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.

La Salle County Judge arrested for DUI

hettelJudge Joseph Hettel is sadly another judge in the news for allegedly failing to live up to the standards of his office.  Judge Hettel was the former State’s Attorney of La Salle County was arrested Monday for driving under the influence of alcohol.

From the Illinois Valley NewsTribune:

A La Salle County judge was charged Monday night with driving under the influence after reportedly striking a parked car. There were no injuries.

Circuit Judge Joseph P. Hettel, 46, of Ottawa was charged with DUI, improper lane use, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and using a handheld communication device while driving at 10:44 p.m. Monday in the 1800 block of La Salle Street, Ottawa police said in a report issued this morning.

Hettel, reached this morning at his home, declined comment but said he anticipated releasing a statement some time Wednesday.

Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr., who heads the judicial circuit that includes La Salle County, was not available before press time today. The chief judge’s office said this morning they were aware of the pending charges but were still gathering information and had no immediate comment.

The current La Salle County State’s Attorney indicates that he will likely seek to have a Special Prosecutor appointed due to Hettel’s association with his office.  It is probable that a Judge from another county will be assigned to hear the case as well, to avoid any conflicts of interest or appearance of impropriety.