Two for One: both passenger and driver get DUIs after they switch seats in front of officer

From the Highland Park Patch:

Sudarshan France, 23, of the 2900 block of Gilead Avenue in Zion, was charged with driving under the influence, uninsured motor vehicle, no valid registration and driving while license suspended after being stopped by police near Old Elm Road and Skokie Valley Road at 4 a.m. Oct. 18.

Passenger Cory Rhinehart, 24, of the 38700 block of N. Sheridan Road in Beach Park, was also charged with DUI after being observed switching seats with France. Both France and Rhinehart were released on a personal recognizance bonds with court dates of Nov. 21.

Chicago Police Officer arrested for DUI after driving wrong way on I-57

From the Chicago Tribune:

State troopers responded to the area near I-57 and 111th Street after receiving several calls about a motorist driving the wrong way, authorities said.

The car, a 2010 Black Mitsubishi Outlander, had been traveling northbound in the southbound lanes, police said. The driver, Danny Sevilla, 33, stopped without incident, police said. Sevilla was the only person in the vehicle, police said.

Sevilla was charged with driving under the influence and driving the wrong way, state police said. No injuries were reported.

According to sources and records, Sevilla is a Chicago police officer who was hired in 2008.

In March, 2013, a North Chicago police officer was arrested after driving the wrong way on Lake Shore Drive and crashing into a Jeep, causing the death of two. That officer, Terrell Garrett, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Recommended Listening: Amicus podcast

I just wanted to share a new podcast called Amicus from Slate magazine.  The first episode was just released.

The podcast is hosted by Dahlia Lithwick and will concentrate on the United States Supreme Court.  In the first episode, there is a discussion of the Court’s denial of cert in the gay marriage cases, and a case about that raises the issue of whether an Arkansas prisoner has a religious right to grow a beard 1/2 inch in length.

Here is a link to the podcast on the Slate website, or you can download it in itunes or the other places where you get your podcasts.

Preckwinkle does about-face, parking to remain free at Cook County Courthouses

Four years ago, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced a plan to turn the free parking at the various Cook County Courthouses into pay lots.

In the years since, construction has been done at the various suburban courthouse parking lots, to restrict ingress and egress and to install the beginnings of either actual or automated cashier stands at the entrances.  According to the Daily Herald, the cost of all this construction was $1.9 million.

As someone who usually drives in and out of these courthouses anywhere from 5 to 15 times a week, I was not happy about the prospect of paying around $3,000 a year to continue my law practice.  When I expressed these concerns, I was told that President Preckwinkle’s attitude was that I should just pass the cost along to my clients.

Well, that was not a good solution, because many people who come to court are indigent or barely scraping by.

In addition, it was expected that most court employees would have to pay for parking as well, even though most are not well compensated.  Yet an exception was going to be made for judges, who are the best compensated of anyone who works daily at a courthouse.

Beyond the cost, I was also concerned about the logistics of pay parking.  Making everyone pay on the way in or way out would cause tremendous traffic jams, especially as people get up to the cashier and realize that they don’t have the cash to pay the fee.  This was not comforting to me as an attorney who often is in a rush trying to get from one suburban courthouse to another.

Happily for everyone involved who actually uses the courts, the Daily Herald reports that President Preckwinkle has done an about-face and decided not to implement pay parking.  I wish I could say that this happened due to work from our bar associations, or that President Preckwinkle realized that she was attempting to balance her budget on the backs of the poor, but instead credit goes to the various unions representing court workers who fought against their members having to pay to go to work.

What is not said in the article, but every Cook County resident knows, is that these many of these court employees are political hires, i.e., the political army for President Preckwinkle and the other board members, the ones who are expected to go out and help with re-elections in order to keep their jobs. So I suspect that President Preckwinkle ultimately wasn’t willing to anger her own base and kill her political career for the (relatively) paltry amount that court parking would bring in.

McHenry County Board Chair charged with DUI, takes leave of absence

From the Chicago Tribune:

The chairwoman of the McHenry County Board was charged Friday with driving under the influence of alcohol and said she is taking a leave of absence to check into an alcoholism treatment center…

Hill said she was on her way this afternoon to check into Rosecrance Health Network alcohol and drug treatment center in Rockford and would take a 30-day leave from office.

Hill, a Republican from Woodstock, was stopped for improper lane usage at around 1:40 a.m. on Seminary Avenue in Woodstock, police said.

She failed a field sobriety test and declined a breath test, said Woodstock Police Chief Robert Lowen, adding that Hill was cooperative and did not bring up her office.

She complained of pains and was taken to Centegra Hospital in Woodstock, where she was treated and released. Hill gave a blood sample at the hospital before returning to the police station to complete processing. She was released after posting $100 bond and her driver’s license.

Calusinski appeal denied by IL Supreme Court

Apparently, having the medical examiner state that your conviction was based on a misunderstanding of the evidence is not enough to keep you from serving 31 years in prison for a “murder” that you did not commit.  From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled it would not take up the case of a Lincolnshire day care worker who was sentenced to 31 years in prison for the death of a 16-month-old boy in 2009…

But the attorney for Melissa Calusinski, who was convicted of killing Deerfield toddler Benjamin Kingan on Jan. 14, 2009, when she became frustrated and hurled him to the floor at the Minee Subee day care center, said she will continue to push for a new trial.

Attorney Kathleen Zellner said an expert witness has revised his conclusion, since the original autopsy was completed, to now include evidence the boy suffered another injury prior to the day he died.

Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd reopened the investigation and determined there was a prior injury. He made his decision after reviewing the trial testimony, obtaining new evidence and analyzing Forensic Pathologist Eupil Choi’s findings.

Choi stated in a sworn affidavit that the boy “had suffered an old injury that pre-dated Jan. 14, 2009,” the date of his death.

The affidavit has been a key part of the defense’s argument for a new trial.

Zellner called attempts to get the case before the high court a long shot, saying, “They deny a petition for appeal about 98 percent of the time.”

But Zellner is still pressing on with a post-conviction petition in Lake County Circuit Court.

“It’s a work in progress,” she said.

Des Plaines Police commander gets six months for falsifying DUI stats

So, one-third of the entire Des Plaines police force are cheating liars who defrauded the taxpayers.  And they get to keep their jobs because there would be too many to replace.  Wow.

From the Chicago Tribune:

A former Des Plaines police commander who padded DUI arrest records so the department could get federal grant money was sentenced today to six months in prison.

Timothy Veit, 57, apologized in Chicago’s Dirksen U.S. Courthouse for his role in defrauding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Illinois Department of Transportation out of nearly $133,000 in public safety grant funding…

In addition to the six-month prison term, Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan sentenced Veit to 200 hours of community service. His plea agreement with prosecutors also requires him to repay IDOT about $34,500 in restitution…

Veit, a Mount Prospect resident, was ordered to report to prison by Dec. 16.

He was initially charged with one felony count of making false statements, but he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of misappropriation of government funds. He could have been sentenced to up to a year in prison.

From 2009 to 2012, Veit padded the department’s total number of DUI arrests by 122 to conceal its failure to meet the requirements of an NHTSA-funded impaired-driving enforcement campaign administered by IDOT, according to prosecutors. As part of that scheme, he provided phony blood-alcohol content levels for those fictitious arrests. That enabled the department to collect almost $133,000 in federal money over those years, authorities said.

“We don’t think he did this to line his own pockets,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Church. But “what is abundantly clear is no one asked him to lie.”

When Veit received an email from an IDOT grant administrator in March 2012 that the department might be audited, he told his commanding officer he had “fudged the numbers,” prosecutors said.

Veit retired from the department three months later after 31 years on the force.

After a federal investigation, the city was barred from participating in NHTSA and IDOT grants until September 2015. It also agreed to pay $92,000 in restitution and penalties.

In all, 13 Des Plaines police officers, some of whom prosecutors said attended Thursday’s court hearing in an apparent show of support for Veit, got suspensions ranging from seven to 60 days for accepting overtime payments from the grant program for hours they didn’t work.

Des Plaines police Chief William Kuschner, who was hired after the fraud came to light, said the officers were not fired because they made up one-third of the city’s police force. Since the fraud was discovered, officers have had to work to earn the trust of residents again, he said.