Senior beats village hall

County judge overturns$100 handicapped ticket

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By BILL DWYER

Don't tell Agnes Kelly you can't fight city hall. The 82 year old Kelly, who is physically handicapped after enduring three operations over the past year, but who still has more than a little fight left in her, won her appeal last Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court of a $100 ticket for parking in a handicapped space.

"She's a person who stands up for her rights" said attorney David Spagat, a friend who assisted her last week. "She was mad at the way they treated her."

Kelly, who possesses a valid handicapped parking placard, received the ticket June 20 after forgetting to display it properly when she parked. She went "immediately" to village hall, and asked to speak with someone about the ticket. A clerk on the first floor of village hall on June 25 told her, "I'll take care of it, and had her fill out a "Written Statement to Contest Parking Citation" form, on which Kelly stated that she had forgotten to display her handicapped placard.

Two days later, however, Kelly received a finding from Administrative Law Judge David G. Eterno stating that he had ruled that she was liable for the ticket and owed the village $100. So Kelly showed up at Village Hall on June 25 to speak with someone else regarding the ticket, and was told her only options were to either pay the fine or appeal to the Cook County circuit court.

On July 1 Kelly paid a $78.42 filing fee, filled out a summons form listing the village of Oak Park as a defendant, and got her court date. Last Wednesday morning she showed up at the Maybrook courthouse to stand before Circuit Court Judge James V. Murphy.

"Oak Park never even showed up," said a pleased Kelly.

According to Spagat, who accompanied Kelly to court as a favor, Kelly's was the first case called. However no one from the village was present, so the judge asked them to have a seat and wait a few minutes. Around 10 a.m., with no village representative present, Murphy called them back up, had Kelly testify briefly, and subsequently decided the issue in her favor, dismissing the fine and ordering the village to pay the court costs.

Wayne Moran, the supervisor of the village's adjudication program, said Administrative Law Judges do not comment on the specifics of cases, saying, "The judges are not going to talk about cases outside of court." Moran did say that normally, when a placard is presented to village staff, such tickets are "non-suited," or dismissed.

Moran also noted that the village normally receives a summons on cases being appealed, but was unaware of any summons in Kelly's case. The case, 2005-M4-001326, is on the Clerk of the Circuit Court's web site, however.

Now all Kelly wants is her $78.42 filing reimbursed by the village. Spagat said he dropped the judgment form outlining the court's ruling off at village hall Thursday.

"I expect we'll be hearing from them soon," he said.

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