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Bill introduced to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker made the legalization of marijuana for recreational use a key part of his 2018 gubernatorial campaign, and he has made good on this election promise by supporting a bill that would allow adults over the age of 21 in the state to grow up to five plants in their homes or purchase the drug from licensed dispensaries. The measure was submitted to the Illinois General Assembly on May 7. The governor says that he hopes to be able to sign the bill into law by January 2020.

Passage of the bill could be a financial aid to a state struggling to cope with large budget deficits. The legislation would allow the state to tax marijuana sales at rates ranging from 10 to 25% based on the THC level of the marijuana sold, and cities and counties would be able to add their own taxes of up to 3 and 0.5%, respectively. The state's general revenue fund would receive at least 35% of the money raised. Experts believe that legalization will generate about $170 million in revenue each year.

Teen accuses Apple Inc. of filing false theft complaints

A recently filed lawsuit accuses Apple Inc. of using facial recognition technology to track the activities of shoplifters in Illinois and around the country. According to the lawsuit, the company used the controversial software to accuse an innocent New York teenager of stealing goods worth thousands of dollars from Apple Stores in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Delaware. The mix-up came to light when the teen was arrested in November 2018 by police in New York for stealing Apple Pencils and other items from the Boston Apple Store.

Police dropped the charges once it became clear that the teen was not the individual seen committing the crime on security camera footage. He was able to prove to police that he was attending a prom party hundreds of miles from Boston when the crime was committed. Theft charges against the teen have also been dropped in Delaware and Massachusetts.

Actress pleads guilty in college admissions case

Illinois residents may be aware that a few well-known people have been caught up in a college admissions scandal. Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among dozens of parents who are accused of paying large sums to ensure that their children were accepted to some of America's most prominent schools. Court documents made public on April 4 reveal that Huffman is one of 14 defendants who have chosen to avoid a trial and plead guilty to charges such as conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. This brings the total number of guilty pleas to 18, according to prosecutors.

The 56-year-old actress who is best known for her role on the ABC show 'Desperate Housewives" has admitted to paying $15,000 to improve her daughter's ACT score. In a statement made on the same day her guilty plea was announced, Huffman apologized for her behavior and the effect it will have on her daughter.

High-profile lawyer charged with extortion

For many people in Illinois, lawyer Michael Avenatti became a celebrity when he represented adult film star Stormy Daniels in her legal action against President Donald Trump. His representation of Daniels was accompanied by frequent press conferences and TV appearances. However, he is now facing charges after being arrested for extortion on March 25. Avenatti is accused of attempting to extort $25 million from Nike through threats to reveal some form of damaging information about the company. He is also facing separate federal charges, accused of embezzling one client's money in order to cover his own debts and of defrauding a bank.

Avenatti faces up to 100 years in prison if he is convicted on the white-collar crime charges; he could also be disbarred as a lawyer. According to the records of his arrest in New York, he was accused of seeking a $25 million payout from Nike and threatened to release information that sneaker company officials paid the families of leading high school basketball players. After his arrest, he was released after signing a $300,000 personal recognizance bond. He paid no cash bail; instead, if he fails to show up in court, he would be forced to forfeit this sum of money.

Wire fraud and identity theft most common white-collar crimes

A university study that examined federal prosecutions of white-collar crimes identified the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois as the location with the most white-collar cases per capita in January. Researchers drew upon data from the U.S. Department of Justice to measure prosecutions against people accused of various crimes like identity theft, wire fraud or embezzlement. Despite the spike in cases recorded in Illinois, these caseloads fluctuate. The southern district ranked as low as 51st among federal courts with white-collar cases a year ago.

Overall, the data revealed that prosecutions for this class of crimes have decreased by 35.7 percent compared to numbers from five years ago. The study presented a snapshot of the 337 new white-collar cases initiated by federal courts in January. Forty-two of them went to magistrate courts that process low-level misdemeanors, such as aggravated identity theft.

Jurors may bring their personal views when hearing a case

When defendants in Illinois go on trial for state or federal offenses, they often face a jury trial. Jurors' life experiences and opinions about society can often affect their decisions, for better or worse. One Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling in February 2019 formalized the recognition of that reality, saying that members of juries cannot leave their world views outside the courtroom. Instead, the court argued that it was not desirable for jurors to ignore their own lived experiences.

The case began when a prospective juror was excused for cause after she said that she believed the criminal justice system was generally unfair to young black men. The trial was for a black man facing drug charges. The potential juror, who works professionally with teens and youth with a history of drug offenses and economic marginalization, said that she believed she could judge the case impartially. While the defendant's attorney objected, the judge dismissed the juror.

The legal impact of substance abuse

If you struggle with substance abuse, you may feel that, in many ways, your addiction has already taken your freedom. However, for many in Illinois and across the country, the decline into drug addiction can have a literal effect on their freedom and their future.

In the nation's jails and prisons, the highest population is from those convicted of drug crimes. In a single year, criminal courts send nearly 100,000 people to jail for drug offenses. If you are facing charges of drug crimes, even simple possession, you have an uncertain future ahead of you.

SEC charges Apple lawyer with insider trading

Illinois residents may be interested to learn that the Securities Exchange Commission has filed a claim against a former high-ranking attorney at Apple who allegedly used his position as corporate secretary to engage in insider trading. According to the suit, the lawyer either profited or avoided the loss of $382,000.

In his role with Apple, the lawyer was responsible for ensuring the company's compliance with securities laws. His responsibilities included providing legal advice regarding Apple's SEC filings and economic reporting as well as managing the company's corporate subsidiary structure. The SEC's claim does not charge Apple; rather, it notes the company's anti-insider trader policy, which was partially written by the lawyer.

Illinois traffic stop leads to methamphetamine seizure

A 23-year-old Illinois man faces decades in prison after police allegedly discovered about 7 ounces of methamphetamine in his vehicle during a routine traffic stop during the early morning hours of Feb. 1. The West Chicago resident has been charged with possessing between 100 and 400 grams of the drug with the intent to deliver. This is a class X felony under Illinois law and carries a maximum custodial sentence of 40 years.

According to an Aurora Police Department report, the man's car was pulled over at about 12:58 p.m. on Galena Boulevard near Fourth Street for having an obstructed license plate. A records check is then said to have revealed that both the man behind the wheel and his male passenger had open warrants. The vehicle was searched after the two men had been taken into custody.

Ruling bolsters protections for cell phone data

For many people in Illinois, the advancement of technology can also lead to a decrease in personal privacy. While many individuals are familiar with the controversies surrounding tech companies' use of personal data, the issue can be far more significant when law enforcement wants access to a person's locked cell phone. A federal judge's ruling may provide people with greater protection for their cell phone data. The judge at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that police cannot make people unlock their phones with their faces or fingers.

In the past, judges ruled that while police could not compel a four-digit passcode in order to unlock a phone, they could force unlock devices that rely on fingerprints, face recognition or iris identification. However, this order ruled that devices could not be forcibly unlocked with these kinds of biometric protections. The ruling came as part of a case involving a search warrant at a California home. The police, who were investigating alleged extortion, wanted permission to unlock any devices on the property using biometric tools.

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