Driver Acquitted Of Drunken Driving Charges
BRIDGEVIEW, Illinois - April 29, 2011 - A Circuit Court jury today found Lisa R. not guilty of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol after 2 ½ hours of deliberation. Officer Lucas Wyatt of the Village of Justice Police Department had testified Lisa was driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.129 from a breath test he had administered after her arrest. The breath test showed her blood alcohol was above the legal limit of 0.08. Officer Wyatt told the jury Lisa was driving left of center and had signaled without turning at two intersections. The officer claimed Lisa had failed his sobriety testing.
Lisa's attorney Sarah Toney of Drunken Driving Defense Lawyers confronted the officer with prior testimony from pretrial hearings. The officer had claimed Lisa failed field sobriety testing. Attorney Toney obtained an admission from Officer Wyatt that Lisa had only failed balancing tests, but could perform all other sobriety tests correctly.
On the second day of the trial, Lisa took the witness stand in her own defense. She testified to drinking 1½ glasses of wine before driving. She said, she had a breath mint in her mouth during her breath testing. Attorney Toney argued the breath mint and the corroborated testimony by other witnesses of drinking 1½ glasses of white wine created a reasonable doubt as to the accuracy of the breath test.
Interviews with jurors after the trial cited Attorney Toney’s closing argument, “There is a reasonable doubt due to the presence of a breath mint in Lisa’s mouth.” States Attorney Dawson had argued in closing argument that the jurors should not put any importance on the breath mint.
The jurors interviewed said there was a reasonable doubt and acquitted Lisa of all charges. Attempts to reach the States Attorney’s office for comment were unsuccessful.
Blood test in judge's DUI case thrown out
Prosecutors are moving forward with a drunken-driving case against a Lake County judge, despite the death of the arresting officer, the lack of video evidence and, most recently, a judge's decision to throw out a blood alcohol test.
Barred from the trial scheduled to start Monday are test results taken from blood samples drawn when Judge David Hall was taken to a Libertyville hospital following his April 2008 arrest, according to defense attorney Douglas Zeit.
The sample was tested at an Illinois State Police lab more than two weeks later, but no preservatives were used as required by state law for it to be admissible in a DUI case, Zeit said.
The blood sample that Brown barred from evidence allegedly showed that Hall's blood-alcohol level was 0.107 percent; the legal limit is 0.08.
Hall challenged the finding and the hospital procedures that led to the result.
One expert said Kane County Judge Keith Brown followed the law in the latest ruling. Brown is presiding over the case against Hall.
"The judge is saying, 'Wait a minute, you did it improperly, and you can't have use of it,' " said Stephen Komie, a Chicago defense lawyer who is not involved in the case.
Komie, who has defended people accused of DUI for 35 years, said most cases would have been dropped by prosecutors with so little evidence.
"This is an increasingly difficult case to prove when the person who claims the judge was intoxicated has passed away," Komie said. "There's no way to cross-examine him."
Police Officer Jesse Goldsmith, who stopped Hall, died of a heart attack in June 2008. Goldsmith completed much of the paperwork and likely would have been the key prosecution witness at trial.
Another officer, Mark Sosnoski, who during Hall's arrest backed up Goldsmith from another vehicle, is expected to testify. At a previous hearing, he said that he saw Hall try to roll up his window on Goldsmith, who then pepper-sprayed Hall.
Prosecutors have said that one of two squad cars that pulled Hall over that night had a VHS system that was not working and that the digital recording system in the second squad didn't capture the arrest.
The Illinois attorney general's office is handling the prosecution, because of Hall's ties to the Lake County state's attorney's office and judges.
Credit: By Jeff Long, Tribune reporter
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