Open letter to Woodstock City Council
July 14, 2012
Mr. Mayor and Members of the Woodstock City Council,
Are you beginning to become aware of the gross unfairness of the Vehicle Impoundment Ordinance that you passed on January 17?
In last week's Administrative Adjudication Court (July 12), Judge Eterno felt obligated to find a violator "Liable" because of faulty wording in the ordinance.
In that violator's case he had apparently failed to make a complete stop at a stop sign, resulting in a traffic stop. During the stop the officer found a "green, leafy substance" in a backpack on the back seat. The violator believed there had been an illegal search prior to the arrival of the Woodstock K-9 officer. Based on what the officer thought was cannabis, he impounded the vehicle.
In McHenry County Circuit Court on July 9 the State's Attorney moved to have the cases dismissed, and the Judge Gordon Graham granted it, resulting in a disposition of nolle prossed. That applied to the stop-sign ticket and the possession of cannabis and paraphernalia charges.
Now, it's kind of a no-brainer that Judge Eterno should have found the violator Not Liable on the vehicle impoundment violation, except for what you wrote into the ordinance.
In order for Judge Eterno to find the violator Not Liable, which would have allowed the violator to recover his $500, there would have had to have been a trial and a finding of Not Guilty. Since there was no trial, there could be no verdict of Not Guilty.
And because there was no trial and no verdict of Not Guilty, Judge Eterno had to find the violator Liable. Simply put, that is not fair.
Do you know how many vehicles have gone unclaimed, because the owners cannot afford the $500 fine plus towing ($150 est'd.) and $40.00/day storage costs. About 10% of them.
I strongly urge you to correct this deficiency in the ordinance. Better yet, can the whole ordinance.
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