Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on DUI evaluators setting their own fees

It happened again.  Twice today, once in a face-to-face with another attorney and then again with a group of practitioners the true nature of DUI evaluators was revealed.  There was quite a bit of cursing about DUI evaluators.

In Illinois, anyone who pleads guilty to a DUI, or found guilty of a DUI, must submit to a Drug an alcohol evaluation.  Okay, that sounds straightforward enough, but here’s the catch.

The evaluators make a recommendation of the type and amount of treatment a DUI offender will received.  That recommendation is almost always exclusively used, unchanged, by the State’s Attorney and the courts to determine the sentence.

The sentence then determines how much money the DUI offender must pay, for treatment to, wait for it, the DUI evaluator’s organization.  It is not required that the DUI offender receives treatment at the DUI evaluator’s organization but if not there then it must still be an approved DUI provider.  Care to take a guess as to who generates the approved DUI provider list?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney explains why you want a DUI attorney to become a judge

Last week I had dinner with a great group of DUI trial attorneys from across the country. 
One in the group is taking the plunge.  There was spirited discussion about his desire to change his career path.  Take a wild guess what he’s going to do?

Nope, he’s not showing up on Dancing with the Stars, or Iron Chef America, or Top Chef, or America’s Next Top Model.

He wants to be a judge.  The table was so silent you could have heard crickets.  He was peppered with questions from all angles (I did say this was a group of trial attorneys didn’t I).  He just listened and nodded.  Many of the questions took the tone of "why in tarnation would you want to be a judge"?  He may as well have said he wanted to become a prosecutor or law enforcement judging by some of the laughs and grimaces around the table.

I’ve had time to think about it.  Being a judge is way too important a role to have DUI trial attorneys not take this step.  These specific practitioners are willing to piece together those bits of testimony that don’t add up.  They are familiar with forensics and there eyes will never glaze over when hearing science, math, engineering, or medical testimony. 

DUI trial attorneys are that rare group of folks who are frequently viewed with a sneer (or a snarl) more appropriately worn by Billy Idol, not even garbage collectors are asked, “why on earth would you want to do that”?  That question is asked of every DUI trial attorney I know on a regular basis.

Choosing to become a judge represents a huge loss to the DUI trial bar.  And an even bigger loss to loads of accused folks, but if there’s one thing that a DUI trial attorney knows, it’s that she/he is going to get up every day and fight for our Constitution.  The larger community deserves to have judges hearing cases who know what fighting for the Constitution means.

HINT:  In a Criminal Case, the Burden of Proof belongs to the Government.  The Burden of Proof is very, very high.  The Burden of Proof is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on reinstated charges for a former DUI Top Cop

Stop the Press!  This Chicago DUI attorney thought, probably a lot like the accused that this case was over, finito, done!  But no, now you can see the awesome power of the government against one of its own previously well-regarded star witnesses, former Chicago DUI Top Cop, John Haleas.

This just in from Chicago Breaking News:

A Chicago police officer once again faces felony criminal charges after an appellate court struck down a Cook County judge's decision to dismiss the indictment against him.
The ruling reinstates charges of official misconduct, perjury and obstruction of justice against John Haleas, the Chicago police officer once lauded for racking up the most arrests for DUI in the state.
The case stems from a 2005 arrest Haleas performed while two prosecutors were riding along with him. He allegedly failed to administer a field sobriety test to the suspect, but the prosecutors later noted that he wrote reports reflecting that he had performed the test. Following an internal investigation, the police department suspended Haleas for one day in July 2007 and in April 2008 he was indicted on the criminal charges.
In August 2009, Circuit Judge James Obbish dismissed the indictment after finding that the state's use of the internal police statement violated Haleas' Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and tainted the rest of the case against him.
Prosecutors are generally barred from using an officer's statements in an internal investigation against him in a criminal case, since the officer may be fired for refusing to cooperate with the probe.
On Friday, the Illinois Appellate Court upheld Obbish's decision to toss out the internal affairs statement but found that further hearings should have been held to determine whether the rest of the state's investigation benefitted from that document. The court sent the case back to Obbish for further hearings. 
No.  This isn’t double jeopardy.  Now imagine, if this is how they treat a former police officer, how are they going to get treat you?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on the need for new laws

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here, here, and here about distracted driving.

She’s highlighted what commonsense ought to tell us anyhow, that folks continually being distracted while driving is not limited to the perils of texting while driving.

Heck, several years ago I had a client who was charged with a DUI.  He was acquitted.  Guess what caused the “poor driving” that cause the police officer to stop my client?  No, it wasn’t drinking.  Try again if you think he was texting while driving.  Nope, he wasn’t talking on his cell phone either.  Well, scroll down to the bottom to see what caused his “poor driving, but in the meantime, maybe there’s someone else who can more eloquently explain the perils of creating laws to single out texting over other forms of distracted driving.

When Lora Hunt of Morris smashed into and killed motorcyclist Anita Zaffke in May of 2009 while painting her finergnails [sic], she illustrated a little-known fact: most distracted driving accidents have nothing to do with cell phones.
While more attention has been paid to drivers talking or texting with their cell phones, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says just a fraction of the 5,474 people killed and 448,000 injured in crashes involving distracted driving last year were because of cell phone use.
The NHTSA says only 18 percent of the fatalities and 5 percent of the injuries were cell phone related.
People love to eat in their cars. They can't resist fiddling with the CD player or the radio, chatting with passengers, patting their pets or turning around to get after the kids in the back seat while hurtling down the interstate.
"I don't think we've made nearly as much progress in those other areas of distracted driving," says Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
He says the nation's vehicles and highway systems are so well-designed; they've helped create complacency among many drivers.
"In some sense we've made things too safe, and people get lulled into this sense of complacency," he says. "The system is fundamentally so safe that most of the time when people do these things, they get away with them."
There you have it.  So what caused my client’s “poor driving”?  He was arguing with his wife.  Today’s free legal advice is never, ever argue while driving.  Yes.  It is another form of distracted driving.  Somehow, I don't believe the legislators are rushing to put a no arguing while driving law on the books. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney thinks we already know what will happen to a judge

-This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here about the charge of Reckless Driving for Judge Popejoy.

His troubles have not ended, despite having pled guilty to the charge.

 The Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board filed a complaint against DuPage Circuit Judge Kenneth Popejoy, who admitted last month he fled after crashing into a parked car in Glen Ellyn.
The state board found Popejoy's conduct brought his "judicial office into disrepute" and asked the Illinois Courts Commission to hold a public hearing to determine appropriate discipline. Possible sanctions include censure, unpaid suspension or removal from office.
The four-page JIB complaint, filed Thursday, also revealed a few new details about the June 29 crash. For example, it took Popejoy about 10 minutes to answer his door despite repeated notifications that police were waiting outside, according to the complaint.
The Wheaton man pleaded guilty Aug. 3 to reckless driving, a misdemeanor. He was ordered to pay $500 in fines and serve a six-month period of conditional discharge, which is a nonreporting form of probation.
Popejoy said Friday he anticipated the JIB complaint and has fully cooperated.
"As I stated before, I regret my actions regarding the incident and am working hard to put the matter behind me and restore any trust the public may have lost in me," he said in a written statement.
At 8:15 p.m. June 29, Popejoy dropped off DuPage Chief Judge Stephen Culliton at his Glen Ellyn home after the two socialized at a nearby restaurant with other attorneys. Popejoy drove west down Ridgewood Avenue when he struck a college student's unoccupied 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee parked on the north side of the street.
Instead of stopping, the judge continued on, drove up on a curb and ran over two plastic garbage cans. His 2003 Jeep Liberty dragged those cans underneath it as he continued west while the front passenger-side tire was nearly off the rim.
This will probably be like other complaints against other judges and end with a reprimand.  As law enforcement has been known to say, “Move along folks, nothing to see here.”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney shares what she heard in court

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here and here about suspended driver’s licenses.

Today the following PSA was made from the bench:

Everyone in this room is charged with driving while their license is suspended or revoked.  Even though I’m the judge, I can’t give you your license back.  The prosecutor standing to my left can’t give you your license back.

Only the Secretary of State can give you your license back.

The response from everyone in the courtroom follows:

  • Blank looks,
  • Quiet enough to hear a pin drop
  • “Huh”?
  • I need a blanket so I can catch up on my zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

It’s a jailable offense.  You need to have an attorney represent you.  Otherwise today’s small fine as a first time offender has a tendency to become tomorrow’s offer for jail when you are on your fifteenth offense for driving while your license is suspended or revoked.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney comments on a CEO with a DUI keeping a JOB

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here and here about the consequences of a DUI arrest.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that even if you faced such a serious criminal charge, your job is safe?

 Horace Mann Educators Corp. president and CEO Louis Lower hit another driver head-on prior to his arrest for driving under the influence during the Memorial Day weekend, Florida police reports confirm.
Lower, 65, has been placed on leave of absence while he serves a 60-day jail sentence in Indian River County, Florida. He is scheduled for release Oct. 26 and is expected to return to his duties at the Springfield company.
No one was hospitalized as a result of the crash, according to police. Lower pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence involving personal injury or damage to property.
 Lower said in a statement Monday that he takes responsibility for “a lapse of personal character,” while the board of directors released a statement expressing confidence in Lower. The statement said he is expected to return to his duties by early November.
Lower joined the company in 2000. Horace Mann specializes in insurance, retirement annuities and financial services for educators.
 Still, 60 days in jail for a property damage accident, especially when he can pay for any and all damages, seems a bit excessive.   Are you wondering, whether he gets to keep his company auto insurance after he comes out?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney thinks you shouldn't wear clothes that give the police probable cause to make you a suspect

This Chicago DUI attorney has posted here about wearing clothing to court that may cause you  a problem.

Even she can’t imagine giving someone legal advice to avoid wearing clothing that could give the police probable cause to charge you with a DUI.

 A three-time convicted drunk driver allegedly drove into the front steps of a house while intoxicated and wearing a T-shirt that says, “I have a drinking problem.” 
James J. Johnson, 50, of 519 Quaddick Town Farm Road in Thompson, was ordered held yesterday on $2,500 bail on charges of drunken driving (fourth offense), negligent driving and malicious destruction of property less than $250. Mr. Johnson was also cited for a marked lanes violation. 
Dudley District Court Judge Neil G. Snider ordered Mr. Johnson to remain alcohol free with random testing, and a pretrial hearing was set for Oct. 28. 
A prosecutor requested $10,000 bail, in part because the state could not impose a condition that Mr. Johnson wear an electronic monitor with a “Sobrietor” device that ensures he doesn't drink alcohol. That's because he resides in Connecticut. 
Mr. Johnson, who was not injured, slurred his words, according to a police report. When asked what happened, he said his dogs were running around inside his truck, causing him to lose control, police said. 

 There’s a lot that could be said here, but where does one start?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chicago DUI attorney is anxious, anxious I tell you to get this sweet app

Yes!  A meaningful response for those of us who love loved to text and drive. 

Now, there's a way to text while driving without having to take your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road.
AdelaVoice's free Android app, called StartTalking, is voice-controlled. You don't need to open any app or navigate menus. It can even operate when the phone screen is dark or the keypad is locked.
You just bark out a pre-assigned name to "wake up" the phone, then start StartTalking.
Following audio prompts -- like "Speak to create a text message for Ed or say 'cancel,' " -- you can dictate and route your message. You can play back texts, too.

No I haven’t downloaded the app yet but once I do, you can be sure I will report back.  

Now when can we get an app that read out loud, while we are driving received text messages and email?