Tiger Woods gets plea deal; pleads to reckless driving

From ABC news:

Tiger Woods appeared in court this afternoon [Friday, October 27, 2017] to plead guilty to reckless driving following his arrest in May on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Police said the golfer was found asleep at the wheel in a running Mercedes in Jupiter, Florida. The car was stopped in the right lane and partially in the bike lane. Woods, who allegedly had extremely slow and slurred speech, “stated that he did not know where he was,” according to the police report. “Woods had changed his story of where he was going and where he was coming from. Woods asked how far from his house he was.”

Today in court Woods said little besides “yes” as he was asked a series of procedural questions from the judge, including if he was voluntarily choosing to take the plea agreement. Woods said “no” when asked if he was currently under any substances that would impair his judgment.

Woods had two sleep drugs, two painkillers and the active ingredient for marijuana in his system when he was arrested, The Associated Press said.

The golfer also agreed to undergo a 12-month probation diversionary program for first-time offenders and pay a $250 fine.

Woods must complete a DUI school and 50 hours of community service. He will also undergo random drug testing.

The judge warned Woods that if he violates his probation in the next 12 months, he could be sent to jail for up to 90 days.

Close the Bridgeview Courthouse? It makes no sense

Bridgeview2

According to media reports, Cook County is consider closing the Bridgeview courthouse as a cost-cutting move.  Even though it is unclear whether the move would actually save money.

Situated in the southwest suburbs, Bridgeview is one of five suburban Cook County Courthouses.  There are five criminal courtrooms that handle both suburban and Chicago felony cases, plus a felony bond room and another room that handles specialty  calls like juvenile, drug and veterans’ court.  There are also five misdemeanor courtrooms, four minor traffic courtrooms.  In addition, there is a courtroom that handles domestic relations and child custody, another that handles domestic violence, and three courtrooms that handle civil cases, such as personal injury and evictions.

Cases from the following municipalities have cases at the Bridgeview Courthouse:  Alsip, Bedford Park, Bridgeview, Burbank, Burr Ridge, Chicago Ridge, Countryside, Crestwood, Evergreen Park, Forest View, Hickory Hills, Hinsdale, Hodgkins, Hometown, Indian Head Park, Justice, LaGrange, Lemont, Lyons, Merrionette Park, Metra, McCook, Morton College, Oak Lawn, Orland Hills, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Palos Hills, Palos Park, Stickney, Summit, Tinley Park, Western Springs, West Haven, Willow Springs, Worth.  In addition, traffic and criminal cases brought by the Cook County Sheriff, Cook County Forest Preserve, Secretary of State, Illinois Commerce Commission, and Illinois State Police Districts – 3 and 15 are heard there too.

The Courthouse is a fairly large and spacious building.  It is near I-294 and major streets like 95th Street and Harlem Avenue, so it is not too hard to get to.  There is a large parking lot adjacent to the courthouse, although this lot can get filled up on busy court days.  As far as I know, the building is in good shape.

I can’t think of a particularly good reason to close this courthouse.  My totally unofficial guess is that it ranks somewhere in the middle of the the five suburban courthouses in terms of how busy it gets.  Markham is well-known for being the busiest of the courthouses, and my unofficial guess is that Rolling Meadows and Skokie are the slowest.

If Bridgeview is closed, where would the cases go?  It would make sense for some of these towns to send their cases to Markham (in fact, some of them used to go to Markham until they were moved to Bridgeview to ease overcrowding a few years back).  The rest would presumably go to Maywood, which is a much smaller courthouse and has an even worse parking situation.  In addition, the Maywood courthouse is in deteriorating shape and would be a good candidate to be torn down and rebuilt, if the money were there.

For those reasons, if I had to pick a courthouse to close, it would be Maywood.  Some of the Maywood cases could be sent to Bridgeview, some to Rolling Meadows, and maybe even a few to Skokie.  But Maywood has some extremely busy court calls, like Cicero, the State Police, Berwyn and Riverside.  I don’t see how the Bridgeview or Rolling Meadows parking lots could handle the additional traffic, let alone adjudicate all the cases.

A better idea might be to consolidate some of the Chicago area branch courts, but there wouldn’t be as big of a savings compared to closing one of the big suburban buildings.  There are branch courts at 111th Street, 51st Street, Harrison and Kedzie (Flournoy), Grand and Central and Belmont and Western.  Some of these could be consolidated or moved to the main criminal courthouse at 26th Street, the Domestic Violence courthouse at 555 W. Harrison, or the Daley Center.

Another possibility that has been floated to reduce expenses is to cut back court to three or four days of the week.  The obvious math means that court calls would be increased by 20 to 40%.  But you can’t do 20 to 40% more trials with the same staff and courtrooms that you had before.  And some of these court calls are overcrowded already.  Some of the worst court calls that I have ever seen are the State Police, Cicero and Riverside calls at the Maywood courthouse.  People are standing in the hallway because there is no room inside the courtroom, even to stand in an aisle.  There might be 8 or 12 cases set for trial, but it takes hours before all the cases on the court call have been called once and  even one trial has been completed.

All of these proposals will result in jammed up court calls, lengthy continuances, and more aggravation for all parties concerned.  None of them are palatable.  They are the opposite of the orderly administration of justice.

My preference?  Find other places to cut the budget.  Closing a suburban courthouse will be a major setback for residents and is the epitome of “penny wise, pound foolish.”

Colts coach, former player Mathis arrested for DUI with 0.05 BAC

Current Indianapolis Colts coach (and former player) Robert Mathis was arrested for DUI, despite having a BAC of 0.052.

There is a common misperception that a person cannot be charged or found guilty of DUI if he or she tests under the “legal limit” of 0.08.  As this arrests, demonstrates, that is not correct.

In Illinois, a person can be found guilty of DUI if the evidence shows that the person has consumed any amount of alcohol, so that his or her “mental or physical faculties are so impaired as to reduce his ability to think and act with ordinary care.” (Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, Criminal 23.29).

Under Illinois law, there are the following presumptions that apply to a breath or blood test result (625 ILCS 5/11-501.2(b)):

1. If there was at that time an alcohol concentration of 0.05 or less, it shall be presumed that the person was not under the influence of alcohol.
2. If there was at that time an alcohol concentration in excess of 0.05 but less than 0.08, such facts shall not give rise to any presumption that the person was or was not under the influence of alcohol, but such fact may be considered with other competent evidence in determining whether the person was under the influence of alcohol.
3. If there was at that time an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, it shall be presumed that the person was under the influence of alcohol.

This means that it is possible to be found guilty with a BAC less than 0.08, especially if it is above 0.05.  In fact, just the other day I was at the Markham courthouse and I observed a Judge find a defendant guilty in a case with a 0.062 BAC.

From the Indianapolis Star:

Indianapolis Colts assistant coach and former defensive lineman Robert Mathis tested below the legal threshold but was still arrested on a preliminary charge of drunken driving Tuesday.

A breath test showed Mathis was driving with a 0.052 percent blood-alcohol level when he was pulled over shortly after midnight in a neighborhood south of 106th Street.

“That reading combined with other factors led officers to believe he was impaired and not safe to operate a vehicle,” Carmel Police Sgt. D.J. Schoeff said.

In Indiana, a driver is presumed drunk at 0.08 percent,  but officers can arrest someone with a lower blood-alcohol level under some circumstances.

Mathis, 36, was booked into the Hamilton County Jail Tuesday morning on an initial charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, records show. He was later released.

Mathis, according to a Carmel police news release, was traveling the wrong way on a one-way street and failed to use a turn signal near Bishop Circle and Windemere Boulevard, which is close to 106th Street and Towne Road. An officer arrested Mathis at 12:09 a.m.

He was booked into the jail at 3:30 a.m. and released without posting a bond at 8:41 a.m. An initial hearing was scheduled for Nov. 8.

Mathis was added to the Colts coaching staff as a pass rush consultant in September after working in an unofficial role for a few months. Mathis, a lifelong Colt, was drafted in 2003 and went on to rack up 123 sacks over 13 seasons.

Hinsdale Police to Step Up DUI Enforcement for Halloween

From the Hinsdale Patch (story by Andrea Earnest):

This Halloween, the Hinsdale Police Department is cracking down on impaired drivers with an aggressive Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement effort.

“On Halloween, we urge you to beware of impaired driving,” Deputy Chief Erik Bernholdt, said in a release. “Driving impaired by alcohol or drugs is deadly, it is illegal and it will get you pulled over and arrested this Halloween.”

According to the department, the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign urges everyone to follow these simple tips to help keep roads safe during Halloween:

  • Plan a safe way to get home before you attend a party.
  • Designate a sober driver, take public transportation, use your favorite ride-sharing service, or call a sober friend or family member to get home.
  • Walking while impaired can be just as dangerous as driving impaired. Designate a sober
    friend to walk you home.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • If you see an impaired person about to drive, take their keys and help them get home safely.

The Halloween enforcement effort is made possible by federal traffic safety funds administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Suspect in fatal crash driving 128 mph, 3X legal limit

From the Chicago Tribune:

Ciro Reyes Ramirez and his son had only been parked for a moment near the Tinley Park bar they were headed to clean early Tuesday morning, when a car allegedly speeding along Oak Park Avenue plowed into them from behind, he said.

Reyes Ramirez’s 20-year-old son Alberto Reyes, his youngest, was killed in the crash and he was injured. The driver of the other car, Joseph Vorberg, of Oak Forest, was drivingat about 130 mph, with a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, when he crashed into their parked car, prosecutors said.

Vorberg fled the scene on foot after the crash, prosecutors said Thursday at the Cook County courthouse in Bridgeview. Police found him 30 minutes later, hiding behind a semitrailer that was parked near a Tinley Park bar, prosecutors said.

Vorberg, 37, of the 15300 block of Arroyo Drive, is facing charges including reckless homicide and aggravated DUI stemming from the crash. A Cook County judge set Vorberg’s bail on Thursday at $1 million.

Judge Peter Felice said Vorberg was a “danger to himself … and to the community,” based on the allegations presented in court.

Data pulled from Vorberg’s Cadillac ATS sedan indicated he was traveling 128 mph just seconds before he smashed into the parked car, prosecutors said.

Alberto Reyes was declared dead at the scene, prosecutors said. His father was treated at a local hospital for injuries that were not life threatening and released.

Vorberg had been drinking at bars in Tinley Park and Harvey before the crash, prosecutors said. He had been treated at a local hospital for his injuries.

A test conducted on Vorberg indicated that his blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit, prosecutors said…

A GoFundMe page has been set up under Alberto Reyes’ nickname, Beto.

Vorberg is also charged with DUI, failing to give aid/information at an accident, improper lane usage and failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident. Vorberg returns to court Nov. 2.

Cook County to start texting court date reminders to defendants

In an excellent decision to take advantage of modern technology, starting in December, Cook County will phone or text criminal defendants to remind them of their upcoming court dates.

This is good for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the vast majority of missed court dates are because the defendant forgot their court date.  I used to have a lot of clients miss court dates until I began a practice of texting, emailing or calling clients the day prior to court as a reminder.

The other reason is because it is not unusual for court dates to get confused for one reason or another.  For example, recently I had one case where the judge wrote 8/3/17 as the new court date on the court file instead of the actual continuance date which was supposed to have been 8/30/17.  This would have resulted in a warrant for my client but for the client being told about his “upcoming” court date by pre-trial services.

Ultimately, this program should reduce costs, because there will be less court dates, less warrants, less need to go out and arrest fugitives, and less housing costs while the arrestees sit in Cook County Jail.

You can read more about this in a DNAinfo story, linked here.