Professor Terry Smith is a Distinguished Research Professor of Law at DePaul College of Law and a nationally recognized expert on voting rights. He will be discussing and signing his book, "Barack Obama, Post-Racialism, and the New Politics of Triangulation", at the DePaul Barnes & Noble Bookstore, DePaul Center, 1 E. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604
Praise for the book :
"Mission Accomplished! Terry Smith sets out to illustrate how African Americans have fared in a post racial triangulation society. He is critical of the triangulation theory, yet, provides a balanced critique filled with statistics and further evidence of its impact on the African American Community. He exposes judicial and political hypocrisy in the unpleasant realities regarding race, politics and money. It is an act of courage to describe the harsh truth facing disparities in the African American community economically, socially and politically. Yet, Terry Smith does all these things well. He speaks truth to power and hopefully we will all listen." - Gilda R. Daniels, associate professor, University of Baltimore School of Law and former Deputy Chief of the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Voting Section
The DePaul Athletic Department has a very interesting background story about one of their recent Hall of fame inductees who was not an athlete. But who is being recognized for all he has accomplished in enhancing the university's academics, facilities, and athletics department.
Vic Cacciatore graduated from the DePaul law school in 1952. In the story, he says that, " DePaul made an education very possible for kids who didn't come from affluent families and couldn't afford college." Mr. Cacciatore practiced law for 28 years and was also appointed Special Assistant Attorney General for the state of Illinois. He has a very successful business career and currently runs seven companies.
But it is for his leadership and contributions as a member of the DePaul Board of Trustees that Mr. Cacciatore is being recognized. He played a major role in the acquisition and building of several of DePaul's important facilities : Goodman School of Drama, the Goldblatt's building ( Now DePaul Center), the Blackstone Theatre ( now the Merle Reskin Theatre ), the Cacciatore Stadium on the Lincoln Park Campus.
At 82 Mr. Cacciaotore has accomplished much as a lawyer, businessman and DePaul trustee. But he self-effacingly says that "Everything I've been able to accomplish in my life would not have happened without my education at DePaul,"
Those law faculty and staff members with more than a few years at DePaul, probably remember the law student newspaper, "Cause of Action". It was produced through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The newspaper with the same name is being re-launched this month through the efforts of SBA ( Student Bar Association) President , Alexandra Hochhauser and Vice President Peter Chambers.
Dean Howard Rubin, faculty adviser for the SBA is quoted in the front page article, "I think it's great," "The attempt to communicate news and information to students through the website and online has been pretty much a failure. A paper by students and for students will be of more interest."
Plans are to have issues come out monthly both in print and in an online edition that can be accessed by alumni and prospective students , as well. The first issue is in multi-page newsletter format.
Judge Wolfson, distinguished visiting professor at DePaul University College of Law, was quoted in a Chicago Daily Law Bulletin story reporting on a Continuing Legal Education seminar, hosted by Cook County Circuit Judge Lynn M. Egan this past Friday.
The seminar was on the Illinois Supreme Court Rule 243, which took effect July 1. The new rule officially recognizes what has been common practice among some judges in the past, of allowing written questions by jurors for witnesses, to be submitted to the judge in a case, for possible use in court.
Under the rule the judge reads it to the lawyers outside of the jury's presence. A lawyer may object, prompting a judge to decide whether the question should be admitted, excluded or modified. It is better to have relevant jurors questions, dealt with in this manner, rather than having those question arise during deliberations when you don't have the witness on the stand any more.
The press release from the Illinois Supreme Court stated that the rule had undergone extensive study since it was received by the Supreme Court Rules Committee in August 2010, and was discussed at a public hearing. Chief Justice Kilbride stated, "Based on the comments of those who have used or seen the procedure at trials, such a rule enhances juror engagement, juror comprehension and attention to the proceeding and gives jurors a better appreciation for our system of justice.
The Law Bulletin story relates that Judge Wolfon allowed jurors to ask questions in about 25 cases starting in the early 1980s. He states that "I loved it. The jury loved it. It raised their attention level and brought the jury into the case,", "The questions are almost always smart, to the point and show that they do pay attention.", "It's a really progressive, good move."
At the recently concluded ABA conference in Chicago, the House of Delegates ratified new standards as submitted by the Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar in regards to Standard 509. Consumer Information. The content of the newly revised standards are important because they appear to address some of the deficiencies that law student groups have identified as needing reform.
Student pressure as consumers has manifested itself in the form of such organizations as Law School Transparency and mutiple law suits against law schools by former students. While several of the law suits have since been dismissed by several courts. They may have really had an impact as a publicizing and lobbying tool rather than expected legal victories.
Law School Transparency ( LST ) founded in 2009 as a non-profit organization has lobbied to have law school release and provide more comprehensive and accurate information about their law schools, esp, regarding employment outcomes for graduates.
According to LST, law schools were not very responsive to their calls for this type of consumer information. They say that the ABA standards for proving such information were inadequate for informed decision making by prospective students. LST has also concentrated on lobbying the ABA directly to reform the law school model for providing information to prospective law students.
LST has started gathering their own information from law schools and independent groups like NALP. They have created a database of their own to help guide prospective law students as to which law schools to attend and also whether to attend law school at all.
The ABA may have finally seriously taken the student complaints re. the inadequacy of the law school consumer standards and their enforcement. At the recently concluded ABA conference new stadards were ratified that reflect many of concerns that students have been expressing through various means.
The revisions address both new requirements and new enforcement methods and potential penalties for violations by the law schools.
The opening paragraph in the new consumer information standards broadly states that, "All consumer information that a law school reports, publicizes or distributes shall be complete, accurate and not misleading to a reasonable law school student or applicant. Schools shall use due diligence in obtaining and verifying consumer information..."
By making the effect on the target student population, the defining factor for judging the adequecy of the law school's information and marketing, claims that the prospective students should have known better, will no longer be accepted by the ABA.
This varies from the judicial interpretations in some of the legal suits mentioned earlier. Which might mean that student complaints may now be better taken up with the ABA rather than in the courtroom , for effective remedies to their claims.
The standard also states that, "Schools shall use due diligence in obtaining and verifying consumer information." Among the more important new requirements is that law schools must post employment outcomes on the schools website, to include at least three years worth of such data, at any one time. An interpretation to the standard, further requires that any additional information that a school may provide re. employment, "....Must clearly identify the number of salaries and the percentage of graduates included in the information."
This will address the law student complaints that some of the figures offered to tout law school achievements, often did not indicate the basis for the figures or how representative they actually were.
Conditional scholarships require students to maintain a minimum grade point average other than what is ordinarily required to remain in good academic standing. The standards require schools to provide retention data for such scholarships, to applicants when the scholarship is offered.
Significantly, the standards also include a spectrum of penalties. Some of which are fairly severe. They can include monetary penalties, like the recent ones the ABA imposed on U of I for submitting false admission data; possibly requiring that a school refund part or all of tuition and fees paid by students.
This is more than any of the courts in the student law suits have even considered. Student remedies against law schools may be much more viable using the new ABA standards rather than law suits claiming deceptive marketing or fraud in court.
Other possible sanctions include :private of public censure, publication of a corrective statement, a prohibition on initiating new programs. Law Schools can appeal imposed sanctions to the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
The most severe sanctions, probation or removal from the list of approved law schools, can only be implemented by the Council at the recommendation of the Committee.
It appears that all the law student efforts to reform law school information disclosure and marketing, have finally gotten recognition at the ABA.
The CLEAR Commission has been meeting since early 2005 in an intensive process to review and reform the Illinois Criminal Code and Code of Corrections to make them more readable, understandable, consistent and just. The 22 person Commission includes respected policy makers and practitioners representing diverse perspectives on the criminal justice system, as well as the geographic, racial and economic composition of the state. DePaul Emeritus Professor of Law, John F. Decker, is Special Advisor to the Criminal Law Edit, Alignment and Reform (CLEAR) Initiative.
Over the years, cumulative piecemeal changes have resulted in a confusing collection of laws that do not serve the needs of police,prosecutors, judges or the accused. Some sections had actually been ruled unconstitutional. Others had confusing language with many redundancies and inconsistencies that sorely needed to be streamlined and put into a logical organization.
Benefits of a less complex Illinois Criminal Code will include :
The changes the commission has recommended have to be implemented by legislation by the General Assembly. A series of bills have been approved by the General Assembly. Some of the previous bills passed by the legislature are listed on the CLEAR Commission web page.
According to a May 31, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article, what should be the final two bills of the multi-year revision process, are ready for Governor Quinn's signature. One of those bills officially changes the name of Illinois Criminal Code to the"Criminal Code of 2012". ("CLEAR bills head to Quinn", Josh Weinhold p.1 )
As a way to maintain the hard-earned order of the new code, the Commission has established a compliance subcommittee that will review bills that call for penalty enhancements or create new crimes. Also the 18-member Sentencing Policy Advisory Committee, will "...study the states sentencing practices and offer objective policy recommendations to improve the system."
Senator Kirk Dillard, R - Hinsdale, is quoted in the article saying that ‘A lot has changed in the criminals' minds and techologý since 1961,” “So to have a Criminal Code of 2012 a least shows legislators and practitioners, decades from now, that we did something to modernize our efforts to combat crime in Illinois."
Last September, the criminal case of Illnois v. Wrice went to the Illinois Supreme Court. The Court concluded that "... use of a defendant’s physically coerced confession as substantive evidence of his guilt is never harmless error." ( Distinguishing its ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v. Fulminante, 499 U.S. 279 (1991)
In regards to the petitioner, Stanley Wrice, the court reversed the trial court’s order denying defendant leave to file his second successive postconviction petition and remanded to the trial court for appointment of postconviction counsel and second-stage postconviction proceedings.
While a few persons, like Mr. Wrice, who were convicted with torture-induced confessions, have been released by the efforts of attorneys pursuing their own cases. Many still languish in prison without any formal means to challenge their convictions with the new evidence that has accumulated over time. A number of other men with credible torture claims are still in prison without having had a full and fair hearing into their allegations that they were tortured.
An amicus brief filed in the Wrice case, was signed by four DePaul law faculty along with 60+ other signers, including several former state and federal judges and prosecutors, and dozens of lawyers, legislators and legal scholars.
An additional objective of the amicus brief was to have the Illinois Supreme Court, not only rule on the harmless error question, but to take the unusual step of using its " supervisory authority" to provide judicial remedies for those who claimed to have been convicted with evidence obtained under torture.The brief advocated that "The Court should exercise its constitutional supervisory powers." "...The Court has repeatedly noted that its supervisory authority is a sweeping power, constrained only by the exigencies that summon forth its use..."
The brief requested the Court to direct the Special Prosecutor (with input from the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission ) to identify each case in which a currently incarcerated prisoner of the State of Illinois claims that he confessed under torture or physical abuse by Jon Burge and direct Circuit Court of Cook County to conduct evidentiary hearings in each case to determine whether the prisoner’ s conviction rests in whole or in part on a confession that was coerced.
The Court did not chose to use of its supervisory power in this way, as the brief signers had hoped. This left the incarcerated men with only the legislatively created, Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission, as their only remaining legal option for a re-examination of their claims that they were convicted on the basis of evidence under torture which the Court had recognized as never being "harmless error".
The Illinois legislature had mandated a procedure to provide such an option, through the creation of the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission. The Governor signed the bill in August 2009. DePaul law Professor Leonard Cavise has been named to the eight member Commission.
Now this avenue of appeal appears to be foreclosed for the remaining defendants. The state House and Senate voted last week to eliminate the funding for the commission, as a result it will go out of business June 30. Although the law that gave the commission its existence will remain on the books. The eight commission members were working for free and much of the commission's work was contributed pro bono by five private law firms. So the only expense for the state was mostly the salaries of the executive director and a secretary.
While the state is in fairly desparate finacial straits, the eliminated funding for the Commission is a tiny part of the budget. The previous underfunding and now its complete elimination implies that legislators are unwillining to follow through on correcting the injustice that continues to exist and undermines public confidence in the Illinois legal system.
Since the Commission still exists in law and Commission members have been appointed, one would hope that the legislature and the Governor will eventually show some steadfastness in correcting a serious wrong by re-funding the Commission to do its appointed work.
A March 16, 2012 Chicago Tribune story reported the on the death of Judge Odas Nicholson. She was born in Mississippi in 1924 and came to Chicago when she was 13. She was both a DePaul undergraduate and a graduate of the DePaul Law School.
In 2005 she received The Outstanding Service to the Profession Award from the law school which honors alumni with outstanding achievements in their chosen field or specialty. She was truly a pioneer, achieving many firsts for African-American women. (p.20)
"After graduating Marshall High School, she attended Wilson Junior College for two years before earning a bachelor's degree in philosophy from DePaul University. She was the only woman in her class and the first African-American woman to graduate from DePaul University's law school, according to the Women's Bar Association of Illinois. She was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1948."
According to the Chicago Defender, "Nicholson was appointed Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County by the Supreme Court of Illinois in November 1980 and was elected to a full term in November 1982. She served as a Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County for 14 years prior to her retirement in December 1994. She was the first African-American woman assigned to the Law Division of the Court and the first woman assigned to the Motions Section where she served for eight years. She was also the first woman assigned an individual calendar."
In the Tribune story, William Maddux, a presiding judge in Cook County, and a former collegue of judge Nicholson, is quoted saying that "Odas was a trailblazer, no doubt about it," "She had a formidable mind combined with a good dose of common sense."
( Hat Tip to Glennis Jones-Marshall )