People’s Law Office Sues Sheriff Tom Dart for Violating the First Amendment

March 6, 2024

Chicago, IL — Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart illegally banned students Ethan Ostrow and Harley Pomper from Cook County Jail in retaliation for speaking out. Ostrow and Pomper are students at University of Chicago who facilitated creative writing workshops at the jail for two years. In May 2023, they published an Op-Ed arguing that Cook County Jail’s paper ban infringes on intellectual freedom.

After Ostrow and Pomper published the opinion piece, their security clearance was denied, preventing them from participating in the creative writing program the following school year. Sheriff Dart was the person ultimately responsible for the decision to have their clearance denied, according to the lawsuit.

This morning, Ostrow and Pomper sued Sheriff Dart for violating their First Amendment rights.

“We, and everyone who works or lives in the jail, have a right to speak without fear of retaliation,” said Ethan Ostrow. “We engaged in public dialogue about a policy of great public concern, impacting the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people. But this public debate breaks down when powerful people like Sheriff Dart retaliate against critics. Retaliation is an attempt to scare people into silence.”

“The First Amendment forbids government officials from punishing people for their speech,” said Attorney Brad Thomson of the People’s Law Office. “Sheriff Dart had my clients banned from volunteering at the jail simply because he disagreed with their viewpoint. Sheriff Dart’s actions are a flagrant violation of the Constitution, raising serious concerns about whether he is respecting the Constitutional rights of the people he is incarcerating at Cook County Jail.”

“Sheriff Dart banned us because we spoke out,” said Harley Pomper. “But this retaliation pales in comparison to the extremely common, far more severe retaliation against people in jail. Right now, Sheriff Dart is responsible for jailing 4,681 Chicagoans. The health and wellbeing of the people incarcerated by Sheriff Dart is part of the health and wellbeing of our city. The people inside, and people who provide services, need to be able to demand livable conditions, medical care, and, yes, access to paper without fear of retaliation.”

The complaint is available here and the original op-ed written by Ostrow and Pomper is available here.

People’s Law Office is a civil rights law firm based in Chicago that has been defending their clients’ Constitutional rights and fighting against police violence, wrongful convictions, and governmental abuses of power since 1969. 

People’s Law Office Attorneys Join the Pursuit for Justice for the Family of Malcolm X

Yesterday, attorneys from the People’s Law Office joined attorney Ben Crump to introduce new witnesses and evidence to the alleged conspiracy case surrounding Malcolm X’s assassination.

Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965, at age 39 while speaking at the Audubon Ballroom. He was shot a total of 21 times by a group of men in front of his wife and daughters. The connection between his death and federal and New York government agencies, including the NYPD, FBI, and CIA has long been alleged. It has recently been revealed that these governmental agencies possessed crucial factual and exculpatory evidence about their knowledge and involvement that they fraudulently concealed from the family of Malcolm X and the men who were wrongfully convicted of crimes surrounding the assassination of Malcolm X.

The People’s Law Office is committed to the continuing pursuit of justice for the family of Malcolm X and the continuing efforts to uncover the full truth about the assassination and its cover-up.

Follow the links below to hear more about this case.

Press Conference Feb, 21, 2024

Malcolm X Assassination: Former Security Guards Reveal New Details Pointing to FBI, NYPD Conspiracy

Lawyers for Malcolm X family say new statements implicate NYPD, feds in assassination

County Prosecutors Criminally Charged in Burge Torture Cover-up

Until now, no Cook County prosecutor has ever faced charges for prosecutorial misconduct in a wrongful conviction case

Misconduct caused Burge torture survivor Jackie Wilson to be wrongfully imprisoned 36 years

CHICAGO – A four-decade saga of police rampage, torture, cover-up and perjury reached a new chapter today when two former Cook County Assistant State’s Attorneys were criminally charged for crimes arising out of Jackie Wilson’s 36-year wrongful conviction. 

After being tortured into a false confession by Jon Burge and his cohorts, Jackie Wilson endured a 38-year quest for justice.  Wilson’s third trial concluded on October 1, 2020 during the examination of Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Nicholas Trutenko.  The special prosecutor in Wilson’s retrial abruptly dropped all charges against him when it was revealed that a then-CCSAO prosecutor, Trutenko, testified falsely on the stand and concealed a witness named William Coleman. Coleman is a reputed international con man who repeatedly perjured himself decades ago to secure Wilson’s conviction.  Trutenko was immediately fired by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.  He has since abandoned his law license.  Horvat was caught trying to hide exculpatory evidence from Wilson and the Court at the retrial.  After Wilson filed a lawsuit naming him as a Defendant, Horvat separated from the Office

After the dismissal, Wilson’s legal team sought accountability for the egregious misconduct that led to his wrongful conviction.  On October 19, 2020, Wilson filed a motion for sanctions for misconduct that occurred leading up to and during Wilson’s third retrial.  On February 22, 2021, Wilson moved for the appointment of a special prosecutor.  On June 10, 2021, Cook County Criminal Court Judge Alfredo Maldonado granted Wilson’s and ordered that a special prosecutor investigate alleged criminal conduct by Trutenko, Horvat, and Coleman, citing the “sordid history of the investigation and criminal prosecutions in this case serve as a shameful chapter in Chicago’s history….”  The Court ruled that:

The record in this case absolutely calls into question the reasons behind the CCSAO’s decisions and conduct regarding Trutenko. At best, the CCSAO acted in a misguided and inept manner as to Trutenko and the ethical crisis created by his misconduct and trial testimony. However, at worst, the actions of the CCSAO, as to Trutenko, could have been motivated by unethical and, perhaps, illegal reasons to cover up misconduct. Accordingly, sufficient reason exists to warrant an independent investigation into Trutenko’s misconduct and into the actions of the CCSAO, as an institution, related to the substance of Trutenko’s trial testimony and his alleged perjury.

With this historic backdrop, Wilson’s legal team provides a short statement on the issuance of charges:

“This indictment of one of the main Cook county prosecutorial conspirators in the Chicago police torture scandal and perpetrators of the wrongful conviction of Jackie Wilson underscores the fact  that the Cook County Board, its President Toni Preckwinkle, and Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx , should immediately stop funding the multi-million dollar defense of these prosecutors in the Wilson civil rights case and award appropriate compensation to Wilson for his 36 years of wrongful incarceration.”

– Flint Taylor, Partner at People’s Law Office

“Today is another important chapter in Jackie Wilson’s quest for justice.  Since his exoneration, our team has sought accountability for the egregious police and prosecutorial misconduct that stole 38 years from Jackie’s life.  The Special Prosecutor’s investigation and decision to criminally prosecute Nicholas Trutenko and Andrew Horvat serves as a historic moment for Jackie Wilson and other wrongfully convicted individuals around the nation.  The criminal charges against Trutenko and Horvat send a clear message to prosecutors: your misconduct will someday unravel, and when that happens, the wrongfully convicted will seek to hold you accountable to the fullest measure of the law.”

– Elliot Slosar, Partner at Loevy & Loevy

Time-line of Jackie Wilson’s fight for justice

1966-68 – After washing out of college, Jon Burge served two tours of duty in Vietnam where he worked as an interrogator of Vietnamese prisoners and learned torture techniques that would later become infamous in Chicago.

1972-91 – Burge “either directly participated in or implicitly approved the torture” of at least 118 people in police custody, according the The Guardian. [keep link]

February 9, 1982 – Chicago Police Officers William Fahey and Richard O’Brien robbed and murdered.
“[M]ayor Jane Bryne and her police superintendent, Richard Brzeczek, mandated what would become the most massive manhunt in the City’s history. Brzeczek designated lieutenant Jon Burge, who headed up the Violent Crimes Unit at Area 2, to direct the search for the killers…. Under Burge’s command, incensed CPD officers kicked in doors, ransacked homes, beat up numerous residents, and, once suspects were in custody, tortured those Black men they suspected of either being involved in or having knowledge of the crime….  Upward of two hundred complaints were filed with the CPD by abused persons…” Flint Taylor, The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago

February 14, 1982 – Jackie Wilson tortured by Area Two detectives Thomas McKenna and Patrick O’Hara, at the direction and with the participation of Jon Burge. Wilson’s torture occurred with the knowledge and participation of former Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney, Lawrence Hyman, and Cook County Court Reporter, Michael Hartnett.

Charged with murder and robbery at age 22, Wilson would not be freed until he was 58 years old.

February 1982 – Dr. Jack Raba, director of medical services at Cook Jail, observes obvious signs of torture on the body of Andrew Wilson, Jackie’s brother, and writes an explicit letter about it to then-Police Superintendent Richard Brzeczek, who in turn shared the letter with Major Jane Bryne, the Office of Professional Standards, and then-Cook County State’s Attorney and future Mayor Richard M. Daley

1983 – Jackie Wilson found guilty as police and prosecutors withhold exculpatory evidence, including evidence relating to an eyewitness to the murders, and perjured themselves.

1987 – Wilson’s first wrongful conviction reversed by the Illinois Appellate Court and remanded for a new trial

~1988 – Assistant State’s Attorney Nicholas Trutenko and jailhouse informant William David Coleman fabricated a false story that falsely implicates Wilson in the crimes against Fahey and O’Brien.

1989 – Wilson’s retrial, during which prosecutors introduce Wilson’s false tortured statement, the Trutenko/Colman fabricated evidence, and false testimony coerced out of DeWayne Hardin. William Kunkle helps Trutenko and Coleman suppress the fact that Coleman’s story was false, manufactured, and purchased by County and City monies. Wilson found guilty.

May 2015 – The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) returned Wilson’s case to the Cook County Criminal Court for a hearing on the issue of whether Plaintiff’s confession was tortured from him.

January 2017 to June 2018 – Wilson’s case was referred to court for further review after Illinois’ Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) found there was sufficient evidence that he was tortured. After eighteen months of litigation and a four-day evidentiary hearing, Circuit Court Judge William H. Hooks issued a 119-page opinion that found that Wilson’s false confession should be suppressed and ordered a new trial. In doing so, Judge Hooks opined:

“There is more than enough to surmise what happened in the investigation and interrogation of Jackie Wilson was not good – instead, very bad and ugly.  The conduct of those involved in this most serious of investigations, which involved attempting to discover and ethically prosecute the murderer or murderers of two Chicago police officers required more.  Much more was required of the Chicago Police Department, the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney, our courts, the private and public defense bar, and indeed, our federal government…The abhorrence of basic rights of suspects by Mr. Burge and his underlings has been costly to the taxpayers, the wrongfully convicted, and worst of all, the dozens of victims and their families who have suffered untold grief – in many cases, a 30-plus year horror story.”

June 2018 – After 36 years in maximum security jails and prisons, Wilson is finally freed on a recognizance  bond.

September 2020 – The Cook County Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) subjected Wilson to yet another retrial, with its primary evidence being the false, manufactured and fabricated 1989 testimony of William Coleman. During the third trial, Andrew Horvat joined and participated in Trutenko’s continuing effort to withhold critical and material exculpatory evidence that would have unraveled Trutenko’s continuing illicit relationship with jailhouse informant Coleman. Horvat and Trutenko not only withheld this exculpatory and impeachment evidence from Wilson and the OSP, but he also actively concealed this evidence from the OSP and urged OSP to not inquire into it.

After a two-week bench trial before Judge Hooks, the OSP dismissed all pending charges against Plaintiff with prejudice.  In doing so, OSP informed the Court that Trutenko suppressed the fact that he had a continuing relationship with Coleman and committed perjury on the witness stand.

October 1, 2020 – The special prosecutor in Wilson’s retrial abruptly dropped all charges against him when it was revealed that a then-CCSAO prosecutor, Trutenko, concealed a witness named William Coleman. Coleman is a reputed international con man who repeatedly perjured himself decades ago to secure Wilson’s conviction.

December 18, 2020 – Jackie Wilson’s petition for a Certificate of Innocence is granted by Judge William H. Hooks, whereby the State of Illinois officially recognizes him to be an innocent man. Hooks commented,

“[T]he Cook County justice system itself has been tortured. Jackie Wilson has also been physically tortured by a brutal electrical box torture ritual and has already wrongfully served a sentence that has taken roughly 70 percent of his life.  Jackie Wilson will never be able to recoup the value of his life lost to the living hell he experienced at the hands of his government.  While Jackie Wilson extraordinarily deserves and has earned this Certificate of Innocence, others deserve to pay for that they have so unjustly caused both directly and indirectly.”

June 10, 2021 – Cook County Criminal Court Judge Alfredo Maldonado ordered that a special prosecutor investigate alleged criminal conduct by Trutenko, Horvat, and Coleman, citing the “sordid history of the investigation and criminal prosecutions in this case serve as a shameful chapter in Chicago’s history….”

“Because of the actions of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office before, during and after Trutenko’s testimony, a sufficient basis exists to investigate whether any persons, including but not limited to current or former members of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, engaged in criminal conduct….”

“The record in this case absolutely calls into question the reasons behind the CCSAO’s decisions and conduct regarding Trutenko. At best, the CCSAO acted in a misguided and inept manner as to Trutenko and the ethical crisis created by his misconduct and trial testimony. However, at worst, the actions of the CCSAO, as to Trutenko, could have been motivated by unethical and, perhaps, illegal reasons to cover up misconduct. Accordingly, sufficient reason exists to warrant an independent investigation into Trutenko’s misconduct and into the actions of the CCSAO, as an institution, related to the substance of Trutenko’s trial testimony and his alleged perjury.”

This is the first-ever appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute members of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office for misconduct in a wrongful conviction case. This is also the first referral for an investigation of Cook County State’s Attorneys for criminal misconduct in their duties as prosecutors since the federal ‘Operation Graylord’ prosecution in the 1980s.

Nora Snyder 

Nora Snyder (she/her) joined the People’s Law Office as a Civil Rights Litigation and Movement Lawyering Fellow in 2022. As a law student at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, she worked in the MacArthur Justice Center civil rights litigation clinic, focusing on cases on behalf of transgender women imprisoned in Illinois. She also interned at Beyond Legal Aid, Uptown People’s Law Center, and the National Immigrant Justice Center, and volunteered with the Transformative Justice Law Project. Prior to joining the office, Nora spent two years clerking in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals staff attorney’s office, working largely on pro se cases. Nora is a trained restorative justice Circle Keeper and is active in the mutual aid network in her neighborhood, Edgewater.

Hakeem Muhammad

Mr. Muhammad’s upbringing in the “Black belt of Chicago” inspired him to become an attorney that focuses on protecting the human rights of communities that have been historically marginalized. He has spoken and written extensively on the criminogenic impact of structural racism on Chicago’s African American communities. Prior to law school, Mr. Muhammad lectured in African American political thought at Michigan State, U.C Berkeley, and Harvard Debate Counsel. Subsequently, Hakeem Muhammad became a Public Interest Law Scholar at Northeastern University School of Law. During his time at Northeastern School of Law, Mr. Muhammad was a recipient of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Fellowship and would also be awarded the Oliver Wendel Holmes Scholarship by the Massachusetts Bar Association. Upon graduation from law school, Mr. Muhammad worked as a trial attorney for the Committee for Public Counsel Services where he worked extensively in the racial justice litigation unit working to innovate motions to challenge the impact of racism in criminal trials.

Welcoming our New Fellows

The People’s Law Office is pleased to announce the launch of its Civil Rights Litigation and Movement Lawyering Fellowship, with two inaugural fellows, Hakeem Muhammad and Nora Snyder.

We welcome them to PLO and look forward to working with them throughout their two-year fellowship.

Mr. Muhammad’s upbringing in the “Black belt of Chicago” inspired him to become an attorney that focuses on protecting the human rights of communities that have been historically marginalized. He has spoken and written extensively on the criminogenic impact of structural racism on Chicago’s African American communities. Prior to law school, Mr. Muhammad lectured in African American political thought at Michigan State, U.C Berkeley, and Harvard Debate Counsel. Subsequently, Hakeem Muhammad became a Public Interest Law Scholar at Northeastern University School of Law. During his time at Northeastern School of Law, Mr. Muhammad was a recipient of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Fellowship and would also be awarded the Oliver Wendel Holmes Scholarship by the Massachusetts Bar Association. Upon graduation from law school, Mr. Muhammad worked as a trial attorney for the Committee for Public Counsel Services where he worked extensively in the racial justice litigation unit working to innovate motions to challenge the impact of racism in criminal trials.

Nora Snyder (she/her) joined the People’s Law Office as a Civil Rights Litigation and Movement Lawyering Fellow in 2022. As a law student at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, she worked in the MacArthur Justice Center civil rights litigation clinic, focusing on cases on behalf of transgender women imprisoned in Illinois. She also interned at Beyond Legal Aid, Uptown People’s Law Center, and the National Immigrant Justice Center, and volunteered with the Transformative Justice Law Project. Prior to joining the office, Nora spent two years clerking in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals staff attorney’s office, working largely on pro se cases. Nora is a trained restorative justice Circle Keeper and is active in the mutual aid network in her neighborhood, Edgewater.

A Tribute to Iconic People’s Lawyer Dennis Cunningham (1936-2022)

By Flint Taylor

PLO Office 1976

On March 5, 2022, Dennis Cunningham, who was the epitome of a true and uncompromising people’s lawyer, transitioned peacefully at his son’s home in Los Angeles, California.

Dennis was a unique and brilliant human being, who proudly wore his radical politics on his sleeve and never shied away from writing about, speaking on, or putting into action his passionately held and thoroughly analyzed beliefs.

At the age of fifteen Dennis attended the University of Chicago as part of a Ford Foundation program for students who had completed two years of high school. After graduating, he traveled around Europe for several months in a battered Vespa, going over the Alps and the Dolomites to Rome, hanging out with numerous people, including jazz musicians, most notably saxophonist Dexter Gordon. He worked as a copyboy for the Chicago Sun Times, worked as a reporter for a small Iowa newspaper, and returned to Chicago to be involved in the starting of Chicago’s famed Second City, where he worked as a bartender and improv actor.

Inspired by the 1963 March on Washington, which he called “the engine of my enlightenment”, Dennis went to work for the City of Chicago’s Human Relations Commission, investigating housing discrimination, while attending Loyola of Chicago’ Law School at night. He left the City job when he realized, in the wake of Chicago Mayor Richard J.  Daley’s response to Dr. King’s 1967 march for open housing, that he was working “for the wrong side.” He was sworn in as a lawyer in November of 1967, just in time to represent persons arrested in the uprising that followed the assassination of Dr. King and the Chicago police riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. As Dennis recently described it:

a zillion people got busted [at the convention]. Three weeks later [attorney] Ted [Stein] and I are sitting there, the two of us, and everybody left town, and we had like 300 cases. . . I started going to court. I had really good luck then because I got to try a lot of cases, and they were all bench trials.

Shortly thereafter, filmmaker Howard Alk introduced Dennis to Fred Hampton and Bobby Rush, who were starting the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party. Soon after that, Fred requested that Dennis represent him in a multi-defendant mob action case that arose from a demonstration against a segregated swimming pool in Fred’s home town of Maywood, Illinois. As Dennis described the experience:

This guy, Ivory (a co-defendant) was represented by (notable Black attorney) James Montgomery, who I vaguely knew. But there he was, and I’m like thank goodness I have someone to watch what he does, and have half a clue as to what I’m supposed to do, and that’s the way it went. . . I don’t have a lot of memory about how the trial went except that I gave a rousing closing argument, which Fred really liked, that sounded really good. Montgomery later acknowledged that it was good, and we got a not guilty, that was really sweet. A big relief I’ll tell you that. I sure didn’t want to lose that case.

At about this time, Dennis was talking to two other young lawyers, Skip Andrew and Don Stang, about starting a law collective, which they decided they would “boldly” name the People’s Law Office. With Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party, Cha-Cha Jiminez and the Young Lords, and SDS members as clients who were regularly subjected to arrests and police violence, Dennis, Andrew and Stang, together with attorney Jeff Haas, and law students Seva Dubuar, Flint Taylor, Ray McClain and Jack Welch, opened the People’s Law Office in August of 1969.

When the Chicago police murdered Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in a pre-dawn raid in December of 1969, Dennis took a leading role in coordinating the legal and political effort that the People’s Law Office, the Panthers, and the Black community of Chicago mounted to expose the lies that the raiding police and the conspiring Cook County prosecutors were loudly trumpeting in the media and in the courts. A few years later, the PLO, lead by Dennis, Haas and Taylor, undertook the Herculean task of uncovering and exposing the FBI and its Cointelpro program’s central role in the assassination of Fred Hampton, a legal and political battle that spanned more than a decade and included an 18-month Federal civil rights trial.  As Taylor described Dennis’ role:

He was an advisor, a mentor, an inspiration; he always had the big picture, he always thought about, and knew about what one move would lead to with regard to the next move . . . his involvement was crucial to our plotting out and making our 13- year fight to expose the FBI’s role in the assassination.

Also in the early 1970s, Dennis became involved in the 30-year struggle to defend the Attica Brothers and to expose the truth in the wake of the 1971 prison rebellion and the law enforcement massacre that followed. Michael Deutsch, who was recruited to the People’s Law Office in 1970 and worked side by side with Dennis during the series of criminal and civil legal battles, incapsulated Dennis’ leading role:

Dennis had the unique ability of bringing the political essence to the courtroom, not only in court but also in his written advocacy. He was a master at capturing the political nature of the case. For the 30 years we worked on Attica, Dennis was a key person in organizing the Brothers, in putting forth the Brothers’ position, in helping to maintain unity among the Brothers. He related to the Brothers in a way they could trust and know that he believed in their struggle.

In Chicago, Dennis also represented numerous leaders and members of the SDS-Weathermen, and Rising Up Angry, and later provided counsel to arrested FALN members and Palestinian liberation hero Rasmea Odeh. One of the most famous of those clients, Bernardine Dohrn, eloquently linked Dennis’ acting background to his unique lawyering skills:

I picture him as lanky redheaded hipster, coolly unlawyerly, Darrow returned as Nelson Algren. Dennis was a performance of understated defiance, hurling himself into history on the side of the dispossessed. Dennis does law as the theater of improv. He was an early practitioner of the disciplined art of spontaneity, schooled in the improvisational acting techniques of Viola Spolin and Paul Sills at Second City and the Compass Players. Perhaps Dennis is the singular fusion of improv and the practice of law, taking the drama of legal performance into the uncharted territories of jazz riffs and invention. His skills of listening, clarity and confidence, of wit and speed, are seen in today’s progeny of poetry slams, hip hop and rap performances.

In the early 1980s, Dennis moved to San Francisco where he continued his career as a people’s lawyer, while maintaining a close working and comradely relationship with the People’s Law Office. With other Bay area lawyers, he represented protesters who were subjected to mass arrest at the 1984  Democratic Party convention; during anti-nuke actions at the Livermore Laboratory; at anti-apartheid demonstrations; and at Central American solidarity actions. He also represented folks arrested during the police sweep of Castro Street in 1987; at the Rodney King verdict protests in 1992; and during actions by Food Not Bombs, Act Up, and others. Dennis also defended classical violinist Nicholas Leiser, who persisted in playing his violin in BART stations despite repeated arrests, and brought a case that established the right of musicians to play in such public places. After defending Religious Witness with the Homeless for multiple sit-ins, leading Sister Bernie Galvin of Religious Witness called Dennis “the world’s greatest lawyer.” Remarkably generous in practicing people’s law, he represented numerous prisoners without fee, and was a charter member of the Fleagle Aid group that dispensed free legal advice at a Berkeley flea market during the late 1980s.

 In 1992, Dennis and Ben Rosenfeld brought a case against FBI agents and Oakland police officers involved in the frame-up and media smear of Earth First! activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, after a car-bomb assassination attempt against Judi in May 1990. The attack came at the start of Redwood Summer, a planned season of mass protest and direct action against the destruction of old-growth forests. Dennis and Ben were part of a legal team that brought the case to trial in 2002, and won a $4.4 million verdict with eighty percent of the award assigned to plaintiffs’ first amendment claims that the sensational false arrest after the bombing was a latter-day Cointelpro operation. Dennis’ youngest daughter, Bernadine Mellis, documented the Bari case and Dennis’ role in it in the award-winning film The Forest for the Trees.

Following the Bari case, the legal team was recruited to represent plaintiffs in the “pepper spray” case, where locked-down forest-protection protesters in Humboldt County had refused orders to unlock themselves, and had pepper spray daubed in their eyes by police. After two hung juries, a third jury compromised on a 2005 verdict for nominal damages of one dollar per plaintiff. A later settlement of the Plaintiffs’ claim for attorneys’ fees brought the case to a final resolution. In typical Cunningham fashion, Dennis shared his hard-earned fee with his clients.

Dennis, a career-long active member of the National Lawyers Guild, was one of the originators of the Guild’s National Police Accountability Project, and was honored first in Boston by the national Guild, and later by the Guild’s San Francisco chapter who awarded him the 2007 Spirit of Justice Award. Importantly, he was also supported without fail by his remarkable family, particularly including his daughters Delia, Miranda and Bernardine, and his son Joe.

As the tributes continue roll in from clients, friends, colleagues, and so many others whose lives Dennis touched, former People’s Law Office lawyer Jeffrey Haas aptly summed up Dennis’ legal career:

In court and in his writing Dennis was brilliant, imaginative, a visionary, often histrionic, and a passionate defender of many Movement leaders and causes.

He was, without a doubt, a true people’s lawyer.

Note: the author gratefully acknowledges the use of information from the Anti-Imperialist News article of March 7, 2022 entitled Dennis Cunningham – transitions at the age of 86 on March 5 as well as other interviews, tributes and collective recollections.

In Dennis’ memory, his family has organized a donation pool via the National Lawyers Guild to the Water Protector Legal Collective:

NLG Convention 2013 San Juan Puerto Rico

The Passing of Dennis Cunningham

From the People’s Law Office Family,

Dennis Cunningham, our dear friend and 50 plus year comrade in the struggle for justice and human rights, has passed away. He was an inspiration for, and one of the founders of, the People’s Law Office, and a mentor and role model to all of us and to many others.

He represented with creativity and militancy, Fred Hampton and many other Black Panthers, the Attica Brothers, Judy Bari, Puerto Rican independentistas, Rasmea Odeh, Geronimo Pratt and many others. He brought his improv experience at Second City to the courtroom and to his brilliant written advocacy.

Dennis  was one of a kind, and will be deeply missed by all those who knew him and loved him. Special condolences to his wonderful children, Delia, Joe, Miranda and Bernardine, his three grandchildren, his brother Robbie and his nieces and nephews. 

Rest in Power our good Brother

La Luta Continua!

Victory in Chicago Freedom School’s Lawsuit Against the City of Chicago

Today, we are proud to announce a victory in Chicago Freedom School’s lawsuit against the City of Chicago.

Today, the City of Chicago rescinded the cease and desist order it issued to the Chicago Freedom School on May 30, 2020!

On May 30, CFS, located in the South Loop, opened its space to provide support (including take-out pizza and store bought snacks for free) and rides home to Black and Brown young people protesting the racist police murders in downtown Chicago.

CPD officers and members of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) showed up at CFS’s door and aggressively demanded to search the premises asserting that CFS was “housing and feeding protestors,” insinuating that was a crime which it is not.

After searching the premises, BACP members issued CFS an illegal “Cease and Desist” order falsely claiming the CFS was “preparing and serving food” on its premises without a commercial Retail Food Establishment License. CFS staff were threatened with arrest and the CFS fined if they continue to provide youth participants commercially prepared food, thereby shutting down this not for profit organization.

Joey Mogul of People’s Law Office and Sheila Bedi of the Community Justice and Civil Rights Clinic of Pritzker Northwestern School of Law filed a lawsuit in federal court on June 25, 2020 challenging the violations of CFS’s, Executive Director Tony Alvarado-Rivera’s and Wellness Director Jacqulyn Hamilton’s constitutional rights and demanding a preliminary injunction to prevent the enforcement of this illegal cease and desist order.

Today, the BACP formally rescinded the cease and desist order.

Check out CFS’s statement about this victory.

We are proud to represent CFS and we are inspired by their work in supporting young Black and Brown people in the City and their courage in standing up to the City of Chicago, CPD and BACP to demand respect for their rights and work.

Representing People Charged with Ordinance Violations or Misdemeanor Offenses in the City of Chicago

NLG Presentation

Updated 2012, 2015 and June 2020

By: Emmanuel Andre, Janine Hoft and Melinda Power


The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police officers touched off unprecedented global protests against police brutality, anti-Blackness and white supremacy. His murder was immediately preceded by the murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Aumaud Arbery. The spark recently ignited by these murders follows the smoldering of the inability to enact fundamental change as previously demanded in response to the outrage expressed after the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Laquan McDonald and Rekia Boyd in Chicago and so many other victims of racist and brutal murders at the hands of police and white supremacists. Thousands came out into the streets of Chicago to take part in this momentous moment to say “enough is enough.” Chicago Police reacted by arresting an estimated 2000 people, mainly charging arrestees with ordinance violations and misdemeanors. We come together today because we have all volunteered to support those arrested and together defend them to our utmost collective ability against these charges.

The National Lawyers Guild, through its Mass Defense Committee, has represented activists arrested at demonstrations promoting issues of justice for many years. From supporting solidarity with Central America, healthcare and dignity for people living with AIDS, LGBTQ, disabled activists, anti-NATO and Occupy, the NLG has organized lawyers to provide legal defense and representation. The NLG is proud to come forward in this moment to be a part of and support those opposing anti-Blackness and white supremacy. This training focuses on preparing attorneys with little criminal defense experience or those desiring a refresher to feel more comfortable representing clients who are charged with ordinance violations or misdemeanors

This is an unprecedented time both because of the historic scope and reach of the Black Lives Matter protests as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has caused court procedures and proceedings to be held remotely and for procedures to be subject to change quickly and unpredictably. Accordingly, these procedures outlined are subject to change as COVID-19 recommendations and policies change.

Representing Political Clients

Those arrested during these recent demonstrations and uprisings are entitled to vigorous, creative and supportive representation, recognizing the particular political context and import of their arrests and prosecutions.  Political clients need the same information as to their available options as any other criminal defendants but some may view their involvement in the so-called criminal justice system in a different way than an individual arrested in another context. Some may not want to raise technical defenses and others may have qualms about expressing “guilt.” Others may want to creatively and collectively challenge the issues in the form of unique motions or trial defenses. It is important for attorneys to assist the political client in navigating the system while identifying and respecting an individual client’s unique concerns and goals.

Assignment of Lawyers to Clients

The Mass Defense Committee of the NLG has compiled a list of all arrestees desiring representation and will try to appropriately  match them with available attorneys. The Mass Defense Committee will try toassign attorneys to a particular court date, time and location and provide attorneys in advance of the court date with the names of potential clients appearing, any available contact information and an identification of the particular charges faced by the client. First Steps

  • Attorneys should contact clients in advance to introduce themselves, verify information, review the actual charging document or bond slip and discuss a client’s understanding of the process and their expectations.  
  • We also strongly encourage attorneys to discuss, in person when possible, remotely online, or by telephone, the case with the prospective client.

Get the client’s version of events and get names and contact information of witnesses. t would be helpful to have an idea in advance of the court date whether a client wants to enter into plea negotiations in an effort t to quickly resolve their case, is willing to pay a fine or do community service as part of a plea agreement, or whether the client will only accept a dismissal or wants to fight the charge and proceed to trial.

In taking these initial steps and meeting with the client, it is important to consider and reflect on the racial, social, and economic biases that may be at play in the case. Furthermore, the racial and political nature of these cases make it important for attorneys to also assess their own personal biases and potentially adjust their own actions accordingly to best represent their clients. Recognition of those differences and biases is an important first step and continued communication with the client and other attorneys in this collective endeavor is imperative.

Representation of Clients Charged with Offenses

Although many minor charges are dismissed on the first court date, the attorney should be aware of the options available in defending a client. Prosecutors in other cities have announced in advance that they will not pursue the prosecution of lesser charges but the Chicago authorities have been silent thus far.  Representation of a client charged with an offense can be a unique challenge much like unraveling a mystery. An evaluation of each case includes reviewing the specifics of the charge and identifying the police version of events compared with a client’s version. You probably won’t have access to the charging document or the arrest reports until you get to court. 

Here are some questions that you will want to address. Can the prosecutor meet its burden to prove each and every element of the crime charged? Are there technical defenses to the charge, including did the police identify the wrong offense or fail to adequately prepare the charging documents? Is there a factual defense to the charge or can facts be presented that deny the stated offense? Will a bench or jury trial be an appropriate and desirable method to raise issues or present defenses?  Are there witnesses, videos, documents (i.e. medical reports) which corroborate what your client says happened?  Is there BWC (body worn camera) from the police? Unmanned aerial devices or drones? Social media monitoring?

Most of the charges from the recent uprising are being prosecuted in the misdemeanor courthouses rather than the municipal courthouse on Superior Street. Charges may include disorderly conduct as a misdemeanor or a city ordinance violation, curfew violations, criminal trespass or reckless conduct. An arrestee has a right to a jury trial only if the charge carries the potential for jail time and if not a jury trial must be purchased for $250 by paying the Clerk of the Court.  The case will then be transferred to Room 303 at 555 W. Harrison. A trial will not take place on an initial court appearance as generally judges provide each side with one continuance and therefore the defense attorney will have an opportunity to obtain police reports and other documents, visuals, evidence or witnesses necessary for a trial. Knowledge about the judge who will hear the case is indispensable information. Information can be obtained from other attorneys who have experience with the judge and the public defenders in the judge’s courtroom. Prior to the initial court appearance, attorneys will want to review the statutory elements of the charge and may want to prepare certain documents as discussed below.  The Mass Defense Committee has tried to gather information from arrestees as to what they are charged with as well their contact information. 

Potential Charges Generally Anticipated in a Demonstration Context

People arrested in Chicago for what the police consider minor offenses are usually either given a City of Chicago ordinance violation citation or charged with a misdemeanor. Common applicable ordinance violations include parading without a permit, disorderly conduct and pedestrian traffic offenses. There is also an ordinance violation for resisting arrest.[1] In the instant moment, generally folks are charged with disorderly conduct, criminal trespass or curfew violations that are being prosecuted in the state misdemeanor courts. In misdemeanor or Branch courts, there is a state’s attorney who prosecutes misdemeanor violations of state law and a corporation counsel responsible for prosecuting city ordinance violations. 

I.        Representing Client Charged with an Ordinance Violation

With regard to the most recent arrests, ordinance violations are indicated through the code numbers indicated in the charge box on the bond slip arrestees received upon being released from custody. The bond slip also indicates the date, time and location of the first required court appearance. However, due to Covid-19 some court buildings remain closed and initial court dates should be confirmed and verified through the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s web site. ( Attorneys may register to access a portal on the website that provides information.

 An ordinance violation may be issued by the Chicago Police Department for a violation of the City of Chicago Municipal Code in the form of  a “ticket” that looks somewhat like a traffic ticket if they are  charged with an ordinance violation.

The ticket will provide the following information:

Step 1 is in the middle section of the ticket.  On the left hand side of the ticket are pre-printed numbers facing vertically which represent a client’s ticket or case number.  When an attorney files an appearance, this number is put on the right side of the appearance form.

– On the left side of Step 1 are the charge and the Municipal Code violation number.  The Municipal Code number identifies the chapter and subsection of the violation and defines the elements of the offense.  The Code can be viewed by downloading the “Municipal Code of Chicago”. A copy of the Chicago Municipal Code is available on line at and through the city clerk at (See, e.g., Exhibit 1, copy of text of ordinance violation: 8-4-010 Disorderly Conduct).  

Step 2 section lists the alleged action done by the client which formed the basis for the arrest.

The bottom of the ticket states the date and time of the court appearance.

Court Location and Filing Attorney Appearance

Municipal Administrative Hearings are held at 400 W. Superior just west and north of the Chicago Loop. [Note, meter parking is available on Chicago Avenue and nearby cross streets.] Sometimes in mass arrest situations, an attorney can contact the city prosecutor in advance in an attempt to resolve cases prior to the first court appearance. Unlike in misdemeanor court, the ticket or charging document is prima facie evidence of the offense and a complainant police officer is not required to be present in order for the city to prosecute the case. Arrestees may also negotiate the resolution of a case through an attorney and avoid a personal appearance.  

When arriving at 400 W. Superior, everyone, including attorneys, must go through a metal detector.  The courtrooms are located to the left and the particular courtroom number will be identified on the client’s ticket.  In the hallway outside the courtrooms sits a clerk at a desk who can provide attorney appearance forms that must be completed and returned to the clerk.   A copy of the appearance should then be brought into the courtroom.

Courtroom Proceedings

In the courtroom there will be an office right off the courtroom where the Corporation Counsels are located.  Check in with them first. Sometimes they come in and make an announcement and collect a copy of everyone’s ticket and attorneys provide their appearance forms with a client’s ticket to the Corporation Counsel. Ask theCorporation Counsel ifthey plan to proceed with the client’s case.  If they don’t, the case will be called and they will let the administrative law judge know and a printed order will be generated indicating the case is dismissed.

If the City plans to proceed, they will make an offer to resolve the case.  Generally, the offer is a monetary fine up to around $100.00.  Alternatively, a client can do community service through the City but there is an additional administrative cost.  The defense attorney may know in advance whether the client wishes to resolve the case by a plea and if so is able to pay a fine or do community service through the City. If the Corporation Counsel wishes to proceed with the case, ask what is being offered in exchange for a plea and then you can communicatethe offer to the client and a decision made about whether the offer is acceptable to the client.  Unlike Cook County courts that allow community service to be completed at any not for profit organization, the community service must be done through the City.

If the client wishes to contest the charge, they have a right to a trial or may request a continuance. The trial will take place in the hearing room and the burden is “a preponderance of the evidence.”  The Hearing Officers are practicing attorneys and not full time judges.  They are appointed by the City and generally are unfamiliar about protest type cases.  The City can proceed by the sworn allegations on the ticket and need not present a live witness.  The defense can present live witnesses, visuals and documentary evidence to overcome the preponderance of the evidence standard.

Spectators can be in the courtroom.  At the conclusion of the trial, the Hearing Officer will make a finding and generate a printed order. If the finding is guilty, the hearing officer generally will assess a fine and court costs.   An attorney can try to negotiate with the corporation counsel about the penalty, either by negotiating a reduction of the fine or requesting community service. If the client is found guilty, and is ordered to pay a fine or fee, it can be paid by credit card at a machine located further north of the metal detectors at the entrance of the building. An attorney may be able to negotiate a time period within which the fine and costs must be paid.

An attorney may also try to negotiate a resolution of the case before court by contacting the Corporation Counsel’s office at 400 W. Superior if the client indicates in advance they are willing to enter into a plea. A continuance may be requested, without the client’s appearance, if the client is unable to attend court. An arrangement may be worked out in advance and possibly obviate the need for the client to appear.  The attorney would still go to court, file an appearance and tell the Corporation Counsel that an agreement was reached in advance.  A printed order will be generated as discussed above identifying the agreement that was reached to pay a fine and/or complete community service.

II.      Representing Client Charged with Misdemeanor Offenses

          A misdemeanor offense is a violation of state law for which the maximum penalty upon conviction is no longer than 364 daysin jail. Misdemeanors are classified according to the maximum penalty with a Class C misdemeanor carrying a maximum 30 days in jail and $1500 fine, Class B misdemeanor carrying a maximum 6 months in jailand $1500 fine and Class A misdemeanor carrying a maximum of 364 days in jailand a $2500 fine.  Fines are generally not imposed in misdemeanor cases. Periods of deferred prosecution, supervision or probation  may be available dispositions of misdemeanor cases except for certain identified offenses, including a charge of resisting arrest. If supervision is an available disposition then the charge is technically dismissed after a period of time and may be expunged from your arrest history. 

          Ordinance violations prosecuted in state court generally follow similar procedures although the potential penalties are less and the prosecutor is a corporation counsel and not a state’s attorney,   

Preparing for Initial Court Appearance

The bond slip given to a client when released after their arrest contains helpful information. The following information may be found on the bond slip (see attached Exhibit 2):

On the upper right hand, the bond will have either the letter D or I.  A D bond indicates that money, usually $100.00, has been paid to be released from custody.  An I bond means that the arrestee is released on his/her own recognizance and no money has been paid for her/his release

In the middle of the bond slip is a section entitled Court Appearance.  It will identify the address of the court, the branch number of the court and the date and time for the court hearing. 

Right above that is a box which contains the charge.  It will refer to the State of Illinois criminal code and begin with the chapter number 720 followed by numbers which refer to the specific charge. A review of the annotated statute identifying the criminal charge and related case law yields a wealth of information.

Note, when a person is on bond, they are not permitted to leave the northern district of Illinois.  If a client is planning on travelling somewhere, they may inform you of that.  There is a procedure by which a person can file a motion to advance the court date and get a written order “enlarging” the bond or permitting a person to leave the jurisdiction of the court.  It is time consuming and of questionable necessity.  If the client wants to do that, we suggest you let them know they can go to room 1006 of the Daley Center, prepare and file a motion to advance their case for a date convenient to them, and go to their assigned court that day and get an order expanding the bond. 

Initial Court Appearance and Court Location Information

An attorney who shows their bar card and Cook County identification card at the misdemeanor courthouse will not need to go through the metal detector or be searched.  The attorney will want to find out if the client is present, and then file an appearance form with the clerk in the courtroom. (See attached Exhibit 3).  Appearance forms are found in the area of the clerk’s desk or may be located by asking a public defender or sheriff in the courtroom if the clerk is not around. An attorney may also prepare his or her own version of the appearance form in advance. The court case number may be found on a call sheet which is either in front of the clerk’s area, posted outside the courtroom or can be obtained by asking the sheriffs or the public defenders for the call sheet.

 There are advantages to arriving 10-15 minutes before the scheduled court call.  An attorney who arrives prior to the time of the court call may request to see the court file before the case is called.  The file should contain the Complaint, or formal charge and the attorney is entitled to a copy, but at the very least it is important to carefully review the complaint to determine the specific conduct the charge alleges your client engaged in.  You need to ask the clerk for a copy of the charge.  If there is more than the original of the charge in the file, the clerk will generally give you a copy of the charge.  However, if there is only the original, you have to ask if either the clerk will make you a copy or let you take the original and make a copy in the clerk’s office.  Also, the arrest report should be in the file which will include a narrative of the police version of what happened and the basis of the charge, which you will also want to review. Often the PD has the arrest report, so you can check with the PD in the courtroom to see if he/she has your client’s paperwork.   An attorney must file an appearance and tell the clerk that the case is ready in order to have it called.

Another advantage to arriving early is that as soon as you tell the clerk that you are ready to have your case called, it will be put in the pile of cases to be called.  Private attorneys’ cases are generally called first, so the sooner you tell the clerk you are ready, the sooner your case should be called. 

On the Arrest Report in the upper right hand corner are the following #s which are useful to obtain subpoenaed material or to get the Office of Emergency Management Communication[2] recordings and the body worn camera videos (BWC).

They are:

The CB(Central Booking) # and the IR (Individual Record) # may be used to obtain the criminal history of your client generally for purposes of expunging a client’s record, the RD (Records Division)# and Event # may be used to get reports, O.E.M.C. recordings and subpoenaed material.

We suggest you ask the state’s attorney if they plan to proceed with the case or argue why the charge should be dismissed.  They may know whether they plan to proceed or they may say they will see if an officer checks in or what the officer says about your client. Generally, if the police officer is not present in court and hasn’t notified the state’s attorney with a good reason for his/her absence, the court will dismiss the case. If the case is dismissed or “stricken on leave to reinstate” (SOL-ed) an attorney should file a written trial demand. (See attached Exhibit 4) When the case is first called, the judge generally looks to the state first and if the state wishes to proceed they will ask the judge to pass the case in order to “pre-try” the case with defense counsel. The state should then tell you what the offer is and you can negotiate and argue with them for a resolution more beneficial to your client, if your client is interested in resolving the case by way of a plea on the first court appearance.  

Possible Offers from State’s Attorney to Resolve Charge

Deferred Prosecution which is the best alternative to an outright dismissal or a victory at trial.  It’s given for first time offenders, and the client doesn’t have to admit or stipulate to any facts.  Community service at a not-for-profit may be required.

Community service at any not-for-profit in exchange for dismissal.  Upon completion of the community service, the client will need to get a letter from the not-for-profit verifying that he/she completed the required number of hours.  The client will need to bring this letter to court. The case will not be dismissed until the letter is presented to the court. Judges have allowed clients to present the letters without their attorney’s presence and have waived the client’s presence if the attorney presents the letter.

Supervision which lasts from one to twelve months.  During that time, the client is not supposed to break the law.  If the client successfully completes the supervision, two years from the termination of the supervision, the arrest can be expunged.  Supervision does not count as a conviction under Illinois state law but a supervision finding will have immigration consequences for an undocumented client. Supervision may be used in subsequent sentencing determinations within the two years and pursuant to federal sentencing guidelines.


          –Conditional Discharge for one to twelve months.  Unlike Supervision, upon completion of the conditional discharge your client may never expunge their arrest and a conviction is identified on their record. Client does not need to report to any agency during the term of the Conditional Discharge.

-Probation or Jail Time generally is not an appropriate or acceptable plea agreement for a misdemeanor charge.

An arrestee who is charged with most misdemeanor offenses as a result of political expression or activity generally can get supervision  or deferred prosecution unless they have a significant criminal background.

Creative Motion Practice

Prior to trial, a criminal defendant may bring a motion to dismiss. Depending upon the facts of the case, such a motion may be appropriate to avoid a trial. In the Occupy cases, a motion to dismiss the park district ordinance violations based on the First Amendment was successful in avoiding trials. See, e.g. 725 ILCS 5/114-1.

Trial of Misdemeanors

If a client wishes to proceed to trial, it is important to file a discovery motion. (See attached Exhibit 5). [3]  The client can request a bench trial, which is a trial with a judge at the branch court where the case is first held.  The trial is generally continued for another date so that both sides can get needed discovery. Alternatively, a jury trial can be requested.  If a jury trial is requested, the case will be sent to room 304 at 555 W. Harrison.  A court date within a week or more will be given.  The client will need to understand that it may be several months before the trial is actually held due to obtaining discovery and court back log and may require multiple court appearances before a trial actually commences. Additional plea negotiations may take place during these interim appearances. An attorney should be prepared to subpoena records and evidence for a trial. A subpoena can be prepared for additional documents that the police maintain but do not place in the court file. (See Exhibit 6, copy of subpoena for documents in a misdemeanor case). A subpoena, in addition to uncovering additional information, can send a message to the prosecutor that the defense of the case will leave no stone unturned and will require the expenditure of the state’s resources. It is essential to serve the subpoena as soon as possible but in any casewithin 30 days of the event prompting the client’s arrest to assure that all available documents and evidence will be preserved. Additionally, a court order to preserve and turn over any 911 calls or O.E.M.C. can be entered on the first court date and then served on O.E.M.C, within 30 daysof the date of arrest to preserve any audio communications regarding the case. (O.E.M.C. order, Exhibit 7).

Trials may be consolidated with other related cases and more experienced criminal defense attorneys are available for consultation about, preparation for and conducting a trial. NLG attorneys will work together with you if you have questions and to help you defend clients and create trial strategies.

The State must prove each and every element of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt to sustain a conviction.[4] Carefully consider whether the State can technically prevail on each element and creatively argue that the burden has not been met on each element. Any element including language such as “unreasonable” or “without authorization” should be analyzed in the context of the facts of each case. Many times police arrest individuals although they are acting reasonably and within their rights.

Affirmative Defenses

Consider any potential affirmative defenses to the charge. 720 ILCS 5/3-2. For example, political defendants have had success raising the defense of necessity in Illinois. Illinois law specifically provides for the defense of necessity. 720 ILCS 5/7-13. The statute sets forth:

Conduct which would otherwise be an offense is justifiable by reason of necessity if the accused was without blame in occasioning or developing the situation and reasonably believed such conduct was necessary to avoid a public or private injury greater than the injury which might reasonably result from his own conduct.  

          The defense of necessity is not always favorably accepted by judges but can have an important impact on juries if allowed. NLG attorneys were first educated on this defense by activist clients. Defendants have been able to introduce testimony and evidence as to why they took the actions they did and why it was reasonable and necessary for them to do so. The advantage of this defense is you could argue that you should be able to present evidence as a part of your defense, for example, on the facts and history of racism and anti-Blackness, police brutality, as well as the efficacy of protests in changing public opinion and the law as part of your defense.  This defense requires a significant commitment from the attorney, the client, potential witnesses and overall resources.  But, the use of the defense can make an impact on you, your client, court personnel and the public.

Good luck, thanks for your commitment and willingness to support your clients!

[1] Additionally, but not applicable to these arrests, certain offenses committed on federal property, such as blocking the doors of a federally owned building or trespassing on federal property may be similarly charged by Federal Protective Service Officers (FPS) as violating federal codes. The FPS can process these federal charges or relinquish jurisdiction and request arrest by the CPD. Common applicable misdemeanors include state disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, resisting or obstructing, mob action and reckless conduct.

[2] O.E.M.C. recordings include any 911 calls or police messages pertaining to the arrest and the incident leading to the arrest.

[3] We also suggest that you prepare a subpoena to the City of Chicago police department asking for arrest reports and supplemental reports.  If your client claims injuries, also subpoena officer battery reports (if applicable), TRRs, and color arrest photos of the client.  Subpoena forms can be obtained online at the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s website. The Office of Emergency Management and Communications can also be subpoenaed.[HUHGBGLONUYSWNNTWPZ[PBMLIPI

[4] A corporation counsel must prove each and every element of an ordinance violation by a preponderance of the evidence. 

Exhibit 1 City Disorderly Ordinance

Exhibit 2 Bond Slip

Exhibit 3 Appearance

Exhibit 4 Trial Demand

Exhibit 5 Discovery Motion

Exhibit 6 Subpoena

Exhibit 7 OEMC Order

FOIA Documents Maintained by Departments