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Monday, March 24, 2008

Joliet residents protest smoking ban with O'Day's help

Here's a new article in relation to that 1914 ruling from the IL Supreme Court (which declared that smoking bans are illegal) . This smoking ban is not just about violating my right to smoke. This ban is also violating the civil rights I thought I had if I'm gonna be partially labeled as an American!

ARTICLE LINK

NEW: Residents protest smoking ban

March 24, 2008
By STEWART WARREN Staff Writer
JOLIET — The smoking ban isn’t just about cigarettes.

It’s a threat to personal liberty, fumed Larry Peet of Joliet Township.

“If you take away the right to smoke, who’s to say what other rights will be challenged?” he asked Monday while standing outside the Will County Courthouse. “This county is supposed to be about freedom.”

So he grabbed his copy of “The Federalist Papers” and joined a group of about 30 others to protest. Earlier this month, Joliet police walked into two local bars, Paulie’s Pub, 2104 W. Jefferson St., and Woody’s, 1008 E. Washington St., and ticketed people for lighting up.

They were violating the Smoke Free Illinois Act, a law that went into effect Jan. 1 and forbids smoking in public places, and told to appear Monday morning in Will County Judge Marzell Richardson’s courtroom.

“Private property rights are gone,” said Michelle Fese of Channahon, a longtime local bartender who organized the demonstration. Will County’s bar owners are worried, she said. If they allow patrons to smoke, they could be fined. But business isn’t exactly booming without the ashtrays.

As they stood outside waving signs and American flags, four people who had been ticketed sat together in Richardson’s courtroom. Paul Leoford, 63, of 802 Cottage St., Shorewood; Bruce Hockin, 63, of 1317 Frederick St., Joliet; and Jack Jackson, 65, of 900 Windsor Drive, Shorewood, had been at Paulie’s Pub.

Donald Poplawski, 56, of 1115 N. Center St., Joliet, was at Woody’s.

While waiting for the judge to call their names, they seemed a little nervous and whispered to each other about what to do. In the end, all of them except for Leoford decided to hire Dan O’Day, a Peoria lawyer. He recently represented bartender Karla Carrington after she was ticketed in Bureau County for allowing a patron to smoke.

While challenging the smoking ban, O’Day cites a 1914 Illinois Supreme Court ruling on a smoking ban in Zion, Ill.

“The court said it was unconstitutional,” O’Day said Monday. “That case has been cited favorably ever since then, even in 1978.”

After calling the Hockin, Jackson and Poplawski cases, the judge spoke to O’Day about a problem: The cases had been filed as misdemeanors, not petty offenses, the judge said. In the Smoke Free Illinois Act, the offense is not classified as any particular type of crime.

“This is a new situation for the court system,” Richardson said, telling most of them to come back at 11 a.m. May 12. Leoford will return at 9 a.m. April 28.

Charles B. Pelkie, a spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office, said later that the nature of the charges will be addressed before the defendants return to court.

“These citations carry a $100 to $250 fine if found guilty and are akin to speeding tickets. They are petty offenses that do no involve jail time,” Pelkie said.

He added that the bar owners have not been cited, but the police reports are under review by the state’s attorney’s office.

Outside the courtroom, O’Day explained everything to his clients, and they seemed reassured. None of them wanted a misdemeanor conviction on their record.

Jackson was the first one to leave the building.

“I’m going to light a cigarette out there,” he said, looking toward the door.

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