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posted: 7/7/2017 5:30 AM

How suburban lawyers are helping domestic violence survivors

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  • Maureen Bismark, senior counsel for Discover, listens to a woman explain why she needs an order of protection Thursday at the Cook County courthouse in Rolling Meadows. Bismark is part of a group of attorneys who help domestic violence survivors obtain orders of protection.

      Maureen Bismark, senior counsel for Discover, listens to a woman explain why she needs an order of protection Thursday at the Cook County courthouse in Rolling Meadows. Bismark is part of a group of attorneys who help domestic violence survivors obtain orders of protection.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 

Many lawyers want to use their expertise to help others.

And survivors of domestic violence often can use a hand obtaining court orders protecting them from an abuser.

So a nonprofit agency dedicated to ending domestic violence is bringing the two groups together at the Cook County courthouse in Rolling Meadows.

About 30 attorneys from suburban corporations, including Allstate, Discover and ITW, are volunteering at a free help desk there operated by Between Friends. After receiving training by the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, the lawyers help survivors navigate the process of obtaining civil orders of protection.

Although legal representation isn't required for an order, "the chances of succeeding go way, way up" if a lawyer has helped, said Anne Geraghty Helms, pro bono counsel at the law firm DLA Piper's Chicago office.

Attorneys Maureen Bismark, right, and Paul Rice staff a free help desk at the Cook County courthouse in Rolling Meadows for victims of domestic violence. The attorneys volunteer to help victims navigate the process of obtaining orders of protection.
  Attorneys Maureen Bismark, right, and Paul Rice staff a free help desk at the Cook County courthouse in Rolling Meadows for victims of domestic violence. The attorneys volunteer to help victims navigate the process of obtaining orders of protection. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

For example, survivors might think they are limited to the lines on the request forms when explaining their need for protection. A trained attorney knows they can write "See attached" and include a separate sheet listing much more information.

"People do not know to put that level of detail in there," Helms said.

The lawyers also advise survivors what to bring to court with them, including witnesses and documentation of abuse, such as giving the judge a printout of harassing text messages, rather than just holding up their phones.

Lock 'em up

There's a crew of car burglars working central DuPage County, police say, and their victims aren't doing much to make it hard on them.

Wheaton police said they received reports of 30 vehicle break-ins on Wednesday alone. In every case, the vehicle was left unlocked while parked on a driveway.

One vehicle was even stolen when the thieves found its keys left inside. It was recovered just a few blocks away, Deputy Police Chief William Murphy said.

The Wheaton break-ins come on the heels of similar reports in Glen Ellyn -- where 11 breaks-ins have been reported in the last two weeks -- and unincorporated areas near Lombard and Hinsdale. Police say the burglars are rummaging through the unlocked vehicles and swiping cash and anything else of value.

Their advice? Lock your cars when unattended, don't keep valuables or spare keys inside, use exterior house lights to deter burglars, and call 911 if you spot suspicious activity.

The work of Lake County sheriff's deputies will be viewed by millions next week when camera crews from the show "Live PD" ride along with them. The show airs Friday and Saturday nights on the A&E Network.
  The work of Lake County sheriff's deputies will be viewed by millions next week when camera crews from the show "Live PD" ride along with them. The show airs Friday and Saturday nights on the A&E Network. - Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2012
Coming to a screen near you

Lake County residents might see some familiar faces -- but we hope not too familiar -- on their televisions next week when the A&E Network show "Live PD" rides along with Lake County sheriff's deputies.

The show airs live on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 to 11 p.m. It's hosted by Dan Abrams, chief legal analyst for ABC News.

Camera crews will join members of the sheriff's highway patrol, marine unit, warrants team, gang task force and criminal investigations units.

Sheriff Mark Curran said he's looking forward to his deputies receiving some national attention. The show has drawn more than 1.6 million viewers in recent weeks, according to the ratings.

"I am an advocate of transparency and this is a terrific opportunity for our office to demonstrate our core values of integrity, respect and professionalism in action as we serve and protect," Curran said.

About 12,000 of these hangers were placed on liquor bottles in Wheeling Township as part of a partnership between five suburban police departments, local students and the Link Together Coalition to discourage adults from buying alcohol for minors.
About 12,000 of these hangers were placed on liquor bottles in Wheeling Township as part of a partnership between five suburban police departments, local students and the Link Together Coalition to discourage adults from buying alcohol for minors. - Courtesy of the Link Together Coalition
No minor purchases

Shoppers in the Northwest suburbs might have noticed an unexpected addition to their carts earlier this summer when buying a bottle of wine or liquor -- reminders that they shouldn't share those purchases with minors.

About 12,000 bottle hangers with that message were placed in about 50 suburban retailers through a partnership among police in Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights and Wheeling, students from several middle and high schools, and the Wheeling Township-based Link Together Coalition.

"It's unsafe. It's irresponsible. It's illegal," read the hangers, which also bear the emblems of the five participating police departments and the message "Don't Buy For Minors" in large letters.

Jorie Ouimet, prevention specialist for the coalition, said the great majority of adults know not to buy alcohol for minors, but "we want to make sure we catch the attention of those that are making poor choices."

A key part of the effort was involving teens who went into the stores and placed the hangers on bottles.

"We had a lot of kids who wanted to participate and share the prevention message of adults not buying alcohol for minors," Mount Prospect police Officer Gregory Sill told us this week. "It's a great partnership between businesses, police and the kids."

To see a video of Sill and students distributing the hangers in Mount Prospect, go to youtu.be/BqTsr8IcwMI.

• Got a tip? Send an email to copsandcrime@dailyherald.com or call (847) 427-4483.

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