There are bound to be repercussions from a tragedy like a fatal drunken driving crash. Personal, political, professional, perhaps even legislative repercussions.
Already, we are seeing fallout stemming from the May 11 crash that killed DuPage County prosecutor Jane Radostits, who was speeding while talking on a cell phone while driving drunk, according to a sheriff's report.
A fellow prosecutor who was with Radostits the day she died has resigned. That fateful day, a bomb scare forced evacuation of the county courthouse in Wheaton. She had a long lunch with coworkers, during which she drank alcohol.
There must be a certain feeling of privilege that comes with being a prosecutor, a sense that one would be immune from the consequences of making such bad decisions as driving while drunk. Maybe someone who prosecuted notorious criminals like Naperville child killer Marilyn Lemak felt that surely, she'd be able to talk her way out of any traffic stop. How would the repercussions be different if she were pulled over for DUI instead of being involved in a fatal crash?
Did you see what criminal defense attorney Mary Higgins Judge had to say about Joe Birkett's euology for Radostits? Apparently, Birkett said Radostits couldn't stand "defendants sitting in the courtroom and Packers fans."
Judge took issue with Birkett's statement, saying it was indicative of how prosecutors sometimes fail to objectively evaluate evidence when pursuing a case. "Birkett's comment shows that he encourages his prosecutors to personalize their cases and to evoke emotions such as hatred, instead of encouraging objectivity," Judge wrote in a letter published in the Trib.
I don't think we've seen the last of the fallout from this tragedy. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if some legislator decided to sponsor a bill to make it illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving anywhere in Illinois, as a result of this tragedy. It's already banned in Chicago. Who knows? Maybe the cell phone was what caused Radostits death. Maybe she could handle speeding while driving drunk and not wearing her seat belt. But those phones can be such a distraction.