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.
Just a few hours ago, in advance of the New Year, Illinois Governor Quinn grants executive clemency to 102 more individuals. Along with the 102 grants, Gov. Quinn denied 425 petitions, bringing his total number of clemency decisions to 4,489 (1,520 clemency petitions granted and 2,969 petitions denied). I am pleased to report that I have recently received positive results for 3 of my clemency clients, and am anxiously awaiting decisions on many more. I sincerely hope the outgoing Governor Quinn decides at least one more batch of clemency petitions prior to leaving office next month!
Throughout his tenure as Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn has truly been a champion in reviewing and deciding Petitions for Executive Clemency. In total, Governor Quinn has reviewed a total of 3,962 petitions, granting 1,418 and denying 2,544. Just this past Christmas Eve (December 24, 2014) he decided a total of 604 clemency petitions, granting 179 of them and denying the remaining 425. Prior to that, on the eve of Thanksgiving, Governor Quinn granted 126 petitions and denied 185. It is my sincere hope that we see at least one more batch of clemency petition decisions prior to Governor Quinn leaving office on January 12, 2015.
Please join the Honorable Dorothy Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and me at this year’s Expungement Summit on June 7, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at The Living Word Christian Center, 7600 West Roosevelt Road, Forest Park, IL. This is a full-service annual event where people with criminal records are able to speak with on-site volunteer attorneys about expungements, sealings, petitions for executive clemency and certificates of rehabilitation. There will also be on-site child support services, job training, housing and community resources, identity theft information and much more. Members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board will also be present to discuss the pardon process for those who do not qualify for either expungement or sealing. This event is truly a wealth of information! Please contact the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County at 312-603-5200 for more information, or you may visit www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org. I look forward to meeting you at this year’s Summit!
On April 18, 2014 Governor Pat Quinn granted 43 clemency petitions and denied 65, thus further reducing the backlog of petitions he inherited from former Governor Rod Blagojevich. The offenses for which clemency was granted ranged from theft to robbery to manufacture and/or delivery of a controlled substance and the offense dates ranged from approximately 1969 to 2003. The bulk of these granted clemency petitions were filed in mid-2009 but some some dated back to 2007 and others were filed as recently as 2014.
Petitions for Executive Clemency (with Authorization to Expunge) are almost inevitably a last resort for people with certain criminal convictions on their records. Although the format of the petition itself is somewhat flexible, it is most certainly in your best interest to contact an attorney experienced in this field to discuss methodology and strategy. I would be happy to speak with anyone needing assistance in this area!
On July 9, 2013 the Firearm Concealed Carry Act became state law and was codified at 430 ILCS 66. The law allows an eligible individual to legally carry a concealed firearm with a valid Concealed Carry License. There are multiple requirements a person must meet in order to be eligible and there is a certain level of discretion employed in the Ilinois State Police’s decision as to whether to issue such a license to an individual. For example, Section 15 of the new law provides that “[a]ny law enforcement agency may submit an objection to a license applicant based upon a reasonable suspicion that the applicant is a danger to himself or herself or others, or a threat to public safety”. This is obviously purposefully vague language that serves to open the door for objections by law enforcement agencies.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has been quoted as saying that he will object to the granting of a concealed carry permit to “anyone” with an Illinois arrest record within seven years of that individual’s application for such permit. Earlier this month Dart did indeed object to two hundred forty concealed carry applications because these applicants had criminal histories including “gun crimes” and/or “crimes of domestic violence”. It is unclear as to whether these individuals all had convictions on their records or if some of the applicants were merely arrested for such crimes and never convicted.
While it is not possible to expunge a conviction and further, not possible to expunge anything on one’s criminal record if one has even a single conviction, the expungement laws do allow for expungement of non-convictions such as arrests resulting in aquittals or dismissals. (I’ve more thoroughly discussed requirements for expungement eligibility in previous blog posts, such as here and here.) I would strongly urge anyone wanting to ultimately obtain a permit to allow him or her to carry a concealed firearm to make sure any expungeable arrests are in fact expunged prior to submitting an application to the Illinois State Police. Even the State Police would need a court order to see a successfully expunged arrest record and therefore would not be able to use such expunged arrests as a reason to deny a person an Illinois Concealed Carry Permit.
Great news for individuals burdened by felony criminal records: the Illinois Criminal Identification Act (20 ILCS 2630/5.2 et seq.) has recently been amended by Public Act 098-0142 which adds multiple Class 3 and Class 4 offenses not previously eligible for relief by sealing to now be eligible for sealing through the court system! Prior to this change, only three (3) felonies (all Class 4) were eligible for relief through sealing: possession of a controlled substance (PCS), possession of cannabis (marijuana) and prostitution. Now, in its expanded form, the Illinois Criminal Identification Act allows for the following offenses to be eligible for sealing:
• Class 4 felony convictions for prostitution, possession of cannabis (marijuana), possession of a controlled substance, theft, retail theft, deceptive practices, forgery and possession of burglary tools; and
• Class 3 felony convictions for theft, retail theft, deceptive practices, forgery and possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance.
I am pleased to announce that this past Friday, March 29, 2013, Illinois State Governor Pat Quinn released decisions on two hundred twenty-two (222) additional Petitions for Executive Clemency, granting eighty-seven (87) pardons in total and denying requests for clemency on another one hundred thirty-five (135) petitions. These recent decisions were for clemency petitions submitted as early as 2005 and as late as 2012 but there are still many petitions contained within that date range that remain undecided. As I’ve said before, I applaud Gov. Quinn for his attempts to minimize the backlog of petitions he inherited from the previous administration, but there remains a significant build-up of old petitions yet to be acted upon. To date, I have not received decisions on multiple Petitions for Executive Clemency with Authorization to Expunge for clients dating back to 2009. While I understand there are numerous other responsibilities Governor Quinn handles on a daily basis I implore this administration to more quickly act upon outstanding clemency petitions. Sadly, there are many people in our society who are being hindered by their past (sometimes decades old) mistakes and are so deserving of a second chance in the form of a pardon with authorization to expunge. Please help us help them, Governor Quinn!
It’s time for the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s annual Expungement Summit! The event will take place on June 2nd, 2012, once again at the Apostolic Church of God located at 6230 South Dorchester Avenue, Chicago, Illinois between 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Please join me there and remember to bring your Chicago RAP sheet (assuming you were arrested in Chicago), which can be ordered from the Chicago Police Department, Access and Review Department, at 3510 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., for $16.00. Further instructions and information can be found on the official event flyer posted on the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court’s website.
I look forward to meeting you!
As I’ve previously discussed in various blog entries, one of the primary reasons a person retains me to file a Petition to Expunge, Petition to Seal, or Petition for Executive Clemency with Authorization to Expunge is to obtain new or better employment. Obviously the client’s criminal background is presenting a significant hurdle to be overcome with regards to landing a job offer, securing an interview, or even keeping a present job. Also, a person’s criminal record can present problems to be dealt with in the housing arena. Once retained by a client, I am happy to explain how we intend to pursue relief from that client’s criminal record pursuant to the Illinois Criminal Identification Act to a prospective employer or landlord. Sometimes an explanation of the processes by which the client is able to clear his or her criminal record will be sufficient to allow an employer, landlord or other entity to remain patient with that client while he or she works with me to draft and file necessary type of petition to obtain relief from his or her criminal record. The text below represents a redacted version of one such letter written to a current client’s prospective employer. If a new or existing boss or landlord has asked you to provide similar explaining Illinois criminal records law please contact me to discuss the details of your situation and how I can draft something to hopefully buy YOU some time while your petition is pending before a court or, alternatively, the Illinois Governor.
“January 23, 2012