Victim impact panels are coming to Kankakee County in DUI cases

Victim Impact Panels, which have been a long staple of DUI sentencing in Cook, DuPage and Lake Counties, are now coming to Kankakee County.

For those not familiar, the concept of a Victim Impact Panel is that DUI (or other serious traffic) offenders are required to attend a presentation where victims of drunk driving accidents talk about their stories.  The speakers might be someone seriously injured by a drunk driver, someone who lost a family member or significant or the drunk driver, who talks about the damage he or she has done and the penalties he or she received.

From the Kankakee Daily Journal (article by Allison Shapiro):

“We think that when you look at DUI offenders, we want to make sure they clearly realize the impact that their crime has, not only on our community as a whole and their own families, but on victims of DUI offenses,” said Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe. “We hope that this additional perspective makes people think twice before driving drunk or recklessly.”

Staff from the MADD Illinois office, as well as volunteers, told participants the stories of how their lives had been changed by someone’s reckless behavior. One of the speakers was Zach Jones, a Limestone native who became an activist after he was severely injured by a drunk driver in 2012.

“It’s great to be able to bring something back to the community I’m from. It’s something that hopefully will help keep people safe in the future, keep from happening to other people what happened to me,” said Jones, now the program coordinator at MADD Illinois. “It’s a great thing, it’s something positive for the county to use to try to move forward and keep this from happening.”

Read the entire story here:  http://www.daily-journal.com/news/local/kankakee-county-launches-first-dui-victim-panel/article_4808a5ed-ab6c-5ddc-b3ab-b9f7319297ee.html

Lake Co. Sheriff charged with perjury for testimony in DUI case

From the Chicago Tribune (reported by Jim Newton):

Deputy Sheriff Justin Hill, 28, of Kenosha, was indicted by a Lake County grand jury Wednesday on three felony counts of perjury, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office…

According to Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Sheriff’s Office, inconsistencies were allegedly discovered in Hill’s testimony during a court hearing on the potential statutory summary suspension of a DUI defendant’s driver’s license. The testimony was allegedly given by Hill on Nov. 2.

Covelli and Jim Elliot, deputy chief of the Sheriff’s Office of Professional Standards, said the Sheriff’s Office is working with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office to determine whether any other cases in which Hill was involved could be impacted.

According to Elliot, each DUI case in which Hill was the arresting officer or was involved would be reviewed individually, and the State’s Attorney’s Office would decide whether each case would move forward based on all evidence involved.

Elliot said he does not believe there will be any blanket dismissal of cases in which Hill was involved. He added that he was unsure how many cases were to be reviewed.

A spokesperson for the State’s Attorney’s Office said Wednesday the number of cases was not immediately available, but would soon be released.

Following the Nov. 2 hearing, the Sheriff’s Office was notified Nov. 23 that “inconsistencies with Hill’s testimony (that) potentially resulted in perjury” had been discovered, according to Covelli.

Hill was placed on administrative leave and relieved of his police powers following an investigation by the Office of Professional Standards, Covelli said.

Remembering Judge Raymond Myles

Myles

The entire Cook County legal community is shocked and saddened to learn about the murder of Judge Raymond Myles.

Judge Myles was a Cook County Judge for nearly 20 years.  He was assigned to the Criminal Division.  Over the years, I appeared before him many times, and tried two cases before him.  He was a very good trial judge, well versed in the law.  He was fair and impartial.  He was open-minded and did not pre-judge cases until he heard all of the evidence.  He was big-hearted and street smart.  In short, he was everything that you would want in a judge.

Just a few weeks ago it was reported that Judge Myles had been seriously injured a year a half ago, after a motor vehicle accident, when the other driver assaulted him, fracturing his nose among other injuries which required reconstructive surgery.

Police are still investigating the murder, and preliminary reports indicate that they believe that this was a robbery gone wrong, unrelated to the assault case or any other matter before him.

My condolences to his family.  He did so much for our community and will be missed tremendously.

I was interviewed for the IL Supreme Court’s 2Civility Project

The Illinois Supreme Court’s 2Civility Project has a mission of “To promote a culture of civility and inclusion, in which Illinois lawyers and judges embody the ideals of the legal profession in service to the administration of justice in our democratic society.”

Each month, they have been interviewing attorneys who exemplify professionalism and civility.

I am the subject of this month’s 2Civility lawyer spotlight.  I guess that means I’ve behaved myself.

You can read the interview here:  https://www.2civility.org/harold-wallin-law-offices-harold-l-wallin/

In Illinois, a fourth DUI is a mandatory minimum three years in prison

There was a story in today’s Chicago Tribune about a 52 year old Naperville woman who was sentenced to three years in prison for her fourth DUI.

She was not involved in an accident.  It sounds like she was being cooperative with the police.  She consented to a breath test.

Unlike a certain well-publicized case where a drunk driver killed a bicyclist and received only ten days in jail, this woman is going to prison.

This was not a case of a judge being harsh.  Actually, the judge was being lenient.  This drunk driver received the mandatory minimum sentence.

In Illinois, a fourth DUI is a Class 2 felony, punishable from three to seven years.  Probation is not permitted in such a case (on the other hand, probation is allowed in DUI death cases when there is “exceptional circumstances”).

Here is the relevant section of the DUI statute (625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(2)(C)):

A fourth violation of this Section or a similar
    
provision is a Class 2 felony, for which a sentence of probation or conditional discharge may not be imposed.

So, as the saying goes, “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”

AllYouCanDrink.com founder gets 10 days for fatal DUI crash

Nearly four years after being involved in a fatal collision that allegedly caused the death of bicyclist Bobby Cann, “AllYouCanDrink.com” partner Ryne San Hamel plead guilty to reckless homicide and aggravated DUI and received four years probation, 10 days of jail and was ordered to pay Cann’s family $25,000 in restitution for funeral expenses.

From DNAinfo.com:

Prosecutors had sought three to 14 years in prison. The judge said Cann’s death was a great loss, but he believes San Hamel feels genuine remorse.

“I wish I could change everything that happened, but I can’t,” San Hamel said as tears streamed down his face. “I just hope that you can feel some kind of remorse for me or forgiveness in your heart. … I live with that moment every day, every minute, every time I lay down and try to sleep.”…

Before announcing the sentence, [Judge] Hooks said he took San Hamel’s remorse into account.

“If I have somebody that gets it and is remorseful — and even though there’s a cry for retribution — I have to weigh what Ryne San Hamel needs,” the judge said, noting that some cases merit lengthy prison sentences if defendants are a danger to society.

“This is not one of those cases,” the judge said…

Cann was a cycling advocate who regularly participated in Critical Mass, an organized effort in which cyclists band together and ride in order to “take back the streets” the last Friday of every month.

San Hamel “spoke about waking up each morning and feeling remorse,” Cann’s uncle Bruce Field said after court Thursday. “I hope that that means every morning he wakes up and says, ‘Now my job is to work very hard to make this world a better place.”

Compare this to the 5 year sentence that 20 year old Carly Rousso got in the “Highland Park huffing case,” or the seven year sentence that Alia Bernard, who was not even impaired (just allegedly had marijuana residue in her blood system*) was originally given (reduced to probation after she had spent approximately four years in prison) and you can see what a break Mr. Hamel received.  I hope he appreciates it and has learned from his experience.

*I want to emphasize allegedly because there were questions raised about the accuracy and legitimacy of the blood test result.