Harold L. Wallin selected one of Chicago’s Top DUI attorneys

For the third year in a row, Harold L. Wallin has been rated as one of Chicago’s Top Three DWI/DUI attorneys by the website ThreeBestRated.com.

Since they have been rating Chicago’s DUI attorneys in 2015, Harold L. Wallin is the only attorney to make it on their list each year.

Thank you ThreeBestRated, for the honor and recognition!

Harold Wallin ranked as one of Chicago’s Top 20 Criminal Defense Attorneys

Expertise2016

The analysts at Expertise.com rated over 250 attorneys to come up with their list of the 20 best criminal defense attorneys in Chicago.  Yours truly made the list.

From their site:

Why These Criminal Defense Lawyers?

Our goal is to connect people with the best local experts. To do so, we analyzed and scored criminal defense lawyers on more than 25 variables across six categories to give you a hand-picked list of the best criminal defense lawyers in Chicago, IL.

Our Criteria:

  • 1. Reputation

    A history of delighted customers as a signal of outstanding service.

  • 2. Credibility

    Building customer confidence with licensing, industry accreditations, and awards.

  • 3. Experience

    Masters of their craft, based on years of practical experience and education.

  • 4. Availability

    Consistently approachable and responsive, so customers never feel ignored.

  • 5. Professionalism

    Providing customers a seamless experience both online and off.

  • 6. Engagement

    Actively engaged with their customers across a number of platforms.

Thank you, Expertise.com!

What I received this holiday season.

thankyouI just wanted to share with you a couple of “Thank you” notes that I received from two clients who had a combined four years of license suspensions rescinded this month.

I cannot thank you enough for all of your help regarding my case! … you have helped me keep my job and save my license! This was indeed a early Christmas present and I can safely feel I am given a second chance … you have given me hope and strength to keep my head held high and go on! I am forever grateful! Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I wanted to reach out and say it after being difficult and so worried about it! You really made an impact on my life and I’m forever grateful! Have a wonderful holiday season!

– Client with case in Markham

You were able to obtain for me the results that I was looking for and I am grateful for that.  It would have been a big deal had I lost my drivers license, so I am glad you were able to get the summary suspension rescinded.  I will definitely recommend you if someone I know is ever faced the legal situation that I encountered.

– Client with case in Rolling Meadows

My blogiversary!

It has been one year since I started this blog.  I had been thinking about blogging since I first read about blogs back around 2000, but I wasn’t sure if I would have enough items to blog about, especially since I have to be cautious about not revealing any client confidences and I didn’t want this to be forum to gripe about what happens in court.  I also didn’t intend this blog to be a celebration of drunk driving, but instead provide a reasoned look at our DUI laws and how they work in reality.

At the same time, I also wanted to keep this blog interesting and not be just a bunch of keywords.

So after one year, 274 blog posts and over 10,000 page views, I have to thank:

  • the worlds of politics, Hollywood, and professional and collegiate sports for constantly giving me new celebrity DUIs to blog about;
  • and police officers from around the nation, who keep falsifying cases while dash cameras or surveillance tapes are recording;
  • and the police unions, that keep trying to keep it a felony for a citizen to video record police officers who are working and are outside in public view;
  • and the drunk drivers, who have provided me with some very memorable DUI arrests to write about.

Hopefully, everyone reading this will continue to enjoy the blog and have a safe and happy year.

 

The Story behind this Thank You Card

Today I received a nice surprise in the mail.  This thank you card from a former client:

This client was stopped by Chicago Police after someone called in a report of a drunk driver.  The caller gave specific information as to the make and model of the vehicle, the license plate number and a direction and street where it was traveling.  A few blocks away from there, a police officer saw the vehicle, and without observing any moving violation, made an immediate traffic stop.  My client pulled over promptly and stopped his car.

As a result of the traffic stop, the officer was able to confirm that my client was indeed intoxicated.

I filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence, alleging that the stop was unconstitutional in violation of Terry v. Ohio (1968), 392 U.S. 1, 20 L.Ed.2d 889, 88 S.Ct. 1868Florida v. J.L., 529 U.S. 266, 120 S.Ct. 1375 (2000) and several Illinois cases that require that an informant tip must be corroborated in order to justify a traffic stop.  This is to ensure that the informant is actually calling in a truthful and correct report.  Otherwise, the police would be authorized to stop anyone because someone with a vendetta or who thinks every bad driver is drunk calls in a report.  In this case, the officer did not observe any bad driving, or any vehicle infraction before pulling over my client.  In fact, the officer testified that he observed my client for less than two seconds before signalling him to stop.

After a hearing, the Motion was granted, and the judge suppressed all evidence that had been obtained after the stop from being admitted into evidence at trial.  After the State’s Motion to Reconsider the decision was denied, the State elected to dismiss the case as there was insufficient evidence remaining to support a conviction.

Some may say that dismissing a case is a harsh remedy for a mere technical violation of one’s Constitutional rights.  I don’t agree.  (And not everyone agrees on this issue; Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts has indicated that he would vote to overturn this legal rule because he doesn’t see why the police should have to wait until someone commits a traffic violation, or god forbid, causes an accident, before making a traffic stop).  However, even if you agree with Chief Justice Roberts and not me, keep in mind that my client did suffer a penalty:  he was arrested, fingerprinted, jailed, had to a pay a large impoundment fee to get his car back, had a six month license suspension, had to pay attorney’s fees, and deal with multiple court dates.  As you can see from his thank you card, he says that “this whole experience has most definitely changed my life.”

Case Dismissed, but it sure took a while.

A question that I am often asked is, “how long will it take to resolve my case”? And even though I have been handling DUI cases on a daily basis for 17 plus years, I really can’t say. Every case is unique. Also, in some courthouses there are unwritten rules and practices that causes to remain on the court call for a longer period than anywhere else.

Today I finally wrapped up a case which began with an arrest 20 months ago.

The basic facts of the case were that two tactical officers were riding in an unmarked squad car when they heard my client driving on Western Avenue playing loud music. They effectuated a traffic stop, and upon determining that there was open alcohol in the car, and that my client had slurred speech and red, bloodshot eyes, arrested him for DUI. No field tests or breath test were conducted.

On the second court date, 18 months ago, the client’s summary suspension was rescinded because the Judge hearing the case determined that the police lacked reasonable grounds to believe that my client had been under the influence of alcohol.

In most courthouses, the companion DUI criminal case would be dropped immediately after a judge finds no reasonable grounds to arrest. That is because in most courthouses, the same judge would hear any future motions or the trial, so why waste the judge’s time?

However, the Chicago Traffic Court is different. Traffic Court is where new judges are first assigned. The judges there are rotated daily to different courtrooms or sent to other courtrooms throughout Chicago. As openings arise in other divisions, the judges are transferred out, permanently.

This constant change means that if the State’s Attorney loses a suspension hearing, they might as well continue the case and hope for a different result on another court date when they have a different judge.

Thus, the case continued after the finding of no reasonable grounds.

A few months later, we had a hearing on my “Motion to Suppress” which basically argued the same thing as my “Petition to Rescind the Summary Suspension” except now the issue was the underlying DUI case.

A different judge heard the case, but the results were the same: no probable cause to arrest for DUI. As a result, all evidence obtained after the client was arrested was suppressed from evidence as a result of the illegal search.

This was not the end of the case, however.

Next, the State’s attorney filed a “Motion to Reconsider” arguing that the Judge was incorrect, and that the arresting officer did have sufficient legal justification to arrest my client. After both sides filed written briefs arguing their cause, the Judge denied the motion, in a written opinion.

You would think THAT would be the end of the case, since now all the State had left of their case was the evidence which two judges had found insufficient to even justify a DUI arrest, let alone proof beyond a reasonable doubt If you thought that, you were wrong.

The State’s Attorney insisted that they would not drop the case, even though there was no logical way that they could prove the DUI case after the court’s ruling.

So the case was set for trial, in August. But the officers did not appear, for medical reasons, so it was continued. I demanded a speedy trial under the Illinois Code 725 ILCS 5/103-5(a) and (b). The case was continued to November, and the officers again did not appear. It was continued again in December and then to today, the final date under the speedy trial act, when the case was dismissed because the officers were still not able to come to court.

In the end, this case resulted in fifteen court dates. The same exact case might have been resolved in two at another courthouse. Or maybe five or six tops if the State had not insisted on a trial even after the motion to suppress had been granted and they had no chance of winning.

I objected to all the State’s continuances, but they were given, because that is the standard and practice at Chicago Traffic Court — to give the state at least the entire 160 days of continuances under the Speedy Trial Act (and sometimes a judge will extend the term, as they can under the statute). In contrast, at other courthouses in Cook (the SAME county!), once a case is set for trial, it doesn’t get continued unless for good cause, and then, only once or twice and that’s it.

And in case you are wondering — I charge flat fees for DUI cases, not an hourly, so I don’t benefit from alll these extra court dates.

Just a little glimpse into the often absurd practices of Chicago courtrooms.

This week, I got a big assist from arrest videos

In the past few days, I have had three DUI cases that resulted in either a not guilty or a summary suspension rescinded for lack of reasonable grounds to arrest.

One in Chicago, one in Skokie and the third in Bridgeview.

All three cases involved State Troopers.

I should point out that State Police cases are often the hardest cases to beat because the Troopers are better trained, have better equipment (like Portable Breath Tests and dash cam videos) and they make better witnesses than your average local cop.  They even look better — they stay in shape and I don’t think I have ever seen a State Trooper with an unpressed shirt or unshined shoes.

In all three cases there were squad car videos.

This last fact made all the difference.

Did I do a nice cross-examination of the Troopers?  Sure.  But then again, the State’s Attorney’s did nice direct examinations of the Troopers too.  All three State’s Attorneys did as well as they possibly could have.

And the judges were not novices — they probably had over 80 years combined legal experience.

But ultimately, what swayed the three judges was the fact that the defendants in the videos didn’t look intoxicated.  Not at all.  No swaying, no stumbling, no confusion, no crying, no anger, no slurred speech.  All three submitted to field sobriety testing and looked perfectly normal, even though the Troopers claimed that they failed.

When I get that type of video, I start to look like Clarence Darrow.

Without the video, I might have still have won all three cases, but who knows?  The videos sure helped.

I should point out that videos do not always help the defense.  This week, I also obtained a couple of arrest videos that will lead me to strongly suggest to my clients that they should consider pursuing a plea bargain.

So, again, I want to thank the Illinois Supreme Court for their recent ruling that arrest videos are now required to be turned over to the defense, even in misdemeanor cases.