February 2023

Illinois Supreme Court to hear case against elimination of cash bail

The Illinois Supreme Court will hear arguments next month on whether the far-reaching SAFE-T Act and its elimination of cash bail are unconstitutional, as a Kankakee judge ruled at the end of last year.

The court set a date of March 14 as the office of Illinois Atty. Gen. Kwame Raoul filed a motion Monday urging the court to reject the “grab bag of constitutional theories” raised by the law’s opponents.

Kankakee County Chief Judge Thomas Cunnington sided with those opponents just days before the bail reform provision were to take effect, ruling in favor of a group of state’s attorneys and sheriffs who brought more than 60 lawsuits challenging aspects of the law.

Cunnington ruled that part of the act violated a requirement in the state Constitution that requires defendants to be bailable “by sufficient sureties,” except for certain offenses. He also found that it violated the separation of powers between the judiciary and Legislature.

“The appropriateness of bail rests with the authority of the court and may not be determined by legislative fiat,” Cunnington wrote in his ruling.

Legislators who wrote the bill, and reform advocates who support it, have argued that cash bail is inherently unfair and doesn’t benefit public safety when some defendants accused of crimes are released ahead of trial while others are held in jail because they lack the financial ability to post bond.

Opponents to the law argued lawmakers violated the state’s constitution when they failed to seek approval from voters through a constitutional amendment, and they said they would “strongly support” such a system if the state had done so.

“This did not occur,” opponents argued in a motion before the state Supreme Court earlier this month. “In so doing, the General Assembly has illegitimately attempted to amend the Illinois Constitution.”

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Humana to exit employer-sponsored health insurance

The health insurer Humana will stop providing employer-sponsored commercial coverage as it focuses on bigger parts of its business, like Medicare Advantage.

The insurer said Thursday it would leave the business over the next 18 to 24 months. It includes medical coverage provided through private companies and for federal government employees.

Humana will still provide insurance through its military service business. It covers active duty service members, their families and retirees and a total of nearly 6 million people. It will also still provide employer-sponsored specialty coverage like vision and dental benefits.

Employer-sponsored health insurance is one of the more common ways for Americans to get coverage. But at nearly a million people, it amounts to a small part of Humana’s enrollment of more than 13 million.

Humana’s business largely centers on the military and Medicare Advantage plans. Those are privately run versions of the federal government‘s Medicare program for people age 65 and older.

Humana also runs Medicaid coverage in several states.

CEO Bruce Broussard said in a prepared statement that the exit from employer-sponsored coverage lets Humana focus on its “greatest opportunities for growth.”

The company also said its employer-sponsored business “was no longer in a position to sustainably meet the needs of commercial members over the long term or support the company’s long-term strategic plans.”

Employer-sponsored enrollment growth has been partially slowed for insurers, including market leaders like UnitedHealthcare. Companies have turned more to government-backed coverage like Medicare Advantage or Medicaid for growth.

Humana does not expect the change to affect adjusted profit this year, which the company projects to be at least $28 per share.

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Trump lawyer says he shouldn’t be charged in Georgia probe after jury forewoman’s interviews

FormerPresident Donald Trump should not face charges in the Georgian investigation into his election interference because of public statements made by the jury forewoman, his lawyer has been accused.

“Georgia has completely tainted the jury pool, because now you have an entire jury pool of people who believe that there is some crime that President Trump has committed or his allies have committed, but nobody knows what it is,” Christina Bobb told Newsmax on Saturday. “And so they’re trying to get ahead of the game here and try to taint the jury pool, try to lead the public to believe that there’s a crime here, without providing them with an opportunity to defend themselves.”

Jury forewoman Emily Kohrs has created major waves by publicly speaking about Trump and the case in televised interviews. Ms Bobb said the behavior “should mean that there should be no charges.”

“Any defendant – I don’t know who they’re going to try to indict, but any of them, whether it’s the President or any of his allies – all of them have had their constitutional rights violated by this media tour, by the district attorney allowing this craziness,” she said.

Ms Kohrs has spoken – with distinctive energy, excitement and animated facial expressions – about her service as a foreperson on the grand jury hearing evidence in the case of Mr Trump’s effort to overturn his 2020 defeat in Georgia. Some of her comments in particular described the grand jury’s deliberations, including whether they found some witnesses who appeared before them to be credible.

She also explained the grand jury’s decision not to seek testimony from Mr Trump himself, though she was careful not to address any direct prompts to name witnesses or targets of the probe who were recommended for criminal charges.

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Maine’s ACLU urges lawmakers to increase funding for indigenous legal defense

A representative from a group that is leading a class action lawsuit against the state is urging lawmakers to commit even more money to create public defender’s offices around the state.

The ACLU of Maine filed suit one year ago this week, claiming the state is failing in its constitutional obligation to provide attorneys to low-income criminal defendants. Since then, lawmakers created a small, public defender office to take cases in rural Maine. And the administration of Gov. Janet Mills has proposed expanding that office.

Zach Heiden, chief counsel for ACLU Maine, told lawmakers on two committees on Monday that’s progress and he also criticized the recent decision to increase the hourly reimbursement for private attorneys who take on clients through the Commission on Indigent Legal Services. Earlier, the outgoing executive director of the commission, Justin Andrus, told lawmakers that the higher reimbursement rate – from $80 to $150 an hour – has led to a significant jump in interest among private attorneys willing to take on independent cases.

But Heiden also said a hybrid system of private attorneys and public defenders should have been adopted years ago rather than its standing, until recently, as the only state in the country to rely entirely on private attorneys. And he said additional reforms – such as increased training and supervision as well as for statewide offices to handle appeals and post-conviction reviews – will cost money.

“These investments are, as you are no doubt aware, considerably more than the state is accustomed to spending on indigenous defense,” told members of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee as well as the Judiciary Committee. “Please do not mistake them for luxury “This is the bare minimum of funding required to have a functioning independent defense system in this state and by extension

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Donald Trump’s Surprising Choice for His New Lawyer Has Ties to Award-Winning Hip-Hop Artists

With all of the criminal investigations knocking on Donald Trump‘s door, it’s no wonder he’s branching out to all kinds of lawyers, even the polar opposite ones. Back in Aug 2022, Trump tapped Georgia lawyer Drew Findling to his legal team to help him in reducing or dropping his charges in the same state. (In case you don’t know, we’re talking about how Trump was apparently trying to attempt to change the outcome of the state’s 2020 election results!) However, people are just realizing now, after a recent Bloomberg profile, that Finding is also the same lawyer who’s represented Cardi B and Waka Flocka Flame in the past.

Finding was the one that not only got Grammys-winning artist Cardi B’s felony assault charges reduced to misdemeanors, but he’s also the one that assisted BET Awardswinning artist Flame in getting an acquittal for bringing a gun in his bag at the Atlanta airport. Along with that, he’s helped stars like Gucci Mane and the members of Migos.

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This lawyer has definitely gotten a bit of a fanbase for his magical ways of reducing serious charges, so it’s no wonder Trump decided to bring him on his team. However, many are still confused by the choice considering how different they are.

Finding once called Trumpracistcruel, sick, unforgivable and un-American,” per IBTimesand is a huge advocate for the pro-choice movement and an anti-mass-incarceration advocate. While only five percent of his casework involves high-profile figures and celebrities, Findlign said to Bloomberg that he loves that part of the job.

Click here to read the full article.

“I’m just really trying to get to know them,” he said. “They have fascinating stories and they’re interesting young people and they have interesting families. They’re just super

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Attorney general and Cohoes’ Norlite plant reach agreement on dust

COHOES — Attorney General Letitia James and the Norlite aggregate plant on Wednesday reached an agreement regarding the state’s injunction that will prompt extensive dust control measures and monitoring.

The plant still might have to suspend operations if dust levels get too high, however. And a related lawsuit filed by the attorney general and state Department of Environmental Conservation against Norlite continues.

Norlite will install extensive on-site air quality monitoring systems and hire engineers who can offer the best long-term solutions to dust emissions.

The company must also make a series of reports to the state Department of Environmental Conservation on the dust control measures, with special reports when they exceed certain thresholds, according to James’ office. Certain operations at the plant could be suspended if certain dust levels are exceeded.

The company also agreed to start working on its dust control measures within 90 days.

“This order will govern the monitoring and operation of Norlite throughout the course of the litigation,” the attorney general‘s office said. The court order was approved by the state Supreme Court in Albany County Acting Justice Kimberly O’Connor.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement on the specifics of an emissions program with the New York state attorney general. We are especially pleased that this program has been developed in conjunction with the DEC. This agreement marks a new chapter for Norlite,” company CEO Ghia Rossi said.

“I am now working with a team of experts on additional steps that can and will be implemented to make sure the Cohoes facility is the gold standard for manufacturing and for community involvement.”

One of the key components will be a $250,000 water monitoring system. Monitoring will be ongoing and recorded in real time. The agreement also calls for creating a system to control

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Link auto insurance rate hikes, refunds of COVID overcharges

the editorial board operates independently from the UT newsroom but holds itself to similar ethical standards. We base our editorials and endorsements on reporting, interviews and rigorous debate, and strive for accuracy, fairness and civility in our section. Disagree? Let us know.

The gap between the populist, pro-consumer rhetoric of Ricardo Lara as a Democratic candidate for California insurance commissioner in 2018 and his performance on the job has been considerable and consistent. In 2019, it was revealed that despite promises not to do so, he’d taken in at least $270,000 in contributions from 56 people and companies with insurance industry ties. That summer, he assured industry leaders that he would belara-tells-insurers-hes-receptive-to-their-ideas-including-vehicle-data-use-1121365″“receptive” to their input going forward. Subsequently, he sided with his donors and overruled decisions made by administrative law judges that they didn’t like.

Before and after Lara won re-election in 2022 against an unqualified Republican challenger, his modus operandi has remained unchanged. In recent months, Lara has approved auto insurance rate hikes of 6.9 percent for Geico, Mercury and Allstate, with similar increases now pending for several other insurers with many customers in California. Why 6.9 percent? Because a larger request often triggers a public hearing of the sort that insurers — and maybe Lara — want to avoid. This is troubling enough. Blind report Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times detailed how the rate hikes were approved or in the works even though Californians are still owed refunds for overpayments during the initial stages of the pandemic in 2020, when stay-at-home orders led traffic to dwindle. Consumer Watchdog estimates policyholders have been paid about $2 billion but are still due to a staggering $3.5 billion more.

Insurance agency officials told the Times that rate hikes and refunds are separate issues. But should they

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EvictionFreeMKE.org offers free legal help to those on verge of losing their rented homes

A screenshot of the automated EvictionFreeMKE.org tool.

A screenshot of the automated EvictionFreeMKE.org tool.

A new tool, EvictionFreeMKE.orgis offering Milwaukee residents the opportunity to connect with free legal help, rental assistance and other resources to reduce evictions.

The new tool comes months after Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley signed a historic bill that established a Right to Counsel program in Milwaukee County.

RELATED: Milwaukee County has established a Right to Counsel program. Here’s why advocates say it could reduce evictions

That program provides residents facing eviction the right to a free lawyer. This new tool helps connect people with those lawyers.

Partners involved in creation of the tool include United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, Legal Action of Wisconsinthe City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County.

The tool is part of the United Way’s Safe and Stable Homes initiative, said Krystina Kohler, a financial stability portfolio manager at United Way. The initiative is meant to end family homelessness in the four counties — Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Waukesha and Washington — served by the organization.

A lack of legal representation has been a regular feature of Milwaukee’s eviction courts, Matthew Desmond highlighted in his 2016 book “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.” His research found that only 3% of tenants appearing in eviction court had legal representation.

RELATED: The ‘Evicted’ exhibit brings awareness to Milwaukee, where the author hopes to continue the conversation

Kohler said he is hoping the three-year pilot will help reduce the 13,000 annual eviction filings that occur in Milwaukee.

“We found that when we provided free lawyers to tenants, their eviction cases were dismissed or delayed in about 90% of cases in Milwaukee,” Kohler said.

Kohler also noted that sometimes landlords won’t even attempt mediation and instead, go straight to filing

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Video shows woman attack attorney during hearing for Wisconsin dismemberment case

A woman who police said dismembered safe physically attacked her lawyer while in court for a competency hearing this week.

Video shows Taylor Schabusiness, charged in the February 2022 killing of Shad Thyrion, attack her defense attorney in Brown County Circuit Court Tuesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The footage shows she was quickly wrestled to the ground by a deputy after the judge in the case indicated he was going to delay Schabusiness’ trial set for next month.

Attorney Quinn Jolly, who was attacked, told Brown County Judge Thomas Walsh he planned to file a motion asking to be removed from the case, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazettepart of the USA TODAY Network.

The question of whether Schabusiness was fit to stand trial has long been a key issue in the case. An expert hired by the court said she was capable of assisting in her own defense, but an expert hired by the defense raised doubts.

Taylor Schabusiness attacks her attorney, Quinn Jolly, in Brown County court Tuesday in Green Bay.  Schabusiness is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, mutilating a corpse and third-degree sexual assault in the killing of Shad Thyrion, 25, in February 2022.

Taylor Schabusiness attacks her attorney, Quinn Jolly, in Brown County court Tuesday in Green Bay. Schabusiness is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, mutilating a corpse and third-degree sexual assault in the killing of Shad Thyrion, 25, in February 2022.

Here’s what we know about the case:

The charges

Schabusiness, being held in the Brown County Jail in lieu of $2 million bail, was arrested after the victim’s body was found by his mother on Feb. 23, 2022. She faces three felony charges:

Schabusiness has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness or defect.

She has had several evaluations to see if she is mentally fit for trial.

The victims

Thyrion, 24, and Schabusiness were friends who attended high school together and occasionally had a relationship, the Brown County sheriff’s investigators said.

Killing took place Feb. 2022


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Is Life Insurance Taxable? Here’s Everything To Know.

As people grow older, life insurance is a topic that becomes more and more important, especially for people who have children or dependents. Life insurance is a method for helping the security of others once someone dies.

Some fast facts about life insurance includes:

  • Approximately 172 million Americans own life insurance.
  • 34% of Americans ages 18 to 24 report they own a life insurance policy.
  • 46% of Americans ages 25 to 44 have a life insurance policy.
  • 53% of Americans ages 45 to 64 have a life insurance policy.
  • 57% of Americans ages 65 and older have a life insurance policy.

With so many people holding life insurance policies, you might wonder: Is life insurance taxable? Read on to find out.

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is a contract between a policyholder and an insurance company through which the policy owner agrees to pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money in exchange for a life insurance premium upon the insured’s death.

Life insurance is an insurance product meant to provide financial security to that beneficiary after the policyholder passes away to help cover expenses such as funeral costs, outstanding debts and other living expenses. The amount of life insurance a person needs will depend on several factors, including income, debt and dependents.

Related: Busy Parents: Sign up for Life Insurance with This Speedy Provider

What makes a strong life insurance policy?

Several factors contribute to a strong life insurance policy, including:

  • Coverage amount: The policyholder should choose an adequate amount for their loved ones’ financial needs. When deciding upon coverage, the policyholder should consider the cost of living, funeral costs, outstanding debts and future expenses like college tuition.
  • Policy type: A policy should always meet the insured person’s needs. For example, if they want affordable coverage for a
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