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Hutchinson law protects LGBTQ jurors from exclusion

Published: Monday, August 19, 2019 10:10 AM

hutchinson 031219SPRINGFIELD – Jurors in Illinois who are LGBTQ will no longer be able to be excluded from jury service simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity under a new law signed recently by Gov. Pritzker that was passed by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights).

“Ensuring jury pools represent the diversity of Illinois is a vital part of ensuring our criminal justice system is fair,” Hutchinson said. “Allowing jurors to be excluded simply because of who they love or who they are flies in the face of the kind of criminal justice reforms we are all working toward.”

Hutchinson’s new law, contained in Senate Bill 1378, ensures LGBTQ jurors cannot be excluded from jury service simply on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In 2014, the 9th United States Circuit ruled that sexual orientation cannot be used as the sole basis for exclusion of a juror, protecting lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals from being excluded on jury panels. Since Illinois sits in the 7th United States Circuit, however, that ruling didn’t apply to the state.

In 2018, the American Bar Association adopted a resolution urging state government to include LGBTQ individuals in jury service non-discrimination protection.

“Serving on a jury is a fundamental obligation of American democracy. Now, like other pro-equality states, Illinois will protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in jury service,” said Michael Ziri, Director of Public Policy at Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for LGBTQ people. “This new law will bring our judicial system nearer to eliminating discrimination and ensuring equal protection under the law. We thank Senator Hutchinson for her leadership on this measure and her dedication to ensuring the equal treatment and inclusion of LGBTQ Illinoisans.”

Senate Bill 1378 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Link plan addressing mental health services for law enforcement, firefighters signed into law

Published: Friday, August 16, 2019 03:38 PM

Senator LinkSPRINGFIELD – A comprehensive proposal by State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) aimed at ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues among firefighters and law enforcement officers was signed into law today by Gov. Pritzker.

“The men and women who dedicate their lives to the protection of their neighbors do so under extremely stressful situations that few others can truly understand,” Link said. “Ensuring there are services available when needed shows our brave first responders that even if they face these tough working conditions, they aren’t alone.”

Crowe supports new laws to help sexual assault survivors monitor their own cases, increase benefits for surviving spouses of slain officers

Published: Friday, August 16, 2019 12:13 PM

crowe 022019SPRINGFIELD – Legislation requiring a secure, electronic database to simplify the process of accessing all the communications between sexual assault victims and the many other parties involved in investigating their cases was signed into law today. This initiative is co-sponsored by State Senator Rachelle Crowe.

“Sexual assault investigations are complicated, and survivors are trying to keep track of everything during this time-sensitive process while also undergoing terrible personal trauma,” Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) said. “This program will allow secure conversations and status updates for all involved throughout a complex process. This is one more way we can empower survivors.”

The plan, Senate Bill 1411, specifies that survivors, health care facilities, law enforcement agencies and the State’s Attorney’s office are “stakeholders” with access to the files in question. The state will fund the program using moneys for crime labs and through additional funding for Illinois State Police.

“Our strong commitment to prosecuting sex offenders must be complimented by the very best support systems for sexual assault survivors. The criminal justice system can be challenging for victims to navigate- especially for those who have suffered such severe trauma,” said Tom Gibbons, Madison County State’s Attorney. “This law represents big progress toward providing real support for survivors at a time when the need it most. I am grateful to Senator Crowe for her tireless dedication to fighting for victims of crime with common sense reforms.”

Senate Bill 1411 is effective immediately.

Another measure signed into law today, Senate Bill 1183, allows proceeds from the issuance of Police Memorial Committee license plates to be used for grants and scholarships for spouses of police officers killed in the line of duty.

“There’s a good chance a widowed man or woman will want to further their education in order to provide for their family,” Crowe said. “This initiative gives them a chance to get back on their feet with help from a grateful public whose fees are already going toward supporting the memory of their loved ones.”

Currently, only children can receive this benefit. Senate Bill 1183 is effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Munoz extends scholarship to spouses of fallen officers

Published: Friday, August 16, 2019 11:36 AM

munoz 052819SPRINGFIELD – Spouses of police officers killed in the line of duty are now eligible for grants and scholarships from the Police Memorial Committee under a law by Assistant Majority Leader Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) that was signed today.

“Spouses of fallen officers often need to restructure their lives after their loved one is gone,” said Munoz, a former Chicago police officer. “These scholarships provide support for spouses figuring out how to move forward after such a tragic loss.”

Currently, the Police Memorial Committee offers scholarships to children of police officers killed in the line of duty. Senate Bill 1183 extends the pool of recipients to include spouses.

The Police Memorial Committee Fund receives $10 of every issuance fee for Police Memorial Committee license plates, and $23 of every renewal fee thereafter. The fund is also used for maintaining a memorial statute on the Capitol Complex, and holding an annual memorial commemoration.

The law goes under effect immediately.

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