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updated: 11/20/2011 7:17 PM

Short stint in jail opens eyes of Des Plaines attorney

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A brief stay in the Cook County Jail not only introduced a Des Plaines attorney to another side of the criminal justice system, it might have increased his workload.

Jailed for less than 24 hours after a Cook County judge found him guilty last week of indirect contempt of court, Wayne Adams joked that he might have "picked up a busload of new clients" on the ride from the Rolling Meadows courthouse to the Chicago jail located at 26th Street and California Avenue.

Sentenced to two days in jail for failing to appear for a Nov. 14 jury trial he requested for a client who had been involved in a traffic accident, Adams -- who was dressed in a suit and tie at the time -- didn't look like a typical detainee. But for the most part, he says he was treated like one. It was enlightening to experience what happens in that situation, said Adams, a former police officer and onetime Des Plaines alderman who has practiced law for 32 years.

Passengers on the bus from the courthouse to the jail consisted mostly of people incarcerated for traffic offenses like driving on a suspended license or failing to provide proof of insurance. Adams said he and his fellow detainees were handcuffed during the ride to the jail. Once there, they were placed in a large holding cell where his profession generated some interest among the other defendants.

He went through the booking process, which required him to supply a voice sample (necessary for inmates to make phone calls from the jail) and submit to X-rays and a medical evaluation. But before jail officials could assign him to a cell, he was released.

At 3 a.m. he found himself standing outside the jail, with no cellphone and no cash, "not even 25 cents for a phone call," he said, explaining that jail personnel told him they would return his money in the form of a check.

"It's dangerous to be out of jail, out on the street in the middle of the night," said Adams, who claims sheriff's deputies instructed him to leave his cellphone and credit cards in his briefcase (which his secretary retrieved from the Rolling Meadows courthouse) and bring to the jail only his cash, drivers license and keys.

A Cook County Sheriff's Department spokesman confirmed that detainees' funds are returned by check. The spokesman also said the jail releases individuals at all hours of the day and night and that each individual receives a bus pass.

As for what landed him at 26th Street, Adams says he and the village prosecutor handling the jury trial had already agreed on a continuance to Nov. 16, but the judge denied their request and ordered them to proceed later that day. Adams says he failed to appear in court for the start of the afternoon trial because he had another matter in Chicago -- a real estate closing -- he had to attend.

Adams says he notified his Rolling Meadows client ("she was fully informed," he said), and attempted to arrange coverage for both hearings but was unable to do so.

In a Nov. 14 court filing, Adams defended his actions as necessary, saying failing to close the real estate transaction "would create a private injury and possible malpractice." Adams plans to appeal the contempt finding.

"But no matter what happens on the appeal, it's not going to take away from me going to jail or standing out in the cold over night," he says.

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