Pro Se Chicago's Weblog

October 24, 2008

Void for Vagueness Doctrine – Applied to IL Medicaid Fraud


 I was unlawfully convicted of criminal contempt for telling Dishonorable Judge Kathleen Pantle that she was aiding and abetting the criminal and impeachable conduct of IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan, as well as the fact that she was violating her oath of office by continuing with the criminal case against me although she had no jurisdiction.

 

In order to preserve the issue for appeal and because Dishon. J. Pantle refused to appoint a public defender after de facto removing me as Pro Se Counsel by making a written order that I was NOT ALLOWED to file any pleadings [an unconstitutional act that violates her oath of office], I firmly but politely stated I was leaving and not coming back (because she had no jurisdiction and the case was bogus) and turned around and tried to leave.

 

I was immediately arrested and immediately summarily convicted of criminal contempt and sentenced to 30 days in CCDOC. [More about all this later!] This memorandum was given to IL Supreme Court on my direct appeal of this criminal contempt conviction [a petty offense]. The IL Supreme Court denied leave to appeal – [ignored my appeal and made no ruling and refuse to consider it.] This criminal contempt case is presently before the U.S. District Court on a habeas corpus petition, as I have exhausted state remedies. If denied the Circuit Court of C[r]ook County may lift the stay on my sentence and I will have to serve the remaining 13/30 days of the sentence and surrender to the C[r]ook County Sheriff. This would be a gross injustice [see following two posts also]. 

 

As you all should know, under the IL Constitution a citizen has NO RIGHT to an appeal to the IL Supreme Court. Appeals there are by permission and they only take about 5/100 cases, usually if they find it interesting. Only Capital Cases have a right to appeal to IL Supreme Court. Therefore, the IL Appellate Court is ususally the end of the line except you can appeal by means of habeas corpus to Federal District Court AFTER you exhause all state remedies. [Appeal through IL Supreme Court AND file IL habeas corpus petition by means of motion for leave to file it to IL Supreme Court – which takes two to three years in IL – 6 mo to two years in other states].

 You might also want to note the discrimination against Pro Se Defense Counsel and the double standards. In similar cases regarding defense attorneys the judges usually sentence them to $500 fine. I don’t think 30 days for a pro se counsel = $500 for an attorney. This is grossly disproportionate.

No. 105037

______________________________________________________________________________________

 

In the

 SUPREME COURT

Of The State of Illinois

______________________________________________________________________________________

 

)  Petition to Appeal as a Matter of Right

) or in the Alternative Petition for Leave

) to Appeal

                                                                        ) 

LINDA SHELTON                                         )  On Appeal from Appellate Court, First

            Defendant-Appellant-Petitioner            )  District, No. 05-2053

) 

v.                                             )  There Heard on Appeal from Circuit

)   Court of Cook County, County

)   Department, Criminal Division

                                                                        )  

)   No. ACC 050087-01

            )  

STATE OF ILLINOIS                                    )   Honorable Judge Kathleen Pantle,

            Plaintiff-Appellee-Respondent               )           Trial Judge

                                                                        )   Order of Trial Court May 10, 2005

)   Order of Appellate Court

)                       June 19, 2007

 

MEMORANDUM OF LAW – VOID FOR VAGUENESS DOCTRINE

 

            Defendant, Pro Se, respectfully presents to this Honorable Court the following memorandum of law concerning statutes and case law regarding void for vagueness doctrine.

            It is impermissible to prosecute a person, per due process requirements, for a crime if it relies on a vague, ambiguous, or conflicting legal requirement. As the Seventh Circuit Court recently emphasized in Gresham v. Peterson, 225 F.3d 899 (7th Cir. 2000), criminal penalties require a “high degree of clarity.” Id. at 908. A year earlier, the Seventh Circuit Court also held:

            The vagueness doctrine holds that a person cannot be held liable for conduct he could not reasonably

            have been expected to know was a violation of law.  It is well-settled that, as a matter of due process, a

            criminal statute that fails to give a     person of ordinary intelligence fair notice that his contemplated

            conduct is  forbidden by the statute, or is so indefinite that it encourages arbitrary and erratic arrests and

            convictions is void for vagueness. [United States v. Brierton, 165 F.3d 1133, 1138-39 (7th Cir. 1999)

            (as amended)]

 

            The Supreme Court has emphasized this same principle on numerous occasions. In United States v. Harriss, 347 U.S. 612 (1954), the Court held that:

            The constitutional requirements of definiteness is violated by a criminal statute that fails to give a person

            of ordinary intelligence fair notice that his contemplated       conduct is forbidden by the statute. The

            underlying principle is that no man shall      be held criminally responsible for conduct which he could not

            reasonable understand to be proscribed. [Id.at 617 (citations omitted)]

 

See also Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207, 229 (1985) (reversing a conviction because “Congress has not spoken with the requisite clarity” and affirming the “‘time-honored interpretive guideline’ that ‘ambiguity concerning the ambit of criminal statutes should be resolved in favor of lenity’”) (quoting Liparota v. United States, 471 U.S. 419, 427 (1985) and United States v. Hudson, 7 Cranch 32 (1812), inner quotations omitted.)

            Even if the Illinois regulation per the Administrative Code is upheld to deny reimbursement for these counseling services to the poor, all defendants in any similar vendor fraud cases indictments and prosecutions cannot be sustained amid the uncertainty and vagueness created by the federal-state conflict. Indictment and prosecution of any defendant under a similar theory to this case of substitute billing run afoul of the Seventh Circuit Court’s holdings in Gresham and Brierton, and the Supreme Court precedents following Harriss.

            “It is well known that ‘no one may be required at peril of life, liberty or property to speculate as to the meaning of penal statutes.’” United States v. Ward, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15897 (E.D. Pa Sept. 5, 2001). *12 (quoting Lanzetta v. New Jersey,  306 U.S. 451 (1939)). The Ward court then detailed the rigorous threshold test necessary for criminalizing conduct in the regulatory arena:

            Especially where a regulation subjects a private party to criminal sanctions, ‘a regulation cannot be

            construed to mean what an agency intended but did not adequately express.’ 

            Diamond Roofing Co.,Inc. v OSHRC, 528 F.2d 645, 649      (5th Cir 1976). As

             Bethlehem Steel made clear, ‘if the language the Secretary has the means and obligation to

             amend.’ [Ward, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS    15897, *19 – *19 (quoting

            Bethlehem Steel v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Comm’n, 573 F.2d 157, 161

            (3rd Cir. 1978)).]

 

            The Ward Court cited a legion of precedents requiring dismissal of the indictment, which likewise require dismissal of the indictment in the vendor fraud case against Plaintiffs. “[I]t is our view that courts should not defer to an agency’s informal interpretation of an ambiguous statute or regulation in a criminal case.” Ward, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15897, *22. See United States v. McGoff, 831 F.2d 1071, 1077 (D.C. Cir. 1987),

            In the criminal context, courts have traditionally required greater clarity in  draftsmanship than in civil     

           contexts, commensurate with the bedrock principle that in a free country citizens who are potentially

           subject to criminal sanctions should have clear notice of the behavior that may cause sanctions to be

           visited upon them.[;]

 

See also United States v. Apex Oil Co., Inc.,  132 F.3d 1287 (9th Cir. 1997) (affirming dismissal of indictment because the conduct was not clearly forbidden by the regulations); United States v. Plaza Health Laboratories, Inc., 3 F.3d 643, 649 (2nd Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 512 U.S. 1245 (1994) (in criminal cases, “a court will not be persuaded by cases urging broad interpretation of a regulation in the civil-penalty context”). See also, United States v. Whiteside, 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 4610, *18 – *19 (11th Cir. Mar. 22, 2002) (“The government cannot meet its burden in this case because, despite its contention to the contrary, no Medicare regulation, administrative ruling, or judicial decision exists that clearly “proscribes defendants’ conduct.)

            The indictments in the vendor fraud case against defendant and all defendants in similar cases fail to cite violation of any binding federal rule. Accordingly, the indictments directly contravene Supreme Court teaching in Christensen v. Harris County, 529 U.S. 576 (2000), and over 150 decisions that have relied on it. Defendant and similarly situated defendants in other cases administered much-needed services to the poor under the federally funded Medicaid program, in full compliance with all applicable federal laws and formal regulations. It is contrary to Christensen and its progeny to sustain Defendant’s and similarly situated defendants’ indictments for conduct that did not violate any clear and binding rules.

            The Medicaid program has been recognized to constitute one of the most complex and intractable regulatory systems in our country. See Herweg v. Ray, 455 U.S. 265 (1982) Burger, J., dissenting) (observing that ‘the Medicaid program is a morass of bureaucratic complexity.”) Medicaid generally provides the lowest level of reimbursement, and requires treatment of the most ill and difficult patients. Physicians who participate in the low-paying Medicaid program should not be imprisoned based on a game of “gotcha”. See United States v. Harris, 942 F.2d at 1132 (“If the obligation . . . is sufficiently in doubt, willfulness is impossible as a matter of law, and the ‘defendant’s actual intent is irrelevant.’”) (citing Garber, 607 F.2d at 98, quoting United States v. Critzer, 498 F.2d 1160, 1162 (4th Cir. 1974)). Indictment and/or conviction of Medicaid physicians based on regulatory gamesmanship is both unjust to defendants and catastrophic to the needy patients, because it drives small practitioners out of Medicaid.  Courts are increasingly dismissing these types of fraud charges against physicians, and dismissal is appropriate in the vendor fraud case against Plaintiffs. See, e.g State v. Vainio, 2001 MT 220, 35 P.3d 948 (Mont. 2001) (reversing a Medicaid conviction because it was based on an improperly promulgated state regulation); Siddiqi v. United States, 98 F.3d 1427, 1429 (2nd Cir. 1996) (reversing Medicare fraud convictions for “claim[s] for services rendered by somebody else”); id. at 1438 (“It takes no great flash of genius to conclude that something is wrong somewhere.”)

            The vendor fraud case against Defendant and similarly situated defendants is void for vagueness, similar to the Siddiqu and the Vainio cases as explained in the precedent setting and controlling cases such as Harriss, Gresham, and Brierton. “Void for vagueness” means criminal responsibility should not attach where one could not reasonably understand that his contemplated conduct is proscribed. United States v. Chandler, 66 F. 3d 1460 (8th Cir. 1995) The vendor fraud case against Defendant and similarly situated defendants clearly falls under the void for vagueness doctrine and should have been dismissed ab initio.

 

Dated August 12, 2007.

                                                            Respectfully Submitted,

 

                                                                                _____________________________

                                                                                Linda L. Shelton

Plaintiff-Appellant-Petitioner Pro Se

 

 

Prepared By:

Linda Lorincz Shelton, Ph.D., M.D.

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