Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cop's ticket nolle prossed

Remember back on February 7th, when the McHenry County Sheriff's Department reported on a rear-end crash caused by a Prairie Grove cop on February 4th?

In a media release signed by Sheriff Keith Nygren, who must have been in town that day, it was reported that the Prairie Grove officer, unnamed in the MCSD report, "was distracted by something inside the vehicle" and rear-ended a Chevy Suburban. At the time I wondered how innocuous the report was.

OK, so .... by what was the officer distracted? The in-car computer? Radio? Cell phone? Texting? What was going on inside the police car that the driver didn't see the Chevy Suburban? Did he spill his coffee? Drop his donut?

Although he wasn't named in the media release (why not???), the Northwest Herald carried his name, Paul McNamara. He was ticketed for Failure to Reduce Speed to Avoid an Accident, according to Nygren's release.

A bench trial was scheduled for yesterday, April 6. Imagine my surprise when I read in the online court record this morning that the case was nolle prossed. Why did the State decide not to prosecute him?

I could begin guessing, but I'll wait for my call to the State's Attorney's Office to be returned.


Karen30036 said...

Must be nice ... if that were any of us civilians, we'd be paying the fine and court costs.

Dudley DoRight said...

Nolle Prossed means that the SAO dropped the charge with the ability to reinstate the charge at a later date. Delaying prosecution.

Being a misdemeanor, the State has 18 months to reinstate the charge. The defense should have asked the judge to dismiss the charge and object to the Nolle Pros. I wasn't there, but usually the State anticipates the defense motion and Nolles the charge BEFORE the defense motion. The Judge can deny and dismiss the case and I'll bet that had it been a civilian the charge WOULD HAVE been dismissed.

The cop is not off the hook.

Gus said...

I've never seen a judge dismiss a ticket here. Nolle pross is the order of the day, it seems. And I've never heard of the SAO re-filing on traffic charges after a nolle pross.

The cop skated, but I'll find out why the deputy was a no-show. That smells.

About the only valid excuse ought to be that he was at a funeral - his own.

Dudley DoRight said...

I've seen Judges dismiss a ticket for less. If witnesses show up and the defense is ready the Judges do not like to continue cases and inconvenience witnesses. I have heard Judges ask the ASA if they contacted the officer or other driver. One (now retired) Judge would become upset if the ASA didn't have good answers and then would gavel and dismiss a case.

Gus said...

Sam, I agree with handling it like that. If the defense is there and ready to go, then it ought to get thrown out, if the ASA isn't ready.

In this case, the ASA was ready; that is, HE was ready. As I understand it, the deputy and the two civilians were given notice of the trial.

I can understand the civilians not wanting to take time off from work to trot all the way over the Woodstock for the trial.

But for the deputy to miss it is highly suspect, in my book. It's his JOB to be in court for the trial. Geez, all he would have to say is Driver 1 said he was distracted and smashed into the rear of Unit 2, which was stopped when he hit it.


Steve said...

I "guess" that you ARE guessing, Gus and it appears that once again you are wrong. Must be a big conspiracy here if the civilian witnesses also failed to appear. First off, they have to be subpoenaed, unlike the deputy or officer who is SUPPOSED to get a letter. Since no one showed, is it possible that there was no notice or subpoena. Should be easy enough to find out, the subpoena - served - should be in the court file.

More importantly, your comment about the deputy winning the day is misinformed. Unless the deputy WITNESSED the crash, all his knowledge is hearsay. They need, at the very least, one of the civilian witnesses (like maybe the "victim" who apparently didn't show either) to testify that the accident actually occurred. The officer, if he didn't witness the crash, is not enough.

Gus said...

Steve, thanks for your comment.

I agree that, unless the deputy actually observed the crash, which I don't think he did, then his report was written on what he was told by others. The deputy is the accident investigator, not a "witness".

The ASA told me that he had given notice to the deputy and the witnesses. I'm trying to find out if they were told, by anyone, that they didn't need to appear.

The deputy's version should be enough, don't you think? Let's see, front-end damage on the squad car; rear damage on the car that he hit.

Justin said...

No not good enough. Too many facts that are inadmissible without DIRECT testimony. The deputy can testify as to tire marks to indicate braking, the deputy can testify as to the placement of the vehilces, but the deputy can not testify as to the statements becuase in court the BEST EVIDENCE rule requires the drivers/witnesses to testify.

Would not be the first time an ASA stood flat footed before the court failing to notify witnesses.