After reviewing a batch of clemency petitions in both November and December, 2018, and granting just a few petitions each time (including commuting the sentences of six young men who were given lengthy prison sentences for what were described as “minor” infractions at a southern Illinois youth correctional facility on December 27, 2018), outgoing Governor Rauner granted thirty pardons with authorization to expunge, most of which contained language restoring firearm ownership privileges as well, on January 11, 2019.  He also granted an additional four commutations, two of which were for murder convictions, thereby shortening the sentences of the individuals currently incarcerated for those crimes.  When Governor Rauner exited office, there were no pending clemency petitions left for newly elected Governor Pritzker to inherit.

I am proud to say that two of my own clients were granted executive clemency with authorization to expunge, including the restoration of their firearm privileges, in this last batch of decisions by now ex-Governor Rauner. A very sincere congratulations to all the deserving individuals who were successful in obtaining what is referred to as an “extraordinary remedy”!  We shall now see what incoming Governor Pritzker will do for worthy candidates for executive clemency, only time will tell.

If your clemency petition was denied, please know that many candidates do have to petition for relief at least twice, sometimes even three or more times. There is a standard waiting period of one year from the date of denial before you are able to submit a new petition for executive clemency, but that time frame can be waived under certain circumstances. Please consider contacting an attorney knowledgeable in this highly nuanced area of the law to assist you in preparing your petition for executive clemency with authorization to expunge, possibly with restoration of firearm ownership privileges.

On Good Friday of this year (March 30, 2018), Governor Bruce Rauner granted six (6) individuals Executive Clemency with Authorization to Expunge their decades old convictions. Three (3) convictions were for burglary, one (1) for retail theft, one (1) for unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and one (1) for possession of a stolen motor vehicle. One of the burglary cases dated back to 1959! The most recent conviction was for burglary, as well, but occurred in 1993. Three (3) of the cases were out of Cook County, one (1) from Massac County, one (1) from Peoria County and finally, one (1) from Randolph County.  Congratulations to these undoubtedly deserving individuals for receiving a true second chance.

Last Friday, Governor Rauner granted another seven (7) clemency petitions to individuals with convictions dating as far back as 1985 and as recent as 2008. Each of these undoubtedly deserving individuals had one or more convictions for crimes ranging from possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver to burglary and unlawful use of a weapon, from criminal trespass to vehicle to forgery, and from domestic battery to theft/retail theft. The Illinois counties where these now pardoned convictions occurred spanned from Cook to McLean to Winnebago.

Once again, I am pleased to write that one of my own clients received a pardon with authorization to expunge with restoration of his 2nd amendment rights i.e., his ability to own and possess firearms has now been restored. I am of course proud of my work but suffice it to say that I could not have achieved such a result without such a fantastic and deserving client.

The best part of my job is calling a client who has been waiting for years on a decision from the Governor to report that his/her Petition for Executive Clemency with Authorization to Expunge has finally been granted. If you are in need of help to clear off your criminal record, please consider calling me for a free case analysis, to see if one day I may be able to deliver such fantastic news to you!

Just this past Thursday, August 24, 2017 Governor Rauner signed Illinois House Bill 2373, which expands the current Illinois Criminal Identification Act to allow for virtually ALL felonies to be eligible for sealing relief! Effective immediately, any felony conviction, except for those currently found listed at 20 ILCS 2630/5.2 (a)(3)(A) (i.e., domestic battery and/or violation of an order of protection, Class A and above offenses listed under the Humane Care for Animals Act, driving under the influence and reckless driving (with the youthful offender exception) and sex crimes under Article 11 of the Criminal Code of 2012)  will now be eligible for sealing relief through the court system!  The three (3) year waiting period (as determined from the end of the last criminal sentence on a person’s record) remains in effect, though on convictions that require a person to register on the Murder and Violence Offense Against Youth Registry, that person cannot apply for sealing relief until he or she is no longer required to remain on the registry.

Many individuals who have been told by me, or other attorneys, that they are simply and unfortunately ineligible to petition for sealing relief can now revist the issue to see if this barrier has effectively been removed…I dare say in many, if not most cases, the answer to that question will be “yes”. Keep in mind sealing is not as comprehensive of relief as expungement is, but this is absolutely a huge positive step in the right direction by our legislature and it will undoubtedly help many in need of finding jobs, housing, etc. Please do not hesitate to reach out should you have questions about whether or not this monumental expansion pertains to your own situation.

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!

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