Sunday, January 07, 2007
Order of the Kneepads update: Omaha attorney on her 6th DWI arrest is still on the streets "Raising the Bar."FremontTribune.com An Omaha attorney who has been convicted of drunken driving five previous times again was found guilty of third offense drunken driving, a misdemeanor, instead of felony fourth-offense drunken driving.Attorney Willow Head was scheduled for sentencing in March and could get probation or up to a year in jail and other penalties. Had District Judge Peter Bataillon convicted her of felony fourth-offense drunken driving, her license would have been revoked for 15 years and she could have faced up to five years in prison. Where was the SupremeCourt on the 2nd or 3rd incident here? The judge's interpretation of state law led to Head's conviction on the lesser charge. State law says DUI convictions from up to a dozen years ago may be used to toughen charges and punishments for drunken drivers. A felony fourth drunken-driving charge comes after three valid misdemeanor convictions, for instance. Before a July 2004 drunken-driving arrest and subsequent charge of felony fourth-offense drunken driving, Head, 35, had been convicted of drunken driving in 1992, 1993, 1994, 2002 and 2003. Her 1992 DUI was wiped out by her attendance at a diversion program, so it could not be considered for enhancement of the charge. Bataillon ruled this week that two other convictions also couldn't be used. He issued a similar ruling in 2005, but the appellate court tossed it because it was premature. Bataillon said Head's 2002 conviction couldn't be used because, in 2003, the state Supreme Court said Omaha's drunken-driving ordinance didn't follow state law. And Bataillon said Head's 1993 conviction had already been ruled out for consideration by another judge. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said Friday that his office will appeal Bataillon's latest ruling as well. James Schaefer, who represented Head, said he is confident Bataillon will be upheld.