William Franks says life experiences that came from jobs he formerly held at Greyhound bus terminals benefit him when deciding local ordinance violations as an adjudication hearing officer in some Lake County towns.
Franks, who became an attorney in 1987, added another client to his list this week when he was hired by the Antioch village board to preside over the minor cases. Franks performs similar work for Highland Park, Park City, Mundelein, Beach Park and Winthrop Harbor.
Antioch began its adjudication court in July 2010. Such administrative hearings occur in an atmosphere more relaxed than Lake County circuit court, with cases typically involving ordinance violations or others not stemming from traffic offenses.
Franks said there is more interaction between parties in an administrative hearing compared to a courtroom, which is why he believes his 18-plus years at Greyhound give him an edge in dealing with the public. Franks said he saw many slices of life at Greyhound's downtown Cleveland and Chicago terminals.
Those who appear at the adjudication hearings should be afforded an opportunity to speak their piece, Franks said. He said he views those who come before him as his employers because his fees are paid with public money.
"You want people to walk away feeling better about the system, the legal system," said Franks, 64, who was a baggage agent, terminal manager and assistant vice president for Greyhound Lines Inc. before launching his legal career.
Retired Lake County Circuit Judge Henry Tonigan III had been Antioch's adjudication hearing officer until he was replaced by Franks. Village records show Tonigan heard cases once a month and received a little more than $6,000 for his work in 2010 and 2011.
Franks said his hourly rate is about $150. He said he receives a flat fee of $750 when presiding over adjudication hearings in Highland Park.