CHICAGO (CBS) — An unusual fight with a towing lot in west suburban Cicero hinged on a peculiar question of legal authority. Why didn’t Cicero’s department of towing release Arteze Smith’s car when he showed up with not one, but two court orders?
CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory explains the issue.READ MORE: Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman Has 'Stepped Aside' Following Independent Probe Into 2010 Sexual Assault Claim Against Former Coach
It’s safe to assume no one likes the tow yard.
“I’m, I’m, I’m so frustrated,” Smith said.
A stammering Smith really doesn’t like the auto pound owned and operated by the town of Cicero.
His purchase of a shiny Mustang he dubbed “Knight Rider” lasted about a week, and has been locked up since March.
“I’m stressed out to the point where I don’t even want to be around people,” Smith said.
His troubles began with a drug arrest outside a gas station.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” he said.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office apparently agreed. Prosecutors dropped his criminal case and issued an order to release his impounded car in May, but Cicero’s department of towing wanted their $5,000 in storage fees first.
“That’s when he told me, if I don’t have the money, I can go to the town of Cicero legal department and have a hearing,” Smith said.READ MORE: Illinois Senate Passes Legislation That Would Repeal Parental Notification Requirement For Minors Seeking Abortions
So he did.
“Everything got reduced to zero balance,” he said.
An administrative hearing officer ruled Smith didn’t owe any fees, but that decision wasn’t well-received back at the lot.
“He told me ‘F*** those papers, ‘I’m getting a lawyer to rescind the verdict,’” Smith said.
That’s when attorney Jayne Ingles got involved, helping Smith continue his fight to get his car back.
“Essentially, the administrative orders that were issued, that were legitimate, were ignored,” Ingles said.
Who allowed that to happen? Ingles said she’s repeatedly asked.
About two weeks later, Cicero attorneys successfully overturned the town’s ruling about the fees on Smith’s car.
The tow yard manager referred us to Cicero’s spokesperson, who chalked the situation up to an error. He said the hearings administrator incorrectly interpreted the county’s order to release the car as a release from fees too.
“Our position is not going to change,” he told CBS 2, even when we pointed out Smith’s car is worth less than half of his towing bill.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Wednesday Starts On A Chilly Note
“It’s been really hard,” Smith said. “I basically walk everywhere I go.”