Category Archives: In the news

Medical Marijuana in Illinois: Resources for understanding the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program

Three Illinois state agencies are working to establish rules for patient ID cards and policies and procedures for dispensaries.

Three Illinois state agencies are working to establish rules for patient ID cards and policies and procedures for dispensaries.

The Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (“MCPP”)[i] is one of the most discussed new 2014 laws in Illinois. What people should know is that despite the law taking effect January 1, it will be some time before people who qualify for medical marijuana will be able to obtain their medicine. The debate about medical marijuana has Americans talking. Some high-profile leaders are changing their minds with many Americans and residents of Illinois who find medical cannabis a worthy alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals and traditional Western medical treatments of certain conditions. Washington and Colorado went further and legalized marijuana beyond a medical treatment and residents may use marijuana for recreational use. Because opinions and what is known about marijuana for medicine or recreation, Illinois law makers voted to approve a somewhat restrictive and detailed pilot program and it will take some time to answer questions and approve policies and procedures for the new law.

Three Illinois state agencies are working to establish rules for patient ID cards and policies and procedures for dispensaries.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (“DPH”) is the agency writing administrative rules for the new program. DPH wants Illinois residents to understand the WARNING: “The State of Illinois is warning that it will not be legal for anyone to grow, offer to provide, or to possess, medical cannabis until licenses have been issued and the program is up and running.[ii]” Among its responsibilities, DPH is considering additional medical conditions to the list of many contained in a published analysis of the law on the Marijuana Policy Project (“MPP”)[iii]. Here is a link to An Overview of Illinois’ Medical Marijuana Law. Interested Illinois residents may click here with comments and suggestions about the pilot program.

The concept of the new law being a pilot program is also well-explained in the overview. “Why is it called a “pilot program?” MPP answers, “The law was created with a “sunset” provision, meaning that if the legislature does not review the program or create a new law, the program will cease to operate four years from the date it goes into effect.[iv]” As Illinois State agencies implement the new law its future existence is not certain. People who want to operate dispensaries and participate in the program should take their civic duties seriously and communicating with elected representatives, especially through easy contact forms on their websites, is certainly a good idea.

Be careful not to break the law when seeking to become a medical cannabis dispensary.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (“IDFPR”) is the Illinois agency that manages the licensing and regulation of professionals including physicians. Doctors interested in applying to operate legal dispensary operations must obey strict rules. A recent news release on the IDFPR website, titled, “State Urges Caution towards Medical Cannabis Clinics,” mentions a formal complaint filed against a Chicago doctor, “The complaint alleges that on the day Dr. Murray opened the ‘Good Intentions’ clinic, he and a coworker were offering potential patients ‘pre-approval’ to obtain medical cannabis if they paid a $99 registration fee. Under the Medical Practice Act, such conduct is unprofessional as it is misleading.[v]” A physician could lose their license to practice medicine in the State of Illinois for breaking the new law.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is the third agency working to implement the new law. Their responsibilities include the regulation of the medical cannabis cultivation facilities. Working with the IDFPR, the Department of Agriculture will work to ensure the medical cannabis growers are in compliance with rules and regulations of growing medical marijuana for the dispensaries. The Department of Agriculture also has a link to their resources regarding the law and their role in regulating cultivation centers.

How can the Fox Valley Law Center help with the new medical marijuana law?

Fox Valley Law Center attorneys receive a high volume of inquiries about the new law. From the would be patients of clinics to people wondering about possessing marijuana, to the attorneys who assist physicians who want to incorporate dispensary clinics in their practices, we can help answer your questions and keep everyone in compliance with the law. To talk to an attorney, please call and make an appointment at the Fox Valley Law Center by dialing 630-236-2222 or simply stop in and see us at our office conveniently located at the second floor of the Westfield Fox Valley Mall in Aurora. We are here during mall hours. You can also learn more about our firm when you “Like” us on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter!

 

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Illinois Concealed Firearms Act: Do You Qualify?

"IN DROVES: Thousands of gun owners have spent their own time and money to sign-up for concealed carry." Imagae and article with statistics by Illinois Watchdog, "In Illinois, shoot first, enroll in Obamacare later," by Ben Yount, Jan. 15, 2014.

“IN DROVES: Thousands of gun owners have spent their own time and money to sign-up for concealed carry.” Image and article with statistics by Illinois Watchdog, “In Illinois, shoot first, enroll in Obamacare later,” by Ben Yount, Jan. 15, 2014.

In their recent news article, “In Illinois, shoot first, enroll in Obamacare later,” the Illinois Watchdog (formerly Illinois Statehouse News) reported that more people are applying for concealed carry permits than for Obamacare. “The Illinois State Police expect as many as 400,000 people to apply for gun permits. If the pace continues, Illinois will see 240,000 applications in just three months.” The article also suggests, “The only way Obamacare can get close to those kind of numbers is factoring in the state’s massive explosion in Illinois’ Medicaid population.”[i]

The Fox Valley Law Center can answer your questions about concealed carry eligibility.

The Illinois Concealed Firearms Act authorizes the issuance of licenses for the concealed carry of handguns and other firearms.  If you are at least 21 years old, have a currently valid Illinois Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Card, and have completed an approved firearms training course, you may qualify for a license if you answer “no” to the following questions:

1. Are you disqualified from owning or possessing a firearm under state or federal law?  Or do you have a pending case that could lead to the disqualification from owning or possessing a firearm?

Common reasons for being disqualified from owning or possessing a handgun under Illinois or federal law include: (a) a conviction for a felony offense; (b) conviction for domestic battery; or, (c) convictions for certain drug and narcotics offenses.

2. Within the past 5 years (from the date of your concealed carry application), have you been convicted or found guilty of:

a. A misdemeanor offense involving use or threat of physical violence?

This could include misdemeanor offenses for assault, battery or domestic battery.  If you have been placed on court supervision for one of these offenses, you may not qualify.

b.  2 or more violations related to driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, drugs, or intoxicating compounds?

3. Have you been in residential or court-ordered treatment for alcoholism, alcohol detoxification, or drug treatment within the past 5 years?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you may not qualify for a concealed firearm license.  Once issued, a concealed firearm license is valid for 5 years.  If a person is issued a license and then changes addresses or names, the person must notify the proper authorities within 30 days of the change.

The Fox Valley Law Center is conveniently located in the Westfield Valley Shopping Mall.  To schedule a consultation, call us at (630) 236-2222.


[i] Illinois Watchdog: In Illinois, shoot first, enroll in Obamacare later, by Ben Yount, Jan. 15, 2014.

Get ready for new Illinois laws to take effect at midnight January 1, 2014

Call the Fox Valley Law Center at 630-236-2222 if you have any questions about the new laws.

Call the Fox Valley Law Center at 630-236-2222 if you have any questions about the new laws.

More than 200 plus new laws take effect at midnight on January 1 in Illinois. Some of the new laws as reported in this video by WGN news include a ban on incandescent light bulbs, the legalization medical marijuana, the concealed carry law for firearms. Several of the news laws are somewhat complex, and for example, the new handgun law identifies several places where people in Illinois may not carry a concealed handgun at playgrounds, forest preserves and restaurants. It is important to do your research if you are one of the Illinois residents who will apply for the new handgun permit so you do not inadvertently carry a gun in a prohibited location. Those who violate the new law may be subject to criminal penalties. Here is a link to a table listing all the new laws courtesy of WGN TV.

The medical marijuana law is rather complex for both patients and medical providers.

While the new medical marijuana law goes into effect on January 1, it will take some time for patience to gain access to their medicine. By April 2014 the state agencies regulating the licensing of dispensaries and cultivators. The new law allows a patient with a prescription to legally purchase no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana over any two-week period. Unlike medical marijuana laws in other states, the new Illinois law requires that the prescribing doctor have a prior medical relationship with the patient who must have a serious or chronic condition for which the marijuana is prescribed. This new law is a pilot program and Illinois lawmakers are already proposing revisions to the law. The marijuana cultivators and dispensaries are highly regulated under the new law by the Illinois Department of Financial and Regulation. Here is a link to the Illinois Medical Cannabis Act Reference Sheet provided by the Marijuana Policy Project organization. If you have any questions please, give the Fox Valley Law Center a call and one of the lawyers can explain this and the many other laws that take effect January 1.

New laws allow Illinois drivers to speed up to 70 and some of the youngest drivers can register to vote at age 17.

Driving in Illinois will change somewhat in 2014 as several speed limits in non-urban areas increase to 70 miles per hour. While driving you will need to use hands free electronic devices if you want to communicate with the world outside your vehicle, so you may need to take the plunge and learn how to connect your device to the vehicle’s blue tooth system if you are so equipped.

As you drop your kids off at school, you may be pleased to know a new federal law regarding food allergies provides that Epi pens should be on hand for the aid of children with food allergies. If your children are seniors in high school, they may become politically active and start voting at age 17! If you are divorced you will be surprised to learn that a new family law requires parents with joint-custody to offer the other parent the option of temporary care before taking a child to a third party care giver like daycare.

If you are an employer, you may also want to spend some time on New Year’s Day reviewing new laws.

Business owners will enjoy reviewing several of the new laws. Professionals licensed to practice their craft by the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation will be glad to know their home addresses may no longer be printed on the licenses that are required to be displayed to customers. An employer may also access an employee’s social networking website such as Facebook for professionally used accounts for which the employer has liability for the employee under certain laws. This is another example of why in 2014 if you are unsure of how a new law works you should make a call to a lawyer who can explain how new laws may affect you.

To talk to an attorney about the new laws in Illinois, please call and make an appointment at the Fox Valley Law Center by dialing 630-236-2222 or simply stop in and see us at our office conveniently located at the second floor of the Westfield Fox Valley Mall in Aurora. We are here during mall hours. You can also learn more about our firm when you “Like” us on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter!

Excessive force: A cost of doing business or a problem in local jails?

Outrageous conduct? The video below[i] shows four LaSalle County Sheriffs officers stripped the accused, Dana Holmes, naked and left her like that in the cell following a DUI arrest. Holmes’ attorney says the elements required to perform a legal strip search were not present in this instance.  Woman Sues LaSalle County After Strip Search in DUI Arrest Source.

Woman Sues LaSalle County After Strip Search in DUI Arrest

Woman Sues LaSalle County After Strip Search in DUI Arrest

In response to a civil lawsuit Holmes filed against La Salle County, officials commented and clearly stand behind the conduct of their jail guards, and that, “did nothing wrong in the video-recorded May incident.[ii]” The attorney representing Holmes comments on the suit: “This wasn’t a search. They just stripped her,” Holmes’ lawyer, Terry Ekl, said. “To do a strip search you need to have reasonable grounds to believe she either has a weapon on her or she’s secreting drugs. That didn’t exist here.”

Another recent incident was caught by video camera in Skokie, and in this case the injured woman who says she needed reconstructive surgery, sued for injuries after her head was shoved into a wall.

Woman sues Skokie Police, alleges cop threw her into concrete bench

Woman sues Skokie Police, alleges cop threw her into concrete bench

Was there a reason for the Skokie Police needed to shove Cassandra Feuerstein head first into a jail cell? The blood on the cell floor and medical attention response is telling. Feuerstein, arrested for DUI, appears, in the video, to cooperate despite her being shoved to her fall in the holding cell. Click/Tap here for a link to the video embedded in the Chicago Trib Local article.

Police officers and staff are trusted public servants and departments of internal affairs frequently investigate claims of excessive force and abuse of custodians of local jails. The Chicago Tribune article reports the police stated, “Feuerstein ‘knowingly resisted…in that she pulled away from (the officer) and placed both her hands on the sides of the cell door all in an attempt to not be placed in the holding cell.’[iii]” Do you think the male officer’s response was appropriate, if the above statement by the police is true?

Even closer to home, the City of Naperville settled an excessive force lawsuit for $435,000[iv]. Municipalities often consider settlements of excessive force cases a “business decision.” Such was the statement by Jill Pelka-Wilger, Naperville’s assistant legal director. The incident took place in Cook County which Pelka-Wilger stated, are “notorious for unpredictable jury awards.” A similar incident resulted in a $2 million award, and the settlement and reduced exposure may be more affordable to municipal police departments.

Cameras taking pictures and video of police conduct are increasingly common and knowing the eyes are upon you may have an effect on short-fused officers.

Nicole Sartori, principal of the Fox Valley Law Center, Ltd. offered the following comments in response to recent news involving cameras and police conduct: “As a criminal defense attorney, I love videos in DUI cases. It does not matter if they are from the squad car or the booking room. The video represents the most unbiased piece of evidence in a case. Although they are not required, they certainly are helpful. Police officers tend to only highlight the negative aspects of the client’s behavior in their reports. Clients tend to focus on the positive aspects in their interview with you or their testimony at hearing or trial. Plus, you may have difficulty believing their account due to the consumption of alcohol they admit to consuming. But, the video speaks for itself. This is true whether it is used as evidence of intoxication or impairment of the client or civil rights violations by police brutality or excessive force. Both articles here illustrate that when the cameras are rolling everyone must be held accountable for their actions. It does not matter whether you are in a smaller, rural county such as LaSalle or more wealthy suburban district like Skokie. If you believe you were mistreated or abused during your arrest, you need to let your defense attorney know right away. They should file motions to preserve the video so that the evidence is not erased, deleted or mysteriously gone by the first court date.”

“Jurisdictions such as Kendall County and Kane County have been focused on collecting the DUI technology fee in sentencing orders from defendants that are sentenced for DUI. If those fees mean more videos, I am all for them.” Nicole Sartori.

To learn more about legal issues that affect Chicago area families in the west suburbs, you can “Like” the Fox Valley Law Center Ltd., on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter. For more information please visit www.FoxValleyLawCenter.com.


[i] NBC5 Chicago: Woman Sues La Salle County After Strip Search in DUI Arrest. By Staff, Oct. 1, 2013.

[ii] Chicago Tribune: La Salle County stands behind jail guards sued for stripping woman. By David Heinzmann, Oct. 10, 2013.

[iii] Chicago Trib Local Evanston & Skokie: Woman sues Skokie and officer, citing injury after DUI arrest. By Juan Perez Jr., Oct. 10, 2013.

[iv] Daily Herald. Naperville settles excessive force lawsuit for $435,000. By Jake Griffin, Sept. 16, 2013.

Julie’s Law in Illinois Means No Supervision for More Than 25 Over

“Julie’s Law” went into effect on Monday, July 1, 2013. Last summer, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, at Lincoln-Way High school, signed Julie’s law which increases penalties for speeders. On June 10, 2011, Julie Gorczynski, a 17-year-old Lincoln-Way student was killed in a car accident when she was hit by a  driver going 76 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour residential area, that’s  speeding 36 miles per hour over the limit. The driver who killed Julie had multiple court supervisions for speeding. Julie’s family contacted law makers and worked hard to help create this new law.

Julie's Law went into effect July 1, 2013. No more supervision if you speed more than 25 miles over the limit.

Julie’s Law went into effect July 1, 2013. No more supervision if you speed more than 25 miles over the limit in a residential district or 30 miles over in a rural area. Even if you do not think you are eligible for court supervision, you should have your case reviewed by an attorney and have your counsel present to represent you in court.

Supervision allowed speeders to avoid suspension but the new law changes the rules.

“What you do with what happens can make a positive difference in the world,” says Julie’s mother, Pam Gorczynski. “I would not want another mother, or a father, brother, or sister, to go through this.”[i]

Supervision eligibility is different under “Julie’s Law” for adult drivers over 21 years old. In Illinois, a driver’s license will be suspended for three moving violation convictions within 12 months. For under 21 year-old drivers, two convictions within 24 months causes license suspension. Court supervision is not considered a conviction; therefore, under the old law a person receiving supervision would avoid a drivers license suspension. You are eligible for two court supervisions in a 12 month period.

The new law states that speeders exceeding the limit by more than 25 miles in a residential (urban) district, or by more than 30 miles otherwise (rural), are not eligible for court supervision: “(q) The provisions of paragraph (c) shall not apply to a defendant charged with violating subsection (b) of Section 11-601 of the Illinois Vehicle Code when the defendant was operating a vehicle, in an urban district, at a speed in excess of 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.” 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1 (a)(1)(q)[ii]

Court supervision is a an option a Judge can use when a driver in Illinois is issued a speeding ticket and they plead guilty or agree to the facts underlying the speeding citation and agree to the terms of court supervision. If the driver avoids any further tickets during the supervision period, that driver is free to go about their business, without a moving violation conviction on their Illinois driver record.

Attorney Nicole Sartori, principal attorney at the Fox Valley Law Center Ltd., is a former Assistant State’s Attorney who worked in Will County and knows the Illinois Vehicle Code and how the courts enforce the law. Nicole and the attorneys at the Fox Valley Law Center work with clients who have a variety of traffic violations, DUIs and criminal charges. The prosecuting agency must prove their case against you and if you think the ticket you were issued was improper, stop by to see a Fox Valley Law Center attorney. Located on the second floor of the Westfield Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, attorneys are available seven days a week to work around your schedules. You can call to make an appointment by dialing (630) 236-2222. Se habla español.

To learn more about Illinois traffic laws and the other legal areas that affect Chicago area families in the west suburbs, you can “Like” the Fox Valley Law Center Ltd., on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter. For more information please visit www.FoxValleyLawCenter.com.

Smile, you’re on Courthouse TV in Kane County!

Earlier this month Kane County received the Illinois Supreme Court’s approval to join the statewide pilot program extending media coverage to Illinois courts under certain conditions.[i] DuPage and Lake counties already participate in the program that boosts transparency. Not everyone loves the idea of being monitored when in court. Particularly, judges and attorneys who get tired and bogged down might fear additional scrutiny.

Image

Chief Justice John Roberts – Took His Seat: September 29, 2005:
“There’s a concern (among justices) about the impact of television on the functioning of the institution. We’re going to be very careful before we do anything that might have an adverse impact.”
– Remarks at the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ annual conference, July 13, 2006

Often courts of law and courts of public opinion exist with mutual exclusivity. Now, with big brother in court, our judges, attorneys and system administrators have more to think about as they prepare for daily court calls. Will litigants benefit from a judge compelled to better explain rulings? Might folks at home see what really happens? The ‘scare them straight’ styled programs on cable television often show the worst kids they can to boost ratings. When real kids see who appear to be peers standing at the bench, some viewers might have second thoughts when tempted to boost a television or sell a bag of weed.

Attorney Nicole Sartori of the Fox Valley Law Center, Ltd. on the news about cameras:

“Almost 20 years since the OJ Simpson trial, Illinois finally steps up to the media plate. Watching that trial as a teenager, it made me interested in the profession. Bringing the cameras to the Kane County Courthouse may expose other young people to real trials with real people and create a spark that interests them in the law. Of course, the most gruesome will attract the most coverage and some shrinks would argue that we are sensationalizing their crimes. I don’t believe the actual physical presence of cameras changes whether a Defendant’s name becomes a household name during the trial. Just ask Drew Peterson. As it typically happens when deciding guilt or innocence, it always comes down to the facts and evidence of the case.” Nicole Sartori, Attorney at Law, Fox Valley Law Center, Ltd., Westfield Fox Valley Mall, Aurora, Illinois.

Social media hounds salivate at the stories they might be able share to attract readers and advertisers with the new courtroom media option. Of course, many asked quickly about the use of camera phones on various devices. Your day could come but today is not it, the Chief Judge, Judith Brawka clarified that “the enhanced media coverage does not entitle spectators to record court proceedings on smart phones.[ii]

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan who took her seat August 7, 2010, had the following comments on point, “I do think it would be a good idea…If everybody could see this, it would make more people feel so good about this branch of government and how it’s operating…it’s such a shame actually that only 200 people a day can get to see it and then a bunch of other people can read about it. Because reading about it is not the same experience as actually seeing…” From remarks to the Aspen Institute, August 2, 2011.[iii]

What do you think about cameras in the courtroom? We would love to hear from you on this topic here on our blog or on our Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or LinkedIn page. For more about our firm, visit www.FoxValleyLawCenter.com or stop in and say hello at our office at the Westfield Fox Valley Mall on the second floor near Macy’s. You can also make an appointment to speak to an attorney by dialing (630) 236-2222.

In the news: “Innovative Lawyering: Nicole Sartori introduces The Fox Valley Law Center located in a mall!”

You may meet with one of our staff attorneys, Nicole Sartori, Adriana Lara, or Jennifer Kiss or one of our independent contractor attorneys, Christi Alexander or Mary Helen Reyna for an hour consultation regarding your legal issues.

You may meet with one of our staff attorneys, Nicole Sartori, Adriana Lara, or Jennifer Kiss or one of our independent contractor attorneys, Christi Alexander or Mary Helen Reyna for an hour consultation regarding your legal issues.

Clients often fear lawyers. Why? Legal matters affecting our lives cause stress. When stressed clients hire lawyers, they rely on them to resolve their issues. Attorneys often agree that clients nod and say they understand the process and relationship, when the reality may be that a client does not want to seem uneducated and overwhelmed by the process. Consumers hiring lawyers seem more likely to have a good experience and refer other business when the process is transparent and comforting. Recently I met an innovative attorney, Ms. Nicole Sartori[i], from The Fox Valley Law Center, Ltd.[ii], located in the Westfield Fox Valley Mall in Aurora.

Click to read the article in ChicagoNow’s Friends in Family Law published December 19, 2012.