Lake County Circuit Judge David Hall's four-year-plus odyssey in the criminal justice system ended with a split verdict at his trial Monday in a case that stemmed from a drunken-driving arrest.
Kane County Judge Keith Brown found Hall guilty of misdemeanor resisting and obstructing a police officer after the bench trial. Brown, who handled the case in Lake County circuit court, said there wasn't enough evidence to convict Hall on a driving under the influence of alcohol charge.
Brown sentenced Hall to 100 hours of community service and fined him $1,000.
"Public officials are expected to be at a higher level than the rest of the population," he said.
Outside of court, Hall said he hopes to work as an attorney for the indigent for his 100 hours of public service. He said "my heart goes out" to defendants in criminal cases.
"Being a defendant in the courtroom is an entirely different way to experience it," said Hall, 59, who exchanged hugs with family members after he was sentenced.
It's been more than four years since the popular judge was arrested and pepper-sprayed by Vernon Hills police during an early morning traffic stop. He declined to testify in his case.
He was charged with DUI and resisting arrest following the traffic stop on April 26, 2008. Brown was brought in, along with the Illinois attorney general's office to handle the prosecution, to avoid any conflicts of interest due to ties between Hall and the Lake County judicial system.
Testifying for the prosecution, former Lake County YMCA Executive Director Robin Petty said Hall was "staggering" when they briefly exchanged pleasantries at the end of a fundraising dinner at American Hotel Register in Vernon Hills on April 25, 2008.
"I was concerned about him driving, yes," Petty said on direct examination by Assistant Attorney General Dan Nikolic.
On cross examination by defense lawyer Douglas Zeit, Petty denied she came forward with her claim regarding Hall's appearance at the fundraiser this year because he's on the YMCA board and she lost her job there in 2011.
Lou Archbold, a former Lake County state's attorney's office investigator, testified he saw Hall drink two glasses of wine at the YMCA gathering. Archbold said Hall joined others for drinks at the nearby Forge Club in Vernon Hills after the fundraiser.
Hall departed the Forge Club about 1:30 a.m., prosecutors said, before he was pulled over by Vernon Hills Police Officer Jesse Goldsmith at Route 60 near St. Mary's Road about 1:40 a.m. Goldsmith died of a heart attack two months after arresting Hall.
Prosecutors contended Goldsmith detected alcohol on Hall's breath during the traffic stop, so he ordered Hall to get out of the car for field sobriety tests. On direct examination by Assistant Attorney General Bill Elward, Vernon Hills police Detective Mark Sosnoski testified Hall defied orders and tried to roll up a car window on Goldsmith.
Sosnoski said he was dispatched to assist Goldsmith and watched his colleague hold Hall's window while shooting pepper spray into the judge's left eye. Sosnoski testified that Hall stiffened his arms and didn't cooperate with police while he was being handcuffed on the car trunk.
Although he didn't testify in his trial, Hall spoke before he was sentenced and said he meant to open his car door, but accidentally began rolling up the window after he was pepper-sprayed by Goldsmith.
Hall was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville following his arrest, where he was treated for an irregular heartbeat. Former Libertyville Fire Department paramedic Patrick Neal, testifying for the defense, assisted in bringing Hall to the hospital and said he didn't appear drunk.
At the hospital, Hall refused a Breathalyzer test, authorities said, prompting a mandatory blood test to be taken.
The blood test showed he had a blood alcohol level of .107, above the threshold of .08 allowed by law.
But that evidence was not allowed to be introduced by prosecutors at trial because a federal appeals court decided blood evidence taken from Hall at the hospital was not processed correctly at the hospital.
Hall filed an unsuccessful federal lawsuit over his arrest against Vernon Hills police and Goldsmith's estate. He told the court he was sorry to have put Goldsmith's family through the litigation, but he didn't offer similarly kind words about the late cop.
"I am unable to apologize to Officer Goldsmith for pepper-spraying me in response to my question: 'Am I under arrest?'" Hall said before he was sentenced.
That remark brought a response from Elward.
"Judge, I want you to consider the remarkable arrogance of that man," said Elward, who quickly was silenced by Brown.
Diagnosed with ALS in 2011, Hall is set to retire from the Lake County judicial system Wednesday. He was the county's chief judge at the time of his arrest, but stepped down a short time later and continued presiding over a courtroom throughout his case.
ALS is a degenerative disease damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement.