See how differently a Trooper behaves when he knows he is being recorded

I have written many times on this blog about why it is so important that citizens be allowed to video record police officers who are on duty.  This weekend, a video surfaced that shows once again why this fundamental right is so important — and also why Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez and the police unions tried so hard to keep this sort of activity a Class 1 felony.

In this video, a trucker does a gutsy thing — he honked at an Illinois State Trooper who he observed speeding while using a cell phone.  The Trooper was about to ticket the trucker for some made up offense when he was informed that the encounter was being videotaped.  After stepping away and thinking about it, the Trooper comes back and tries to soft-pedal his way into making this go away instead of becoming a viral video.

One of the unusual ways drunk driving can harm your health: driving over yourself

Here is an unusual story from North Dakota, courtesy of KXNET.com:

A Minot man was charged with DUI along with other charges this weekend after falling out of a vehicle he was driving and subsequently running over himself with it.

30-year-old Robert Alan Pullar is charged with DUI, driving with a suspended licence, and refusal to submit to a chemical test.

The incident happened early Saturday morning.

Police say Pullar was driving on Hiawatha Street near 15 1/2 Ave SE when he fell out onto the street.

Police say his vehicle continued forward, striking him.

He was able to get back in the vehicle and drive away, but officers tracked him down later and made the arrest.

He was treated for injuries at Trinity Hospital in Minot then transported to the Ward County Jail.

Warning: Eating the evidence might subject you to more charges

tavishHere is a story from Florida (where else), about a woman who couldn’t stop herself even after she was already arrested for DUI after being involved in two crashes and driving the wrong way on a highway.  From WTSP.com:

Tavish Smith might be the happiest and friendliest arrestee, but the night she arrested was no laughing matter.

After crashing her truck, driving down the wrong way of a highway she crashed again.

Police surveillance showed Smith wiggling out of her handcuffs, reaching into the front seat and stealing the sandwich bag the trooper found in her car.

“Good ole marijuana, right there in the passenger’s seat,” the trooper said. “My car’s smelling like the stuff you had in your seat.”

When she couldn’t get back into her handcuff, that’s when she’s busted.

“Do you have your handcuffs in front already?” The trooper asked. “Did you slip out?”

Smith said no.

“I could have sworn I just saw you scratch your nose,” the trooper said.

“Oh yeah I did,” Smith said.

“Stay in your handcuffs please,” the trooper said. “I hope that’s not why this marijuana bag was open over here. “Bags of weed just don’t go missing inside a police car.”

Her misdemeanor charges for minor hit-and-run, DUI and drug possession were bumped up to a felony for eating the evidence.

Children injured after DUI Mom makes them ride on the hood

From the Huffington Post:

Four children were injured — one seriously — when an allegedly intoxicated mother in Crowley, Texas drove with the kids on the trunk of her Chevy Malibu, police said.

Kisha Young, 38, was charged with DUI Tuesday night after kids aged 8 to 14 fell from the car as Young drove them home from a neighborhood pool. Another mom was in the passenger seat and two other unharmed children rode outside of the Malibu.

The kids were perched on the back of the car, because Young didn’t want their wet bathing suits to mess up the interior, The Smoking Gun reports.

When Young took a corner too fast, the children slipped from the trunk and were flung into the road.

Witnesses said she didn’t seem to notice what had happened until she got to the end of the block. Then she turned around and drove back to the accident site, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reports.

Four of the kids were injured seriously enough to require treatment at a local hospital. Three have already been released, but the 12-year-old daughter of the other mom riding is still being treated for a serious head injury at Cook’s Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, according to WFAA TV…

Police say Young was the one who called 911. Officers gave her a field sobriety test which she allegedly failed. Young was then arrested for intoxication assault with a vehicle.

She was later charged with two other felonies, injury to child and driving while intoxicated with a child under the age of 15.

Young is currently in the Crowley Jail in lieu of $110,000 bail. The girl’s mother may also face charges, authorities said.

Governor signs bill prohibiting police departments from setting quotas for traffic tickets

In the wake of the scandalous news that a Des Plaines Police Commander lied about DUI arrests in order to obtain federal grant money, and that Will County had a quota system, also to get federal money, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law prohibiting police departments from setting quotas for tickets.

From the Chicago Tribune:

“Law enforcement officers should have discretion on when and where to issue traffic citations and not be forced to ticket motorists to satisfy a quota system,” the governor said in a news release. “This new law will improve safety and working conditions for police officers and prevent motorists from facing unnecessary anxiety when they encounter a police vehicle.”

The law prevents police departments from assigning an officer a specific number of citations to issue in a given period of time and also stops agencies from comparing officers based on how many tickets they write.

The measure passed both chambers of the General Assembly with overwhelming majorities, earning approval in the House with 106 votes in favor and nine against. Only one senator voted against the measure, with 57 voting for its passage.

State Rep. Jay Hoffman sponsored the bill in the House and, in Quinn’s news release, touted the law as a way to better deploy officers and improve relations between police and the public.

“Arbitrary quotas on the number of tickets that have to be issued by police officers undermines the public trust in the police departments’ priorities,” said Hoffman, a Democrat from suburban St. Louis. “By eliminating these quotas, we can restore that trust and ensure that police officers are free to do their job protecting the public.”

Daley Center Lobby to undergo $2 million renovation to upgrade security

Starting June 23rd, a major renovation will begin to the lobby of the Daley Center.  Bullet-proof glass for the public and turnstiles for attorneys and judges that will require new ID cards will be installed.

From the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin:

For the first week of construction, the east lobby of the building near Dearborn Street will close, allowing access only on the west side. From June 23 through June 30, the west lobby along Clark Street closes, and the east lobby reopens.

The renovations are being funded through a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant.

When the dust clears July 1, building patrons can expect to see a new entry and exit scheme.

Gone will be the retractable-belt stanchions at each corner of the lobby. They’ll be replaced by bulletproof glass barriers.

The security lines and metal detectors will remain in the same spots, but identification-carrying judges and attorneys won’t be allowed to walk around the side of the security equipment. Instead, they will be directed to access the elevators only through the turnstiles on the southern side of each lobby.

Users will tap new ID cards on a sensor to open the turnstiles, which will be supervised by sheriff’s deputies.

“They’ll scan them, their picture will pop up and then they’ll go through,” said Benjamin Breit, a spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart.

Dart’s office plans to issue the new cards to authorized people once the turnstiles are installed.

How does AA stack up in comparison to therapy?

Pretty well, according to this article.

From the Washington Post Wonkblog:

A watershed in scientist’s views of the value of AA occurred in the 1990s with Project MATCH, the largest study of alcohol dependence treatment ever undertaken.   Two well-validated professionally-developed psychotherapies were evaluated head to head against “twelve-step facilitation counselling.”  This counselling approach adapted AA ideas and goals into a 3-month long psychotherapist-delivered outpatient treatment protocol and also strongly encouraged involvement in community-based AA groups.

AA skeptics were confident that by putting AA up against the best professional psychotherapies in a highly rigorous study, Project MATCH would prove beyond doubt that the 12-steps were mumbo jumbo.  The skeptics were humbled: Twelve-step facilitation was as effective as the best psychotherapies professionals had developed.

Here is the best part:  Alcoholics Anonymous is free, and there are meetings near you, at all hours of the day.  Here is a link to find a meeting in the Chicago area.

Kansas City Chiefs Cornerback Sean Smith charged with DUI after wreck

seansmithYou would think that if someone earns six million dollars a year, he could afford to spend twenty bucks for a taxi.  Apparently this is not the case in the NFL.

From KCTV5.com:

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith is in trouble with the law after an incident that happened in the wee hours of the morning Monday.

Kansas City police say they were patrolling the area of 10th Street and Grand Boulevard about 12:30 a.m. Monday when they saw a driver try to turn left at 12th Street and Grand Boulevard and lose control.

Their report said the driver lost control and struck a light post at the intersection.

The driver, later identified as Smith, appeared confused and began mumbling statements that the officer did not understand. The police report said that the officer asked Smith if he needed medical attention, but he said he did not want to be seen by EMS.

Smith was arrested and taken to police headquarters where he was booked on three citations: operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or more, driving a vehicle in a careless manner by attempting to make a left turn at an intersection and failing to slow down, causing the vehicle to run into a light pole, and no insurance.

Police said Smith’s vehicle had major front end and undercarriage damage. The light pole was hit with such force that it was broken and found on the sidewalk.

Des Plaines Police Commander pleads guilty to falsifying DUI stats to get grant money

From the Chicago Tribune:

A former Des Plaines police commander accused of padding DUI arrest records to obtain federal grant money for the police department plead guilty to a lesser charge in federal court today.

Timothy Veit, 57, faces a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison after entering a guilty plea to a misdemeanor of violating Title 18 of the U.S. Code involving embezzlement and theft of public money.

The Mount Prospect resident initially was charged with one felony count of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine…

From 2009 to 2012, Veit falsely inflated DUI arrest numbers by 122, and provided false blood-alcohol content levels for those arrests, according to the written plea agreement.

“(Veit) did so with the understanding that the true number of DUI arrests would not meet the performance objectives of the STEP enforcement campaigns and, if the number of arrests were not inflated, Des Plaines would not have qualified for STEP grants,” authorities said in the plea agreement.

His actions caused the northwest suburban police department to receive nearly $184,000 in Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program grants funded by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and administered by the state Department of Transportation, federal authorities said.

I’ve written about this before.  I am not convinced that this will be the end of the investigation.

Carly Rousso’s attorney will seek probation for his client. Will she get it?

According to news reports, Carly Rousso’s attorney will seek probation for his client.

Under Illinois law, a person who is found guilty of an aggravated DUI resulting in the death of one person shall receive anywhere from three to fourteen years “unless the court determines that extraordinary circumstances exist and require probation” 625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(2)(G).

What “extraordinary circumstances” would require probation?  The statute does not give us an answer, and the few court opinions dealing with the issue have not helped to clarify.  If anything, the courts indicate that the wording of the statute was designed to indicate that while prison is the legislature’s the preferred outcome in a DUI causing a death, it wanted to give judges the discretion to be lenient when the interests of justice so demanded.  See, People v. Winningham and People v. Vasquez.  A good hypothetical example might be when the drunk driver was seriously injured as a result of the collision, or the victim was a close relation or the victim’s family was in favor of probation.

Obviously, Douglas Zeit, Rousso’s attorney, was hoping to avoid having to deal with this issue when he tried in vain to have his client plead guilty to reckless homicide in return for the State’s Attorney agreeing to dismiss the aggravated DUI charge.  When that didn’t happen, Rousso still plead guilty to reckless homicide, which is probationable, but went to trial on the aggravated DUI case.  The defense hinged on the issue of whether the cleaning fumes that Ms. Rousso was “huffing” prior to the fatal accident was a substance that was a substance that was covered by Illinois’ DUI statutes.  Although they lost on this issue, Judge Booras indicated that he felt that it was quite possible that there might be a different result on appeal.

Will Mr. Zeit be able to convice Judge Booras that Rousso’s case involves extraordinary circumstances sufficient to support probation?  I would assume that Mr. Zeit will argue that Rousso’s lack of any other arrest, her youth, her subsequent substance abuse treatment, her successful period of a year and a half of pre-trial services (which almost certainly has required weekly urinalysis), her regret for this incident and the settlement of victim’s family’s wrongful death claim are all “extra-ordinary circumstances.”  Possibly Mr. Zeit will also argue that the law was vague about the “huffing” chemicals, and that the conviction may be overturned on appeal.

Personally, I feel that these factors are not extra-ordinary enough to result in probation, even if they are mitigating factors that may help Rousso get a sentence closer to three years as opposed to fourteen.  My best guess is a sentence somewhere in the range of four to seven years, although I would not be surprised if she received as much as ten years.

However, Judge Booras’ decision to allow Rousso to remain on bond pending sentencing, along with his comments indicating that he felt that Zeit had made a strong argument as to whether the huffing chemicals fell under the DUI statute, make me wonder whether the Judge is leaning towards probation.

That is the way it is with legal proceedings.  Even experienced litigators can only make an educated guess about what will happen in court. That is why so many cases are resolved through a settlement or plea negotiation — so that the parties can avoid the uncertainty that occurs when you are waiting for a judge or jury to decide.