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Hal Garfinkel is retained as the defendant's lawyer in the Chicago high profile murder case of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez. Read more...
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emerging adults, criminal justice, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyIn 1899, the nation’s first juvenile criminal court was established right here in Cook County, Illinois. The goal of the new system was to prevent the mistakes and poor choices of young people from evolving into a lifetime of bad decisions and criminal prosecution. The juvenile court was—and remains to this day—primarily focused on rehabilitating young offenders rather than severely punishing criminal activity. Once an individual turns 18, however, the situation changes dramatically, as juvenile-type behavior such as shoplifting or an after-school fight suddenly carry much more severe criminal penalties.

New Demographic Group

Perhaps, in past generations, 18 was a reasonable, albeit distinct, threshold between youth and adulthood. The evolution of society, however, seems to indicate that cultural concepts of an adult may be changing, and that the criminal justice system may need to evolve as well. That which was once considered a transitional stage has begun gaining recognition as a unique demographic age group. Developmental experts and scholars are now using the term “emerging adults” to describe people between 18 and 25 years old. Compared to 50 years ago, there is little question that emerging adults are less independent than in the past, and many have yet to settle into what most consider to be “adult roles.”

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Posted by on in Chicago News

Christopher Shoji, 25, of North Center, was charged with murder and misdemeanor cannabis production, after allegedly stabbing his best friend to death in an incident involving an argument over a marijuana plant, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The incident occurred outside a mutual friend’s basement apartment late on a Monday night, reports the Sun-Times, and immediately following the stabbing Shoji “ran to his mother’s house, pulled out the 4-to-5-foot long illegal plant, came back to the friend’s apartment and hid in her closet with the pot where police found him,” Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Latoya Croswell told the Sun-Times. He had allegedly already admitted his crime to the friend in whose closet he was hiding.

Solomon Morales and Shoji had been best friends for years, a fact which Archimides Morales, brother of the deceased, told the Sun-Times was “the worst part about it. We saw [Shoji] all the time. We always had him at our house for dinner and to drink… I gave Chris the clothes off my back…. he was family.” Attorney Croswell said that Shoji had told her that he was frightened of Morales, afraid that he was going to ”snitch” about the pot plant, which prosecutors have taken as a motive in the case. Morales didn’t die at the scene of the crime, however. He “died at the Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where his family took him after he was able to walk home, leaving a trail of blood from his friend’s home,” reports the Sun-Times.

Despite the shocking facts surrounding the Shoji case, primarily that the victim and he were best friends, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, in 2009 the majority of all murders committed were committed by someone the victim knew. In 2009, 53.8 percent of murder victims were killed by someone they knew, and 41.2 percent of all murders occurred during arguments, such as the one between Morales and Shoji.

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Posted by on in Chicago News

In 2008, Julio Martinez was falsely charged with a DUI, handcuffed to a metal bar, and beaten by a Chicago Police officer in a holding room. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Officer John Haleas was “indicted and relieved of his police powers in 2008 and pleaded guilty four years later to misdemeanor attempted obstruction of justice.” In early May, the City Council’s Finance Committee ruled that Martinez will be compensated $325,000 by the City of Chicago, “but not before aldermen demanded to know why Haleas was still being paid by Chicago taxpayers,” according to the Sun-Times.

Officer Haleas was once “Chicago’s most prolific officer in making DUI arrests,” according to the Sun-Times, having accumulated 718 arrests in 2005 and 2006. After he was stripped of his badge and accused of falsifying drunken driving arrests, more than 150 of these cases were dismissed. Yet after a five-day suspension that was reduced to one day, Officer Haleas was assigned to the Records Division and is still on the City of Chicago’s payroll.

The case brought up some sore spots for the city and its officers—Terry Ekl, who was representing Martinez in the case, “also represented a diminutive bartender beaten by former Chicago Police Officer Anthony Abbate in a case that culminated in a $850,000 damage award and a precedent-finding that a ‘code of silence’ in the Chicago Police Department played a role in the videotaped beating.”

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