Before posting someone’s bond, be aware of the consequences!

How would you like to have the government take $50,000 of your money because of something someone else did?

A new appellate court opinion was issued last week that might be of interest to the general public. It concerns what can happens to the money put up by a third party to bail someone out.

The case was People v. Pamela Williams, 2012 IL App (2) 111157. According to the opinion, Ms. Williams was charged with multiple counts of theft. She needed $50,000 to bond out of jail. Her brother-in-law, Arwood K. Edwards, was willing to do so, because he believed in Ms. Williams’ innocence.

Before Mr. Edwards could post the bond, a special hearing was held, to ensure that the money being used to post the bond were not obtained as a result of the allegedly fraudulent conduct. During this hearing, it was stated in court that Mr. Edward had been advised that the money that he posted for Ms. Williams’ bond could be used to pay fines, court costs and/or restitution. The Court found that the money was not obtained from the fraud, and Mr. Edwards was allowed to post the bond. When he did so, he signed a form which again stated that the funds could be used for fines, fees, court costs, attorneys fees and/or restitution, or forfeited if the defendant failed to appear in court.

Subsequently, Ms. Williams plead guilty to ten counts of theft, and she was ordered to pay $1,800,000.00 in restitution. Her attorneys filed a motion seeking to have the bond money returned to Mr. Edwards. The State objected, and a hearing was held before a DuPage County judge.

According to the opinion, at the hearing:

The defendant’s attorney read a statement on behalf of Edwards that said that when he posted the
bond the defendant had pleaded not guilty, and Edwards believed that the defendant was innocent.
The statement went on to say that, if Edwards had known that the defendant was guilty, he would
not have provided the bail money. The defendant’s attorney argued that it would be a travesty to take
money from a third party who was not involved in the crimes. He additionally argued that, because
Edwards had recently injured himself and had a severely disabled son, the trial court should consider
these personal circumstances in determining whether equity required exoneration of the bond.
Finally, the defendant’s attorney argued that using the bail money for restitution was not mandatory
and that, under the circumstances, using it would be unfair

Unfortunately for Mr. Edwards, the trial court ruled against him. The court ruled that when Mr. Edwards knowingly posted the bond, he accepted the risks inherent in posting a bond for another person. The court held that it was not obligated to consider the essential fairness of taking Mr. Edwards’ money to pay for Ms. Williams’ crimes.

Mr. Edwards also raised a technical defense, that the Notice to Surety on the bond form did not comport with the requirements under the bond statute, 725 ILCS 5/110-7. The Court agreed that the bond form did not meet the statutory requirements, but that compliance with the statute was not be strictly enforced.

I should also point out that it is becoming commonplace in many jurisdictions for bond money to be used, not only for court costs, fines and restitution on the pending case, but also to pay any outstanding balances on any other cases that the defendant might have in that jurisdiction.

So be warned: if you have a relative or friend who is charged with a crime, and begs you to post his or her bond, you should be prepared to kiss that money goodbye.

Officers in trouble for lying about DUI arrests

Apparently, Chicago is not the only city where DUI officers have been accused of falsifying DUI cases.  News broke this week of two Los Angeles officers who have been charged with filing false police reports and perjury.

Simone Wilson has the whole story here:  LAPD Officers lied about DUI case, says DA

Brandon Meriweather pleads no contest to DWI

The Washington Post is reporting that former Chicago Bear and current Washington Redskin safety Brandon Meriweather

pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated and refusing a breath test, according to court records.

Meriweather entered the plea July 19 and was fined $300 plus $81 in court costs, according to Arlington County General District Court records. His driver’s license was suspended for 60 days and a 180-day jail sentence was suspended.

Meriweather was for pulled over in Arlington County on April 26 for speeding and failed a field sobriety test, according to police. He was arrested and charged with DWI and refusing to take a breathalyzer test.

In other celebrity DUI news, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and porn star Jenna Jameson plead not guilty to their DUIs.

Update: Report: Kerry Kennedy had Ambien in her system

The New York Daily News is reporting that Kerry Kennedy, former wife of N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo and daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, tested positive for zolpidem, the chemical name for Ambien, after her DUI arrest, according to blood test results submitted by the prosecutor’s office today.

This report contradicts the claims by Kennedy’s spokesperson that:

“Kerry Kennedy voluntarily took breathalyzer, blood and urine tests — all of which showed no drugs or alcohol whatsoever in her system,” spokesman Ken Sunshine said in the Friday statement. “The charges were filed before the test results were available.”  Kerry Kennedy arrested for DUI

According to the Daily News, “Kennedy was found slumped over the wheel of her car and, according to police reports, could not walk, talk or see straight.  Kennedy’s newly-hired lawyer, John D. Pappalardo, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.”

Assuming New York law is substantially similar to Illinois law, Kennedy can be found guilty of a DUI for driving under the influence of a prescription medication, if that medication impaired her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Update on Cook County Sheriff charged with fatal DUI

The Chicago Sun-Times has more information on Jamie O’Malley, the Cook County Deputy Sheriff who has been charged with aggravated DUI arising out of a fatal accident in Franklin Park last Sunday.

According to the Sun-Times,

The Cook County sheriff’s deputy charged with felony DUI for a fatal accident Sunday in Franklin Park reportedly told arresting officers, “Oh God, I hope I didn’t kill this guy.”

Jamie T. O’Malley, 37, of Franklin Park is charged with aggravated DUI for striking and killing Marcial Marias-Quevedo on Mannheim Road in Franklin Park at 1:43 a.m. Sunday, authorities said.

O’Malley smelled strongly of alcohol and told police he’d come from a party where he’d had “two beers,” Van Kampen said.

The 6-foot-tall, 200-pound O’Malley reportedly failed field sobriety tests, then refused a Breathalyzer test.

He later submitted to urine and blood tests. Those tests, administered 1-1/2 hours after the accident, yielded a blood alcohol level of .105 percent, above the legal limit of .08.

Aggravated DUI causing the death of one person is punishable from three to fourteen years in the penitentiary, although a judge can sentence the person to probation if the court determines that “extraordinary circumstances exist.”  625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(2)(G).

Bond was set at $150,000, which means that O’Malley must post $15,000 to be released pending trial.  A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for next Monday.

Off-Duty Cook County Sheriff charged in fatal DUI crash

Just a week after a Cook County Sheriff was killed outside the Leighton Criminal Courts Building, allegedly by a hit and run driver whose license was revoked for DUI, a Sheriff now stands accused of causing the death of a 41 year old woman in Franklin Park.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times,

An off-duty Cook County Sheriff’s deputy was charged Tuesday with aggravated DUI for a fatal crash early Sunday in west suburban Franklin Park.  Jamie O’Malley, 37, was charged with aggravated DUI, according to Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokesman Andy Conklin.  Cook County Sheriff’s police spokesman Frank Bilecki said the driver in the crash was an off-duty sheriff’s deputy driving a personal vehicle.

Marcil Maris-Quevedo, 41, was struck by a vehicle early Sunday at Mannheim Road and Minneapolis Avenue in Franklin Park, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.  A Franklin Park police sergeant said the driver was taken into custody following the crash.  Maris-Quevedo, of the 3000 block of Bright Street in Franklin Park, was pronounced dead at 3:29 a.m. Sunday at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, the medical examiner’s office said. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

O’Malley will appear in bond court Wednesday in Maywood.

Justin Blackmon pleads guilty to DUI, avoids jail

As training camps are opening, it appears that NFL players are taking care of business and pleading guilty to their off-season DUIs. Yesterday, it was Darrius Heyward-Bey; today it was Justin Blackmon.

According to ESPN,

Special Judge Michael Stano accepted Blackmon’s plea and imposed a deferred sentence of one year, meaning Blackmon will serve no jail time if he fulfills the terms of his sentence. Among other things, Blackmon must pay a $500 fine and $100 to a drug abuse and treatment fund as well as court costs. He must also complete 50 hours of community service and fulfill other plea requirements by Jan. 24.

Police arrested Blackmon during a traffic stop in Stillwater on June 3 after a breath test allegedly showed his blood-alcohol content to be three times the legal limit. Blackmon was previously arrested on a DUI charge in Texas in 2010 that was later reduced to underage alcohol possession.

Raiders Wide Receiver Heyward-Bey pleads no contest to DUI

This is an update to an earlier post about Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey’s DUI in San Francisco.

According to the Sacramento Bee, he plead no contest to his DUI:

The 25-year-old Heyward-Bey entered his plea Monday in a San Francisco courtroom in exchange for a sentence of three years’ probation, three months of DUI classes and various fines totaling around $1,800.

Heyward-Bey was charged in May with misdemeanor drunken driving following his April 7 arrest during a traffic stop.

He was driving his 2012 Range Rover on the bridge’s lower deck when he was pulled over by an officer who saw him speeding and weaving shortly after he left a San Francisco nightclub.

He was arrested after failing a field sobriety test.

Cook County Clerk accused of shredding files

The Chicago Sun-Times has reported on the arrest of Jeanette Neibauer, a long-time clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County.  She stands accused of taking files home and shredding them.  She is accused of tampering with court files and official misconduct.  Her bond has been set at $750,000.

Ms. Neibauer worked in the Law Division, the division of the Court that handles large-sized lawsuits seeking monetary compensation ($30,000 and up).  My understanding is that she was most recently the clerk for Judge Ronald Bartkowicz, who has an individual Commercial Calendar in addition to hearing Law trials.

A Law Division case often involves sensitive medical and financial records or trade secrets.  It is the duty of the clerks and other courtroom personnel (as well as attorneys and their staff) to adhere to strict confidentiality rules.

It has yet to be revealed what documents Ms. Niebauer is accused of shredding, how long she is alleged to have been shredding documents, or what she is alleged to have been doing with documents prior to her shredding.

Keep in mind that in civil litigation, each parties are required to tender copies of each filing to each litigant, and that each litigant will maintain copies of their own filings as well. So that means that each party to the lawsuit should have a complete copy of everything that belongs in the court file.

On the other hand, Cook County has been slow to adopt electronic filing, or to scan in all filings, as they do in neighboring DuPage and Kane Counties.  This would alleviate the need for a court filed stuffed with paper filings.

Assuming that she was taking documents home to shred, it is unclear what her motivation was.  Was she simply destroying documents that were file duplicates to save herself extra filing work?  Was she taking home depositions to read and destroying them to cover her tracks?  Did her actions affect any litigants?  Or, what I am sure is everyone’s worst nightmare, was she using the information in the documents for her own personal gain?  We don’t know at this point, and she is presumed innocent of any charges pending trial.

Hopefully, there is an innocent explanation and Ms. Neibauer can be set free.

Chiefs CB Washington arrested for DUI in downstate Effingham County

People like to complain that Washington is messed up. Now, I know of one state trooper in Effingham County who agrees.

According to thexradio.com,

A NFL player was arrested in Effingham County Thursday.

Donald Washington is a 25-year-old defensive back for the Kansas City Chiefs. Washington was stopped by Illinois State Police on I-70 near Altamont at 2:42pm for speeding at 88mph. The trooper detected the odor of cannabis and found a small quantity of cannabis in the vehicle in a backpack in the trunk.

Washington, who played college football at Ohio State University, has been charged with DUI drugs, unlawful possession of 2.5 to 10 grams of cannabis, speeding and driving while his license is suspended. His bond was set at $20,000. He’s next due in court at 10am on August 23.

Assuming that Washington’s license was in fact suspended, his DUI can be charged as a felony DUI, punishable from probation up to three years in prison. The possession of cannabis is a mere Class B misdemeanor, punishable up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500.