[Update 01-20-08: Transcript of proceedings is posted after the Jump]
[Updates are at the end of the post. A Commenter is posting updates from court room. Grodner arrested, pled guilty, has 30 hours of community service and a $600 fine to be paid to the Semper Fi Injured Marine Fund.]
See this post for background - Anti-Military Lawyer Damages Marine's Car on Eve of Deployment
The court date is set for tomorrow, January 18th, at 1330 hours at the District 29 Court House on Belmont and Western. Unfortunately, I can't be there, but I will post updates when I get them.
This whole incident started and will end with one man - Jay Grodner. I hope he does the right thing by the Marine. This could all be over tomorrow...or not.
In case you were wondering, this case was brought to my attention and I tried, TRIED, to get anyone in the media to take the ball and run with it. Offered exclusivity, contacts, photos, reports, etc.
For a variety of reasons, no one wanted it.
So, as a resort of last measure, I posted it here at Blackfive (in the Bust Their Chops category) and emailed it to a few Marines I knew who would get the story out on their networks (thank you, Seamus, Jay and Joe). After thousands of emails, hundreds of comments, many offers of support (financial and moral), a few threats, and finally media interest, this story was one of the first big blogosphere efforts of 2008.
It got noticed everywhere.
Thank you to John Kass for covering the story. If you are so inclined, send him a thank you message for covering the story fairly.
In the end, though, it was the military family that brought this story to national attention. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines - us doggies, squids, zoomies, and jarheads - that refused to let this abuse go unnoticed. This is one of those times where we dropped the inter-service rivalry and stepped up for one of our own.
Civilian America rallied to our cause, too. I can't tell you how many emails I received from civilians in support of Sergeant McNulty. The reaction of Chicago Police and Firemen backing the Sergeant was astounding. Tons, and I mean tons, of lawyers sent offers to work pro bono and messages of support and advice for the Sergeant. I almost take back every negative thing I've said about their profession.
And, last...the most magnificent reaction was from the Viet Nam veterans. It was the most intense response from them that I've witnessed in a long time. I received more email - full of emotion and commitment - from Viet Nam vets that essentially said in various ways:
"We will not let what happened to us, happen to you, Marine."
I do not pretend to know what will happen tomorrow in court. Attorney Jay Grodner had asked for a continuance so that he could bring in some hired guns.
But I do know that my brothers that fought in Viet Nam are right.
We won't let this happen to you, Sergeant McNulty.
Update 230PM: As Commenter wp91 wrote:
And I heard that Grodner was arrested upon showing up!
Update: Source says Grodner pled guilty, will pay $600 to Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. The judge gave Grodner a history lesson about the Marines and finished with explaining why Marines have each others' backs...
Update 01-19-08: John Kass will have an article in the Sunday Tribune. Here is the online version. He was able to speak with Grodner. Here's a taste of pure Kass:
Judge O'Malley had something to say. He looked out into his courtroom, at all those men who'd come to support a Marine they didn't know.
"You caused damage to this young Marine sergeant's car because you were offended by his Marine Corps license plates," said Judge O'Malley.
Grodner stood there, hands behind his back. He grasped the fingers of his left hand with his right, and held it there, so they wouldn't wiggle.
"You're probably also wondering why there was a whole crowd of people here, Mr. Grodner," said Judge O'Malley...
Update 01-20-08: Transcript added below. For what it's worth, the prosecutors were vets - Patrick Kelly was a Marine and Arunas Buntinas was a SF Officer (and a very good one too if he's the same guy I knew 20 years ago).
1 STATE OF ILLINOIS )
2 COUNTY OF C O O K )
3 IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
4 COUNTY DEPARTMENT-MUNICIPAL DIVISION
5 PEOPLE OF THE STATE )
OF ILLINOIS, )
-vs- ) CASE NO.
8 ) 07-MC1-318441
JAY GRODNER, )
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS held on
the 18th of January, 2008, before the HONORABLE
WILLIAM P. O'MALLEY, Judge of said court,
Branch 29, Chicago, Illinois.
HON. RICHARD A. DEVINE, STATE'S ATTORNEY
16 OF COOK COUNTY, BY:
MR. PATRICK KELLY & MR. ARUNAS BUNTINAS,
17 ASSISTANT STATE'S ATTORNEYS,
18 Appeared on behalf of the People;
19 MR. JAY GRODNER, THE DEFENDANT,
ATTORNEY AT LAW,
Appeared Pro Se.
23 OFFICIAL COURT REPORTER
69 WEST WASHINGTON, SUITE 900
24 CHICAGO, IL 60602
1 THE CLERK: 406-7, Jay Grodner.
2 MR. KELLY: Good afternoon, Your Honor. For
3 the record, Patrick Kelly, K-e-l-l-y, for the
5 MR. BUNTINAS: Judge, Arunas Buntinas, last
6 name B-u-n-t-i-n-a-s, with State's Attorney's
8 THE COURT: All right. Mr. Grodner is not
10 Would one of the sheriffs go out in the
11 lobby to see if he's there? Otherwise, I'm issuing
12 a warrant for his arrest.
13 THE SHERIFF: Judge, there's no response in
14 all the common places and the lobby.
15 MR. BUNTINAS: Judge, we're asking for a bond
16 forfeiture warrant.
17 THE COURT: Bond forfeiture warrant $20,000.
18 Wait around, Pat. He'll probably wander in and
19 I'll take him into custody.
20 MR. KELLY: Very well. Thank you, Your
22 MR. BUNTINAS: Thank you, Judge.
23 THE COURT: This matter has been up before.
24 He waltzed in the last time 15 minutes late.
2 (WHEREUPON THE CASE
3 WAS PASSED AND
5 THE COURT: Recall Jay Grodner.
6 THE CLERK: Jay Grodner.
7 THE COURT: State.
8 MR. KELLY: Your Honor, I had a conversation
9 with Mr. Grodner a couple moments ago on the
10 telephone. At about 1:40, he called and said that
11 he was running late. He would be here in about a
12 half an hour. He wanted an opportunity to give
13 the press time to leave before he arrived.
14 THE COURT: Yeah. Mr. Grodner -- The message
15 I got, which was relayed to my clerk from Mr. Kelly
16 here, says that Mr. Grodner called at 1:40.
17 Of course, he was suppose to be here at
18 1:30. He knows that since he showed up late, and I
19 warned him about that the last time. He says that
20 he would be here in about a half hour. He wanted
21 the press to clear out. He was told that a warrant
22 was issued.
23 So, for those of you in the press, you
24 might want to know that. But, the warrant should
1 still stand. Should Mr. Grodner appear in this
2 courtroom, he'll be taken into custody. Should he
3 not appear, the Chicago Police Department can do
4 whatever or execute that warrant.
5 MR. KELLY: Thank you, Judge.
6 (WHEREUPON THE CASE
7 WAS PASSED AND
9 THE CLERK: 406, line 7. Jay Grodner.
10 THE DEFENDANT: Good afternoon, Your Honor.
11 THE COURT: Yeah, it is good afternoon. It's
12 2:00. You were suppose to be here at 1:30. The
13 last time --
14 THE DEFENDANT: I apologize, Your Honor.
15 THE COURT: -- this matter was up, you
16 showed up at 1:45. I admonished you that the
17 courtroom starts at 1:30. The complaining witness
18 last time was here at 1:30.
19 I struck the warrant at that time that
20 had previously been issued because the complaining
21 witness was still here.
22 THE SHERIFF: Mr. Grodner, put your hands
23 behind your back.
24 THE COURT: You were warned once. I got a
1 message that you were -- you didn't want to come
2 here because you wanted to wait for the press to
4 I don't run my courtroom that way. You
5 have no regard for the Court. Bail is increased to
6 $20,000. Take him into custody.
7 State, I'll either give him the eight-day
8 date; or, you folks can talk to him and see if he
9 wants to work something out.
10 THE DEFENDANT: We already have something
11 worked out, Your Honor.
12 THE COURT: Take him into custody. They can
13 talk to him through there.
14 THE SHERIFF: Let's go, Mr. Grodner.
15 (WHEREUPON THE
16 DEFENDANT TAKEN
17 INTO CUSTODY.)
18 THE CLERK: 406, line 7. Jay Grodner.
19 THE COURT: Mr. Grodner, I understand that you
20 made some agreement with the State's Attorney's
22 THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
23 THE COURT: I told them that it was my
24 intention to just give you the regular court date
1 that I would for any other prisoner.
2 They said that they have reached an
3 agreement with you; and, so, I will attempt to
4 dispose of your case today.
5 THE DEFENDANT: Thank you, Your Honor.
6 THE COURT: All right. Mr. Kelly, what have
7 you -- Mr. Grodner, I understand that you're
8 entering a plea of guilty -- Let me see the
9 file -- to the charge of criminal damage to
11 That you knowingly damaged the property
12 of Michael McNulty; such property being a 2002
13 black BMW, located at 7631 North Eastlake Terrace,
14 without consent in that you rubbed along the
15 passenger side of the vehicle causing scratches.
16 Is that what you did?
17 THE DEFENDANT: (No response.)
18 THE COURT: Mr. Grodner, I'm talking to you.
19 Is that what you did?
20 THE DEFENDANT: Yes. Yes, we have a
21 stipulation to the facts, --
22 THE COURT: Is that what you did; yes or no?
23 THE DEFENDANT: Without the "knowingly", yes.
24 THE COURT: Sir, I'm asking you did you
1 knowingly cause damage to this car?
2 If you say "no", then we'll set it down
3 for a trial date.
4 THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor.
5 THE COURT: You did. Thank you.
6 You realize that I could sentence you to
7 jail for up to one year. Fine you $2500. That by
8 pleading guilty, you're waiving your right to a
9 jury trial. You're not going to have a trial at
11 Do you understand that?
12 THE DEFENDANT: Yes, I do.
13 THE COURT: You're waiving your right to hold
14 the State to the burden of proving you guilty
15 beyond a reasonable doubt. You're not going to be
16 able to cross-examine witnesses and to present
17 witnesses on your own behalf.
18 Do you understand that?
19 THE DEFENDANT: Yes, I do.
20 THE COURT: Now, is there a stipulation to
21 those facts contained in the complaint?
22 THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
23 THE COURT: Is that correct?
24 THE DEFENDANT: That's correct.
1 THE COURT: And, you have chosen to represent
2 yourself; even though, I continued this case once
3 for you to obtain an attorney. Is that right?
4 THE DEFENDANT: That's right.
5 THE COURT: All right. And, --
6 THE DEFENDANT: My attorney --
7 THE COURT: -- you are a licensed attorney
8 in --
9 THE DEFENDANT: I am, Your Honor.
10 THE COURT: -- the State of Illinois; is that
12 THE DEFENDANT: Yes, I am.
13 THE COURT: All right.
14 MR. KELLY: Your Honor, the State would
15 stipulate to the facts, also.
16 THE COURT: There's a factual basis for the
17 plea. There's a finding of guilty --
18 MR. KELLY: May we read that into the record?
19 THE COURT: What?
20 MR. KELLY: May we read that into the record?
21 THE COURT: Read what?
22 MR. KELLY: The alleged facts in this case.
23 THE COURT: Yeah. I did already, Pat; but,
24 I'll read them again. I'm more than happy to.
1 MR. KELLY: Thank you.
2 THE COURT: "That on December 1, at 7631
3 North Eastlake Terrace, the Defendant, Mr. Grodner,
4 knowingly damaged the property of Michael McNulty;
5 such property being a 2002 black BMW, located at
6 7631 North Eastlake Terrace, without consent
7 rubbed along the passenger side of the vehicle
8 causing scratches in violation of 720 5/21-1(a) of
9 the Illinois Compiled Statutes, in the City of
10 Chicago, County of Cook."
11 MR. KELLY: So stipulated, Your Honor.
12 THE DEFENDANT: So stipulated, Your Honor.
13 THE COURT: All right. Finding of guilty.
14 State, what was the agreement that you
15 worked out with Mr. Grodner?
16 MR. KELLY: Subject to the Court's approval,
17 we would recommend one year of Court supervision.
18 THE COURT: Social Services --
19 MR. KELLY: Social Services. Reporting for
20 the payment of restitution only. The restitution
21 would be in the amount of $600, Your Honor. That's
22 to be paid on or before January 19, 2008.
23 Those monies will be donated by Social
24 Services to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
1 THE COURT: January 19th only gives him until
2 tomorrow. Is he able to pay it today?
3 MR. KELLY: That's my error, Judge. I'm
4 sorry. The 25th.
5 THE DEFENDANT: 2009?
6 THE COURT: January 25th?
7 MR. KELLY: That's the probation. I looked at
8 the wrong one. It was January 25th of 2008.
9 Will you be able to pay it by then?
10 THE DEFENDANT: Suppose to be six months.
11 THE SHERIFF: Put your hands behind your
13 THE DEFENDANT: Jesus Christ.
14 THE COURT: You're the Defendant, sir. You're
15 in custody. You have to behave as such.
17 THE DEFENDANT: I'm trying to negotiate with
18 Counsel, Your Honor.
19 THE COURT: I know. Talk to him.
20 MR. KELLY: I'm sorry. That's what I was
21 told. For the year.
22 THE COURT: Talk to him.
23 (WHEREUPON THE
24 ASSISTANT STATE'S
1 ATTORNEY AND THE
2 DEFENDANT HAD A
3 DISCUSSION OFF THE
5 THE COURT: Hey, if there is no agreement,
6 we'll set it down for trial. I don't have any
7 problem with that.
8 MR. KELLY: If we could just have one minute,
9 Your Honor?
10 THE COURT: Sure.
11 MR. KELLY: I believe we have -- still have
12 an agreement, Your Honor.
13 THE COURT: All right. When is he going to
14 pay this money and what fund is it going to be
15 directed to?
16 MR. KELLY: It would be directed to the
17 Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, on College
18 Boulevard, in Oceanside, California.
19 It's a fund that's used to treat and
20 rehabilitate Marines and other Service Members who
21 were injured, either physically or psychologically,
22 in the conflict between the United States and Iraq.
23 THE COURT: When is that going to be paid by?
24 MR. KELLY: January 25, 2008.
1 Is that doable for you?
2 THE DEFENDANT: I don't know. I wasn't put
3 in the -- It wasn't put --
4 THE COURT: It has to be paid January 25,
6 What was the other part of the agreement?
7 Anything else?
8 MR. KELLY: No, sir.
9 THE COURT: All right.
10 MR. KELLY: Am I missing anything?
11 THE COURT: One year -- Any community
12 service? Any fees or fines?
13 MR. BUNTINAS: Judge, we're not asking that
14 the Court waive the $50 per month probation fee --
15 or, Social Services fee.
16 THE COURT: You are or you are not?
17 MR. BUNTINAS: We are not.
18 THE COURT: No. The fees won't be waived.
19 MR. BUNTINAS: Right.
20 THE COURT: Are there any additional court
21 fees and costs --
22 MR. BUNTINAS: None, Judge.
23 THE COURT: -- that the State wants to asses?
24 MR. BUNTINAS: None, Judge.
1 THE COURT: All right. Mr. Grodner, because
2 the State has agreed to this, this is what I will
3 sentence you to. One-year Social Service
4 supervision and that would terminate 1-16-2009;
5 and, $600 restitution to be paid --
6 MR. KELLY: May I interrupt the Court, Judge?
7 THE COURT: What?
8 MR. KELLY: The Defendant has indicated that
9 he's going to need a month. So, we're changing the
10 agreement, if the Court will so allow, to February
11 25th of '08. One month.
12 THE COURT: Restitution to be paid 2-25-08.
13 Mr. Grodner, you have 30 days to withdraw
14 your plea. That motion must be in writing. It
15 must allege any error you deem to have occurred
16 during the course of these proceedings. Otherwise,
17 they'll be waived on appeal.
18 Beyond that, you have 30 days to appeal
19 that. If you couldn't afford to hire a lawyer, pay
20 for transcripts, we would provide them for you.
21 I need a signed Jury Waiver.
22 (WHEREUPON A JURY
23 WAIVER WAS SIGNED BY
24 THE DEFENDANT AND
1 TENDERED TO THE
3 You're fortunate, Mr. Grodner, that you
4 made that agreement with the State. My
5 understanding is that you caused damage to this
6 young Marine sergeant's car because you were
7 offended by his Marine Corps license plates.
8 I'm going to tell you something, Mr.
9 Grodner. The Marine Corps license plates do not
10 involve anything dealing with an ego. The proceeds
11 go to the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund, which
12 provides scholarships for all children of all
13 Marines and Navy Corpsmen that fight and aide the
14 Marine Corps; and, a larger amount of money goes to
15 scholarships for those who have lost their lives.
16 You probably also wondered why there was
17 a whole crowd of people here today, Mr. Grodner.
18 THE DEFENDANT: I don't want wonder.
19 THE COURT: That's because there is a little
20 principle that the Marine Corps has and has had
21 since 1775, when they had fought and lost their
22 lives so that people like you could enjoy the
23 freedom of this country; and, that is a little
24 proverb that we follow: "That no Marine is left
2 So, Sergeant McNulty couldn't be here;
3 but, other Marines showed in his stead. Take him
5 MR. KELLY: Your Honor, lastly, the Defendant
6 asked permission of the Court to be allowed to
7 leave the State of Illinois periodically during the
8 period of his supervision.
9 We have no objection to that.
10 THE COURT: Mr. Grodner, you can leave the
11 State of Illinois periodically if you comply with
12 what the Social Services Department tells you to
14 I'm telling you right now, if you violate
15 any conditions of this supervision, you're going to
16 jail for 364; and, you can count on that.
17 Is everything filled out, Pat?
18 MR. KELLY: Yes, Your Honor.
19 THE COURT: Okay.
20 MR. KELLY: And, it has been -- For the
21 record, it has been shown to the Defendant.
22 Your Honor, is there going to be a quash
23 and recall order on the warrant?
24 THE COURT: The warrant has been stricken at
1 the State's request.
2 MR. KELLY: Thank you, Your Honor.
3 THE SHERIFF: That's it?
4 THE COURT: Take him back.
5 THE DEFENDANT: Bond remains at $1,000
6 recognizance, sir?
7 THE COURT: You're going to be released, sir.
8 THE DEFENDANT: Thank you.
9 (WHEREUPON THOSE
10 WERE ALL OF THE
11 PROCEEDINGS HELD IN
12 THE ABOVE-ENTITLED