AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION
Of Champaign County
October 6, 2005
Present: Bill Brown, Ward Henson, Gary Peters, Carol Spindel, Roger Clark, Rachel Dietkus, Paul Wisovaty, Stan Levy, Esther Patt, Stephen Portnoy, Richard Schnuer, Marsha Woodbury, Nick Smith, Steve Shoemaker, Harvey Welch, and Kristin Solberg;
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m.
Randy met with the group to discuss current issue in the Public Defender’s office. Issues he discussed: 1) lack of centralized staff control in the State’s Attorney’s office, 2) overcharging by the State’s Attorney, (he noted that there are two times as many felonies as misdemeanors filed in Champaign County, which is the inverse of state charging norms, and he noted that 2005 felonies filed as of early October equaled the number filed in all of 2004), 3) that his office is trying more cases than usual, 4) that his staff attorneys currently handle on average 450 felonies per year, compared to the ABA-recommended maximum of 150 (misdemeanor attorneys are less overworked), 5) jail overcrowding and the short sentences and mandatory jail sentences that create it, 6) use of CHIPS (home detention) and mass bond reduction hearings to reduce jail overcrowding. Treatment of juvenile cases has changed over the years, with varying degrees of emphasis on station adjustments. Use of the Juvenile Justice Issues Forum has fizzled out. He decried abuses inherent in the local ‘drug court’, which results in appearance by defendants in front of a judge without counsel, imposition of 180 day ‘blanket’ sentences, the failure to follow the ‘early intervention' preferred approach of drug court. The PD’s office lacks a full time investigator; Randy is seeking funds from the county board to hire another attorney to augment his staff of 13.
Approval of Minutes:
The minutes of September 2005 were approved by motion made, seconded, and approved.
A. Treasurer’s Report: Given the quarterly reporting cycle, there wasn’t one.
B. Student and Law School Chapters: No reports.
C. The Illinois Chapter: Much of the Board’s focus is on ACLU’s fiscal health.
A. Fall Gathering: Hours are 5:30 – 7:30; ‘suggested donation’ is $20, student contributions optional.
B. Fall Newsletter: Submission deadline: October 11. We will send a fall gathering post card reminder. Stan will write something about Hiram’s receipt of the Baldwin Award.
C. Unity March: Is being sponsored by the CU Citizens for Social Justice. Decision to cosponsor was made by motion made, seconded and approved.
D. Anti-War Teach in: Rachael will participate; Richard will join her if possible. Purpose is to explain ACLU.
A. Comprehensive Sexual Health Education: Esther Patt reported on the efforts to insure Urbana’s School Board adopts a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum in its forthcoming November 1 curriculum review. The Board’s decision will affect curriculum for the next 6 years. She has been unable to get a copy thus far of what the school board’s curriculum committee is recommending. Attendance at the November 1 meeting is urged.
B. Police Oversight: Esther is on the Urbana Mayor’s Task Force on Citizen Police Review. Next Tuesday is the committee’s inaugural meeting. The committee will be reviewing and drafting proposals to create a review board for Council consideration.
C. 2006 Annual meeting update: Rachael invited Geoffrey Stone to speak. Roger will supplement invitation if necessary.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.
Kristin R. Solberg