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Article updated: 6/19/2013 7:53 PM

Des Plaines attorney back in court on 2-year-old contempt charge

By Barbara Vitello

A case that started two years ago when a lawyer asked for a jury trial over his client's fender bender returned to a Rolling Meadows courtroom Wednesday for arguments over whether a judge was right in locking up the lawyer for contempt of court.

The hearing for former Des Plaines police sergeant and one-time alderman Wayne Adams involved testimony from Arlington Heights village prosecutor Ernest Blomquist and Cook County Judge Alfred Levinson, who found Adams guilty of indirect contempt of court in November 2011 after Adams failed to appear in court for the jury trial he'd requested for his client.

Levinson subsequently sentenced Adams to two days in Cook County Jail, of which Adams served less than 24 hours.

But last October, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed Adams' conviction and sent the case back to Rolling Meadows Third Municipal District for retrial.

Wednesday's one-day trial before Judge Martin Agran concluded a series of events that began Oct. 14, 2011, when Adams and Blomquist requested a new date for the traffic case. Levinson denied their requests and proceeded with jury selection, which Levinson testified concluded about noon. Levinson broke for lunch and ordered the parties to return after lunch to start the trial.

"Mr. Blomquist came back. Mr. Adams did not," said Levinson, who testified Wednesday that Adams did not inform him or anyone else -- including Adams' client -- that he would not return.

"I was originally concerned because I thought he had been in an accident," said Levinson, who asked another attorney to represent the woman, who he said was charged with a left-turn violation.

Levinson ultimately dismissed the jurors and found the woman guilty at a bench trial.

Adams said he left to attend a real estate closing in Chicago. He defended his decision in a subsequent court filing, saying his failure to appear at the closing would "create a private injury and possible malpractice." Adams testified Wednesday that he called his client during the lunch break and informed her he wouldn't return. He also stated that he instructed his secretary to inform the court of the situation, which she did.

"I made the best effort I could possibly make to cater to the two matters," said Adams, who claimed he acted in a way that would cause the least harm. "I realized I was in serious trouble trying to cover two things at the same time. I ran into trouble getting what I would call a routine continuance in a traffic matter."

Adams insisted that he directed no insults to the court, a claim Levinson rejected.

"You walked away from a jury trial with jurors picked and waiting ... and let your client sit there," Levinson said. "You did insult the court. and you insulted the legal system."

On Wednesday, Agran made sure everyone planned to return after lunch break, asking Adams, "You don't have any closings?"

Agran said he will announce his ruling June 26.

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