MADISON COUNTY, Ill. — Chrissy Dutton’s brother Dave Harrison died almost 17 years ago. He was killed by a drunk driver.
“I think about my brother every single day,” she said. “He was a good big brother and he's so missed.”
Dutton serves on the Madison County Board. When she found out about a clerical error that allowed a man arrested twice for DUI to continue to drive, she had to speak out.
“If you get off on a technicality, you might be more brazen than ever to do it again. That’s my worry,” Dutton said.
Steven Wigginton, a former U.S. Attorney was arrested in May 2017 for DUI. He was arrested again New Years Eve 2018; that arrest was captured on an Edwardsville Police Officer’s dash cam video. In both cases, nobody was hurt.
In DUI cases, court hearings must be scheduled within 30 days, so a judge can decide whether to temporarily suspend the driver’s license. A court clerk in Madison County counted the dates incorrectly, so the judge could not hear the case.
“I am outraged that Mr. Wigginton caught a break. Mr. Wigginton did not deserve a break,” said Madison County Circuit Clerk Mark Von Nida.
Von Nida said one particular clerk in his office made the error in Wigginton’s case and at least six other DUI cases. His office is checking the clerk’s cases from the past three months.
“Is it because Mr. Wigginton held a position of power that this mistake was made?” asked 5 On Your Side Reporter Marianne Martinez. “People will ask that and people will believe what they want to believe. All I can say is that there are other cases involved,” Von Nida said.
Von Nida said a supervisor will now check every DUI case to ensure the court dates are correct.
Dutton said the Madison County Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Thursday to investigate exactly what happened.
“Mistakes happen,” Dutton said. “That's the bottom line here, but we want to make sure it doesn't happen again.”
The error does not impact the criminal prosecution of Wigginton’s case and the other cases in which mistakes were made. It impacted a possible temporary suspension of the drivers' licenses while the accused drunk drivers await criminal proceedings.
5 On Your Side reached out to Wigginton's attorney for comment. He did not return our calls.