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.

 

Lawyer who donned robes indicted, may still take bench as a real judge soon

Rhonda Crawford, the law clerk who was was running unopposed for judge this November and was allowed to put on a judge’s robes and hear traffic cases as part of an unofficial “training” has been indicted and charged with official misconduct, according to the Tribune.

She is still running in the election, although now she is opposed by write-in candidate Maryam Ahmad.  Assuming that Crawford wins election, she will be sworn in as a judge but will probably be put on administrative duty while this is pending.

Take it from Officer Baez; when given the chance, just say no

The most common question that I get, as a DUI attorney, is whether or not to take a breath test in the event of a DUI arrest.  Of course I say don’t.  But you don’t need to take my advice.  You can simply emulate the actions of most of the police officers who find themselves on the wrong side of the breath testing device.

For example, here is a link to a story about a former Prairie Grove police officer who is currently on trial for a DUI that occurred while on duty.

As is the norm for cases like this, the officer refused to take a breath, blood or urine test to determine his blood alcohol concentration.

From the Tribune:

A former Prairie Grove police officer admitted on the witness stand Thursday that he drank two plastic cups of eggnog before his Nov. 29 shift, which ended when his police SUV slammed into a pole and the officer was charged with driving under the influence.

But Oscar Baez, 52, of Bensenville, said he drank the eggnog about four hours before the start of his 3 p.m. shift. He also testified that he is not typically a drinker but just wanted to “taste it a little bit.”

In additional to misdemeanor DUI, Baez also is charged with felony official misconduct and disobeying a stop sign.

Baez sought to explain why he failed a portion of the roadside sobriety exam that involved tracking with his eyes a pen being moved from side to side. Baez said he had surgery on his eye as a child and has a weak eye muscle for which he wears corrective lenses. He had taken his glasses off before the sobriety exam.

McHenry County prosecutors allege that Baez was under the influence of alcohol when his vehicle crashed into a utility pole near the intersection of Illinois Highway 31 and Gracy Road about 10:30 that night.

Baez, however, said he crashed because his brakes failed and “went all the way to the floorboard” as he approached the intersection.

Responding officers testified earlier that Baez told them at the scene that “those glasses of eggnog must have been bigger than I thought.”

The officers said they smelled alcohol on Baez’s breath, that he slurred his speech and swayed during the sobriety test and that he was chewing breath mints. On the stand, Baez said: “I always have mints on me. I have some now.”

Baez also contradicted earlier testimony from police officers who said he refused to go to a hospital to submit blood and urine samples. He did acknowledge that he refused a breath test, saying he was “frustrated” knowing by that time that he was being arrested and charged with a DUI.

Baez resigned from his job the following day. He was a police officer for about nine years.

In other testimony Thursday, Martin Pireh, a paramedic who arrived on the scene and examined Baez for injuries, said he did not smell alcohol on Baez’s breath.

Baez was smart to refuse.  He had no way of knowing what his BAC would turn out to be. Now the trial judge will have to decide whether the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was driving while intoxicated, without the benefit of a breath or other test, and with conflicting testimony between the arresting officers, Baez and the paramedic.  I would not be surprised to learn that Baez’s gamble paid off.

The McHenry County judge hearing the case will make his ruling on November 3rd.

Chicago Bar Assoc. releases its ratings of Judicial Candidates for the upcoming election

I am a member of the Chicago Bar Association’s Judicial Evaluation Committee and we have just released our evaluations for the upcoming election.  These evaluations are based on lengthy investigations and hearings.  Please review our findings before voting.  And share these with your friends and family!

From their website:

The Association’s Judicial Evaluation Committee (JEC) invites you to view its evaluations of judicial candidates running for vacancies on the Illinois Appellate Court and the Circuit Court of Cook County and judges running for retention in the upcoming General Election to be held on November 8, 2016. Get the findings at www.chicagobar.org/votejudges or view it on your mobile phone at http://m.chicagobar.org. A quick, printable pocket guide is available.

Here are direct links if you are on your computer: