Thursday, July 12, 2012

No shows in Woodstock court

Yesterday there were at least five no-shows in the Woodstock Administrative Adjudication Court on Vehicle Impoundment cases.

If you go to the trouble to request a hearing, you really ought to show up. If you don't show up, you are giving up without a fight. Why not fight? If you don't fight, you don't have a chance of winning. If you do fight your ticket, at least you have a chance. Maybe only a small one, but at least that small one.

One case in court this morning involved the driver of another person's car who got stopped three hours and ten minutes after the effective date of her driver's license suspension. She told the judge that she "is not good with dates."

So, when she got stopped at 3:10AM, the vehicle she was driving, even if not her own, was subject to being impounded.

But should it have been?

The vehicle may have been parked in a safe spot and didn't require towing. Judge Eterno gave a her chance to get her ducks lined up and to come back in September. He could tell that the car may have been not only safely parked, but legally parked. But, from her statements, he couldn't tell. She is supposed to bring photographs with her to the September court date.

She said the car was parked next to the garage; then she said it was parked in the alley. I felt that what she meant was that it was parked next to the garage alongside the alley, but not in the alley. An alley, of course, is a public way, and the cop could have the car hauled away from an alley.

But if the car was parked on the grass next to the garage or on an "apron", as the judge explained it, then the car should not have been towed. The driver seemed not to understand the distinction being made, and I don't think she understand what the judge meant by "apron". She did say that the car wasn't "in" the alley, but she couldn't get on the same communication wave-length as the judge.

One 17-year-old girl was in court with her mother on an under-age alcohol charge. Ka-ching... $500.00. And even represented by an attorney. There was no hearing; she pled guilty by agreement with the City Prosecutor. What did she need an attorney for, to do that? The only lucky part for the girl is that, because this was in Woodstock's court and not over at the Circuit Court, the violation is not reported to the Secretary of State and she won't lose her driver's license.


Mike said...

It is not that lady's job to show there was no need to tow the car. The burden is on the village to show a community caretaking necessity for the tow.

Mike said...

The lady was not required to prove they did not need to tow. The burden is on the village to orive a community caretaking necessity for the tow.

Gus said...

Mike, you are exactly right.

I cannot find any reference to "community caretaking" in Woodstock's application of the Vehicle Impoundment Ordinance. It seems to be about generating the $500 fine (or bond), the tow fee and the storage costs.

I hear no reference in court by the City's Prosecuting Attorney to any caretaking of a vehicle. The City Council gave the cops the right to have the vehicle towed, and that's what they do.

It would be interesting to learn in how many cases Woodstock PD officers have allowed another licensed driver to drive the car away or if the car could be parked and locked for the owner to quickly respond and pick up. Any?

Mike said...

I'm not clear if that 17 year old paid the $500 for an impound or the possession but if it was an impound she should get her money back. The statute tha authorizes these impound fees states what statutes they may charge them in connection with. This alcohol offense isnt one of them. Also if i am correct Woodstock is not home rule. If that is true a check of the state law that allows administrative adjudication of ordinance violations applies only to home rule units. They should check the Illinois compiled Statutes under Municipalities. The very first section of this administrative adjudication law tells them so.

Mike said...

Gus, somebody needs to take a lesson from tha Miranda v City of Cornelius and make the village wiggle some.

Gus said...

Mike, the case of the 17 y/o girl involved alcohol and not vehicle impoundment. Woodstock nails under-age drinkers (and druggies) with a minimum $500 fine, plus court courts.

What was interesting in that case, which involved an attorney standing there for five minutes and being the mouthpiece, was that I didn't hear the judge impose court costs, and the defendant did not have to approach for a copy of the written order of conviction. The girl, her mother and the attorney just left the courtroom.

Gus said...

On June 22 I mentioned Miranda v. City of Cornelius, and I'll have to write more fully about that.

The Woodstock City Council passed its ordinance at the very first meeting of 2012, after the Great State of Illinois passed a law letting non-home-rule communities stick it to their own community with a vehicle impound ordinance.

The law was effective Jan. 1. Police Chief Lowen's letter to the City Manager was dated Jan. 3. In my opinion, his letter was clearly drafted by the City Attorney's office. The City Council passed the ordinance on Jan. 17 as part of the Consent Calendar, meaning no discussion, and unanimously.

Not one of the seven members of the Council raised even one question!

Mike said...

Yep thats true about our "lovely" state but even ghe statute authorizing this states the tow must be a proper tow which a good deal of the time I am certain, based on things we have discussed, are not proper.

Gus said...

I don't think "community caretaking" is a consideration in Woodstock.

If it is, I hope a WPD officer will add a comment here and inform readers about any privilege an arrested person has to have a passenger, neighbor, friend or even the owner (if he is not the owner) drive the car away from the scene of his arrest.