pending from previous administrations, with new petitions being filed each quarter. When a person is not eligible for either expungement or sealing of his or her criminal record, he or she must pursue a grant of executive clemency, or pardon, through the Governor. Navigating through the complex Illinois Criminal Identification Act can be a daunting task so I encourage you to contact an attorney well-versed in this area of law to help you determine your best course of action. I have been focusing my law practice on criminal records law since its inception in 2010 and would be very happy to speak or meet with you with regards to your needs in this area.

Happy Holidays to all and sincerest congratulations to those receiving pardons.

The good news is that Governor Rauner has acted on yet another batch of clemency petitions, the fifth such group since he has taken office earlier this year. The not-so-great news is that out of the two hundred ten (210) petitions he decided, he granted only ten (10) and denied two hundred (200). While I would absolutely like to see more deserving petitions being granted by our present Illinois Governor, I will say I admire the relative speed in which he is deciding such petitions. My only hope is that deserving petitioners are not being overlooked in haste.

While I don’t yet have any details concerning what offenses have actually received pardons today, based on my previous analyses of Governor Rauner’s clemency decisions I believe it is safe to surmise that at least some very deserving petitioners were unfortunately denied relief in this recent batch of decisions. Fortunately, a petitioner who has been denied relief is able to file a new petition one (1) year after such denial and moreover, in some circumstances, that waiting period can actually be waived upon a showing of good cause. If you have been denied executive clemency, with or without authorization to expunge, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation about your case. I will give you my best professional opinion as to what went wrong and how to best go about rectifying the situation in a subsequent clemency petition.

Best wishes to all for a very happy Thanksgiving.

Once again, I will be volunteering my day at the annual Adult & Juvenile Expungement Summit and Ex-Offender Job Information Seminar and would love to see you there! This year’s event will be held on June 6, 2015 at the Living Word Christian Center, 7600 West Roosevelt Road in Forest Park and opens at 8:30 a.m. Although the event runs through 6 p.m., I do suggest getting there as early as possible. Attorney volunteers, like myself, will be providing information on adult felony and misdemeanor expungements and sealings, juvenile record expungement, as well as information on executive clemency and certificates of relief from disabilities and good conduct. On-site drug testing will be available and you will be able to obtain certified case dispositions at the event as well. Qualified applicants will be able to file expungement and/or sealing petitions for free on-site at the Summit. For more details about the event, please call 312-603-5200 or 312-603-4641. You may also see the official Expungement Summit Guide here.

In keeping with his predecessor’s tradition of releasing clemency petition decisions on major holidays, Governor Bruce Rauner granted two (2) pardons with authorization to expunge over this past Easter weekend. In total, our new Governor decided fifty-nine (59) petitions for executive clemency, granting two (2) and denying fifty-seven (57). While I of course would have liked to have seen more pardons granted, I am very pleased with the fact that a Governor Rauner’s spokesperson stated that going forward, clemency petitions will be reviewed on a “regular basis”. In all honesty I did not expect to see any pardon decisions this soon after Governor Rauner took office; this recent action with regards to clemencies seems to indicate that our new state leadership will continue to regard pardon applications as important and deserving of attention.