Is “LivePD” really live?

I managed to get my hands on a copy of the LivePD production contract. I didn’t like LivePD before. I still don’t.

Is it Live?

If by “live” you mean it’s shot as it’s happening and beamed directly to your television where, Funyons and beverage in hand, you watch things unfold in real time the answer is “no.” At a minimum the “live” segments are delayed 10 minutes and they may even be delayed up to a half hour.

But is it live?

If by “live” you mean that it’s shot in real time, straight to final product, without any editorial input and beamed in raw form to your television where, kitten on lap and stew-on-the-stove, you quietly take in your favorite show the answer is still “no.” LivePD allows police departments to have a representative in the control room. That representative has the opportunity to weigh in on what is and is not shown for a host of reasons (including, my favorite, “privacy”) and possibly kill segments entirely.

To make matters worse the “earlier” or “previously filmed” segments are sent to the police department for approval days before they air.

Ok. But is it live?

If by “live” you mean unscripted, off-the-cuff, police work in its daily form from the mean streets of Lake County to you in you, feet-on-the-coffee-table and Twizzlers in had, the answer is still no. LivePD focuses on “key characters” who, not-so-conveniently, are often pulled off of mundane matters to drive the camera crew miles away to other calls in order to give the appearance of “constant action.”

LivePD isn’t live. At best it’s “almost live.” LivePD isn’t unedited. It’s edited to give “the appearance of” being unedited and give you “the feeling” that it’s contemporaneous police work coming to you in real time.

If you’re wondering why I put some of the above in quotes, it’s because that language is straight out of the LivePD contract. I didn’t make up the lies, they did.

LivePD is little more than a one-sided public relations tool for the people the Bill of Rights was designed to protect us from. And here’s another video of Defense Lawyers watching that nonsense and responding in real time.

PS- If you’re wondering what departments get paid to be on LivePD, Lake County, Illinois received $2,500 per week.

Videos the world doesn’t need, but videos the world deserves right now.

You don’t want to see defense lawyers watching Live Police TV clips ranting about men in sandals doing field sobriety tests but, well, maybe you deserve to. I’ve got you covered right here.

What started as a bit of a not-for-public-consumption test video that The Boss decided to put on Facebook (I don’t know why) has “evolved” into two guys spitting Jimmy Johns at a computer screen while yelling about breath tests being inaccurate. (But don’t fret, the test video is still on there).

Defense Lawyers Watching Videos is, unfortunately, here to stay. It should probably be renamed (“I see ‘not guilty’ everywhere,” or “Please. Don’t. Do. That. Test…. ARGGGHHH” might be better names), but we’re stuck with that for the time being.

Until then, grab yourself a sub and feel free to watch the nonsense.

I Believe in Causation, Not Coincidence.

In August 2015 I teamed up with two awesome lawyers (Ray Flavin and James Kelly) and filed a class-action lawsuit against the McHenry County Clerk of the Circuit court. Our beef was with the way court costs were tacked onto fines in criminal courts. Most of the “costs” the clerks added after the judge set the fines were, in fact, not costs- they were fines. Because of this when you were told what the fines were by the judge, you stepped away with absolutely no idea what the actual total would be.

Then the clerk would do a little math. On a DUI the increase was thousands of dollars.

Us vs. The World.

Bringing the suit as a class-action was tricky. We’d have liked to sue the judges, but you’re not allowed to do that. We had to sue the clerk because the clerk was the only person we were permitted to sue.

The clerk didn’t sign the sentencing order specifying that “court costs” should be paid, though. The clerk also was also doing what she was ordered through various (confusing) state laws and administrative orders

Plus bringing a class-action lawsuit when your “class” of defendants is convicted criminals is never politically popular. Some might call it crazy.

I couldn’t give a damn about that, but it certainly does stack the deck against you.

How Much Money Are We Going To Get Back?

Many people have asked what’s going on with the class-action suit now.

We filed in Federal court in Rockford. Before the first motion had even been argued every criminal courtroom in McHenry County had changed the way it dealt with costs. The clerk had purchased a fleet of brand-new printers and would print a sheet outlining the total cost of fines plus (what they called) fees- complete with an automated judges signature printed on the form as well.

It really wasn’t how things should be done, but it was better. More importantly, it was an official sign that our suit had teeth. The clerk spent a lot of money and it disrupted “business as usual” in every courtroom. That’s a win in itself.

So, How Much Money?

Not long after, we heard that the Supreme Court of Illinois had started a commission to look into the issue of court costs. Who did they tap to be part of the commission? The McHenry County Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Funny how that works.

I’m not saying we caused the Supreme Court to form the commission. There has been a small-scale war brewing over court costs for some time (mostly in the 4th District). Our issue was new, however. The way McHenry County was assessing fees as a practice was different than anywhere else. It was not a coincidence that the clerk ended up with a voice in the matter.

So, We’re Getting Millions Back, Right?

By 2016 court costs and fees had caught the attention of the Illinois State Bar Association. Writing first about how fees and costs were rising too fast and then, over the next three years, a series of articles about the imposition of fees and proposed regulation of fees.

Then, a crazy thing happened in 2019. Effective March 1, 2019, the Supreme Court passed rule 452. Rule 452 requires a sentencing judge to enter an order “imposing the sentence and all applicable fines, fees, assessments, and costs against the defendant and specifying applicable credits.”

Rule 452 clearly tries to end the days of not knowing what you owe on a case when you step away from the bench after your sentence has been pronounced- exactly what we complained about in our class-action suit.

And, the Action Coming Back Our Way On That Is What, Exactly?

We won. You won. The criminally accused won. Not just a spiritual or moral victory, either. A real making-changes-in-the-way-courts-across-the-entire-state-can-operate victory. The Supreme Court agrees with us. Game over.

That’s it. If you want to know what happened with our class-action lawsuit, read rule 452. There is now a supreme court rule telling judges they can’t do what we said they could not do. We were and are right. If you were a part of the “class” we thank you for your participation.

What did we end up getting out of it? The satisfaction of knowing that our “outside the box thinking” was on the mark. That we weren’t crazy. That we were right despite the government fighting us every step of the way in court.

You want to know how much money we made? Look, you spend money and it’s gone. You pick up the Illinois criminal code from now until eternity and that rule will be there.

You can thank us later.

Here’s Why R. Kelly Is Going To Prison (And I Don’t Know Anything About His Case)

Here’s what I know about R. Kelly’s arrest:

He’s charged with several sex crimes. He posted bond. I don’t really know anything beyond that. I don’t need to.

Illinois law is so compromised when it comes to sex crimes that he won’t receive a fair trial. Maybe you don’t care because you watched Surviving R. Kelly and believe he needs to be in prison. Maybe you’re not concerned because you think he skated on the charges in his prior legal battles. Maybe, just maybe, you aren’t worried because you heard “The Remix To Ignition” 100 too many times. I don’t know.

I also heard “The Remix To Ignition” too many times. I also don’t care about R. Kelly.

What I do care about is that a lot of people without R. Kelly’s baggage get wrapped up in the same system as R. Kelly and they’re not all guilty. That should frighten you- you could be one of them.

If you are, here’s why you won’t get a fair trial either:

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115-7.3 Ain’t Nothing But a Number.

When you’re charged with a sex crime in Illinois one of the first things the government does is move to admit “other crimes” pursuant to 720 ILCS 5/115-7.3. This means that prosecutors won’t just be putting R. Kelly on trial for what’s in the complaint- they can attempt to use any or every other person who has made allegations against him at trial.

That means that any or all of those women from Surviving R. Kelly could possibly be testifying in a trial that has nothing to do with them.

If R. Kelly had been charged with a non-sex-related crime the government could not do this. It’s considered so prejudicial that it prevents a defendant from getting a fair trial. We don’t care about fair trials for sex cases in Illinois. We care about convictions. That’s not scary when it’s R. Kelly in shackles. It’s usually not R. Kelly in the shackles, however.

The World’s Greatest (Hearsay Exception)

The prosecutors will also move to get hearsay statements in through 720 ILCS 5/115-10 if they can. 115-10 allows hearsay from the purported victim to come into trial if the victim was under 13 (or mentally impaired) when the offense occurred.

Prosecutors absolutely love 115-10, especially in delayed reporting cases. It’s hard to cross-examine hearsay. Especially so if it’s years old, vague, and lacks any details that might be corroborated. Those statements are, however, routinely admitted into evidence for sex cases.

The same hearsay doesn’t come in for non-sex-related cases. If R. Kelly was charged with murder, terrorism, or selling 492 tons, of cocaine the hearsay of witnesses and victims is unreliable. In sex cases it apparently is reliable.

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I Believe I Can Fly This By the Jury and They Will Buy It.

If the government really wants to maximize its edge, prosecutors will also file a motion to use an expert to testify about an “accepted form of post-traumatic stress syndrome.” Prosecutors are allowed to call this “rape trauma syndrome” or “child abuse accommodation syndrome” to ensure they can maximize the prejudicial effect.

The real advantage there is that the law does not require the “expert” to have diagnosed, examined, or even have talked to any possible victim. Illinois law doesn’t even require the victim to have an “accepted form of post-traumatic stress syndrome.” We just have an isolated law that says it comes in at trial.

Since it’s R. Kelly’s trial, nobody will care if a random “expert” starts talking about “rape trauma” in the middle of the trial (even if no victim has been diagnosed with “rape trauma syndrome”). People would surely care if you were on trial though, right?

Drew Peterson Ignited Change: The Peterson Effect.

The single greatest reason R. Kelly can’t win is the Drew Peterson effect. Peterson was so annoying that we rooted for his imprisonment simply so we’d not have to see in the news again. Consequently he was subjected to a process that only became more tilted after it began.

Once Drew Peterson was charged with murder, Illinois lawmakers changed the law to make it easier to convict him.

The changed law, dubbed “Drew’s Law” eliminated a legal barrier (aka “right”) that prevented prosecutors from admitting certain (previously considered) “unreliable” evidence they wanted to admit. It worked, too.

Lawmakers changed the law because Peterson was a high-profile jerk that nobody cared about. R. Kelly is also a high-profile jerk that nobody cares about. If it really looks like R. Kelly might have a shot at winning, there’s no doubt the Illinois General Assembly would be quick to start changing laws again.

Rest Assured, We Will Convict!

There you have it. R. Kelly is going to go to prison and you heard it here for the 6,234th time. If you’re worried he might not, don’t be. In Illinois we’ve changed several laws to make it easier to convict people charged with sex offenses than just about any other crime. When we’re done with R. Kelly, we’ll get back to using the same system on people like you.

What If Criminal Justice Reform

What if we actually enact criminal justice reform?

Would we have a system that didn’t ruin lives for relatively minor mistakes?  Would we spend less tax dollars caging fewer humans “to make them better?”  Would we be better of?

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Politicians seem to think so. Or at least they’ve said as much through the last election cycle.  Whether it be genuine belief or riding the rising tide of the concerns of their constituents, everybody from former prosecutors who did nothing to change the criminal justice problem from the inside to born-billionaires who took on the cause prior to election (despite not having previously used any of their billions to make a difference in the past) are trying (or at least pretending) to make the criminal justice system a little more hospitable.

The politicians are throwing out all sorts of neither new nor novel reform. “We need to overhaul the bond system.”  “We can decriminalize cannabis possession.” “We should eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing.”

Continue reading “What If Criminal Justice Reform”