Ms. Vuckovic was charged with bringing contraband (in this case, a cell phone) into a penal institution, a felony charge in Illinois that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Vuckovic, then a full-time attorney for the Chicago Transit Authority, volunteered on weekends with First Defense Legal Aid, a non-for-profit organization that provides free legal services to indigent clients. On an evening in November 2010, Vuckovic was called down to the Calumet Area Headquarters to provide a crucial service to an indigent man who was being interrogated by detectives. Vuckovic was there for the sole purpose of advising the man that he had a constitutional right to have an attorney present during questioning and that he could refuse to cooperate with investigators if he so chose.
Vuckovic allowed the man to use her cellphone to make a few phone calls to his family in order to let the family know where he was and that he was ok. When an officer walked by the interrogation room and saw the man using Vuckovic’s cellphone, he asked Vuckovic to leave and advised her that she shouldn’t be bringing her cellphone in to the interrogation room with her. Vockovic complied with the officer’s request and informed him that she was not aware that she couldn’t bring a phone into the room with her.
Approximately three months later, Vuckovic was indicted. In November 2012, Len Goodman and Melissa Matuzak tried Vuckovic’s case before a jury and won an outright acquittal.
The case sparked debate among criminal defense attorneys, many of whom stated that they often brought their cell phones with them into police interview rooms and let clients use their phones.
Articles Related to the Vuckovic Case
Felony Charges for Lawyer in Cellphone Case Spark Legal Debate. April 2, 2011. Steve Mills, Chicago Tribune Reporter.
Lawyer Defends Giving Suspect Phone in Interrogation Room. November 28, 2012. Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune Reporter.
Lawyer Defends Use of Her Cellphone by Suspect in Cop’s Slaying. November 29, 2012. Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune Reporter.
Vuckovic Not Guilty. November 29, 2012. Chicago Tribune.