Thursday, June 30, 2011

Aurora Will Sell Renovated House

The City of Aurora will sell the first home renovated under HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The house, located at 628 Bangs Street, was formerly a two-unit property. The house received significant renovation, including siding removal, removal of a commercial garage, removal of a hazardous pool and new roofing. Renovations cost $260,000 and the now-four-bedroom home will sell for $130,000, the value at which it was appraised.

It sounds like a waste of federal dollars to spend twice what the house is worth to renovate it, but it also sounds like a great opportunity for any clients who want to buy in the Aurora area. The buyer will put down about two percent of the home’s cost — or $1,000. The primary lender will be lending about 93 percent. Under the new homeowner agreements with the city, the buyers must occupy the home as their primary residence for five years and keep the property up to city codes. If they do so, the additional five percent of the purchase price of the home will be waived. If they don’t, they default on the five percent loan and that amount must be repaid to the city.

The buyer will receive about $2,000 in assistance from the city to cover closing costs and they will also be eligible for a federal grant to cover closing costs on the home up to $5,000. Aurora is also renovating other properties which will be listed for sale under this same federal program in the near future.

Monday, June 27, 2011

NIU Grad to Run for Jo Daviess County State's Attorney

The Journal-Standard reports that John Hay is running for State's Attorney of Jo Daviess County.  Mr Hay is a 2007 graduate of the NIU College of Law.  He is currently an ASA in Stephenson County.  Full details HERE.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

NIU Grad to Run for Will County State's Attorney

The Naperville Sun Reports that Dave Carlson, an attorney with Carlson & Zelazo, LLC, has announced that he will run for Will County State's Attorney in the March Republican primary.

Mr. Carlson formerly worked in the Will County State's Attorney's office before moving to private practice.  His law firm currently maintains offices in Joliet and Yorkville.   If he prevails in the primary, he could meet the incumbent, James Glasgow, in the general election.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Difficult Task for the Blagojevich Jurors

Eric Zorn is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. He also writes the Change of Subject blog for the Tribune. His columns often cover the courts and the legal system.   Of course, he has followed the Blago saga from day one.  He wrote a column this week titled "Inside Blago's Mind - Hypothetically."  His point was that Blago held up surprisingly well during cross-examination because he didn't lose his temper, make any damning admissions, or collapse into a stammering mess on the stand. 

To illustrate Blago's craftiness on the stand, Zorn wrote a hypothetical cross-exam scene between a prosecutor and driver on trial for offering a bribe to a police officer during a speeding stop.  It is brilliant.  I have pasted the entire exchange below.  Zorn wanted to let the reader into Blago's mind by comparing his evasiveness on the stand to that of a hypothetical defendant.  In the hypothetical case, video and audio surveillance show that when the officer approached, the driver held his driver's license out the window wrapped in a $100 bill while saying, "How can we take care of this?" 

The comparison to Blago is obvious once you read the testimony.  Both defendants have the ability to answer only what they want, not the specific question that was asked.  However, instead of thinking about Blago when I read this exchange, I was thinking about the prosecution and the jury. Even if this alleged bribe is on video, has the bribe been proved beyond a reasonable doubt after hearing the defendant's explanation?  Most people will still say yes, but, it only takes one hold-out juror to hang the jury.  It's almost no use cross-examining a defendant who is this slippery.  I think the prosecution's case was weakened in the following hypothetical.  You be the judge:

Prosecutor: Were you suggesting that you wanted the officer to give you a pass in exchange for $100?

Driver: I never said those words, no.

Prosecutor: I didn't ask if you said those words, I asked if it was your intent to convey the idea that if you gave the officer $100, he would not write you a ticket.

Driver: That wasn't my intent, no.

Prosecutor: Why did you offer him $100?

Driver: I'm a big supporter of first responders. I didn't say it, but my thinking at the time was that he would give the money to the Police Athletic League.

Prosecutor: What did you mean when you said, "How can we take care of this?"

Driver: By "this" I meant the youth-sports programs sponsored by the PAL, which I've always felt the charitable public, or "we," should "take care" of, funding-wise. I was talking shorthand.

Prosecutor: Well, you didn't want the officer to write you a speeding ticket, did you?

Driver: No, of course not. But that desire was in no way linked to my $100 donation to the PAL. Those were two separate conversations in my mind.

Prosecutor: Then why did you hand him the $100 bill wrapped in your driver's license?

Driver: I didn't hand it to him. I held it out to him, but he never touched it. In fact, I hadn't made up my mind that I was going to give him the $100 charitable donation. I was still in the gathering options phase, thinking about what I wanted to do. I might have pulled the money back at the last minute, then waited until I got home to write a check to the PAL. As I sit here today I can't tell you for sure what I would have done if he hadn't then arrested me for attempted bribery.

Prosecutor: The money was in no way linked to your desire not to get a speeding ticket?

Driver: No, I'm very scrupulous. I won't cross any lines. I wanted to be sure the transaction was legal, and I trusted that an officer of the law would never mix a conversation about a speeding ticket with a conversation about a possible charitable donation.
Of course he's lying, but if he somehow sounded believable and didn't come across as a total creep, this driver might not be convicted by a jury.  Just as I believe that Blago might not be convicted by this jury in Chicago.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Golf Outing Cancelled

The Alumni Golf Outing has been cancelled.  The golf course is flooded.  It will apparently be rescheduled for sometime in July.  Details to follow.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

NIU Alumni Golf Outing

The 7th Annual NIU Law Golf Outing & Awards Dinner will be held next Friday, July 22nd at the River Heights Golf Course in DeKalb.  Once again, the Northern Law Blog will be sponsoring a hole at the golf outing.  That means that it is time again for the annual contest to guess which hole we will be sponsoring.

Every year the Law Blog offers a prize to the first person to guess the hole at which the Northern Law Blog sign will appear.  In past years the prizes have been limited to a drink of the winner's choosing at the 19th hole (it's an open bar).  But the Law Blog has been having a really good year.  This year we have really upped the ante.  Here are the prizes being offered to this year's winner:

That's right.  A matching set of Dreyer Foote coffee mugs.  Here are the rules.  Simply comment to this post with a number between 1 and 18.  The winner will be determined on June 10th once we locate our sponsor sign on the golf course.  If there are multiple correct guesses, the first one to post wins.  The winner need not be present at the golf outing, although I will have the mugs at the golf course if the winner is present.  If the winner is not present, we will make arrangements the following week for the awards presentation.  Good Luck.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Is the Facebook Case Over? - Winklevoss Twins Want to Go to the Supreme Court

A settlement worth millions has not satisfied Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the Ivy-league twins made popular in the movie about Facebook, "Social Networking".

Despite recent legal defeats, the brothers have decided to take their feud with Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg all the way to the Supreme Court. The strategy? : Get the Supreme Court to invalidate the settlement agreement from their lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. The theory?: The twins claim they were defrauded during negotiations for the settlement -- which was paid in Facebook stock -- claiming the actual value of the settlement was less than half what they were led to believe, i.e. this settlement was reached through securities fraud.

In 2004, the twins filed a lawsuit against Facebook alleging that Facebook creator Zuckerberg copied their idea and illegally used source code intended for the website Zuckerberg was hired to develop. It's reported that the twins settled in 2008 in a deal worth approximately $200 million today. A San Francisco appeals court rejected their latest attempt to renegotiate their earlier stock and cash agreement, and in his December 2010 ruling, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Justice Alex Kozinski decided that the settlement would stand. Chief Kozinski explained, “For whatever reason, they [the Winklevosses] now want to back out. Like the district court, we see no basis for allowing them to do so...At some point, litigation must come to an end. That point has now been reached.”

Because the Supreme Court only hears limited cases, how likely is it that the twins will proceed? Should the Supreme Court re-open the doors?

Since the Winklevoss's initial lawsuit, Facebook has only grown, and will continue to do so. Even though the site is blocked in several countries including the People's Republic of China, Vietnam and Iran, as of January 2011 Facebook has more than 600 million active users.

Join Northern Law Blog's Facebook page here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Illinois Supreme Court Announces Public Domain Citation System

The Illinois Supreme Court announced a new way of officially citing its case and those of the Illinois Appellate Court. The new citation system is required because the Court will no longer publish the official opinions in bound volumes.  The new method of citation goes into effect July 1, 2011, when the current contract for printing the advance sheets and bound volumes of court opinions expires.  From that point forward, the only place to find the entire body of Illinois case law will be online.  

These changes direct the Illinois Supreme Court and the Illinois Appellate Court to assign at the time of filing a public-domain case designator number, as well as internal paragraph numbers to all opinions and Rule 23 orders. While the rule changes require official citation to the public-domain numbering and paragraph scheme, they continue to allow parallel citations to the unofficial regional reporters such as the North East Reporter and Illinois Decisions.

An example of a Supreme Court citation under the new system would look like this:
People v Doe, 2011 IL 102345, ¶15.
This shows the name of the case, 2011 as the year of decision, the Illinois Supreme Court as the court of decision, 102345 as the court-assigned identifier number which is the docket number of the case, and a pinpoint reference to the 15th paragraph in the opinion.

An example of a Third Distirct Appellate Court decision would look like this:
People v. Doe, 2011 IL App (3d), 101234, ¶15.
In the Appellate Court, the unique identifier number would consist of the last six digits of the docket number.  Unpublished orders filed under Supreme Court Rule 23 will have the letter “U” appended to the unique-identifier number. Rule 23 orders will still be posted to the Court’s web site.

The Supreme Court's press release can be read HERE.