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Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

Recently, Judge Shapiro (ret.) led a presentation on judicial decision making for the Chicago-Lincoln Inn of Court

Posted on: April 13th, 2016 by Olive Street Design

Recently, Judge Shapiro (ret.) led a presentation on judicial decision making for the Chicago-Lincoln Inn of Court (sort of a legal fraternity that promotes civility in the profession). The presentation included judicial deliberations by a sitting federal judge and retired Chief Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court. One of the cases was an actual appellate opinion the Chief Justice wrote in the mid-90s. The other was a federal sentencing involving a lawyer who, together with her husband, overbilled clients to the tune of millions of dollars to support their lavish lifestyle.

Instead of participating as a judicial decision maker in the presentation, Judge Shapiro (ret.) reprised his role as an Assistant United States Attorney by acting as the prosecutor in the fraudulent billing case. The federal judge ultimately (but fictionally) sentenced the lawyer to a year and a day in jail.

The lawyers in the Chicago-Lincoln Inn of Court sat in rapt attention as they got a behind-the-scenes look at how judges discuss and decide cases.

Law of Self-Defense Seminar

Posted on: January 8th, 2016 by Olive Street Design

Recently, Judge Shapiro presented a seminar on the law of self-defense and a defense of others to approximately 70 armed security guards from a prominent security company. The seminar was very well-received, and the guards were appreciative of hearing about the law from a retired judge and former federal prosecutor.

Legal Writing Seminar: James A. Shapiro speaks to the Chicago Bar Association

Posted on: October 31st, 2013 by Olive Street Design

I recently spoke to the Chicago Bar Association on the topic of legal writing. Before you watch, try taking the grammar quiz. To view a list of Posner’s 19 Anti-Lessons, visit Edilex Legal Editing.

Take the Edilex Challenge

Edit the following for form (not style or substance):

In fact, that legal principal was the entire basis for the state Supreme Court’s ruling. The Court rejected the notion that most perspective jurors would exercise preemptory challenges.  Jurors disinterested in jury service could excuse themselves irrespective of the affect it would have on other potential jurors.

The state supreme court is located in the state capital building. The amount  of cases it handles is staggering. The U.S. Supreme Court, on the other hand, located in the U.S. capitol, handles far less cases. One of it’s most recent was that of Jesus Garcia. Police searched Jesus’s car without a warrant. The court upheld the search based on the “automobile exemption [sic]“.

For the correct answers, watch the video below.

Past results posted here are no guarantee of future results

Posted on: October 25th, 2013 by Olive Street Design

No lawyer can ethically or accurately guarantee results.

Tips on Effective Cross Examinations

Posted on: October 23rd, 2013 by Olive Street Design

I was recently invited to speak to the Chicago Bar Association about cross examinations. While I was a judge, I listened to countless cross examinations, both good and bad. Here are some of my recommendations to attorneys conducting cross examinations in court.

For more videos with tips on effective cross examinations, visit my Media page.

Federal Sentence Less than Half the Guideline Range

Posted on: September 24th, 2013 by Olive Street Design

On September 23, 2013, Judge Shapiro obtained a federal sentence of less than half the range recommended by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The Guideline range was 51-57 months (between 4-5 years), including a mandatory consecutive two-year minimum for aggravated identity theft. Judge Shapiro effectively got just the two-year mandatory consecutive minimum sentence, without any increase on top of that from the Sentencing Guidelines. Both the federal judge and even the federal prosecutor complimented Judge Shapiro on his sentencing memorandum. See sentencing memo here:Sentencing.Memo

Not Guilty!

Posted on: September 9th, 2013 by Olive Street Design

Judge Shapiro recently obtained a “not guilty” finding in a domestic battery case with a Chicago Police officer as the complaining witness. She unsuccessfully contended that her husband (Judge Shapiro’s client) grabbed her by the wrists and pushed her into a wall. He also got the order of protection against his client terminated. The client is now free to see his children and pursue his divorce without a domestic battery conviction and an order of protection hanging over his head.

“Opening Our Mouths for Royal Inspection”

Posted on: August 13th, 2013 by Olive Street Design

That was the essence of justice Scalia’s originalist dissent in Maryland v. King, 133 S. Ct. __ (June 3, 2013).  In King, the Court held, in a majority opinion written by Justice Kennedy and joined by three of the conservatives plus Justice Breyer, that a cheek swab for the purpose of collecting DNA from a mere arrestee (as opposed to a convict) for a serious crime did not violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

In 2009, King was arrested on first-and second-degree assault charges. Booking personnel took an involuntary cheek swab, and King’s DNA tied him to an unsolved 2003 rape, of which he was later convicted based in large part on the DNA match. The trial judge denied the motion to suppress the cheek swab in the rape case, and the Supreme Court ultimately affirmed him. Justice Kennedy wrote that a cheek swab for the purpose of collecting DNA evidence, for an arrest supported by probable cause, is a legitimate booking procedure akin to fingerprinting and photographing.

Justice Scalia, joined by three of the Court’s four relative liberals, dissented. Because the Framers despised British use of so-called “general warrants,” Justice Scalia  “doubt[ed] that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection.”

“But the Reasonableness of a Search is Only Skin Deep”

While the cheek swab in King may have been constitutional, a blood draw in Missouri v.  McNeely, 133 S. Ct. __ (April 17, 2013), was not. In her plurality opinion, with Justice Kennedy concurring in the judgment, Justice Sotomayor wrote that the mere natural dissipation of alcohol in the blood was not, by itself, an exigent enough circumstance to justify a warrantless intrusion into a putatively drunk motorist’s vein with a needle.  The Court distinguished Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966), which permitted such an intrusion based on the special circumstances of that case, including the need to investigate an accident and transport an injured suspect to the hospital.

The Court did not give much bright line guidance to law enforcement in McNeely. Although the natural dissipation of alcohol could not by itself support a warrantless blood draw, the court will continue to decide on a case-by-case basis what will be enough exigency to justify police in dispensing with a warrant before having a DUI suspect’s blood drawn. Justice Kennedy’s concurrence, which is necessary to the opinion of the Court, promises a bright line test in the future when a more suitable case arises. Thus, the plurality’s totality of the circumstances analysis now may become a bright line test in the future.

“In the Doghouse”

Normally, a dog sniff is not even a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. See, e.g., Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405 (2005) (dog sniff of a car not a search); United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696 (1983) (dog sniff of luggage at an airport not a search). But when a trained narcotics dog comes traipsing onto the curtilage of someone’s home with its handler, it is.

Florida v. Jardines, 569 U.S. ___ (March 26, 2013).

Interestingly enough, Justice Scalia’s majority opinion did not rest on the “reasonable expectation of privacy” articulated in the seminal  case of Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967). Rather, it rested on the property rights inherent in the Fourth Amendment. A canine handler bringing a trained narcotics dog up to the front door, where the dog can sniff out marijuana being grown inside, is beyond the customary license anyone is given to approach a home. A man’s (or woman’s) home is his (or her) castle. That home, including its curtilage, has the highest level of Fourth Amendment protection. The state of Florida violated the Fourth Amendment by searching the home with a trained narcotics dog.

Unfortunately, the Court’s Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has remained notoriously unpredictable. Justices Kennedy (not surprisingly) and Breyer (surprisingly) have emerged as the critical swing votes in most of these cases.


Posted on: May 30th, 2013 by Olive Street Design

Judge Shapiro recently spoke on cross-examination at a CBA webinar featuring Bob Clifford, the former CBA president and one of the best, if not THE best, personal injury lawyers in the country, who spoke on closing arguments.

Judge Shapiro’s “Behind the Robes” seminar has been approved for MCLE credit, and he has presented it recently at Chicago-Kent Ungaretti & Harris, Holland & Knight, and is available to present it anywhere else upon request.

New fraud cases

Posted on: January 23rd, 2013 by Olive Street Design

My federal client was indicted in two separate cases. Two separate judges, two separate Magistrate Judges, two separate everything. Both fraud cases.  Shortly thereafter, I also picked up another fraud case at 26th St.  Again, two separate indictments, but in front of the same judge.  Eight counts.  Client was in jail when I received the case, but I managed to get her out on electronic home monitoring.  I then kept her out by getting her probation, which was transferred back to her home in California.


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