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Prairie Grove Justice and Officer James Page in the News

On January 30, 2013 I received an email from Sarah Sutschek, who is a reporter with the Northwest Herald, a McHenry County, IL newspaper. Ms. Sutschek wanted to ask me questions for an article she was writing, and I agreed to answer her questions by email. She published an article, which can be seen here. The article that Ms. Sutschek wrote excluded many of her questions and my answers, so I am publishing her questions and my answers - in their entirety - here:

Q1. You say that you were wearing your seat belt. Why do you believe you were pulled over by Officer Page?

Only Officer Page will truly know with certainty why he pulled us over. I know that I was wearing my seatbelt, as do my wife and brother-in-law who were in the car. All three of us have already testified under oath to the fact that I was wearing my seatbelt. Moreover, I am a very safety-oriented person, I always wear my seatbelt, and I encourage others to do so. I do not believe that Officer Page believes I was not wearing my seatbelt. I could speculate as to why the officer would pull me over without reason, but that would just be speculation. I do know that there was no valid basis for the stop of the vehicle in which I was a passenger.

Q2. Some reports have indicated that you pulled out your bar association card along with your license. Is this true, and if so, why did you present that card?

I did indeed offer Officer Page my Illinois State Bar Association card along with my Iowa driver’s license. I knew from the beginning that the traffic stop was not for any valid reason, and that caused me concern. As an attorney I have had many clients tell me about improper actions taken by police officers after an unjustified traffic stop. It was my hope that by handing the officer my Illinois State Bar Association card that he would be deterred from taking any such action. For better or worse, it appears that those police officers who are willing to further violate a person’s rights after improperly stopping them are less likely to do so to a person who they know will have the knowledge and ability to take the matter to court.

Q3. In addition to your website, I’ve seen a Facebook ad, a Craigs List ad, and some information on what appears to be your website, www.learnaboutguns.com. What do you hope to accomplish with these advertisements/postings?

My goal is addressing this improper stop is to see that justice is served, for myself and anyone else whose Constitutional rights Officer Page has violated. The reason that injustice persists in this world is that people choose to ignore it. Were I to ignore this injustice, I would feel terribly for doing so. As an attorney, a citizen, and a father, I believe I owe a duty to fight the wrongs in this world that I am capable of fighting.

Q4. Your site, pgjustice.com, says that your firm will handle Prairie Grove matters on a pro bono basis. Have you had anyone take you up on this offer?

In the just under two weeks that I have offered pro bono representation for matters involving Officer Page and Prairie Grove, we have already formally entered our appearance in one case and we are evaluating several other cases. Sadly, we have seen multiple situations in which too much time has passed to allow us to address the matter in court.

Q5. Officer Page has filed a complaint with the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office saying that he finds your actions to be “extremely harassing.” Do you have any response to this?

I have learned that Officer Page attempted to have me prosecuted for my completely lawful offers of pro bono representation. I have also learned that the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office declined to file charges, which is not surprising at all. The law is clear – there is nothing wrong with my offer to help others who I believe have been mistreated by Officer Page. In America we have the right to free speech, and that right is there for the very reason that I am employing it – addressing a wrong committed by a person who is abusing the power of their governmental office.

Q6. In the lawsuit you filed against the Village of Prairie Grove, it mentions that the traffic stop could have been racially motivated. Do you think that is the case?

I know that the basis for the stop was not a lack of a seatbelt, as I know that I was wearing my seatbelt. I also stand by the contents of my court pleadings.

Q7. How many FOIA requests have you sent to the village and over what time period?

Since the day after the traffic stop, in October, 2012, we have sent as many FOIA requests as have been necessary to get at the truth here, and we will continue to do so as necessary. The quantify of FOIA requests sent is primarily the result of the Village of Prairie Grove failing to produce the items requested. As just one example, the first FOIA request sought the squad car video and audio from the traffic stop. Prairie Grove responded that the video and audio was unavailable due to a “software and or hardware malfunction.” Through subsequent FOIA requests, we finally obtained the video of the traffic stop, although no audio has been provided. Had I not submitted the several subsequent FOIA requests, we would still be without the video that is critical in this matter.

Q8. A seat belt ticket is a $55 fine. Do you feel that the litigation – both for the citation and the civil suit – are worthwhile?

Justice is worthwhile, regardless of the cost. It would have been dramatically less expensive for me to just pay the fine. The least expensive thing would have been for me to not ask for Officer Page’s badge number and just forget about the wrongful stop. But either of those courses of action would have been morally wrong on my part. Accordingly, I will spend the time and funds that are necessary to resolve this matter for myself, and to help protect the community against this sort of wrongful action. Hopefully, my action will put a stop to this sort of misconduct, and will save people grief and cost they would otherwise experience if no one took action.

Q9. According to a complaint Officer Page filed with the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office (and I have confirmed with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office that they do not intend to file charges against you), a woman recently showed up at his door while he was away, saying she worked for ComEd and needed to ask about his bill, when his bill was already paid in full. Do you know this woman, and if so, know what she was doing at Officer Page’s home?

I have no knowledge at all about a woman appearing at Officer Page’s home and inquiring about his ComEd bill.

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