Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Latest From The 23rd District Court Advocates

"We've had a couple cases resolved lately and wanted to let your readers know about them.
  • A plea bargain agreement was reached between the Community Justice Center attorneys and one of the defendants in an armed robbery and assault case that took place in 2009.  The victim, an older lady, was walking home from Christmas shopping on December 24.  Three men pulled a gun on her and forced her to let them into her home on the 1300 block of Argyle, where they robbed her, and one of the men sexually assaulted her.  Two men were arrested and charged (neither of them will identify the third man involved).  They are being tried separately and the court advocates from Districts 20 and 23 have been following both cases.

    Darius Heard, age 26, has been in custody since January 2010 and last month agreed to a plea of 12 years for armed robbery and possession of a narcotic.  If he behaves himself in prison, he is due to be released in January 2016 and will be under court supervision until January 2019.

    His alleged accomplice, Reginald Harris, is accused of the same crimes, along with the sexual assault of the victim.  He is still going through the court process and we are still following his case."
UU Note:  Harris and Heard are also suspected to be the "garage robbers" in the 20th, 23rd & 24th Districts, although they are not charged with those crimes.  Interestingly, the garage robberies/sexual assaults stopped when they were arrested for the Christmas Eve assault.

    If you have a morning or two free a month, you would probably be a great court advocate.  We encourage anyone who might want to follow the Hayes or Harris cases, as well as any other case on the court advocacy calendar, to get involved by coming to the monthly meeting.  Thank you."


      1. Good job court advocates. However:

        "Interestingly, the garage robberies/sexual assaults stopped when they were arrested for the Christmas Eve assault."

        That is a huge assumption. Means nothing.

        Sorry, pet peeve of mine.

      2. What makes you think that was an "assumption", as opposed to an observation MC?

      3. Thank you for these updates. And thanks to the court advocates.

      4. Media, exactly what assumption is being made? Is it an assumption that the garage robberies\sexual assualts stopped after the arrests? That seems like a fact. I didn't see where it was written that since the crimes stopped after the arrests, the suspects must be behind them all. There was no assumption being made.

        What disgusts me about this story is how little time in prison the defendent got. Someone who would threaten another's life with a gun and be a party to a sexual assault should be kept away from society for a minimum of 20 years. This guy will be back out in 5, a relative slap on the wrists, and I have no doubt will be victimizing people again. Why the plea deal instead of "throwing the book" at him.

      5. Agreed Sean, plea bargaining period makes a mockery of victims everywhere. Cutting deals, early release for good behavior, put under supervision (as if this matters to offenders) its all b.s. We pat these domestic terrorists on the behind for being bad boys then release them out to have more "fun".

        If conceal/carry laws EVER pass in Illinois/Chicago I'm opening a shop and handing out personal protection devices my first month of business, no charge. I couldn't stomach putting my faith in the courts to punish one of these roaches god for bid if they ever harmed someone I love.

      6. Sorry, it leads to an assumption that they are guilty of those other crimes. More of an implication that they committed those crimes. I doubt if that would get in at a trial.

        I am not defending these losers by any means.

      7. Regarding plea bargains --

        Did you ever think how hard it is to get a victim of a sexual assault to testify and relive that moment -- having to perform a sex act on someone who's invaded your home when you're terrified for your life and there's a gun at your head? Do you want to do that when the person who did that to you is sitting 20 feet away from you, watching every word?

        Not many people are up to that. In fact, many families tend to move away after such a horrendous experience takes place in their own home.

        I don't want to say anything specific about Harris and Heard, as one case is still open.

        But I will say that plea bargains come with supervision, three years in each of the noted cases. You and I and most people could easily go three years without committing a felony. Can a career criminal keep a clean record for three years?

        If someone under supervision is found guilty of committing a felony during that time, he or she goes right back to prison to finish out the "good behavior" time s/he skipped the first time around... as well as the time for the additional felony.

        So, essentially, with a plea bargain, you're getting a sure thing (a shortened sentence) instead of having a trial -- and dealing with (understandably) skittish or non-cooperative victims and unpredictable jurors or judge. Then there's the possibility of the felon having to complete his entire term if he can't stay out of trouble upon his release.

        So do you spin for the Big Prize and go to trial, knowing there's a possibility that the accused could walk away a free man? Or do you go for the smaller sentence and know that he'll not prey on the citizenry for a set number of years?

      8. -Truman Square

        Because of plea bargaining and early release how many more crimes are committed by career criminals? How many times have we seen stories in the news about victim X being a victim to someone released early, on supervision or on parole?

        You make a good point though, its very difficult to get victims of crime to cooperate in prosecutions especially in cases of sexual assault. So, why aren't victims sworn affidavits enough? Why put them through having to confront their attackers in court anyway? Try the cases based on evidence and sworn/videotaped statements by the victims. Cross examinations can even be done privately w/o the offender present. When found guilty based on testimonies and evidence drop the hammer on these people, show no mercy. Long, harsh sentences are LONG overdue from our criminal court system that's why I don't count on it.

      9. I'm not taking sides for or against plea bargains, UptownAction. I'm just saying that one juror can ensure that a criminal gets NO time in jail, rather than a portion of the sentence.

        As far as "Why put them through having to confront their attackers in court anyway? Try the cases based on evidence and sworn/videotaped statements by the victims."

        Little thing called The Bill of Rights gives a person on trial the right "to be confronted with the witnesses against him." I don't foresee that changing anytime soon. ;-)

      10. Truman,

        lol, you got me, I guess a video could not serve as a witness.

      11. Off topic, but can anyone explain what a ward committeeman does? I am surprised that UU is not covering James' run for this position. Why should I care?

      12. @ Media Critic

        The ward committeeman is a political party position, they recruit, promote candidates, poll watchers and whatever else is required to get candidates from their party elected.

        It is not very difficult to get a Democrat elected in the City of Chicago so it is arguably not a very demanding or high-profile job.

        I admit thats about all I know, it is common for the Alderman to also be the committeeman.

        Here is a link to the Republican committeeman Diane Shapiro...the daughter of the talented artist Gail Shapiro I add off-topically only because I met her before I met any Uptown politicos.



        And likewise a link for the Democratic committeeman ....the departing Tom Sharpe.


        Happy Readings........

        What Uptown really needs is a Committeeman for the Arts.

        Non-Partisan and Uptown 1st.