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Criminal Nuggets

Nov 16, 2016

A behind the scenes look at the legislative process including the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Episode 258 (Duration 29:55).  Today we get a little personal, as Jeff explains his motivation for getting involved in lawmaking.

Illinois Legislative Process

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We last spoke to Jeffrey Hall in Episode 251 where he gave us an update to the Illinois Cannabis / DUI decriminalization law.

Jeffrey Hall

Jeffrey R. Hall is a former Assistant State’s Attorney from Tazewell County, Illinois. He has been practicing criminal law since 2004. Currently, Jeff continues to concentrate his practice on criminal law and driver’s license issues. He is a partner of Hall, Rustom & Fritz, LLC. 

The Legislative Process

Why would any rationally thinking attorney ever get involved in the legislative process? It's political and messy, yet Jeff dove right in. Here's what we talked about:

  • Why Jeff spent years working on reforming the DUI-Cannabis law
  • What it means to seek justice
  • How Arizona (that's right crazy Arizona) had a more logical law
  • Examples of prosecutorial discretion run-a-muck
  • What motivations and the deep-seated reasons we have for some laws

Krystin Rennie Story

Jeff began talking about one of his own cases that involved death and tragedy. This case involved a 16 year old driver who misjudged the traffic in a construction zone.

Her car caused an accident with a biker. The biker's wife died in the accident, and the biker was seriously injured. Krystin had a cannabis derivative in her blood, and was found guilty (under the old law) of aggravated driving while under the influence of cannabis. 

In many ways, this case was the final straw that pushed Jeff to seek relief in Springfield.

In Episode 251...

The last time we talked to Jeff, he talked about some of the changes he saw happening in the courts after the new law he helped pass became effective. You can listen to that discussion by clicking this sentence and download the copy of the motion Jeff uses to help ensure his clients can benefit from the new possession of cannabis provisions.

You can download the motion below.

Download Jeff's Sample
"Motion For Admonishments...And Notice Of Election".

Download this sample motion Jeff uses to ensure his clients charged with possession of cannabis before the law change are able to benefit from the change in the law.

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Download This Sample Motion Now!

Important Links

Why You Should Listen

 Out of the gate you get to hear the gripping tale of Krystin Rennie. A wife is killed and a husband loses his arm. A stone sober teenager is charged, and a lawyer finally has enough. (Go to 2:04)

 Discover that "extraordinary circumstances" in DUI death cases is as elusive a concept as the North American Yetti. (Got to 4:46)

 An absurd example of criminal liability that existed under the old law. (Go to 5:59)

 Was there ever a logical basis to criminalize having cannabis substrates in your body while driving? Did Anti-DUI groups take things too far? Was People v. Martin, 2011 IL 109102 (April) the worst Illinois Supreme court decision of the modern era?(Go to 8:00)

 Under the old paradigm having a culpable mental state, an actus rea, went right out the window. (Go to 8:30)

 How 33 other states including Arizona thought strict liability for driving with cannabis derivatives in your body, without evidence of any intoxication was absurd on its face. (Go to 10:20)

 Why you should never believe supporters of harsh criminal laws when they tell you we can rely on a prosecutor's ethical obligation to seek justice and depend on their wise application of prosecutorial discretion. (Go to 9:50)

 The truth about the Scott Shirey case. (Go to 12:06)

 How we almost had a DUI petty offense called Diving While Drugs In Your System. It would have been punishable by fine only (no jail), and listed under 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(8). But don't look there now, you won't find it. Jeff explains what the heck happened to that idea. (Go to 15:01)

 Cannabis can kill. Jeff explains exactly how. (Go to 17:14)

 Discover the reason why we ended up with a strict liability law requiring a threshold amount of THC in the body. Furthermore, if everyone agreed to a 15 ng/ml THC threshold, and the bill passed that way, how did we end up with a law requiring either 5 nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of whole blood or 10 nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of other bodily substance? (Go to 18:07)

 Did you know that in Colorado they also have a 10 ng/ml threshold. However, betcha didn't know it's not exactly strict liability there. It's merely a presumption that is rebuttable by the defense. It goes something like this: "Yes, I had that much THC in m blood, but here is the evidence that demonstrates I was not intoxicated." (Go to 21:01)

 The weird interplay of politics and law making that results in the original sponsors of a bill, in fact its strongest proponents, in the end not supporting their own bill. (Go to 23:10)

 We may all have to rethink what it means for prosecutors to seek justice. Maybe, sometimes prosecutorial discretion means not prosecuting some cases. Hmmm? Naw, that's crazy! (23:32-26:30)