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.

Not everyone gets 10 days in jail for DUI fatal accidents

The ten day jail sentence that Ryne San Hamel received last week for the drunk driving crash that killed Bobby Cann has sparked outrage (Click here to read the Sun-Times’ editorial).

But don’t think that everyone who drives drunk and kills someone gets a slap on the wrist.

Here is another recent case that had a very different result.  From the Chicago Tribune:

A Mundelein woman was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison Tuesday for the death of a 22-year-old man in an early morning drunken driving crash in Libertyville.

Amanda Auld, 24, was sentenced after pleading guilty last year to one count of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in a death.

Killed in the crash was Steven Daskaukas, a passenger in Auld’s car when she struck the back of a truck at the intersection of Peterson and Harris roads in Libertyville at 2:43 a.m. on March 7, 2015.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Patricia Fix said she was particularly struck by reports that Auld’s friends, following in another car, had been calling Auld and Daskaukas on mobile phones in an attempt to stop the woman from continuing to drive.

Fix noted that Auld was speeding, leaving the second car unable to catch up with her.

Auld admitted in a statement to the court that she and her friends had been drinking heavily at two bars and had left a bar in Fox Lake when the crash occurred.

Auld apologized to Daskaukas’ family, saying she knew no words would make up for the loss, but that he had been her best friend and that “living through that accident is my very own life sentence.”

“You will never know what it’s like to watch your best friend die and walk away unharmed,” she said.

Auld said she takes “full responsibility for the part I played” in the crash, but also asked for a probationary sentence that would allow her to go into a formal treatment program to battle long-term alcohol, substance abuse and mental health issues.

But Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Brown said Auld had been given supervisory sentences in the past that were to involve treatment programs and she failed to complete them.

Fix also noted that point in handing down the sentence, saying that although Auld had begun treatment programs and courses while in jail, it was hard not to believe her plea for treatment was an attempt to avoid prison.

Auld’s sentencing followed her guilty plea to the charge in a negotiated deal in which other charges were dismissed, including reckless homicide, and a cap of eight years was put on the sentence she would receive. Without the cap, she would have faced up to 14 years in prison, or probation if the judge found that the case included extraordinary circumstances.

Read the whole story here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/crime/ct-lns-dui-death-sentencing-st-0201-20170131-story.html

Chicago Police DUI Strike Force to conduct Saturation Patrols this weekend

From the Chicago Police Department website:

DUI SATURATION PATROL– Shakespeare (014th) DISTRICT

The Chicago Police Department will be conducting a DUI Strike Force Patrol in the

Shakespeare (014th) District this weekend. The DUI Strike Force Patrol will commence at 6:00

p.m. on Saturday, November 19, 2016 and end at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 20, 2016.

The purpose of this program is to saturate a pre-designated area with roving police officers

that continually monitor vehicular traffic for signs of impaired driving. Patrols also place

emphasis on speed, alcohol-related and safety belt violations. Police vehicles equipped for

speed detection are deployed to apprehend speeding violators.

In addition, the Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile Unit may also be deployed to allow

officers to expedite the process of charging a person with Driving under the Influence (DUI)

prior to transporting an alleged into the nearest lockup for bonding. The mobile unit also allows

for Individual Recognizance Bonds (I-Bonds) to be issued at the site of the DUI Strike Force

Patrol.

Update: FL Lawyers Disbarred for setting up opposing counsel for DUI arrest

This is a follow-up for a story that I have been blogging about for three and a half years.  Click here to read the original post.  The summary version is that a law firm set up their opposing counsel, in the middle of a high profile trial, to get arrested for DUI.  The DUI case against the attorney was later dropped.

Now, the attorneys who masterminded this stunt have been disbarred.  Here is the story from News 4 Jacksonville:

Describing the misconduct as “essentially unprecedented,” the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that two attorneys should be permanently disbarred for their roles in setting up the drunken-driving arrest of an opposing lawyer during a high-profile case.

Justices unanimously supported the disbarment of Robert D. Adams and Adam Robert Filthaut, who were with the Tampa firm Adams & Diaco, P.A. in January 2013 when the bizarre series of events occurred.

At that time, Adams & Diaco was defending radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge Clem in a defamation lawsuit filed by another radio personality, Todd Schnitt. Adams, Filthaut and a third member of the firm, Stephen Christopher Diaco, took part in a scheme to set up a DUI arrest of one of Schnitt’s lawyers, Phillip Campbell, according to the Supreme Court.

“The misconduct giving rise to the disciplinary actions against these three attorneys is among the most shocking, unethical, and unprofessional as has ever been brought before this (Supreme) Court,” the 13-page ruling said.

Diaco agreed earlier to disbarment, according to the ruling.

The set-up took place on Jan. 23, 2013, as the civil lawsuit involving the radio personalities was in recess for the night. Campbell and his co-counsel in the case had walked to Malio’s Steakhouse in Tampa for dinner and drinks and were spotted by a paralegal who worked for Adams & Diaco.

The paralegal, Melissa Personius, contacted Adams about Campbell being in the restaurant and ultimately had drinks with Campbell at the bar without telling him that she worked for Adams & Diaco, the Supreme Court ruling said. Filthaut, meanwhile, called a friend, then-Tampa police Sgt. Raymond Fernandez and told him Campbell was drinking at Malio’s and might drive while intoxicated.

Later in the evening, with Campbell planning to walk to his home a few blocks away, he offered to call a cab for Personius. Personius refused to leave her car overnight in valet parking and insisted it be moved to a secure parking lot, the ruling said. Campbell agreed to move the car to a lot near his apartment building and was pulled over by Fernandez and subsequently charged with DUI. Also, Campbell’s bag containing trial information was left in Personius’ car.

“The next day, Stephen Diaco made several statements to the media about the DUI of his opposing counsel Campbell, how the arrest caused the trial to be continued, and how Campbell’s behavior was a mockery of the judicial system and an embarrassment to Diaco as an attorney,” the ruling said.

Read the full story here:  http://www.news4jax.com/digital-life-365/legal-news/lawyers-disbarred-over-shocking-dui-set-up

Disney Channel actress Debby Ryan gets probation for DUI

debbyryan

From the N.Y. Post’s Page Six:

Debby Ryan is ready to put her DUI behind her.

Two months after the Disney Channel starlet was arrested for drunk driving after she smashed her Audi into a Mercedes in Los Angeles, she’s pleaded no contest to a charge of reckless driving, reports TMZ.

The plea means that the “Jessie” star, 23, won’t have to spend any time in jail, but she will be on probation for three years, must complete a three-month DUI program and perform community service.

As a result of the plea, two misdemeanors against the actress, one for driving under the influence and another for driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or below, were dismissed.

While a no contest plea means Ryan does not admit guilt nor disputes the charges against her, in California it still results in a criminal conviction.

A representative for Ryan declined to comment.

Chicago Police to do DUI saturation patrols this weekend

The Chicago Police DUI Strike Force will be out doing saturation patrols in Wicker Park, Bucktown and Logan Square this Saturday night.

From their press release:

The Chicago Police Department will be conducting a DUI Strike Force Patrol in the
Shakespeare (14th) District this weekend. The DUI Strike Force Patrol will commence at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, 2016 and end at 3:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 24, 2016.
The purpose of this program is to saturate a pre-designated area with roving police officers that continually monitor vehicular traffic for signs of impaired driving. Patrols also place emphasis on speed, alcohol-related and safety belt violations. Police vehicles equipped for speed detection are deployed to apprehend speeding
violators.
In addition, the Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile Unit may also be deployed to allow officers to expedite the process of charging a person with Driving under the Influence (DUI) prior to transporting an alleged into the nearest lockup for bonding. The mobile unit also allows for Individual Recognizance Bonds (I-Bonds) to be issued at the site of the DUI Strike Force Patrol.

Illinois State Trooper pleads guilty to DUI while on Duty

From the Chicago Tribune:

An Illinois State Police trooper who authorities said was intoxicated when he responded to a crash on Interstate 88 last year pleaded guilty Monday to driving under the influence, according to Kane County prosecutors.

Trooper Paul Zurn, 34, agreed to a sentence of one year of court supervision in exchange for a guilty plea to misdemeanor DUI, according to a news release from the Kane County state’s attorney’s office. Judge Robert Morrow accepted the plea.

According to prosecutors, Zurn responded to a minor traffic crash on Aug. 22, 2015, on I-88 near Farnsworth Avenue in Aurora. At the scene, Zurn “was observed by other troopers to be unsteady on his feet, and a bottle containing alcoholic liquor was found in his squad car,” according to the news release.

Zurn refused to submit to a portable breath test and standardized field sobriety tests and also refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test, according to the release. As a result, his driver’s license was suspended for one year by the Illinois Secretary of State.

According to Illinois law, first-time misdemeanor DUI offenders are eligible for supervision, the release said. In addition to the supervision sentence, Zurn must undergo alcohol treatment, pay $2,185 in costs and fines and attend a victim impact panel.

Information about Zurn’s job status was not immediately available.

Two things to note:  1) he refused all tests (so why shouldn’t you do the exact same thing if you end up in the same situation); and 2) even without doing the tests, and without getting his license suspension rescinded which would allow him to work, he plead guilty. Here is a State Trooper, on duty, and there are no field tests or blood alcohol level, yet he still plead guilty.  Since I have not seen the arrest reports, videos or reviewed any of the evidence, I am not in a position to evaluate his case.  But this goes to show that there is no such thing as a slam-dunk case.