1.03.2009

I wondered how long it would take....

Apparently, some local lawyers have attempted to get the same sweetheart deal for their clients that a local Champaign detective recently got on her DUI conviction.

They even had the same reason for wanting a lesser conviction as

"Is it in the best interest of society to not only punish him but likely cost him his job? Is there something egregious about his case that warrants the imposition of judgment? He (Leonhard) puts the burden on us to show a case is so unusual as to warrant supervision," Lipton said.

"The concept of the criminal justice system is not just punishment. If it was, we would call prison 'prison' instead of the 'Department of Corrections.' We're supposed to be rehabilitating people, to turn them into useful and constructive citizens," Lipton said.

Leonhard, who has presided in traffic court for 14 months, is widely regarded as one of the brightest legal minds on the bench in Champaign County. But his ruling has defense attorneys wondering what hope they can give clients who have made mistakes for which they seek to avoid a conviction that will follow them for life. And despite Leonhard's proclamation that he takes each case on its own merits, they worry his ruling is a signal that he won't give court supervision for first-time DUI offenders.

Yah, they failed. Guess his clients would have had better luck if they were police officers.

Remember last time I talked about this and I said I'd be willing to discuss the fact that Champaign County is harsher on DUI convictions than other counties? The N-G article brings up this very issue.

Defense attorneys note that in most other area counties – Ford, Douglas, Vermilion, DeWitt, Coles, Piatt – supervision is routinely given for first-time DUI offenders.

Bruno said that fact was "driven home" in the recent case of a Champaign police officer given court supervision in a negotiated plea to DUI.

Tony Lee, a former Ford County state's attorney acting as a special prosecutor in Champaign County, agreed with her attorney, Piraino, to let Lisa Staples plead guilty to DUI for court supervision, a practice he frequently engaged in during his 20 years as Ford County's chief prosecutor. Judge Richard Klaus, who used to preside in traffic court, accepted the negotiated plea.

"We are one county, and there's 101 counties applying a different standard," Bruno said. "You have to ask, 'Are the citizens of Champaign County being treated equally?'"

I think we all know the answer to that one. Unless you are "special," you'll get nothing and like it.

Oh yah, one more thing, the original article says Staples refused field sobriety and blood alcohol tests. Funny, though, that States Attorney Reitz says you *can't get court supervision* if you BAC is above 0.16. Exactly how does Staples qualify for court supervision then? I mean, I get that you can refuse to comply with BAC tests, but usually, that means you get an automatic revocation of your license.

This gets fishier and fishier....

1 comment:

Leighann said...

I'm personally appalled by this whole matter. She should have been stripped from her job WITHOUT pay. She should be given the same type of sentencing as others who committed the same crime.

How can we trust her to uphold the law if she can't follow it herself.