So-called “Fifth Chance” for repeat DUI offenders getting pushback from the get tough crowd

Since the Governor signed into law the Illinois Legislature’s bill which would allow restricted driving permits for people who have had four DUI convictions, there has been some after-the-fact blowback.  First, the Chicago Sun-Times, whose editorial board endorsed the legislation, devoted a front cover story designed to scare readers about the “5,085” repeat DUI offenders who would be back on the road.

Then today, I saw this blog post from a personal injury law firm.

Here was my response on their facebook page:

The law does not allow people to drive drunk. It would allow these individuals to drive only on a restricted driving permit while using a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device which would prevent them from driving drunk. The permit would restrict the days and hours that they can drive and the reasons for which they could drive, typically for work and to attend support group meetings. These permits would only be allowed if the person has been through treatment, and has been abstinent for at least three years and been attending support group meetings. Over the years, I have heard from many people who committed multiple DUIs when they were much younger, and now, decades later, after they have reformed themselves and were trying to earn a living to support themselves and their family, were denied even an opportunity to have a hearing to show that they had made significant changes to their lives. All this law does is give them that chance. To say otherwise is give up on them, and encourage them to drive illegally, and take away any incentive for them to undergo treatment, maintain sobriety and attend a support group.

Ex-Falcon Jamal Anderson arrested for DUI for the third time in three years

jamalIf former running back Jamal Anderson’s name seems familiar, it might be because he was the star of the Atlanta Falcon’s team that went to the Super Bowl.  Or it could be from reading my blog.  I have blogged about his previous arrests here, here and here.  The first DUI was reduced to reckless driving, and the second is still pending.

Sadly, he was arrested again.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, story by Alexis Stevens:

Three days after his arrest on a DUI charge in one metro county, a popular former Atlanta Falcon entered a not guilty plea for an alleged DUI in a neighboring county.

Jamal Sharif Anderson, 42, was arrested early Sunday on Friendship Road in Hall County, according to the Sheriff’s Office. It was Anderson’s second arrest in 10 months for alleged DUI. He was also charged with failure to maintain lane and later released on $5,830 bond, a spokesman for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office said.

On Wednesday, Anderson was arraigned in a Gwinnett County courtroom on his DUI charge from a November arrest, an assistant solicitor said. Anderson appeared in court without an attorney. His previous attorney withdrew from the case for unknown reasons. Anderson told the judge he planned to hire a new lawyer.

Drafted by the team in 1994, Anderson played eight seasons wearing No. 32 before a knee injury ended his career. But it may be his “Dirty Bird” dance that fans remember the most.

Anderson has also made headlines for drunken driving arrests since his playing days ended.

In November, Anderson was passed out behind the wheel of his Cadillac Escalade in the travel lanes on I-85 when an off-duty police officer asked him to move onto the shoulder, according to a report released by the Georgia State Patrol.

Anderson admitted to having three beers but declined to submit to field sobriety tests, including a breath test, the GSP said. He was arrested and charged with DUI and improper stopping in the roadway and booked into the Gwinnett County Jail.

Anderson previously faced a drunken driving charge after being arrested by DeKalb police in June 2012. In December of that year, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation and ordered to pay a $700 fine. He was also ordered to perform 64 hours of community service, complete a defensive driving program and attend a drunken driving impact panel.

Tribune story sheds light on Berwyn’s unconstitutional DUI roadblocks

Thanks to our constitutional protections, drivers are supposed to be free from being stopped by the police unless there is either some articulable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot, or that there is an outstanding warrant for a person in the vehicle, or that the police, in their capacity as “community caretakers” see a valid reason to make an inquiry, for example, about the state of a person’s health.

However, our courts have created a constitutional exception which allows police to conduct roadblocks, but this police power has been limited by certain restrictions.  First purpose of the roadblock must outweigh the intrusion on motorists.  In addition, other factors include (a) whether the decision to establish the roadblock and its site was made by supervisory-level personnel; (b) whether the stops were made in a pre-established, systematic fashion (for example, stopping every fifth car); (c) there must be written guidelines on the operation of the roadblock; (d) it must be clear to motorists that this is an official police operation; and (e) there must be advance publicity to warn the public.

Yet, in today’s Chicago Tribune, there is a story by Angela Caputo showing that the Berwyn Police department which reveals that stops conducted in that City were not made in a pre-established, systematic fashion as required by law.

From the Tribune:

Police officials had ratcheted up the pressure on officers to fill a ticket quota, and a sworn statement by a Berwyn police official and obtained by the Tribune shows the department failed to follow federal guidelines in the stops, enabling police to make contact with more drivers than they might have otherwise.

The guidelines were created decades ago to give officers clear parameters for how to operate the stops in an effort to protect drivers from being profiled. The rules require departments to draft a protocol for randomly stopping drivers, and officers typically stop every third or fifth car to check for a valid driver’s license, insurance card and equipment violations. Some drivers are pulled into a secondary screening area, and their names are often run through the secretary of state’s records.

On June 28, 2014, a traffic light was reset to slow drivers as they passed through the single lane bounded by cones.As Berwyn officers steered select drivers into the parking lot of a Midas Muffler shop, a secondary checkpoint where tickets were handed out, deciding whose driving record to run or which car would be scrutinized for additional violations. “Multiple citations were written and some arrests were made,” according to the police report.

Berwyn police Chief Jim Ritz defended how his department handled that checkpoint and said they conducted others in the same manner although he did not immediately have specifics on those. He said his department’s “softer version” of roadside checks is sanctioned by the state.

“It shows that we’re out there,” Ritz said, “making the streets safer for people to drive on.”

Checks like the one in Berwyn that impede traffic do not follow IDOT protocol, agency spokesman Guy Tridgell said.

Berwyn is a mid-size near west suburb of about 57,000 people, yet it issued the third-most citations of any municipality in Illinois during the 2014 grant year through DUI patrols at night, behind only Chicago and Calumet City. The patrols included both roadside checks and other special enforcement and netted more than 1,700 citations. Less than 1 percent led to DUI arrests, the primary goal of the campaign, an analysis of state records shows.

It’s been 50 years since the U.S. Supreme Court signed off on sobriety checkpoints, yet they remain a thorny civil liberties issue.

“It’s very important that there is a criteria for selecting cars that are going to be checked,” said Adam Schwartz, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “It’s unconstitutional to have officers picking and choosing who they want to stop.”

When cars were diverted and the traffic signal was changed, experts say, it had all of the makings of a checkpoint. High ranking officers renamed the patrol a “flexible” roadside check, Police Department records show, but state transportation officials, who administer the federally funded enforcement, say the enforcement was not authorized.

DePaul University law professor Susan Bandes said the practice of setting up the stops without a neutral criteria — like randomly stopping every third or fifth car — amounted to an “open season” on drivers.

Ritz shrugged off the suggestion that the stops have been become ticket mills where drivers are primarily cited for relatively minor offenses. Correspondence obtained by the Tribune, however, illustrates the pressure within the department to issue citations if officers want to remain eligible for valuable overtime pay. In announcing the patrol last June, Sgt. Chris Anisi wrote in a departmentwide email: “Failure to write a sufficient number of tickets will affect the officer’s ability to work future grants.”

“Our goal,” he wrote, “is three tickets an hour.”

For every drunken driver arrested through the stops in Berwyn last year, an additional 145 tickets were handed out. More than half of the citations were for seat belt violations, a secondary goal of the enforcement. Statewide, nearly 90,000 similar violations were issued during DUI patrols and checkpoints in 2014. On average, 3 percent of the citations issued in Illinois amounted to a DUI arrest.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funded the nighttime patrols with nearly $6.3 million, largely to cover overtime costs. Federal officials haven’t attached ticket quotas to the grant money for DUI crackdowns, but state transportation officials said they have adopted quotas as a “performance measure” to ensure accountability.

Once police officers have full discretion as to who they are going to investigate, the roadblock devolves into random police stops without justification.  Police can choose to harass people because of their race, ethnic background, age, perceived income level, or just because they are bored.  In other words, it becomes a police state.

Read the full story here (behind the Tribune’s paywall):  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/ct-berwyn-dui-checkpoints-met-20150920-story.html

Judge LeRoy Martin, Jr. appointed as first African-American Presiding Judge of Cook County Criminal Division

From the Illinois State Bar Association website (story by Chris Bonjean):

Cook County Circuit Judge LeRoy K. Martin Jr. will be the next presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Cook County Circuit Court.

Chief Cook County Circuit Judge Timothy C. Evans announced the appointment today, which takes effect immediately. Martin succeeds Paul P. Biebel Jr., who retired in July.

“For the last 13 years, I have observed Judge LeRoy Martin emerge as a rising star in the judiciary,” Chief Judge Evans said.

“He has acquired a reputation for great legal knowledge, unquestioned integrity and a strong work ethic, and as one who always remembers what it was like to practice law and, therefore, treats members of the bar and their clients like he wanted to be treated during his 18 years as a practicing lawyer: Namely, listening closely to their presentations as submitted to him as a judge, applying the law to the facts as he ascertained them to be and always extending respect to those appearing before him.”

“I am convinced he will continue to move the Criminal Division forward as did his predecessor, Judge Biebel, with strong and innovative leadership, and that justice and fairness will always emanate from the Criminal Division under his leadership.”

A South Side native, Martin will serve alongside the 42 judges assigned to the Criminal Division, which last year disposed of 22,487 felony cases.

The Criminal Division hears most felony cases originating in Chicago in its courtrooms located in the Leighton Criminal Court Building at 26th Street and California Avenue. It also has courtrooms at the courthouses in Skokie and Bridgeview, which hear felony cases that originate in Chicago, as well.

“I am both humbled and honored that Chief Judge Evans would consider me for this position. And I look forward to serving with the hardworking judges of the Criminal Division,” Martin said.

Martin, 55, is the first African-American to serve as presiding judge of the Criminal Division.

The Judicial Performance Commission, established by Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and the Chicago Council of Lawyers, has previously said that Judge Martin “draws praise for a good legal ability and temperament. He is considered thoughtful, open to arguments and well-prepared.” The Chicago Bar Association has previously reported that Judge Martin “is dedicated, has an excellent demeanor and receives high marks from the attorneys who appear before him. Judge Martin has worked diligently in his Chancery assignment and is a credit to the bench.”

Martin graduated from DePaul University in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in history and from North Carolina Central University School of Law in 1984.

He began his legal career at Milton N. Blumenthal & Associates, where he represented plaintiffs in personal-injury cases.

He became a Cook County Assistant Public Defender in 1985, defending juveniles accused of felonies and misdemeanors. Martin also represented parents accused of child abuse and neglect in matters when the state filed actions to remove the children from the parents’ custody.

Martin entered private practice in 1987, forming the law firm of Martin & Duckworth. As part of that private practice, he represented defendants accused of felonies, including murder, in the Criminal Division, where he will now serve as presiding judge.

Martin formed a solo law practice in 1995, representing parties in both civil and criminal cases.

“I was very passionate about protecting the constitutional rights of anyone I represented. I’m such a believer in the Constitution and the idea that our system of justice is a model for every other justice system,” Martin said.

“I thought as an advocate, that it was my role to make sure the system would work for everyone – that truly justice would be blind.”
“But I acknowledge the importance of the entire process, not just that individuals accused of crimes have rights, but people who are victims have rights as well. They look to the court system for justice. And we hold people accountable for their decisions or their actions.”
In 2002, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Martin to a judicial vacancy in the Cook County Circuit Court. Voters elected him to the Cook County Circuit Court bench in 2004 and retained him in 2010.

In his judicial career, Martin has served in a variety of assignments.

He started in the First Municipal District in the Traffic Section. He occasionally presided over misdemeanor cases at branch court at 3150 W. Flournoy St., near West Harrison Street and South Kedzie Avenue.

From 2003 to 2007, Martin served in the Domestic Relations Division, where he heard matters involving expedited child support, divorce and civil orders of protection. During his time in the Domestic Relations Division, Martin served at the Markham Courthouse in the Sixth Municipal District.

Martin’s most recent assignment has been in the Chancery Division, which he joined in July 2007, where he handled class-action lawsuits and complex matters including stockholder derivative suits (for example, filed by company stockholders who allege that the company acted inappropriately, such as not properly splitting shares among stockholders); mandamus matters (such as an action against a government official to do something a plaintiff is alleging the government official is required to do); multimillion-dollar insurance disputes; and injunctions.

Cook County Circuit Judge Moshe Jacobius, presiding judge of the Chancery Division, has known Martin since 2003. He called Evans’s appointment “brilliant.”

“Judge Martin is an extremely able, intelligent and hardworking jurist who is an excellent problem solver. He is able to get along with everyone and has outstanding interpersonal skills,” Jacobius said. “He made major contributions to the Chancery Division, and the judges as well as attorneys who appeared before him in the Division will miss him. I know he will be an extremely positive force in the Criminal Division.”

Two Supervising Judges in the Criminal Division – Joseph G. Kazmierski Jr. and Evelyn B. Clay – commended the appointment by Chief Judge Evans.

“I appreciate the efforts of Chief Judge Evans to bring to the Criminal Division a judge of integrity with a broad background in both criminal and civil law. Judge Martin has expressed a willingness to do everything he can to further the aims of the court in the interest of justice,” said Kazmierski, who served as Acting Presiding Judge since Biebel’s retirement.

Clay said: “This is an excellent choice to lead the criminal justice system at this time. Given Judge Martin’s background, training and experience, this is a quality selection. This is a person who is committed to the administration of justice, and we appreciate Judge Evans’s thoughtfulness in bringing him to this position. He will be an excellent leader.”

Martin believes educational and athletic pursuits can make a difference in the lives of others less fortunate than he – and has often volunteered his services in the inner city. He coached an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team consisting of teenagers from the South and West Sides, and many of the teenagers that Martin coached from 2006 through 2010 went on to college.

“These kids needed to see positive male role models because many times in their neighborhoods, they didn’t see that,” Martin said.
A married father of two, Martin is the son of Constance Martin, a retired Chicago public school principal, and the late LeRoy Martin Sr., who served as superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.

Martin has previously served as an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, as part of a four-teacher rotation teaching a class on trial practice.

In addition, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed him to serve on its Civil Justice Committee, studying ways to improve the civil jury trial system. He also serves on The Chicago Bar Foundation Board of Directors; the CBF is the charitable arm of The Chicago Bar Association.

Tribune finds that Chicago Police continue to conduct DUI Roadblocks mainly in black and latino neighborhoods

I am going to liberate a large chunk of this story by Angela Caputo from behind the Chicago Tribune’s paywall.  However, before you get to this, I do have to make note that although the Chicago Police Department has not set up DUI roadblocks in white areas such as Jefferson Park, they have done DUI strike force patrols, which sometimes includes the use of the mobile breath alcohol testing unit which is normally used during roadblocks.  Perhaps the Police Department was hoping it could get the Tribune off its back by doing the strike patrols without having to enrage the community (which has a heavy concentration of Chicago Police officers living there) with backups and delays caused by roadside safety checks.

Here is Ms. Caputo’s report:

Months after revealing the Chicago Police Department set up sobriety checkpoints almost exclusively in African-American and Latino communities, the Tribune has found that the pattern continues.

Between March and August, Chicago police scheduled 14 roadside checks, pulling over drivers randomly to check for drunken driving and other violations. Nine of the checks were in majority black police districts. Four checkpoints occurred in a predominantly Latino districts. There was one in a majority white area. That’s despite the fact that the Tribune has in the past shown some predominantly white districts in Chicago had more alcohol-related crashes than many minority districts.

Of Chicago’s 22 police districts, nine are majority black, five white, four Latino and four have no racial majority.

No corner of the city had more checkpoints than the Harrison District on the city’s West Side, where police have scheduled three of the random stops since March. An earlier Tribune analysis of state traffic data found that the majority black district ranked 10th out of the city’s 22 districts for the number of alcohol-related crashes in recent years.

The Englewood District followed closely behind in crashes, yet police scheduled two roadside checks in the predominantly African-American South Side district in recent months. On March 20, police scheduled a checkpoint in the majority black Grand Crossing District even though the area has had the fewest alcohol-related crashes in the city.

Meanwhile, no checkpoints were scheduled in the majority white Jefferson Park District despite ranking third citywide for the number of alcohol-related crashes and fatalities. Police officials have maintained the lack of checkpoints there has nothing to do with the fact that roughly one-fifth of the city’s police officers and their families live there.

The May Tribune report analyzed Chicago DUI checkpoints from 2010 through June of last year and compared the data with crash data by police district. The Tribune found no checkpoints had been conducted in the Jefferson Park District since at least February 2010…

Police use crash and citation data and complaints to decide where to set up roadside checks or conduct roving DUI patrols, Guglielmi said. Authorities used roving DUI patrols in white districts in recent months, which, experts say, are a less visible deterrent but can be more effective in snaring drunken drivers. Such patrols, however, require probable cause before pulling over a vehicle, whereas checkpoints enable police to make contact with drivers who ordinarily would not have been stopped…

The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that $470,000 was spent largely on overtime to cover both types of nighttime enforcement in 2014. Chicago police logged more violations than any other municipality in Illinois that year. Of the nearly 7,300 citations issued, 244 involved a drunken driving arrest. That amounted to 30 citations — primarily for minor moving and nonmoving violations — for every drunken driver arrested.

The checkpoints and roving patrols, including overtime, are paid for with federal grant money. Federal guidelines require departments to use objective criteria, such as a high incidence of alcohol-related crashes, to determine where to set up the checks and patrols.

In May, the Tribune revealed that during the last five years, 84 percent of the 152 sobriety checkpoints scheduled in Chicago occurred in areas populated mostly by minorities while roadways in areas with more DUI-related crashes that are predominantly white are checked less often or not at all.

The data showed no clear indication that a high number of checkpoints is correlated with few alcohol-related crashes. Some police districts with few checkpoints also had few crashes. Some districts with several checkpoints also had a high number of crashes.

If you have a subscription to the Tribune, you can read the whole story here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/ct-chicago-dui-checkpoints-met-20150909-story.html

City of Chicago to offer amnesty and new payment plans for old parking and red light citations

I am posting this story to spread the word for people who have suspended driver’s licenses due to unpaid tickets.  (I don’t represent people seeking to clear parking or red light tickets from their record or trying to work out payment plans, so please don’t contact me about doing that).

From a story by John Byrne in the Chicago Tribune:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is … offering an amnesty program for people who have unpaid tickets and back taxes they owe the city.

Under the program announced Friday, people or businesses with parking tickets and other vehicle violations, back taxes, and other fines or fees issued before 2012 would be eligible for amnesty.

Emanuel’s office did not give specifics on how much of a break applicants would get on the late fees and fines that have added on to their unpaid debts. The city has offered several past traffic ticket amnesty programs, so it isn’t clear how much money such a program will raise to help reduce a property tax increase of between $450 million and $550 million that Emanuel is expected to call for under the budget…

The mayor’s office said Friday that the city also plans to give motorists payment plan options to try to help them start paying for vehicle tickets before late fees accrue.