Practice Areas

Federal & State Criminal Defense

Ellen has vast experience litigating federal criminal cases which include “white collar” drugs and weapons cases and all types of frauds. Her federal criminal practice includes pretrial litigation, trial work and sentencing mitigation. She is equally experienced in representing clients charged with violating state laws.

Appellate Practice

Ellen’s practice also involves appellate work on both the state and federal level.

Areas of Particular Interest

Medically Complex Cases-“Shaken Baby Syndrome”- and other allegations of child abuse

Medically complex cases require a unique and experienced approach and almost always require the use of experts. Ellen is very knowledgeable in presenting defenses in both juvenile and criminal court that involve these complex medical cases including but not limited to allegations of abusive head trauma (“Shaken Baby Syndrome”) and medical conditions that mimic abuse. She has significant experience in identifying, selecting and consulting with appropriate experts to assist in the defense. You can see Ellen speaking about a recent “shaken baby case” in a film shown at her 2014 Family Defender award benefit below.

Sex Crimes

Ellen is experienced in defending allegations of sex abuse in both juvenile and criminal court. These cases are unique. When representing individuals accused of sex crimes it is vital to have experience and skills in cross-examining/confronting accusers, both minors and adults.

False Accusations

Over the years Ellen has represented the falsely accused. Although she approaches all her cases with the same energy and dedication, many cases involving the falsely accused require extensive investigations into the accuser’s motive to lie. In the event there is a false confession, Ellen has extensive experience in investigating and presenting the reasons for the false confession. Ellen has represented persons falsely accused of many different crimes, including first degree murder, robbery, sex crimes and child abuse.

Mental Health & Mitigation

Ellen is experienced in presenting defenses that involve mental diseases, defects and            disorders, utilizing various medical personnel, psychiatrists, psychologists and other           appropriate experts. She has litigated complex mitigation at contested sentencing hearings. Ellen has extensive experience, as well as formal training during her Master’s in Social Work program, in conducting clinical interviews and comprehensive histories; identifying mental health issues; and identifying, selecting and consulting with appropriate experts. She has presented mitigation on various issues including family history, abuse and neglect, addiction, developmental disability, battered woman’s syndrome, and mental illness.

Other Areas of Contribution

Not only is Ellen a seasoned trial lawyer, she also has conducted seminars and spoken on legal issues related to the areas of her law practice. In 2000, Ellen was selected to compose and recite a personal essay on National Public Radio, “Chicago Matters” series on “Seeking Justice” about the role of a defense attorney in the criminal justice system. (May 2000) Listen to her on NPR in the audio clip below.

Ellen also taught Legal Writing Skills at the John Marshall Law School. More recently, Ellen presented to the Cook County Public Defender’s Office and Illinois Public Defenders’ Association on the topic of “Shaken Baby Syndrome.” (Winter, Summer & Fall of 2014)

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