Last Friday, June 30, 2017 Governor Rauner addressed another batch of Illinois clemency petitions, granting 10 pardons with authorization to expunge and denying 104. The pardons that were issued were for cases ranging in dates from 1981 to 2000 and were for offenses including aggravated assault, aggravated battery, retail theft, theft, forgery and assorted felony drug crimes. I am beyond pleased to report that 1 of my clients is included in this batch of 10 successful petitions; congratulations to him and to the 9 other undoubtedly deserving candidates.

In his 16th batch of clemency petition decisions since taking office in January of 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner granted pardons authorizing expungement to five (5) individuals on April 14, 2017: one (1) individual was granted relief from a 1992 felony theft case in Champaign County, there were three (3) felony drug cases ranging in years from 1996 to 1999 (two (2) in Cook County, one (1) in McLean County) that were pardoned with leave to file a petition to expunge and finally, one (1) individual received executive clemency authorizing expungement on a 1999 felony aggravated battery case out of Macon County. One hundred forty (140) petitions for executive clemency were denied by Governor Rauner this time around.

With Rauner’s “grant rate” for pardon petitions hovering at just three percent (3%), I am certain there are a good amount of deserving individuals who are falling through the cracks, which is unfortunate. There is no other available remedy for individuals pursuing this so-called “extraordinary relief” through the Governor; many good people who have made bad decisions in their past are struggling to find jobs, housing and other relief because of the strictness of Illinois’ expunging, sealing and clemency laws. I hope we continue to make progress as a State in passing new legislation with a greater breadth of relief.

The Westside Baptist Ministers Conference, Workship Coalition, Inc., and The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County are hosting an expungement summit on Saturday, January 21, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 325 S. California Ave., Chicago, IL 60612.  Volunteer attorneys will assist registered attendees with filing applications for expungements and sealings; pre-registration is required and you can call 872-395-3551 to sign up. Seating is limited. Registered attendees must bring RAP sheets and certified case dispositions with them to the summit.

I hope to see you there!

Happy New Year everyone! I have some very exciting changes to the Illinois Criminal Identification Act (ICIA) to discuss here, with regard to both expungement and sealing.  Regarding expungement, pursuant to Public Act 099-0881 and the newly revised 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(b)(1) et seq., a person who has one or more non-expungeable criminal offenses on his or her record may now petition the circuit court to expunge other expungeable records, including arrests or charges not initiated by arrest that resulted in acquittal, dismissal or petitioner’s release without charging (subject to exclusions), a reversed or vacated conviction (subject to exclusions), an order of supervision where that supervision was successfully completed by petitioner (subject to exclusions), or an order of qualified probation (as defined by the ICIA) where that qualified probation was successfully completed by petitioner. The bottom line with regard to this substantive change in law is that a person wanting to petition the circuit court for expungement may now do so in certain cases even if he or she has previously been convicted of a criminal offense! There is no more “all or nothing” analysis – i.e., where previously if a petitioner had even a single conviction on his or her criminal record that petitioner would not be eligible to petition for expungement on any Illinois case!

Additionally, the ICIA now provides, pursuant to Public Act 099-0881 and the newly revised 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(d)(1.5), that in Cook County a petitioner may file his or her petition to expunge or seal with the circuit court free of charge where the records to be expunged or sealed were arrests resulting in release without charging or arrests or charges not initiated by arrest resulting in acquittal, dismissal or a conviction that was subsequently reversed or vacated (subject to exclusions) during the 2017 calendar year.  In other words, the legislature is now allowing for no-fee filing in Cook County on a petition to expunge or seal in certain circumstances!

As always, the ICIA is complicated to navigate alone, as even experienced legal practitioners sometimes have questions about the meaning of certain provisions contained therein (there is very little case law on point that may be used for guidance).  Though a petition to expunge or seal may be prepared and filed pro se, as always, it truly is in your best interest to contact an attorney who focuses his or her practice on this area of law so as to give yourself the best chance at success in court.  I am always happy to give prospective clients free consultations on this subject as well as several others, including post-conviction proceedings and general criminal and traffic defense.

In what may be his final act of executive clemency this year, Governor Rauner has commuted the sentences of just two individuals and pardoned with authorization to expunge three others on December 23, 2016. With regards to the commutations of sentences, both cases were from Bureau County in 1994 and were convictions for trafficking a controlled substance; one sentence was originally for ninety-five years and was reduced to fifty years, the other sentence was for sixty years and was also reduced to fifty years.  As for the pardons with authorization to expunge, the earliest case was a 1985 Cook County case ending in a conviction for manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, then there was a 1994 Effingham County case which terminated with a conviction for retail theft and finally, a 2002 Henry County case which resulted in a burglary conviction.  One hundred ninety-five petitions for executive clemency were denied on December 23, 2016.

As has previously been reported, Governor Rauner has now cleared the backlog of petitions left behind by his predecessors and is now working on current petitions for executive clemency.  While I am very pleased with the speed in which Governor Rauner is deciding these types of petitions, I can only hope that he expands his criteria for relief, as I personally know of multiple deserving individuals who have been denied in the past two years.

 

Governor Rauner released yet another batch of clemency decisions the day before Thanksgiving (11/23/2016), granting 8 individuals pardons and denying 152. One of the individuals pardoned was a Vietnam pilot convicted of reckless homicide in DuPage County for a car crash that happened over 60 years ago. Another pardoned individual had a 1965 felony forgery conviction in Douglas County.  The other pardoned offenses included manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance, obstruction of justice, burglary and battery and the offense dates spanned from 1992 to 2005.  All 8 of the pardon recipients were granted authorization to expunge their respective cases.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

On October 7, 2016, Governor Rauner decided a total of 240 clemency petitions, granting 5 and denying 235. Back on September 2, 2016, Governor Rauner decided a total of 126 petitions for executive clemency, granting 8 and denying 118.  Presently, there are less than 50 petitions remaining to be decided from previous administrations.  The October 7th batch of grants included crimes such as obstruction of justice, manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and burglary while the September 2nd batch of grants included both violent and non-violent crimes such as domestic battery, aggravated battery, attempted armed robbery, burglary, criminal damage to property and deceptive practices.  A pardon with authorization to expunge a conviction categorized as a violent offense is traditionally much more difficult to obtain than an act of clemency relating to a non-violent offense; it encourages me greatly to see violent offenses included in the list of clemency grants in that Governor Rauner must be carefully considering the facts and circumstances of each individual petitioner and petition for clemency before deciding whether or not that person is deserving of this so-called “extraordinary” remedy.  People can and do change and many of us do indeed deserve a second chance sometimes.

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.