Mark Grace sentenced to jail for second DUI in 15 months

gracecourtAccording to ESPN:

Former Arizona Diamondbacks television analyst Mark Grace has been sentenced to four months in jail under a work-release program.

The 48-year-old former first baseman with the Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs pleaded guilty Thursday to felony endangerment and misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol.

Grace was arrested last August in Scottsdale — his second drunken driving arrest in 15 months — and could have faced more than three years in prison. He had pleaded not guilty in October to four felony counts of aggravated DUI and was scheduled to go on trial March 19.

The Diamondbacks fired him as their analyst after the August arrest but later invited him to participate in a fantasy camp.

A Maricopa County Superior Court spokesman says the jail sentence begins Feb. 10. Grace must also serve two years of probation.

Last September I wrote that Grace was facing a minimum 4 months, and a maximum of 3.75 years, in prison for this offense, which occurred at a time when he was only permitted to drive with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID).  Guess what?  He driving a vehicle that didn’t have one.

The sentence has some people wondering if Grace got off soft because he is a celebrity.  Here’s part of an Arizona article:

Grace originally faced four felony counts, but as part of his plea deal, a judge sentenced him for one felony and a misdemeanor. The maximum he could have faced was more than 12 years in prison, instead the judge ordered four months in jail.

DUI attorney Scott Maasen isn’t on the case, but he said Grace’s attorneys negotiated a good deal.

“You know, it’s a pretty exceptional result,” Maasen said.

Especially with the State granting Grace’s work release.

“He gets to be released for up to about 12 hours a day. So in essence, he’s going to be sleeping at a county jail for the next four months,” said Maasen.

The Diamondbacks say during his jail time, Grace will continue coaching during spring training and working with the minor league team.

In a statement, staff said “He has a lot that he can teach our young players, both on and off the field, and he’s part of the D-backs family.”

What do you think?

Try to remember this before you drink and drive

The Aftermath (WSVN-TV)

The Aftermath (WSVN-TV)

Today, I represented a pair of clients who had been charged with DUI.  According to the breath tests, both were over twice the legal limit.  Luckily for them, they had not hurt or injured anyone or themselves.   And because it was their first offenses, I was able to resolve their cases without jail or license revocation.

But sometimes, drinking and driving doesn’t lead to such a neat resolution.  Sometimes it destroys lives.

And this story, about a young woman named Karlie Tomica, and the man she killed, Stefano Riccioletti, is as good of an example of how a night of partying can have repercussions that will be felt for decades and decades.

From the NY Daily News:

Karlie Tomica was arrested Tuesday morning after being pulled over by cops who had received a call around 6 a.m. that the reckless 20-year-old had hit a man outside a Miami Beach restaurant.

The man, a locally famous chef named Stefano Riccioletti, flew about 30 feet in the air following the impact of Tomica’s 2007 Dodge 4-door. Medical personnel pronounced him dead on the scene…

Jairo Fuentes, who witnessed the whole incident, followed Tomica, as she sped back to her apartment, and called 911.

“Someone just got hit by a car and the car kept going and the guy hit is laying on the concrete and is not moving,” Fuentes told the emergency operator.

“I’m actually just following a car that just hit a man on Collins Avenue. As far as I know, at this time, she must have killed him,” Fuentes continued, according to NBC Miami.

“The lady is really drunk, she just came out of the car,” he added. “She’s outside the car; she’s really drunk.”

Cops arrived soon after Tomica got to her home in the Mid-Beach neighborhood of Miami and took her into custody. At the time of her arrest, Tomica reportedly was slurring her speech, reeked of alcohol and wasn’t able to walk straight. She also refused a sobriety test.

Tomica was charged with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident but was released 8 hours later on $10,000 bond.

Ms. Tomica, who according to news reports is 20 years old (and therefore not legal to drink alcohol) liked to tweet.  On her twitter profile she called herself the “party princess” who was “living the dream.”  Her last tweet before this accident was on January 20th, when she tweeted “Good things are coming my way!!and I couldn’t be more happy” How wrong she was.

tomicaHer tweet before that was “God I love bartending” and in several other tweets she claimed to be drinking.  Again, she was underage.

The man she killed, Stefano Riccioletti, was a locally famous chef, who had worked at top restaurants in New York and Miami.  He was married and had three children, who will likely struggle to understand how it is that their lives could be so devastated by someone so young and foolish.

As a father and husband, I feel for Mr. Riccioletti and his family.  How unfair is it to have your life taken away in an instant by some complete stranger?

And as a human being, I feel sorry for Ms. Tomica.  She is 20 years old and was expecting an exciting and happy future.  And she could have had it, if only she had called a taxi instead.

So before you get behind the wheel when you know you shouldn’t, think of Karlie and Stefano.

CSI actor Carmine Giovinazzo arrested for DUI

carmineFrom E! Online:

Carmine Giovinazzo may play a cop on TV, but he’s run afoul of the law in real life.

The CSI: NY star was collared for a DUI in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Jan. 21.

Per the police report obtained by E! News, the 39-year-old Giovinazzo was behind the wheel of a white Jeep Wrangler with two other passengers when police responded to a call about an impaired driver. After observing him drifting across three lanes, a cruiser pulled him over.

Read the complaint

According to the arresting officer’s report, Carmine was “immediately apologetic” and told him the reason he’d been driving erratically was because he was lost and fiddling with the GPS. However, after the officer noted the smell of alcohol, Giovinazzo’s watery bloodshot eyes, and his slurred speech, the thesp copped to having downed one or two scotches after having just come with his friends from the W Hotel.

He was given a field sobriety test and a Breathalyzer, blowing a 0.119 percent, well above the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent. Giovinazzo was subsequently taken into custody for driving under the influence and booked into a nearby jail after having his blood drawn. The Jeep, which belonged to his pal, was also impounded.

The arresting officer noted in the report that the actor, who plays Detective Danny Messer on the hit CBS police drama, complied with all his requests and “thanked me many times for not treating him like a criminal and showing him respect.””Carmine was very polite and cooperative with me throughout the investigation,” wrote the officer.

Updates: TV Actor Gibson and Croc’s Founder plead guilty

Two notable DUI cases have been recently resolved:

–  actor Thomas Gibson, of “Criminal Minds,” “Dharma & Greg” and “Eyes Wide Shut” plead “no contest” to a reduced charge of alcohol-related reckless driving.  He was placed on 36 months probation, required to do undergo alcohol treatment, and pay fines.

– Crocs co-founder George Boedecker, who had a memorable DUI in which he claimed that “his girlfriend Taylor Swift” had been driving his Porsche, plead guilty to DUI with a BAC in excess of 0.20, and received a sentence of 30 days home confinement, 96 hours of community service, alcohol treatment, and fines.

Governor Quinn signs law allowing undocumented persons to get driver’s licenses

Well, to use the Vice President’s expression, this is a BFD.

In my almost 20 years of practice, I have seen some major changes to Illinois traffic laws, such as making it a crime (instead of a traffic offense) to drive without insurance, without a license, or speed more than 25 miles over the limit (coming this summer to a highway near you!); lowering the “legal limit” for DUIs, and eliminating multiple supervisions for DUIs.  But allowing undocumented persons to get a driver’s license is definitely the biggest.

And I had not heard one word about this being discussed until after the days after the November presidential election, when the consensus opinion of the chattering classes became that Republicans lost in large part because they were losing immigrant voters, particularly Hispanics.  Immediately after that, Illinois Republicans joined Democrats to pass this bill, and now it is law.

According to the Chicago Tribune:

Called temporary visitor driver’s licenses, the permits will vary from traditional licenses several ways. Most noticeably, they will be visually different, with a blue background as opposed to [a] red one.

The cards will be marked “not valid for identification” and cannot be used for things like boarding airplanes, voting or purchasing a gun. The licenses will only be valid for three years instead of four years, like traditional licenses. After three years, the individual would have to go through the process again.

To qualify for a license, an applicant must prove they have lived in Illinois for a least a year and show that they are ineligible for a Social Security card. Documents that will be accepted include a copy of a lease, utility bills and a valid passport or consular identification card.

Drivers must also pass vision, written and road tests and pay a $30 fee. In order for the license to remain valid, a driver also will be required to get insurance. If a person with a temporary visitor’s license is caught driving without insurance, they will be ticketed for both driving without insurance as well as driving without a license.

People who want to apply for the licenses must first make an appointment at one of eight designated facilities across the state. Licenses will not be issued on the spot but only after the state can verify application information and perform a facial recognition search against other databases.

The permits will not be available for 10 months, which was requested by Secretary of State Jesse White in order to have adequate time to prepare for implementation of the new law.

Attorney in midst of high profile trial gets DUI; but was it a set-up?

What a bizarre story. In what is a high-profile trial locally in Tampa, a “shock jock” named M.J. Schnitts is suing another jock who calls himself “Bubba the Love Sponge” Clem for libel. In the midst of the trial, Schnitts’ lawyer, Charles Phil Campbell was arrested for a DUI — his second offense within five years. The news clip above has the story of the arrest.

When I first saw this story, I was stunned that an attorney in the midst of a trial could be so reckless, and I began thinking of writing a few blog posts just on that subject. I also was thinking about writing about the reaction of the defense attorney, who went public with his displeasure that the judge was suspending the trial for one day immediately after the arrest — because now his opponent was getting additional time to rest and prepare his case.

But then I saw the follow-up. Now Schnitts’ legal team is seeking a mistrial, claiming that Campbell was set up by opposing counsel and/or his paralegal — it turns out that Campbell was drinking with his opponent’s young female paralegal, she asked him to drive her home in her car (because she was too drunk), and after the arrest, she ended up in possession of his briefcase. Oh, and by the way, why was Campbell stopped? One of Bubba’s attorney’s called a relative of his on the local DUI task force with a tip that Campbell was intoxicated and was about to leave the bar. In response to the Motion for a Mistrial, Bubba the Love Sponge’s defense team responded that the accusation of that they set-up Campbell was outrageous and they demanded a retraction; yet their paralegal claimed her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, which makes me wonder what she was trying to hide. The judge is now considering the motion.

Here is the local news story about this development:

Note:  I have just updated this post with new information provided to me by Tampa, FL attorney Matthew Dolman.  Here is a link to another news story, suggesting that the attorneys involved may be facing professional discipline for their conduct.

I will be writing more about this throughout the week.

How to get a felony DUI and break off your engagement in one fell swoop

From KTLA5 in California:

PHELAN, Calif. (KTLA) — A naked woman was arrested Thursday after hitting her equally naked fiance with his car.

It happened around 12:40 a.m. on Phelan Road.

According to the CHP, the couple were in the parked car when Alberto Giovanni Bravo got out and walked in front of the vehicle.

His unidentified female companion then jumped into the driver’s seat and drove forward, striking Bravo.

After hitting Bravo, the car veered across the road, bounced off a chain-link fence and 2 trees before finally stopping, according to the Daily Press.

Bravo was airlifted to Antelope Valley Hospital in serious condition.

The woman, his fiancée, was arrested for felony DUI.

“Part of this investigation is of a sensitive nature and still under investigation,” the CHP told the Daily Press.

“Until that portion of the investigation is cleared up, we will be holding off on releasing the name.”

I am wondering what other charges will be filed, besides felony DUI.  Attempted manslaughter or murder?  Aggravated battery? Public nudity?  Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle?
I suspect this will end the engagement, but then again, I’ve seen crazier things.

Is this what you would wear to your sixth DUI?

bryanwendlerThis is the booking photo of Bryan Wendler, taken after his sixth DUI arrest. Unfortunate choice, don’t you think?

According to the police reports on The Smoking Gun’s website, a Marathon County Sheriff was dispatched to a call of a person passed out behind the wheel, with music blaring. When the Sheriff arrived, he found Wendler passed out, with the music still blaring, parked in the middle of the roadway. After field sobriety testing, Wendler blew 0.19 on the portable breath test and was taken to a hospital for a blood draw. Wendler has been charged with OWI, driving while revoked as well as violation of probation.

Cowboys’ NT Ratliff arrested for DUI

ratliffmugBarely a month after Dallas Cowboy Jerry Brown, Jr. was killed in an alleged drunk driving crash caused by fellow teammate Josh Brent, another Cowboys nose tackle has been arrested for DUI, this time after crashing into an 18 wheeler.

From the NBC-Dallas website:

Defense lineman Jay Ratliff was arrested after a collision with an 18-wheeler in the 2800 block of East Highway 114.

A Grapevine police officer told NBC 5 that Ratliff did not even realize he had been in a wreck when officers questioned him at the crash scene.

Police said Ratliff refused sobriety tests at the scene and was arrested. Police obtained a search warrant, and he was taken to a hospital for a mandatory blood draw.

The results of the test are pending.

Ratliff was released on $500 bail on Tuesday morning.

The driver of the 18-wheeler was not injured, Grapevine police said. Ratliff complained of minor injuries but refused medical treatment, police said.

The Dallas Cowboys declined to comment on Ratliff’s arrest.

Ratliff is the second Cowboy to be arrested in a drunken-driving crash since December. Josh Brent, who replaced Ratliff on the field because of an injury, was arrested Dec. 8 on suspicion of intoxication manslaughter in a one-car crash that killed Cowboys practice-squad member Jerry Brown Jr.

Ratliff, a four time Pro Bowler, ironically plays the same position as Josh Brown.

Update on the Cook County Court’s cell phone ban

The ban on camera cell phones in all Cook County Courthouses (except the Daley Center) was supposed to go into effect last Monday.  However, Chief Judge Timothy Evans flinched at the last moment and instead instituted a three-month “grace period” — during which time people will get warnings and there will be stricter enforcement prohibiting phones in the courtroom — before implementing the ban in April.

Today, Eric Zorn has a piece in the Chicago Tribune about the foolishness of the ban (which was expanded to include laptops, tablets and any other electronic device) — and, as you can see from my previous blog post, I am in 100% agreement with him.  Mr. Zorn wrote the piece after Chief Judge Evans spoke with the Tribune to discuss the controversial move. Not surprisingly, it turns out that the ban was put into effect without any actual evidence of wrongdoing — Evans could not point to a single person who was caught using a cell phone in a courthouse for an improper purpose.  He also could not point out to any intermediate measures that the County has tried before instituting an outright ban.  And, it sounds like he was not informed about how a ban on these devices would affect the general public.

Because of the Tribune’s new paywall, I am going to cut and paste a key sections of  Zorn’s opinion piece, so you can read the key part:

In a conversation Thursday, Evans elaborated. Though without naming specific trials or cases in which portable electronics have been a problem, he said judges and sheriff’s deputies have told him it’s become increasingly common for those affiliated with gangs to use mobile technology to intimidate witnesses and other participants in trials. And that sheriff’s deputies report they’re unable to control the problem.

I was hoping for actual horror stories and statistics rather than hypotheticals and unconfirmed anecdotes. But assuming this has become a significant problem, I asked Evans what intermediate steps have the courts taken to crack down on it — short of a ban.

For instance, have they tried confiscating all electronic devices that become visible in a courtroom viewing gallery, then imposing heavy fines on violators?

Evans said he wasn’t sure, but that those who use recording equipment in a courtroom without permission are subject to prosecution for contempt of court.

How often has Cook County filed such charges related to cellphone usage?

Again, Evans said he wasn’t sure but that it was “a good question.”

It is. Because the proposed ban — even though it contains more than a dozen exemptions for reporters, jurors, attorneys, those with special medical needs and others and will not be strictly enforced at the Daley Center — stands to be massively disruptive, particularly for those who take public transportation to courthouses.

Available storage lockers in lobbies are few, not large enough for bigger computing devices, and reportedly are frequently broken. Security lines are already long and many people will end up paying the price for the alleged transgressions of the few.

Seriously, if there is a problem with cell phone cameras in felony courtrooms, I see no reason why the deputy sheriffs who are assigned to those rooms can’t handle it.

Typically, a felony room has multiple sheriffs present to handle the lock-up and courtroom.  Others sheriffs are assigned to walk through the corridors.  These men and women are well aware when gang members are in court and when to expect trouble.  They are capable of enforcing a ban on photography in the courthouse and preventing witness intimidation.

I hate saying this, because I have been a big fan of Chief Judge Evans for many years.  Overall, I think he has done a terrific job.  But this ban was misguided, based on misinformation, and probably was instigated by felony judges, most of whom are older and don’t seem especially comfortable with technology.  Instead of fearfully trying to hold back progress, the courts should instead be using technology to help the public.  The courthouse in Lake County, IL has wi-fi.  Why not Cook County?  DuPage County has a website where the public can get information of court dates, and another site where attorneys can look through entire scanned court files.  In Cook County, we need carbon paper to make duplicate copies of orders and the contents of court files are often misplaced.

Why is Cook County pining for the 1980s in the year 2013?