Report: Madison County saw 307 suspensions rescinded since 2017; 89 percent from errors made by police

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Apr 10, 2019

There were 307 rescinded statutory summary suspensions in Madison County DUI cases since January 2017 with most of them resulting from errors made by the arresting police agencies, according to a report completed by Bond County Circuit Clerk Rex Catron.

Catron’s April 4 report was completed at the request of Madison County Circuit Clerk Mark von Nida after several statutory summary suspensions were rescinded due to a clerical error, including that of former U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton.

“I reviewed the concerns stated by the Judiciary Committee and listened to the meeting record,” Catron wrote.

Judiciary Committee chair Mike Walters said he isn't sure why an official from another county would conduct a report on Madison County court documents.


Catron  

"It's suspicious to me, but I don't want people jumping to conclusions," he said.

Von Nida said he asked Catron to complete the analysis after a County Board member in the last County Board meeting questioned why the circuit clerk's office only reviewed cases dating back to the last three months when the clerical error was discovered. During the meeting, the County Board suggested an audit of the last two years.

Von Nida added that the County Board considered hiring someone to complete the audit.

"Somebody that's not a circuit clerk would spend more time trying to figure out terminology and the different parts of that than actually being productive in getting an audit done," he said.

Von Nida said he thought Catron would be a good candidate to complete the audit because he is a Republican circuit clerk from Bond County, which makes up the Third Judicial Circuit with Madison County. 

"And obviously, he's a very professional person," he added.

Von Nida said he first asked Madison County Chief Judge David Hylla if Catron could review the DUI cases, who agreed.

"Again, I'm trying to be open and accountable here," he said. 

Concerns regarding statutory summary suspension rescissions were raised after Wigginton was able to keep his driving privileges while his New Year’s Eve DUI case plays out in the criminal court. Von Nida took responsibility for a long-time clerk’s scheduling error in Wigginton’s second DUI in two years. A requested hearing on Wigginton’s statutory summary suspension was not scheduled in the 30-day window as required under state law.

As a result, Associate Judge Jennifer Hightower rescinded the statutory summary suspension on March 7.

Wigginton was granted rescission in both of his recent DUI cases. His statutory summary suspension was rescinded in his first DUI in July 2017 when Associate Judge Ronald Slemer found that he did not receive proper notice of the suspension.

Von Nida previously said that this is the first time he had seen a hearing mistakenly scheduled beyond the 30-day window since his election as Circuit Clerk in 2012. He said the scheduling error affected a total of six DUI cases. 

Catron reviewed rescissions from January 2017 through March 12, 2019. He noted that some of the DUI cases dated back to 2016, but the orders rescinding the statutory summary suspensions were from 2017.

“From the categories or reasons for the order to rescind, and number of cases in each category, we can begin to see some trends,” Catron wrote.

Catron’s report states that five cases, or 1.6 percent, resulted in statutory summary rescissions because a clerk failed to schedule hearings within the 30-day window. However, von Nida has maintained that six cases were affected by the clerical error and two were able to be corrected. When asked about the differences, von Nida said he is unsure of how they came up with different numbers but said Catron's Results are reflective of the most recent development in the cases.

According to Catron's report, 273 of the 307 rescissions, or 89 percent, were rescinded due to reasons associated with the arrest, including improper notice, having no cause to make the stop, writing the citation on private property, misstatements about refusing the blood alcohol test, out-of-date certification to operate the testing equipment, defects with sworn reports, breathalyzer not certified, and issuing a citation to a person in a parked vehicle.

The report states that nine cases, or 2.9 percent, resulted in a statutory summary suspension rescission due to the court prosecutorial process.

Specifically, in 2018 there were 873 DUI cases filed in Madison County with 126, or 14.4 percent, resulting in statutory summary suspension rescissions. Two of those cases were rescinded because of the clerk’s failure to schedule a hearing in time.

In 2019, there have been 203 DUI cases as of March 29 with two of those cases resulting in statutory summary suspension rescissions, the report states.

The reasons given for why a statutory summary suspension was rescinded is broken down to the following:

Reason for Rescission

Total

Percent

Improper notice

234

76.2%

No probable cause to stop

19

6.2%

Reason not stated on report

12

3.9%

Circuit Clerk

5

1.6%

Good cause

5

1.6%

Private property

7

2.3%

Rescinded as part of plea

3

1.0%

Did not refuse test

2

0.7%

Officers BAO license expired

4

1.3%

No reason given

3

1.0%

Defects in sworn report

2

0.7%

Breathalyzer not certified

2

0.7%

By agreement

2

0.7%

SOS did not confirm SSS

2

0.7%

State failed to provide discovery

1

0.3%

Improper parking

1

0.3%

Insufficient evidence

1

0.3%

Passed BA test

1

0.3%

Entered into Veteran’s Court

1

0.3%

Total

307

According to Catron’s report, in 2018, Edwardsville saw the most DUI cases resulting in rescission orders with 32 statutory summary suspensions rescinded out of 169 DUI cases. However, East Alton and SIUE saw the highest percentage of rescission orders with 33 percent of their statutory summary suspensions rescinded.

The 2018 rescission orders are broken down by jurisdiction in the following table:

Jurisdiction

Rescinded

Written

Percent

Alton

5

53

9%

Bethalto

1

23

4%

Collinsville

14

120

12%

East Alton

4

12

33%

Edwardsville

32

169

19%

Granite City

2

30

7%

Glen Carbon

15

62

24%

Highland

2

21

10%

Hartford

0

6

0%

Maryville

2

12

17%

Madison

0

5

0%

Marine

1

5

20%

Roxana

1

18

6%

South Roxana

0

6

0%

Troy

16

51

31%

Venice

2

38

5%

Wood River

5

23

22%

SIUE

3

9

33%

State Police

11

155

7%

MCSD

10

54

19%

SOS Police

0

1

0%

Total

126

873

14%

Catron stated that there are two tracks in DUI cases – the civil and criminal track. The statutory summary suspension is part of the civil proceedings, while case dispositions, fines, and fees are part of the criminal track.

“When an SSS is rescinded by the court, there is still in place the opportunity for the court system to impose criminal penalties which are normally more severe and lasting,” Catron wrote.

“It is a social concern and indeed the focus of law enforcement to remove intoxicated or impaired drivers off the street. The Clerk’s duty, to set and schedule, is only one part of the process,” he continued.

Catron added that it is “one of the Circuit Clerk’s main concerns” to ensure that a criminal trial is set within 120 days if a speedy trial is requested and a hearing on a statutory summary suspension is set within 30 days.

“As a precaution, the Circuit Clerk sends notice to all parties,” Catron wrote. “The prosecution can notify the clerk of irregularities or they can also request an earlier hearing. I did not find any request by the prosecution to request an earlier hearing.”

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