No criminal conduct in DUI reporting lapse, McMahon says
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The Kane County State's Attorney's Office has concluded there was no criminal conduct in the Circuit Court Clerk's Office's failure to report some more than 1,000 DUI convictions to the state from 2002 to 2009.
"We found no evidence of intentional wrongdoing. So we have closed the investigation," State's Attorney Joe McMahon said Tuesday in his monthly media briefing. "There's absolutely no evidence or something to suggest somebody was interfering with the reporting program or hiding convictions. There was not a scintilla of evidence for that."
Two Kane County Board members — Mark Davoust and Mike Kenyon — called on McMahon's office to investigate in June when it came to light that more than 1,000 DUI convictions were not reported to the Illinois Secretary of State's Office from 2002 to 2009 while Deb Seyller was circuit court clerk.
The failure to report the DUIs to the state resulted in massive delays for revoking licenses and processing suspensions for some defendants.
McMahon and Thomas Hartwell, who was elected circuit clerk in November 2012 when Seyller chose not to seek another term, said the convictions were not reported for a variety of reasons.
Some of those included: A mismatch in computer programs and coding between Kane authorities in sending the information to the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, which then sends the information to the secretary of state's office; human error, such as an arresting officer transposing two numbers on a driver's license when making an arrest; and a failure in the process. For example, if a defendant who never had a driver's license was convicted of a DUI, the secretary of state's office would still attempt to match the conviction to a driver's license number, which was impossible to do.
Hartwell said his office is reviewing, by hand, some 13,703 DUI cases from 2002 through 2009. The office still has 3,667 left to review and so far, 1,734 cases needed action and further reporting.
"We want to make sure we catch everything," Hartwell said. "It's 1,734 we're talking about, and that's too many. If we had 13,000, I'd be ripping my hair out."
McMahon said there were no cases in which a defendant with multiple DUIs was undercharged or escaped more prison time because of the DUI reporting problem.
Cases from 2009 to present are not a problem; Hartwell said some police vehicles have technology to electronically transmit tickets to his office from squad cars, thereby eliminating the risk of a clerical error in being entered into the circuit court clerk's computer system.
Seyller alerted some county officials to the DUI backlog during a lengthy court battle with the county board over overtime expenses and staffing costs for her office.
"In hindsight, I would add it should have been (a priority), but it doesn't mean she did anything unlawful," McMahon said.
Seyller could not be reached for comment. Phone messages and emails sent to Davoust and Kenyon were not immediately returned.
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