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Will County prosecutor wins state Supreme Court challenge on DUI case

Will County State's Attorney Jim Glasgow. FILE PHOTO. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

Will County State's Attorney Jim Glasgow. FILE PHOTO. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

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`A Will County prosecutor has come out on top in a rare challenge to a judge’s decision to throw out a drunk driving conviction.

The state’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Gerald Kinney, chief justice for the 12th judicial circuit court, was wrong to strike defendant Michael W. Drew’s 2000 drunk driving conviction during a subsequent charge of driving under the influence.

Drew was indicted in 2009 with aggravated DUI and had three similar violations on his record, but successfully argued that his 2000 conviction in Bureau County should not be used against him because he did not have an attorney during the case.

The prosecutor, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, challenged that assertion.

For Drew, the new ruling could mean the difference between probation and imprisonment, as four DUI convictions entails mandatory jail time.

In its decision, the state’s high court said Kinney overlooked a U.S. Supreme Court case which held that misdemeanor convictions without benefit of a defense lawyer are, in fact, valid when utilized to increase future punishments.

Jeff Tomczak, an attorney for Drew who defended Kinney’s decision, argued that that federal case even expressed reservations about using such convictions to mandate prison time.

“That was a bridge too far,” Tomczak said. “What we’re arguing is that the judge should have the discretion to decide whether he’s going to consider an uncounseled prior or not.”

He said the next step is an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it could take six months to a year to know whether the high court will take up the case.

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