2018 Chicago Bar Association Judicial Elections Guide is Now Online

As a member of the Chicago Bar Associations’ Judicial Evaluation Committee for over 15 years, I am happy to announce that our ratings for the 2018 March Primaries are now available.  These evaluations are non-partisan.

From the CBA website:

March 2018 Primary Election: CBA Judicial Evaluation Committee Findings


Candidates for judge appearing on the ballot in Cook County have been evaluated by the CBA’s Judicial Evaluation Committee (JEC). In the Judge Smart Guide to Judicial Elections, the JEC offers evaluations of each candidate with the rationale for the evaluation as well as an in-depth explanation of the evaluation process. The separate Pocket Guide is a two-page document that can be printed out and carried into the voting booth for easy reference when you vote. Please share this information with your coworkers, friends and family.




Please Note:
The Chicago Bar Association urges voters to elect only candidates found Highly Qualified or Qualified for judge.


Paid for by The Chicago Bar Association 2018 Judicial Evaluation Fund. A copy of the CBA Report is available from the State Board of Elections.

NY Jets LB arrested for DUI after wrong way crash with bus in Lincoln Tunnel

From the NY Post:

A rookie Jets linebacker known as “Wild Man” was busted early Monday morning for a boozed-up, wrong-way crash with a jitney bus in the Lincoln Tunnel — and bragged about playing for the Gang Green during his arrest, authorities said.

Dylan Donahue had a blood-alcohol level of .15 — nearly twice the legal limit — when he collided with the vehicle in the center, New Jersey-bound tube just before 2 a.m., sources said.

A Port Authority cop witnessed Donahue, who was behind the wheel of a green Dodge Charger Hellcat, weave through traffic cones on the Jersey side and into the center tube against westbound traffic, according to PA spokesman Joe Pentangelo.

The driver’s and passenger side airbags of the Charger were set off by the impact of the crash, which left the vehicle’s front-end completely smashed in.

…The jitney was carrying 15 passengers at the time. Four suffered minor injuries and were transported to Hoboken University Medical Center in stable condition.

The 25-year-old was charged with DWI and reckless driving.

TV Personality Steve Wilkos charged with DUI 3 1/2 times legal limit


From People.com:

Steve Wilkos, the talk show host and former security director on The Jerry Springer Show, was arrested on charges of operating under the influence in connection with a car crash.

On Jan. 21, Wilkos, 53, was involved and injured in a one-vehicle crash in Darien, Connecticut, but it wasn’t until Wednesday evening when he turned himself in at the Darien Police Department after learning that there was a warrant out for his arrest.

Authorities confirmed his bail was set by a judge at $1,500, which Wilkos posted, and was released the same day. Medical records indicated that his Blood Alcohol Content was .29% and over the legal limit when he crashed his vehicle, according to police.

Wilkos, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a former law enforcement officer with the Chicago Police Department, was transported to Stamford Hospital for further evaluation and treatment due to the severity of the incident.

Appellate Court rules blood and urine illegally obtained in fatal DUI case

An Illinois Appellate Court reversed a trial court’s ruling in a fatal DUI crash.

According to the Opinion, the motorist was driving with his children in the back seat.  One of his kids tried to hand him a candy wrapper to open.  When he momentarily turned his head, his van struck a seven year old boy, who was riding a bicycle and had darted out into traffic between two parked cars.  The motorist immediately stopped and ran into the nearby City Hall to get assistance.

The investigating officers testified that they did not observe any indications that the motorist was impaired by either alcohol or drugs.  Nevertheless, he was taken to a hospital to provide blood and urine screens.  The tests results showed the presence of THC and amphetamines and the motorist was charged with DUI.

A few days later, it was determined that the motorist had not been read the “Warnings to Motorist” form that would advise him of his rights regarding the chemical testing.  A second test was then ordered.

The defendant was found guilty and received a sentence of 54 months.

On appeal, the Court noted that there was no probable cause to believe that the motorist was impaired or that he had caused the accident.  No citations had been issued, and he was not under arrest at the time of the blood test, as required by Illinois law.  As a result, the results of the tests were suppressed and since there was no other evidence to support a finding of guilty, his conviction was reversed.

You can read the opinion here:  People v. Hayes, 2018 IL App (5th) 140223 (February 15, 2018) .

New DUI forfeiture opinion upholds forfeiture of Wife’s Harley driven by Husband

The Illinois Supreme Court has reversed an Appellate Court ruling that I previously discussed on this blog.

In the case, a husband and wife went drinking.  The husband’s license had already been suspended for drunk driving.  The wife claimed that she had been the driver of the motorcycle, but when the left the bar to go home, her husband, who had a key fob, got on their Harley Davidson first and refused to relinquish control.  He was later arrested with DUI with a BAC of twice the legal limit, and the vehicle was forfeited.

The Appellate Court held that the forfeiture was unconstitutional, considering that the wife had paid $35,000 for the bike and that she was not the one violating the law.

On further appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, the Court noted that the actual value of the vehicle at the time of the forfeiture had not been proven during the forfeiture hearing, only the cost of purchase four years earlier.  It also held that the wife bore some degree of culpability for this occurrence, because she knowing consented to her husband driving even though she knew that his license was suspended and that he was intoxicated.

Read the Opinion here:  The People of the State of Illinois ex rel Matthew Hartrich v. 2010 Harley Davidson, 2018 IL 121636 (February 16, 2018).

Chicago Traffic Deaths up in 2017; is it because of distracted driving or just a blip?


The Chicago Tribune has a front page story today by Mary Wisniewski about the rise in Chicago traffic deaths in 2017, 133 compared to 113 in 2016, an 18 per cent increase.

The article blames distracted driving, distracted pedestrians, low gas prices, a better economy, higher speeds and alcohol use.

But …

The story also notes that the average death toll from 2011 to 2015 was 126.2.  So why is Ms. Wisniewski comparing 2017 to one unusually low year instead of comparing it to the entire decade, which would provide a more useful comparison?  Indeed, when you combine the 2016 and 2017 death tolls and divide them by 2, you get an average of 123 — still lower than the 2011-15 average.  Maybe 2016 was just an outlier.

Comparing 2011-2015 to 2016-17, the numbers are virtually identical, within the margin of error.  But that wouldn’t be front-page worthy.

My concern is that someone in the state legislature will see the front-page headline and assume that there is a crisis when there isn’t a crisis.  This is how bad laws get enacted.

Man arrested in fatal DUI crash that killed his brother


From the Chicago Sun-Times:

A Cook County judge called the case of Johnathan Rios ‘profoundly tragic’ at his initial court appearance Thursday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Rios, 28, is accused of being drunk when he crashed early Tuesday on Interstate 55, causing his brother to be thrown from the SUV and killed.

Shortly after midnight, Rios was driving a 2004 Toyota Highlander north near Cicero Avenue when he tried to pass other vehicles waiting to exit by veering across several lanes of traffic, Cook County prosecutors and Illinois State Police said.

The Toyota slammed into a guard rail on the exit ramp, throwing 22-year-old Christian D. Barrajas from the vehicle, authorities said. Barrajas, of the Clearing neighborhood, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Prosecutors said Rios was driving five other passengers in addition to Barrajas, who was riding in the rear hatchback of the vehicle and was not in a seat. State police said no one in the Toyota was wearing a seat belt during the crash.

Two other passengers, a 20-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, state police said. Prosecutors said the man suffered a broken shoulder and will likely require a skin graft.

Rios appeared in court Thursday on felony charges of aggravated driving under the influence causing death and aggravated driving under the influence causing bodily harm.

He walked slowly into the courtroom and had to sit in a chair during his hearing before Judge Mary Marubio. His face showed bruising from the crash and he cried softly at times.

Rios’ blood alcohol content was 0.148 after the crash, prosecutors said. Rios told state police investigators he smoked marijuana, drank shots of Crown Royal and consumed six beers the night before.

Rios’ license was suspended at the time of the crash due to a 2010 DUI conviction, for which he received court supervision, prosecutors said.

Read the entire story here at:  https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/man-charged-with-driving-drunk-in-profoundly-tragic-crash-that-killed-brother/