Illinois is taking its first steps towards marijuana legalization

Last month, I posted about a bill pending in the state legislature that would lessen the penalties for marijuana possession, including making possession of 10 grams or less a fine only violation.

Today, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that “Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey said he will introduce a resolution at the May 21 County Board meeting asking the General Assembly to put together…a task force to pursue legalizing and regulating the drug in Illinois.”

The article goes to state:

Fritchey and Mitchell were joined by Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, and North Side Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy at a news conference calling for the task force, which would be charged with studying the issue and ultimately introducing legislation to legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana.

The state should “make sure that we focus on who truly needs to be in our jails and prisons, and get the people that make mistakes or have a substance abuse problem into the right kind of environment,” Zalewski said.

Top NFL draft prospect arrested for DUI, but bigger question is why he was arrested in the first place

Bradley Roby is projected as a first round pick in next month’s NFL draft.  Roby, a cornerback from Ohio State, was arrested on April 20th, after officers claim that he was discovered passed out behind the wheel of a car.  They claim that it took several attempts to wake him, and when they did, he failed field sobriety tests.

I should point out that a person can be graded as having “failed” field sobriety tests when any objective person looking at the tests would think the person had passed with flying colors.  More importantly, a person can “fail” these tests for reasons besides being intoxicated.  For example, being sleepy.

robybacRoby has since responded with a tweet stating that “I was not drunk” and attaching a picture of his breath test result.  The result was 0.0008 — which is nearly zero alcohol in his system.

Such a ridiculously low BAC raises questions about the judgment of the arresting police officer, who was way off the mark.  It also raises questions about the accuracy of field sobriety tests.

Hopefully, this miscarriage of justice will not affect Roby’s standing in the draft.


Florida State Rep arrested for DUI while on 2 am Taco Bell run

daneeagleFlorida State Rep. Dane Eagle claims to stand for responsibility.  But sometimes, rules are made to broken, especially when its time for that fourthmeal.


Republican Rep. Dane Eagle, of Cape Coral, was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence early Monday morning in Tallahassee.

Eagle ran a red light on West Tennessee and Dewey streets about 2 a.m. causing Tallahassee Police officers to pull him over in the parking lot of the Target Copy, court documents said.

TPD officers first spotted Eagle’s SUV pulling out of the Taco Bell on West Tennessee Street and start traveling west. After pulling a U-turn, he started heading east in the outside lane. He nearly hit a curb outside of the Papa John’s restaurant and then veered and hit a curb near Brevard Street, court documents said.

Officers said they smelled the strong odor of alcohol coming from his breath and his eyes were bloodshot and watery. When asked about running the red light, Eagle told officers he thought it was yellow.

Eagle told police he did not drink any alcohol that night but stumbled when getting out of his vehicle, according to court documents. Eagle told officers the vehicle smelled like alcohol because he had friends in the car who had been out at a bar earlier, court documents said.

He refused to submit to a field sobriety test and said he was “good to get home,” court documents said.

He was then taken to the Leon County Jail.

In memoriam: Cook County Judge Richard Elrod

elrodI am sorry to pass along the news that longtime Cook County Judge Richard Elrod has passed away.  Judge Elrod was a trial judge in the Law Division.  Over the years, I had been assigned to Judge Elrod’s courtroom several times, either for trial or pre-trial settlement.  He was always fair and impartial, and no one knew the law better than him.

Prior to being appointed to the bench, Judge Elrod was the Cook County Sheriff, and before that, an assistant corporation counsel.  While working as a corporation counsel, he was seriously injured during the “Days of Rage” in 1969.

You can read more about him in the Chicago Tribune’s obituary here.

Donovan McNabb arrested for DUI in AZ in December, only now becoming public

mcnabbToday, various sources have reported that former Mt. Carmel and NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb was arrested last December for DUI in Arizona.  Apparently, he agreed to a plea deal that required that he spend one night in jail.  He reported for jail last night, and today the Maricopa County Sheriff, Joseph Arpaio, released his booking picture.  The release of the photo resulted in the news of the arrest to become public.

According to TMZ:

According to the police report, obtained by TMZ Sports, McNabb was pulled over in Maricopa County on December 15, 2013 for doing 81 in a 65 in his 2010 Grey Landrover at 3:08 AM.  During the stop, cops determined McNabb was under the influence and arrested him for DUI.

Law enforcement tells us … McNabb struck a plea deal with prosecutors in which he plead guilty to DUI on March 27 and in exchange he was ordered to serve 1 day in jail.

On the arrest report, McNabb is listed at 6’3″ and 245 lbs … in case you were wondering.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says McNabb was booked in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Detention facility on Wednesday April 16th, 2014 … and served 1 day in county jail.

Sheriff Arpaio issued a statement saying, “I have had other high profile athletes who have been incarcerated with no problems and this latest athlete follows that same pattern.”

Of course, there has been at least one other high profile athlete with a Chicago tie who spent time in Sheriff Arpaio’s jail — Mark Grace.

In the news: two teachers who didn’t learn not to drink and drive

In two separate incidents this week, Florida teachers were arrested for DUI.  Obviously neither had learned about the dangers of driving under the influence.

In the early hours Monday, 5th grad teacher Amy Jane Daniels was stopped by Naples police and charged with DUI.  When police searched her after her arrest, they discovered cocaine.

More disconcerting was Nancy Vaughn, who teaches high school, was arrested Tuesday morning by Lee County Sheriffs Police after they had received calls of a reckless driver.  She was stopped just after 7:00 am on her way to work.  She took two breath tests, each registering over three times the legal limit (0.258 and 0.273).

Catching up on DUI and other legal stories

drunkasshitI have been busy preparing for a jury trial, other cases plus doing my tax returns, and have been remiss in posting stories (although you can always check my twitter feed for interesting links).  Here are some of the top stories that I have seen recently:

LaSalle County Judge arrested for DUI issues statement

Here is Judge Joseph Hettel’s statement, according to

“I have had the honor and good fortune of serving as circuit judge for the last seven years,” he said. “It is a position that I cherish and a responsibility that I take very seriously. As a judge, I have an ethical responsibility to respect and comply with the law and to conduct myself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence.

‘My arrest on Money night calls into question my compliance with those ethical obligations. As required under the circumstance, I have contacted the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board and expect that they will begin an investigation.

“I sincerely apologize to the citizens of our judicial circuit, my colleagues on the bench, the lawyers who appear before me, my friends and supporters and, in particular, my family.

“I intend to comment further when my traffic case has concluded. Thank you.”

Judge Hettel will continue to hear civil cases while this matter is pending.  However, he has been removed from his rotation along with his fellow judges in Sunday and Holiday bond court, which would include DUI cases.

Bill would let drivers keep their license cards after traffic stops

The Illinois Senate is considering a bill which would allow officers to issue I bonds to motorists for traffic infractions instead of confiscating their license until their case has been resolved in court.

From the Daily Herald:

State Sen. Michael Noland, an Elgin Democrat, wants to change the law so Illinois residents can keep their licenses after minor traffic violations.

“For law-abiding citizens that made a wrong turn or were speeding a little bit more than they should, it will make life a whole lot easier,” Noland said.

State law requires people who get traffic tickets to post bond before driving away, so drivers trade their licenses for their freedom. The court gives back the license after the driver shows up in court or pays the fine…

Noland’s proposal, which he calls the “sign and drive” plan, replaces driver’s license confiscation with a written agreement the offender signs promising to show up in court or pay the fine on time, called an individual bond.

“He would provide you with the ticket,” Noland said. “You would sign your name promising to either pay your fine or appear in court. Then you would just drive right down the road.”…

Noland said his plan would make individual bonds the primary form of bond for a driver.

Courts would tell the secretary of state’s office if offenders failed to show up in court or pay fines. That office could suspend their licenses.

Former Republican state Sen. John Millner, a former Elmhurst police chief, said Noland’s plan “has merit” but could cause more paperwork for court officials when drivers skip their dates.

“There are a number of advantages and disadvantages in terms of giving up your driver’s license,” Millner said. “On one hand, it makes sure you show up in court. But it’s an inconvenience for the motorist and the officers.”

Noland said he doesn’t think taking the driver’s license is a good way to get people to show up in court, and some people will ignore their notice to appear in court no matter what the incentive.

“What we’re really getting at here is to stop inconveniencing people who are law-abiding citizens, who would gladly pay right away or appear in court if they want to contest,” Noland said. “But now they’re going without their driver’s license that’s very important.”

His proposal has been approved by an Illinois Senate committee and awaits a vote by the full Senate.

In Memoriam: Deputy Sheriff Otto Cesario

OttoCesarioI know that a lot of Cook County practitioners read this blog, so I wanted to share the sad news that longtime Cook County Deputy Sheriff Otto Cesario (father of Judge Cheryl Cesario) passed away Monday.  It is hard to believe that he was 97 years old, and still at work.  He looked at least 30 years younger.

There will be a visitation tomorrow, Thursday, April 3, 2014 from 3:00 to 9:00 pm at the Donnellan Family Funeral Home at 10045 Skokie Boulevard in Skokie.  The funeral mass will be Friday at St. Peters Church at 8116 Niles Center Road in Skokie.

My condolences to his family and fellow deputies.  He will be missed.