Monday, November 30, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the stiffer penalties for DUI

This Chicago DUI lawyer posted here and here about significant changes to Illinois DUI laws.

Under these new laws, people are being sentenced to jail, as required by state legislators, for driving while their license is suspended based on a DUI arrest. The license suspension is triggered by the Statutory Summary Suspension. Statutory Summary Suspension is only for DUI arrests. If a first-time DUI accused submits to testing by breath, blood, or alcohol and is over the legal limit of .08 the license will be suspended for six months. If the accused refuses to submit to these tests the license will be suspended for one year.

Some of you are already wondering how is that any different than the way the law used to be in such cases. It used to be a first time offender had a choice between community service and jail. It used to be a first time offender would be charged with a misdemeanor but the ripple effect of the changes to DUI law are great.

Currently in Illinois, if you are charged with driving while your license is suspended based on a DUI arrest (note I said arrest, not a conviction) and you could have been driving legally with an Interlock Ignition Device installed in your vehicle, the minimum sentence is 10 days in jail and it is a class 4 felony.

625 ILCS 5/6-303 (c) (3)- Any person convicted of a violation of this Section during a period of summary suspension imposed pursuant to Section 11‑501.1 when the person was eligible for a MDDP shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony and shall serve a minimum term of imprisonment of 30 days.

I just don't get why some folks think a DUI is no big deal. It is.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on Tiger Woods' non-DUI

This Chicago DUI lawyer knows it's a slow news day, but anytime "America's son", Tiger Woods, is in the news the day isn't slow. Unfortunately, he wasn't in the news for his prowess on the golf course. He ended up going to the hospital and being treated and released for minor facial lacerations. Initially, it was reported that the lacerations were from a car accident. Now it appears there maybe more to it than that.


Tiger has yet to be formally interviewed by the Florida Highway Patrol -- that should happen this afternoon. But we're told Tiger had a conversation Friday -- with a non-law enforcement type -- detailing what went down before his Escalade hit a fire hydrant.

We're told he said his wife had confronted him about reports that he was seeing another woman. The argument got heated and, according to our source, she scratched his face up. We're told it was then Woods beat a hasty retreat for his SUV -- but according to our source, Woods says his wife followed behind with a golf club. As Tiger drove away, she struck the vehicle several times with the club.

We're also told Woods had said during the conversation Friday he had been taking prescription pain medication for an injury, which could explain why he seemed somewhat out of it at the scene.

As I recently posted, in Illinois, you can be charged with a DUI if your driving is impaired based on a prescribed drug. If Mr. Woods was traveling on public roads in Illinois with the same prescription pain medication I believe he would be charged with a DUI. Here's the Illinois statute on point:
625ILCS 5/11-501

(b) The fact that any person charged with violating this Section is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol, other drug or drugs, or intoxicating compound or compounds, or any combination thereof, shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this Section.

Is that clear? Just because your treating doctor gave you a prescription does not entitle you to drive. Once the police decide you are impaired and you either 1) tell them your doctor gave you a prescription or 2) go to the hospital and get treated (this may well include a blood draw or urine sample that reveals the drug at issue)you could very well be facing a DUI charge even if you don't believe you were impaired.

In Mr. Wood's case his saving grace from being charged with a DUI,even though he was on prescribed pain medication and appeared "somewhat out of it", could very well be that he was not driving on public roads. Perhaps it's time to go through your prescription medications with your treating doctor and make sure they aren't on a list of drugs that could get you charged with a DUI.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the passage of Leandra's Law

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here about the increase of women being charged with DUI. One of the reasons this increase is significant is because many of these women have their children with them when charged. Now comes the news that New York has passed Leandra's Law, so named after the little girl who died when the driver of the vehicle she was in was arrested for DUI. The driver, Carmen Huertas, picked Leandra up for a sleepover with her daughter.

New York Governor David Paterson on Wednesday signed into law the toughest driving while intoxicated (DWI) legislation in the nation. The Child Passenger Protection Act, also called Leandra's Law, makes it a felony for individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol to drive with children in the car.

"Too often drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs chose to compromise not only their own lives, but also the lives of our children. Today we say enough," said Paterson in a press release.

The state Senate passed the bill on a 58-0 vote Wednesday afternoon, and it was passed in the state Assembly on Tuesday.

Under the bill, a drunk driver with a child under 16 years old in the car could face up to four years in prison. If the child is killed while the driver is intoxicated, it will become a B felony and carry a 7- to 25-year prison sentence.

The law is named after Leandra Rosado, an 11-year-old girl who was killed last month when the car she was in crashed on the side of the West Side Highway. The driver, Carmen Huertas was intoxicated at the time and has been indicted on charges of manslaughter and drunk driving.
While we can all agree that drunk driving with a child in the vehicle is heinous you are more apt to be charged with this offense in Illinois during this holiday season. Perhaps just yesterday your whole family, kids included, loaded up and headed to someone else's house for Thanksgiving. Beer, wine and perhaps even a spiked eggnog were served right? You had a few right? Then you loaded the car back up and headed back home. You are perfectly set up to be charged with a DUI, because the kids are with you.

In Illinois, a person who is charged with a first DUI with a child under 16 as a passenger is subject to additional penalties, above and beyond those for a first time offender who is not transporting a child. Those additional penalties include being subject to 6 months jail and an additional mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and 25 days community sevice in a program benefiting children pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/11-501 (c) (3).

If the child being transported suffers great bodily injury, the offense, even for a first time offender, is a Class 4 felony. That means the person could face 1-3 years in prison. 625 ILCS 5/11-501 (d)(1)(J).

It's a whole lot easier than you imagined to be charged with a DUI for driving with a child in the car. Make sure you have a designated driver during the holiday season. That means one who drinks nothing harder than what the kids are drinking that evening.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer is thankful the Constitution doesn't take a day off

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about your Constitutional rights. Today, she's reminded that the Constitution doesn't go on holiday, even as many of us had today off to share with family and friends.

Here's a snapshot from a Facebook Page, early this morning:

Anonymous 1- Is thankful for a job as I work thanksgiving again. Happy thanksgiving all!

Me- I'm thankful for all of your service and our Constitution that doesn't take a day off for the holiday in order to protect the rights of all. Peace & Thank you,
15 hours ago ·

Anonymous 2- nice one, ava!!! i agree! hope bond court's not too long, Anonymous 1 !
11 hours ago

Anonymous 1 worked bond court today. That's right, she wasn't sleeping in or baking pies. She was up early this morning preparing for bond court. As she represented an array of accused who found themselves in custody at the Cook County Jail,instead of with their families today. I am confident she was able to get bond set at levels that let many of the accused be released in order to spend the rest of the day with their families. I'm thankful to live in a country where the rights of the accused don't go on holiday, even if it is Thanksgiving.

PS My husband wanted me to remind you that the police are usually out in full force during the holiday season so please choose a designated driver if you plan to drink any alcoholic beverage. No one wants to be locked up for a DUI on Black Friday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the expensive subtraction lesson given to the police

This Chicago DUI lawyer has heard of all kinds of reasons to be arrested, but really "offering a middle finger"? I guess it matters if that gesture is given to a police officer.

The City of Pittsburgh has agreed to pay $50,000 to a man who sued after being issued a disorderly conduct citation for gesturing offensively at a police officer.

The settlement, in which the city also agreed to retrain its officers in the limits of disorderly conduct law, was reached with Dave Hackbart, 35, after research undertaken by his lawyers found that police citations for swearing or offensive gestures were common here.

From March 2005 to July 2009, the research found, Pittsburgh officers cited 198 people for disorderly conduct on the basis of that sort of behavior, even though the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has consistently found such citations unlawful on free speech grounds.

Mr. Hackbart was charged on April 10, 2006, while trying to parallel-park. According to his lawsuit, another car pulled up and blocked him from parking, frustrating Mr. Hackbart, who gestured with his middle finger at the other driver.

When a third driver objected to the gesture, Mr. Hackbart delivered it to him as well. That driver turned out to be an officer, Sgt. Brian Elledge, who wrote the citation. Mr. Hackbart was found guilty by a magistrate and fined court costs.

Yep, nothing quite like a citizen exercising his Constitutional right to free speech. Seriously, what was the officer thinking?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer provides an update on the Beltway connected DUI arrests from last week

This Chicago DUI lawyer posted about Senator Kerry's daughter and Senator Lugar's wife being charged with DUI's last week. Now comes word that Senator Kerry's daughter, Alexandra, had her DUI charges dismissed.

John Kerry's daughter is free and clear this morning... because the L.A. City Attorney has decided not to prosecute her for DUI -- that's what law enforcement sources tell TMZ.

TMZ broke the story Alexandra Forbes Kerry was busted by the
LAPD early Thursday morning, but her blood alcohol level was .06 ... under the legal limit of .08.

The City Attorney typically doesn't prosecute cases with a .06 ... so the decision to reject the case is pretty routine.
She was lucky. Yes there are already those who believe the charges were dismissed because of her famous father, but in this particular case she also was not charged with any erratic driving nor was there an accident, unlike Senator Lugar's wife. Do I believe her background and associations may have played into the prosecutor's decision to dismiss the charges? Of course it did. As I've said each DUI is different. She probably has no other criminal background. She did not get stopped by law enforcement for driving poorly and if put before a jury of her peers, she would probably be found not guilty. The prosecutor made the right decision in this case. Yes, I would expect a Chicago prosecutor to make the same decision for a non-celebrity defendant if the facts were similar to Ms. Kerry's.

In Illinois, you can blow under the legal limit and just like Alexandra Kerry be charged with a DUI. Just like Alexandra Kerry your DUI would be subject to the prosecutor making the decision whether to go forward with the charge or not. In Illinois, one is deemed not under the influence of alcohol if the breath alcohol content is less than .05. In Illinois, like California, the legal limit is .08. Let me be clear, people are found guilty of DUI daily without breath alcohol testing. Each individual has to decide whether they should submit to chemical testing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on the DUI checkpoint everyone is flocking to reach

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about DUI checkpoints. She's never heard of law enforcement asking people to avoid a DUI checkpoint until now.

Here's a novel idea that mixes the very good and the very bad of the holiday season.

The Salinas Police Department has added a turkey giveaway to this week's DUI checkpoint.

Officers will give turkeys to some of the drivers who successfully pass through the drunk driving stop Tuesday night.

It wasn't clear how the lucky winners will be chosen, but the turkeys themselves come from donations from local businesses, members of the department and any private citizen who wants to hand over a bird.

This is the seventh year Salinas police have added a giveaway to the Thanksgiving week DUI checkpoint.

It's become so popular, Salinas police are now asking drivers not to go through the checkpoint more than once just to try to win a turkey.

During these economically challenging times I suspect this DUI checkpoint will be flooded with people waiting to pass through it. I look forward to residents taking advantage of this rebate on their hard-earned tax dollars.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on weed, other prescription medicines, and DUI

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here and here about folks being charged with a DUI based on weed use. She has also posted here about other prescription drugs being the cause of a DUI charge. Now comes news of the use of weed to treat diseases such as Attention- Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (A.D.H.D.) in adolescents.

At the Peace in Medicine Healing Center in Sebastopol, the wares on display include dried marijuana — featuring brands like Kryptonite, Voodoo Daddy and Train Wreck — and medicinal cookies arrayed below a sign saying, “Keep Out of Reach of Your Mother.”

The warning tells a story of its own: some of the center’s clients are too young to buy themselves a beer.

Several Bay Area doctors who recommend medical marijuana for their patients said in recent interviews that their client base had expanded to include teenagers with psychiatric conditions including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Because California does not require doctors to report cases involving medical marijuana, no reliable data exist for how many minors have been authorized to receive it. But Dr. Jean Talleyrand, who founded MediCann, a network in Oakland of 20 clinics who authorize patients to use the drug, said his staff members had treated as many as 50 patients ages 14 to 18 who had A.D.H.D. Bay Area doctors have been at the forefront of the fierce debate about medical marijuana, winning tolerance for people with grave illnesses like terminal cancer and AIDS. Yet as these doctors use their discretion more liberally, such support — even here — may be harder to muster, especially when it comes to using marijuana to treat adolescents withA.D.H.D.

“It’s safer than aspirin,” Dr. Talleyrand said. He and other marijuana advocates maintain that it is also safer than methylphenidate (Ritalin), the stimulant prescription drug most often used to treat A.D.H.D. That drug has documented potential side effects including insomnia, depression,facial tics and stunted growth.

Nonetheless, expanding its use among young people is controversial even among doctors who authorize medical marijuana.

Gene Schoenfeld, a doctor in Sausalito, said, “I wouldn’t do it for anyone under 21, unless they have a life-threatening problem such as cancer or AIDS.”

Counterintuitive as it may seem, however, patients and doctors have been reporting that marijuana helps alleviate some of the symptoms, particularly the anxiety and anger that so often accompany A.D.H.D. The disorder has been diagnosed in more than 4.5 million children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Talleyrand and his staff members are not alone in being willing to recommend marijuana for minors. In Berkeley, Dr. Frank Lucido said he was questioned by the medical board but ultimately not disciplined after he authorized marijuana for a 16-year-old boy with A.D.H.D. who had tried Ritalin unsuccessfully and was racking up a record of minor arrests.

Within a year of the new treatment, he said, the boy was getting better grades and was even elected president of his special-education class. “He was telling his mother: ‘My brain works. I can think,’ ” Dr. Lucido said.

“With any medication, you weigh the benefits against the risks,” he added.

We have a problem here because some states, including Illinois, permit a person to be charged and found guilty of DUI if they have any amount of a controlled substance, it doesn't matter if it is legally prescribed by a treating physician, in their system. I wonder how long it will take for the state legislators to realize that the laws can be used to punish people who are following doctors orders for chronic and/or life-threatening conditions, including terminal diseases.

Thanks to Michael Martine,

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer says doesn't the government have more important matters to spend 100k on in her hometown?

This Chicago DUI lawyer was surprised to read that her hometown was announcing a pretty big grant. The grant wasn't for local schools, unemployment benefits, environmental and conservation work, nor was it to give out free/reduced fee H1N1 vaccinations. It's to pay the salaries of two law enforcement officers dedicated to DUI patrols.

Orangeburg’s Department of Public Safety has received a grant that will pay for two officers to target drunk drivers. City Council accepted the grant during its meeting Tuesday.

The $149,848 Highway Safety Grant from the state Department of Public Safety will be used for two full-time officers, with salary and fringe benefits, plus two vehicles and equipment.

They will be used as an advanced DUI enforcement team. No local match funds are required.

I hope my family and friends back home are dismayed by this use of taxpayer dollars.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on those DUI's with Beltway connections

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here about professional courtesies. Last week, I spoke to an officer who confirmed that it is offered and he has done it for both other officers as well as politicians. He did note that things had changed and the ability to be given that professional courtesy of not being charged with a DUI had decreased significantly to about 60/40 chance.

Now comes news of not one, but two, senators with close family members charged this week with DUI's.

Bay Sate Sen. John Kerry defended his daughter tonight saying she was not driving drunk when pulled over by Los Angeles cops early this morning and a Breathalyzer test will prove it.

Alexandra Forbes Kerry, 36, was pulled over at 12:40 a.m. in Hollywood for a traffic violation and was charged with DUI, a misdemeanor, Officer Sara Faden told the Herald.

“Alexandra Kerry was pulled over for an expired registration and was released after the results of a breathalyzer test at the police station were under the legal limit. Senator Kerry supports his daughter and will have no further comment on a private matter,” said Kerry spokesperson Jodi Seth.

November 19, McLean, VA

The wife of Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) was arrested in McLean on Wednesday night after crashing into a parked car, and she was charged with drunk driving and hit-and-run, Fairfax County police said Thursday.

Charlene S. Lugar, 77, was stopped shortly after 6:30 p.m. by an officer who noticed smoke coming from her car and damage to the front end of the car as she drove on Old Dominion Drive, Officer Bud Walker said. The officer pulled her over near Dominion Reserve Drive, "developed probable cause that she was intoxicated" and arrested her. He did not release her alleged blood-alcohol content.

Senator Lugar's office released a statement which said that "No other persons were in her car or the unattended car she hit. Thankfully, no one was injured. We are deeply sorry and embarrassed that this accident has occurred."

It appears that across the aisle there are DUI arrests for two prominent senators. We wonder sometimes why they can't get the people's work done but it looks like they might have their hands full with errant family members.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on new legislation for DUI with kids in the car

This Chicago DUI lawyer posted here and here about DUI's where children are passengers. Now comes the news of tougher penalties for folks charged with a DUI when children are passengers.

New York State would make it a felony to drive while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle and would require first-time convicted drunken drivers to buy a device that prevents them from driving their cars if they have been drinking, under a bill passed by the State Assembly on Tuesday.

The push for harsher drunken-driving penalties follows two recent crashes in New York in which children were killed while traveling with adults who had been drinking.

In July, a Long Island woman drove the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway in Westchester County and killed eight people, including her 2-year-old daughter and three young nieces. The driver, who also died, had a blood alcohol content of 0.19 percent, more than double the 0.08 percent that qualifies as being intoxicated while driving, and had marijuana in her system.

And in October, an 11-year-old girl, Leandra Rosado, was killed after the mother of one of her friends, who has since been charged with vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated, flipped her car on the Henry Hudson Parkway in Manhattan. The new law was named in honor of the girl.

Let me be clear, no one believes that people should drive while drunk and even more so no one believes that children should be placed at risk of harm by riding with a drunk driver, but given all of those agreed beliefs, how does a DUI with a kid passenger occur? Easy, it's the holiday season so the family packs up and heads over to grandma's for the day. Many will join family in watching a football game with a few beers, then move to dinner with some wine, and finally who can resist the coffee or eggnog with a little extra served alongside of dessert. Then the car gets packed, with the kids, and you go home to sleep it off and wake up early for Black Friday. Similar variations of this scenario occur with family weddings, cookouts, and sports outings.

Perhaps the best way to avoid a felony DUI with your own children as passengers, is to avoid any drinking at all if you are going to drive. I do hate to be a party pooper, but the stakes have been raised.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on DUI, suspended license, car forfeitures and impoundments

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here about driving misdemeanor offenses being grounds for car forfeitures and impoundments. Now comes news on two fronts about the government taking the car just for being charged, not being found guilty, of a DUI or driving while your license is suspended or revoked.

Motorists who dare to drive on suspended or revoked licenses would lose their wheels under a crackdown advanced today to reduce violent crime and abuses ex- posed by the Chicago Sun-Times' "Why Are They Driving?" series.

More than two years after striking out in his attempt to add driving on a suspended or revoked license to the laundry list of offenses punished by vehicle impoundment, Transportation Committee Chairman Tom Allen (38th) succeeded in pushing the ordinance through the Police Committee.

Allen's ordinance would allow offenders to reclaim their vehicles after paying a $1,000 administrative penalty on top of towing and storage fees.

One-third of all accidents resulting in deaths or serious injuries involve at least one motorist driving on a suspended or revoked license. The same applies to 25 percent of all street-corner drug arrests.

"Those numbers underscore the potential to not only make our roads safer, but also get drugs off the street,” Allen said. In the "Why Are They Driving?" series, the Sun-Times watched drivers whose licenses had been suspended leave courthouses and drive away — even after promising a judge that they would not drive.

The last time the Police Committee considered the impoundment penalty, the Department of Streets and Sanitation warned that city auto pounds were bursting at the seams and that the new offense could "push us over the limit.”

On Tuesday, Deputy Commissioner Steve Sorfleet said auto pound capacity is no longer an issue. There is plenty of room at the inn.

As they say, on those infomercials for those who suffer from insomnia, "but wait there is more"! A judge in Dupage County just ruled on this vehicle forfeiture issue and said, not so fast, we still have both the U.S. Constitution and the Illinois Constitution requiring due process before taking someone's property.

From the Chicago Sun Times, Nov. 17, 2009:

A state law that allows police and municipalities to seize the vehicles of accused repeat drunk drivers or those who have driven repeatedly on revoked licenses was deemed unconstitutional Tuesday.

A DuPage County judge ruled that Illinois’ vehicle forfeiture statute gives the state too broad of authority to impound vehicles, particularly in cases where a vehicle’s co-owner loses a car despite not being charged or where an accused offender faces only misdemeanor charges.

n a 19-page opinion, DuPage County Associate Judge Thomas C. Dudgeon said the law backed by anti-drunk driving advocates violated the due process clauses of the Illinois and federal Constitutions.

“It fails to provide an adequate means to test the state’s right to hold respondents’ property in either a meaningful time frame or a meaningful manner while the underlying forfeiture action is awaiting trial,” Dudgeon wrote.

The ruling surprised anti-drunk driving advocates, who warned of dire consequences if Dudgeon’s decision stands.

It looks like City Council didn't see Judge Dudgeon's ruling before deciding that they could increase the City's coffers by taking the vehicle of someone accused of driving while suspended, revoked or a DUI.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer comments on DUI and deportation

This Chicago DUI lawyer has posted here, here, and here on immigration issues and DUI's. Now comes news of a young man who is fast-tracked for deportation for a DUI arrest.

After an emotional appeal from a straight-A student facing deportation in 33 days, a City Council committee agreed Friday to champion the cause of Rigo Padilla and others caught in the switches while awaiting immigration reform.

The Human Relations Committee unanimously approved a resolution urging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to stop deportation proceedings against Padilla and all other immigrant students who would be eligible for legal status under the so-called DREAM Act still pending before Congress.

“I’ve been here all my life. This is my home. All I have is my education. To be separated from my family, from my friends and from that education would be devastating to me,” said Padilla, a 21-year-old University of Illinois at Chicago student who dreams of becoming an attorney.

“Many students are scared and do live in fear that, if they do make a mistake or if they’re at the wrong place at the wrong time and are unlucky, this might be them. ... My struggle is their struggle,” Padilla said.

On Jan. 18, Padilla was driving home from watching a football playoff game on TV after having a few beers with friends when he was arrested for driving under the influence after being pulled over for rolling through a stop sign.

He was taken to Cook County Jail. When a public defender found out that he was an undocumented immigrant, he was reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The damage was done. Although Padilla was released with an electronic monitoring device and given court supervision for the traffic violation, he was put on the fast track to deportation. That day of reckoning is 33 days away.

“It is a mistake that I made, and I do have to face the reality. I am sorry for it. I’m just hoping and seeking support to stay in this country,” said Padilla.

Padilla came to Chicago 15 years ago from Jalisco, Mexico, with his mother and sisters to join his father, who was already here.

Human Relations Committee Chairman Helen Shiller (46th) responded: “You’re referring to a minor traffic violation as a mistake that you made. But you’re being punished for something that occurred when you were six, so I don’t think you can be responsible.”

In my opinion Rigo's case is an unusual Chicago DUI experience, many undocumented people are arrested for a litany of minor infractions and released without ever being subject to ICE. Unfortunately for Rigo, and many others like him even if he isn't deported I think he may have significantly damaged his ability to gain permanent resident status or citizenship. I'm curious to hear from immigration experts on this.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chicago DUI lawyer shares her thoughts on Cook County Jury Duty

This Chicago DUI lawyer had to reset her own cases because she was summoned for jury duty. Judges laughed, prosecutors laughed, sheriffs & court clerks all laughed when I entered the court house today complete with my little red sticker indicating I was on the jury call.

So what do you need to know about this process?

I was questioned & released. Sounds more like a suspect in a crime than jury duty, hmmm?
It is an important part of being a citizen. Our democratic process relies on this sacrifice by us to participate in our judicial process. This occurs whenever a defendant, whether it is a lawsuit for money damages, or a criminal case where the individual could go to jail, prison, or worse, decides they want to trust their fate to members of the community instead of a judge.

You can read some of my thoughts about the process as I experienced it at

I do have a few thoughts on jury duty because the process is a lot like finding out your flight has been delayed at the airport, or I imagine what detention after school must feel like. Absolutely, mind-numbing by about 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon, if you aren't selected for a jury and you haven't been released for the day either.

1. Bring your cell phone and a way to charge it.
2. Bring snacks, coffee, tea, etc. the vending machines are limited in their offerings.
3. Bring puzzles.
4. Bring reading materials, a big book, or better yet your Kindle.
5. Bring a laptop with a power cord, at least 2 DVD's for a minimum of 4 hours of watching materials, and a headset.
6. Bring your fully charged ipod.
7. If you are planning your wedding or have holiday cards to get out, bring your cards and invitations with you (you may have way more down time than you had originally expected).
8. Bring money for food because they don't provide it for you.
9. If you are at the Daley Center, look for a seat close to the window, otherwise you may spend time looking to get out and you are on the 17th floor.
10. FYI- They place a sheriff at the doorway so you really can't leave, nor can folks come visit you or bring you stuff, like Coke Zero .
When they finally call your panel to dismiss you, that $17.20 check feels like the key to freedom.