One Cook County Corrections officer dead, another charged in fatal DUI crash

From the Patch:

WOODRIDGE, IL — A Cook County correctional officer is facing DUI charges after a Monday afternoon crash that killed 27-year-old fellow officer Zachary Perry. At around 4 p.m., Woodridge police, along with Romeoville and Bolingbrook police, responded to a crash involving a box truck and two passenger vehicles near Joliet and Davey roads.

Police said Perry, of Addison, was pronounced dead at the scene, Another driver, 30-year-old Pablo Perez of Berwyn, was taken to an area hospital and later charged with DUI.

Both Perry and Perez worked as corrections officers, according to WGN. Perez was de-deputized following the crash Monday pending an investigation, officials told the outlet.

Illinois State Police, Bolingbrook and Romeoville police, and the Felony Investigative Assistance Team (FIAT) are investigating the crash.

Perez is charged with one count of misdemeanor DUI and one count of felony aggravated DUI, according to Will County jail records.


Romeoville Mayor Pleads Guilty to DUI

From the Patch:

Less than a month after his DUI arrest, Romeoville Mayor John Noak entered a guilty plea in Will County court. Noak, 44, said he received a $1,500 fine and a year’s supervision, and will be required to submit to an alcohol evaluation and attend a victim impact panel.

Noak, 44, who issued a public apology — including apologizing to Romeoville’s police chief and the officers who responded the day of his arrest — said he takes full responsibility for driving while impaired.

Noak told Patch he took a prescribed medication the day of his State of the Village due an abrupt health issue, but said that wasn’t an excuse for what happened. “(The medication) was something I was unfamiliar with, I didn’t realize it would affect my body so severely,” he said. Noak said he also had not eaten anything prior to his speech.

“Being on medication, getting exhausted and not eating, then going out afterward — that was still my responsibility. That’s still impaired,” he said.

Read the entire story at this link:

Romeoville Mayor allegedly made threatening statements during DUI booking

From the Chicago Tribune:

As the mayor of Romeoville was being booked on suspicion of driving under the influence, he told the local police chief, “I’m coming for you,” and told two other officers, “You’re done,” according to a police report released late Monday.

Mayor John Noak, who was cited for alleged DUI hours after delivering his State of the Village speech on April 12, made the statements after asking whether the area of the police station he was standing in was being recorded, the report states.

“Due to Noak’s tone of voice and his body language I took his statement to me as hostile and threatening,” one officer wrote in the report.

Read the entire story here:

Joliet Councilman arrested for DUI

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Joliet city councilman who was charged this month with driving under the influence pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Will County court, his attorney said.

Jim McFarland, 37, was pulled over by Illinois State Police about 2:30 a.m. July 10 on Interstate 80 near Interstate 355 in the New Lenox area, authorities said. He was charged with misdemeanor DUI and ticketed for improper lane usage, driving without insurance and speeding, authorities said. Tuesday was his first court appearance since the incident.

McFarland’s attorney, George Lenard, said he requested in court that recordings of the radio communications from the traffic stop be preserved. He also provided a copy of McFarland’s insurance card to show he was insured the day of the stop.

McFarland, who was elected as an at-large city councilman in 2013, faces up to 364 days in the County Jail if found guilty of the misdemeanor DUI charge.


A “what-not-to-do” quadruple yutz

Last week, Nicholas Weesies got the “what-not-to-do” quadruple lutz.  This made him a quadruple yutz.

(If you are not up on your yiddish, here is the definition of a “yutz“).

His prize?  A trip to the Will County jail.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Weesies went to Bolingbrook Branch court to pay a $150 fine for a resisting or obstructing a police officer case.  While in court, his cell phone rang.  According to police, he then made “a derogatory comment” and was arrested.  During a search, police found Alprazolam and marijuana, getting him charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of cannabis.  At the time of this incident, Weesies was already on bond for another case of felony possession of a controlled substance.

So, let me break it down:

  1. If you bring your cell phone to court, make sure to put it on silent or buzz-only, or turn it off before entering the courtroom;
  2. Use proper decorum and treat people with respect when you are in a courtroom.  Be nice to everyone, especially the sheriffs and courtroom personnel, and don’t make derogatory comments (of course, this is how you should always act, but if there is ever a place where you should stifle your inner urge to tell people off, it should be in a courtroom);
  3. Don’t bring contraband to court.  There is no safe place where you can walk around in possession of illegal drugs and avoid arrest, but your chances of getting caught go up exponentially when you enter a place like a courthouse where you are subject to search at any time;
  4. When you are on bond for a felony drug case, you should be on your best behavior.  Any mis-step can get your bond revoked.  So walking around with drugs, let alone taking them to court, leaving your cell phone on ring and insulting court officers while on felony bond is a sure-fire way to find yourself in the County Jail.

Judges are doing everyone a disservice by sticking up for the bad eggs

I was originally going to write this post as an update about Will County Judge Joseph Polito, who appeared before the Illinois Courts Commission to defend himself against charges that he had not conducted himself in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary and that he brought his office into disrepute by allegedly attempting to access porn sites on his court computer. (By the way, the judge blamed a 60 year porn addiction for his problem).

But I was stopped in my tracks when I read the Sun-Times story, which concluded with the following paragraphs:

Ten colleagues on the Will County bench wrote to the commission urging leniency and praising Polito’s performance as a judge, and Polito also was backed at Thursday’s hearing by Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes, who said Polito’s work never suffered, urging the commissioners to base their punishment on justice, not what “the media is . . . writing in their little notebooks.”

Will County’s Chief Judge Gerald Kinney tried for months to keep Polito’s identity secret from the Sun-Times, claiming that computer logs showing Polito’s porn use were “judicial records” exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. He was eventually overruled earlier this year by the Illinois Attorney General, leading to Polito’s unmasking.

The media, “writing in their little notebooks” is what brought the judge’s outrageous and undignified behavior to light. There is no reason that he should be allowed to wear a robe and dispense justice again.

I understand that Judge Polito’s colleagues want to support him in dealing with his addiction. I understand that he is embarrassed and humiliated by this being a public news story. But that is not the media’s fault; it is his own fault because of his own actions. He knew that when he was sworn in as a judge, he was obliged to uphold the highest levels of conduct. For a judge to blame the media for reporting this story is no different than for a guilty drunk driver to blame the cop that arrested him.

And this brought to mind another recent embarrassment for our judiciary: the bi-annual “retain all judges” campaign put forth by Cook County judges. In spite of the fact that several of their colleagues were not recommended by the various bar associations for lack of diligence, lack of judicial temperament, and lack of legal knowledge and ability; in spite of the fact that at least two of them had been arrested for criminal conduct while serving as judges; and in spite of the fact that one of those judges, who fit both categories tried to excuse her actions by claiming that she was “legally insane” — they all banded together to support one another.

What do these two situations have in common? Judges banding together to support fellow judges, bad eggs who tarnish their institution, instead of supporting the judicial system itself.

This is about avoiding accountability. Which is ironic, since judges are usually the final arbiter of accountability.

For our judicial system to maintain its status as the most ethical and high-minded branch of government, it is necessary that it have judges who are beyond reproach, who are thoughtful, sage, and composed. Judges should be exemplars in our society.

Unfortunately, this is how things are done in our State of Illinois. Cops look out for bad cops. Politicians support bad politicians. Fans cheer steroid-pumped baseball players who use cork-filled bats. And Judges look out for bad judges.

I am disheartened by the coarse actions of these judges. I think Judge Polito should go, Judge Policandriotes should go and Judge Kinney should go. They clearly hold the public in contempt — the public who pays their salaries (and ridiculously generous benefits).

And I think that the next time that a retention campaign begins, each judge running should state on the record whether he or she supports retention for all or for only the candidates who have been recommended by the majority of the major bar associations.