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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Charges against IL bartender (for allowing patrons to smoke) are dropped

Bartender's charges go up in smoke (Click this for article viewing)

Case dismissed for woman who allegedly let bar patron light up

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

BY MATT BUEDEL

OF THE JOURNAL STAR
PRINCETON - The case against a Spring Valley bartender accused of allowing a patron to illegally smoke in a tavern was dismissed Tuesday after prosecutors said the state had no right to charge her with such an offense.

Bureau County State's Attorney Pat Herrmann said after Karla Carrington's brief court hearing that once he reviewed the Smoke-Free Illinois Act, which banned indoor smoking in public places beginning this year, he found no authority to file a formal charge.

"Upon reading the statute, it appears the statute does not put any onus on the bar employee or bar owner to prohibit smoking," Herrmann said. "(The act) does prohibit the bar employee or bar owner from smoking."

Carrington and a patron in The Family Tavern, Duane Alexander of Burbank, were cited by Spring Valley police in early February for smoking in the bar. While Carrington was ticketed for allegedly allowing the activity, Alexander was issued a citation for allegedly smoking.

The case against Carrington was initially met in Bureau County court with considerable confusion after Peoria attorney Dan O'Day filed multiple motions on Carrington's behalf that challenged the state ban and the manner in which the case was being processed.

Jim Andreoni, city attorney for Spring Valley, acknowledged in the first court appearance and at the hearing Tuesday the city had no authority to file a misdemeanor charge in the case. Once prosecutors declined to pick up the charge Tuesday, the case effectively was killed, and the court approved an order dismissing the charge.

"They now acknowledge there's no . . . violation for a bartender," O'Day said. "It's over against Karla."

But the challenge to the state's smoking ban that was part of Carrington's case - including questions of constitutionality and the potential to overturn the law through a strangely worded clause - will continue.

O'Day on Tuesday announced his intention to represent Alexander with virtually the same arguments he had laid out in Carrington's case, with some modifications to suit the different charge.

The Bureau County State's Attorney's Office will file a formal criminal complaint against Alexander within the next two weeks, and another hearing was scheduled for that case

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