Illinois to Determine Who Gets Frozen Embryos After Couple Splits

Illinois is currently deciding its most complicated embryo dispute to date: What happens to frozen embryos when an unmarried couple calls it quits?

In 2010, Dr. Karla Dunston received a diagnosis of Lymphoma, which would be treated with chemotherapy. Knowing that chemotherapy would leave her infertile, she asked her then boyfriend, Jacob Szafranski, if he would be willing to donate his sperm to create pre-embryos in order to save her fertility. Although they had been dating only a few months, Szafranski voluntarily agreed.

The couple broke up a few months after the embryos were created and, in attempt to stop them from being used, Szafranski filed a lawsuit to prevent Dunston from using them. Szafranski is asking the court to order that they cannot be used until he consents.

Frozen embryos

To date, Illinois has not dealt with an unmarried couple’s disagreement regarding the use of frozen embryos and the rulings have not come easy. Dunston initially countersued and was granted custody of the embryos, to which Szafranski appealed. The appellate court handed the case back to the lower court with instructions to base the decision on contract principals rather than who has a greater interest in the case. The court again ruled in favor of Dunston and a second appeal has begun. Whoever doesn’t win will likely appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court and could possibly make it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The couple signed an informed consent document at the clinic that stated “no use can be made of these embryos without the consent of both partners (if applicable).” While Dunston’s lawyer argues the contract was made orally when Szafranski agreed to assist with helping Dunston have a child, Szafranski’s lawyer claims there was no agreement until the informed consent was signed and therefore it should be enforced.

With the rulings so far, Illinois has set precedence for how to approach legal disputes involving the creation and use of frozen embryos. As a result of this case, Illinois courts will examine both the weight of each party’s interest as well as the contracts involved.

The parties have agreed not to make use of the embryos until the case is resolved. The results of this case, while changing both parties lives forever, will also set groundwork for many couples, including same sex couples who use alternative means of reproduction.

Illinois’ Richest Couple Battles Over Prenup Agreement

Ken Griffin, the billionaire founder of Citadel, is currently in a divorce battle with his wife Anne Dias-Griffin, a once equally successful hedge fund trader. While the disagreements and court battles began when Griffin filed the divorce in July of 2014, the newest conflict involves the validity of the Prenuptial Agreement signed by Dias-Griffin. The prenuptial agreement gives Dias-Griffin a right to a $25 million payout and $1 million for each year they were married. Griffin’s financial worth is approximately $5.6 billion.

The Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act was adopted to create a set of rules for the creation and enforcement of premarital agreements. The act lists a number of ways to make a premarital agreement unenforceable.

Prenup

The act states a premarital agreement is not enforceable if the party against whom it is sought proves either:

  1. The party did not execute the premarital agreement voluntarily; or
  2. The agreement was unconscionable when executed and before the party executed the agreement, that party;
    1. Was not provided with the other party’s fair financial disclosure; or
    2. Did not waive the right to disclosure of other party’s finances and did not have adequate knowledge of other party’s finances.

Dias-Griffin filed with the court to have the prenuptial agreement declared invalid as a result of having seen a psychologist with her soon to be husband a few days prior to the wedding. According to Dias-Griffin, the psychologist, who she was unaware already had a personal relationship with Griffin, suggested she avoid conflict before the wedding. Dias-Griffin claimed this caused her to feel extreme pressure to sign and therefore she did not sign the prenuptial agreement voluntarily.

In response Griffin filed a motion to strike the information about the psychologist visit from the record as a violation of the Illinois Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act.

During a 90-minute hearing where both sides presented their position, Griffin pointed out that Dias-Griffin had full knowledge of the agreement and signed and initialed every page in the presence of her attorneys. The court ruled in favor of Griffin, and Dias-Griffin can no longer insist that the visit to the psychologist led to duress in signing the prenuptial agreement.

Dias-Griffin has not given up on having the prenuptial agreement declared invalid and must now prove it was involuntary as a result of a different factor or is unconscionable as a result of unfair financial disclosure.

Related source: Chicago Business

Chicago Police Using New Criminal Lineup Tactics

A new state law aimed at eliminating potential bias during criminal lineup proceedings is changing how witnesses identify suspects.

Under the old methods, just like in Law and Order or CSI, a group of potential suspects were lined up behind a one-way viewing station. The witness or victim would look at the lineup and tell a detective if anyone in the lineup is the suspect in question. It makes for great TV, but it has some real world drawbacks. Detectives can intentionally or inadvertently clue a witness to a potential suspect, and seeing the actual perpetrator in person can have emotional side effects. The new law hopes to eliminate all bias and potential witness pitfalls.

The new law requires that:

  • All lineups are videotaped.
  • Witnesses must be videotaped when viewing videotape or photo arrays of the lineup.
  • A detective with no ties to the investigation must carry out the videotaping or lineup display.

“Having an independent administrator pretty much, unless done terribly incompetently, just resolves a whole bunch of questions,” said Roy Malpass, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Texas-El Paso and expert on witness identifications. “I think it’s worthwhile to have those questions off the table.” Without those safeguards, “you can’t answer the question of whether the officer did any pointing or made any gestures. They are questions that a good defense attorney is bound to ask.”

Police lineups

Like many other changes, the law went into effect on January 1. The hope is that any bias would be caught on camera, but the law does stipulate that the witness can refuse to be recorded while viewing the photo lineup.

“There’s no substitute for knowing what’s going on than seeing it,” said Karen Daniel, director of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions. “We have the technology to do it. Everybody videotapes everything. Why would we not videotape these important procedures?”

While suspect identification can be a useful tool, it’s not a preferred method. Ideally authorities would be able to link the suspect to a scene using physical or DNA evidence, but witnesses can help get the ball rolling. That said, of the 325 convictions overturned by the Innocence Project, nearly three quarters involved a false identification.

Related source: Chicago Tribune

Cool Christmas Video or Criminal Act?

Many people like driving around and looking at Christmas lights during the holiday season, and that popular pastime gave John Pauly an idea. Equipped with his drone, Pauly went outside and recorded a 3:22 second clip of the holiday lights from a unique perspective. He landed his drone and uploaded the video, setting the footage to the popular Christmas tune, “White Christmas.” Many people have praised the footage in the comments section, but one viewer wasn’t too happy with what he saw. That viewer was Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall, who attempted to have Pauly charged with a crime.

Thankfully for Pauly, and common sense, the police chief was unable to charge Pauly with a crime, since there are no laws against appropriate drone use (There is one law that says it’s a violation to disturb wildlife, hunters or fishers with a drone, but that wasn’t the case here).

Although there’s no criminal aspect to Pauly’s actions – yet – the Federal Aviation Administration has slapped numerous drone flyers like Pauly with fines, since drones are technically classified as an aircraft.

Pauly takes precautions to prevent any problems. He said he always calls the local police department to inform them when and where he’ll be flying the drone, as he did prior to making the video.

“We always let the police know,” Pauly said. “You can’t be reckless with it, that’s when you can get in trouble.”

Drone

Michael Toscano, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, said he knows regulations will be put in place for the new technology, but lawmakers should consider the interest of recreational flyers.

“This is new technology that has outpaced regulation, and we’re at the early stages of a bell curve,” said Toscano. “Look at the automobile. It took a while after its invention for us to realize we needed speed limits to keep them safe.”

Although Marshall originally wanted to press charges against Pauly, the police chief did concede that drones could be very useful in the hands of law enforcement.

“Drones can be used very productively for law enforcement if there’s a lost child or senior citizen,” Marshall said. “If we can get a camera up in the air, it can help locate missing people.”

Related source: Chicago Tribune, Photography Is Not A Crime

Chicago Bears CB Tim Jennings Arrested For DUI

Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings has been arrested for driving under the influence, speeding and reckless driving, according to a report from ESPN’s Michael C. Wright.

Wright has been covering the report from the start, and it appears that Jennings is still being held at the Gwinnett County jail in Georgia.

Details are still sketchy, but it doesn’t look like the Bears are off to a great 2015 after stumbling through a disappointing 2014 season. The Bears have yet to release a statement about the incident, and even though they are currently without a coach or general manager, it seems unlikely that the team will cut ties with the 31-year-old cornerback. Jennings started all 32 games for the Bears over the last two seasons, and he earned Pro Bowl selections in 2012 and 2013. Those successful years earned him a four-year contract extension after the 2013 season, and although he had a down here in 2014, we don’t think his roster spot is in jeopardy.

Tim Jennings

Possible Penalties

A DUI charge is fairly serious; Jennings is facing a loss of his driver’s license, community service and possibly even jail time. The criminal repercussions from this case could force him into alcohol treatment and substance abuse programs.

The NFL also has very strict policies dealing with criminal behavior and drug and alcohol violations by the players. Jennings could be suspended for a number of games at the beginning of the 2015 season, and face the very expensive prospect of losing game checks for any games he misses. He could be forced to attend the NFL’s own drug and alcohol treatment program as well as other sanctions the league might hand down.

The best thing Tim Jennings can do right now is start going to alcohol treatment immediately. In-patient treatment is his best option to show the league that he takes this matter seriously and that he want to address his alcohol issues.

Related source: Sports Illustrated, SB Nation

Law Banning Police Ticket Quotas Goes Into Effect Jan. 1

Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 3411 back on June 16, but the law banning police ticket quotas won’t go into effect until Thursday, when the calendar turns to 2015. There has been a lot of debate over what the law really bans, so today we delve into SB 3411.

Two Big Changes

SB 3411 offers two large tweaks to the ticket quota system. The law:

  • Provides that a county or municipality may not require a law enforcement officer to issue a specific number of citations or warnings within a designated period of time, and;
  • Provides that a county or municipality may not, for purposes of evaluating a law enforcement officer’s job performance, compare the number of citations or warnings issued by the law enforcement officer to the number of citations or warnings issued by any other law enforcement officer who has similar job duties.

Essentially, police leaders can’t tell their officers to write 200 speeding tickets each month or give Bill a promotion over Bob just because Bill writes more tickets. State Representative Jay Hoffman, of Swansea, said the banning of quotas will help restore the public’s trust in police.

“Arbitrary quotas on the number of tickets that have to be issued by police officers undermines the public trust in the police departments’ priorities,” Hoffman said. “By eliminating these quotas, we can restore that trust and ensure that police officers are free to do their job protecting the public.”

Illinois Ticket Quota

That said, not all police quotas have been banned. In some instances, police departments must meet certain targets in order to be eligible for federal and state grant money. Officials say targeted grants, like funding for extra DUI patrols during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, will be exempt from the ban. In most cases, the instances in which you may be subjected to a quota are times when you were going to get a citation or arrested regardless of whether or not a quota was in place.

Also, although ticket quotas have been banned, the law says nothing about required daily or monthly contacts. These are situations where an officer interacts with a citizen, but does not necessarily need to involve a crime.

“It could be serving a warrant, serving orders of protection, doing a community program,” said Sangamon County Sheriff Wes Barr.

Police believe these regular interactions help foster trust in officers and ensure their presence is made public in the community.

If you believe you’ve been unjustly given a traffic ticket or related violation, contact an Illinois criminal defense attorney right away.

Related source: The State Journal-Register, The Metro Independent

The 10 Illinois Cities With The Most Violent Crime

Chicago has made national headlines over the past few years as gun violence continues to plague the city, but the 2013 FBI crime statistics uncovered a few more Illinois cities rocked by violent crime. Here are the Top 10 Illinois cities with the most violent crime (Chicago excluded).

1. Rockford
2. Springfield
3. Peoria
4. Champaign
5. Aurora
6. Joliet
7. Harvey
8. Waukegan
9. Bloomington
10. Decatur

Rockford Illinois

Looking Deeper

For their analysis, researchers categorized violent crime as a range of acts, including murders, rapes, robberies and property crimes, like burglaries and auto thefts. According to the statistics, Rockford, Illinois, comes in at number one for violent crime, with 2,065 reports of violent crime per 100,000 residents. Rockford also had the most reported murders with 19, again outside of Chicago.

Other facts about the FBI Crime statistics include:

  • Harvey, which only has a population of 25,500, had a whopping 10 murders in 2013.
  • Aurora has the most violent crime of any Chicago suburb, with 601 instances per 100,000 residents.
  • Cairo, a city of only 2,608 residents, had 22 reported cases of arson in 2013.
  • Albers, with a population of 1,187, is the largest city in Illinois with no reports of any type of violent crime in 2013.
  • Chicago excluded, there were 202 reported murders in Illinois in 2013.

Although the FBI stated that crime in Chicago is underreported, city data reveals that there were about 204,000 violent crimes in The Windy City in 2013. Additionally, there were 414 murders, 11,000 robberies and 7,500 instances of violent crime per 100,000 residents.

The FBI said the data should be used to determine how local and state officials can best prevent crime in areas that are most affected by violence.

Related source: CBS Local