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Impound case re-scheduled

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Impound case re-scheduled

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
August 9, 2012

The Woodstock Administrative Adjudication Court meets once a month, on the second Thursday.

There is a man here in Woodstock whose vehicle was impounded recently, and his court date was today. He was referred to me recently for information about how the court operates, and I had explained to him what I know about it from observing operations over several months.

He was very clear that I am not an attorney and that I was not giving him legal advice. I was giving him information, and I urged him to consider retaining an attorney if he needed or wanted one. In fact, he was solicited by half a dozen attorneys to defend him on his $500 vehicle impoundment ticket.

I don't know if he spoke with any of them, but I urged him to ask their cost to defend him and their assessment of the likelihood of a successful outcome for him. If he won and was found not liable, he'd get his $500 bond back and pay the attorney out of that. If he lost and was found liable, his $500 bond would be converted to the $500 fine, and he'd have to pay the attorney on top of the fine.

As I understand it, when he was cited and his vehicle was impounded, he was told that his court date was today, August 9.

He called City Hall yesterday and learned that his case would not be called today because the police department had not forwarded the paperwork to the court. I suggested he might want to consider going to court today, since today was the date on his ticket to appear, and try to speak to the judge about his case. If I had been issued the ticket, I would have appeared as directed by the police officer. If the police failed to produce the paperwork, I would have asked the judge to dismiss the case.

I don't know whether Judge Eterno would have dismissed the case. He might have.

The man told the prosecuting attorney that he thought I would be there this morning, as I had told him that I might, if I so arranged my schedule. The prosecuting attorney told him I could do nothing for him (which is right) because I'm not an attorney (which is right). Had I been there, it would have been only to observe and support him in defending himself.

The defendant knows that I am not an attorney and that I do not practice law. He knows that I suggested he talk to an attorney. The attorneys who solicited his business offered free consultations. I don't know if he took advantage of them.

The man said that he was told this morning that his case was not on the docket and that he could not talk to the judge.

In courts judges will often notice people lingering after all the scheduled cases have been called and will then ask if anyone is there for a case that was not called. At that time he could have stepped forward, and Judge Eterno probably would have asked why he was there.

Since he had a ticket with today's court date on it, I wonder if that's correct. Should he have been able to speak to the judge and have his case called? Was it his fault that the City wasn't prepared? Would Judge Eterno have listened, found the City wanting in its prosecution, and ruled in favor of the defendant? Was the prosecutor right that the man could not have his case heard today or even talk to the judge?

Should he now speak to an attorney and file a Motion for the case to be dismissed?

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