Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 00-CF-3166. Honorable Kathryn E. Creswell, Judge, Presiding. Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 00-CF-3167. Honorable Kathryn E. Creswell, Judge, Presiding.
The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's petition to expunge his convictions for unlawful possession of a stolen motor vehicle, aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, and aggravated driving under the influence, notwithstanding the fact that he was granted a gubernatorial pardon " With Order Permitting Expungement," since the record showed that the trial court considered the relevant factors, and those factors weighed in favor of the denial of expungement due to the seriousness of his offenses and the fact that the transferable nature of defendant's job skills reduced the negative consequences of any possible deportation.
JUSTICE ZENOFF delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Schostok and Hudson concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] Defendant, Miroslaw Laguna, appeals the trial court's denial of his petition to expunge his convictions of unlawful possession of a stolen motor vehicle (625 ILCS 5/4-103(a)(1) (West 2000)) and aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer (625 ILCS 5/11-204.1(a) (West 2000)) in case No. 00-CF-3166, and aggravated driving under the influence (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(1), (a)(2), (d)(1)(A), (d)(1)(C) (West 2000)) in case No. 00-CF-3167. He was pardoned in 2013, and he contends that the trial court abused its discretion in its balancing of various factors when it denied the petition to expunge. We affirm.
[¶2] I. BACKGROUND
[¶3] Defendant, who is Polish, was arrested in November 2000 and later pleaded guilty. He was eligible for probation but instead was sentenced to six years' incarceration. In March 2013, defendant was granted a gubernatorial pardon " With Order Permitting Expungement." He then petitioned for expungement of the convictions so that he could avoid deportation. The State objected to the petition and, on September 30, 2013, a hearing was held.
[¶4] At the hearing, defendant provided documents showing that, while incarcerated, he participated in spiritual development, stress and anger management, and substance abuse treatment. There was evidence that he had been sober since his release from prison in 2004 but had attended substance abuse treatment in 2008. Defendant also provided letters from neighbors and friends concerning his sobriety, good demeanor, willingness to help others, and efforts to care for his elderly mother. The letters showed that he had skills as an auto mechanic. He also presented a letter from Les Kuczynski, the executive director of the Polish American Congress, detailing difficulties defendant would face if deported, including that defendant does not speak the Polish language and that there is a high unemployment rate in Poland. Kuczynski wrote that defendant had no transferable employment skills, as his work experience
was limited to working on a machine in an envelope company, and that defendant would not be able to survive if deported. There was evidence that defendant was not admonished at the time of his guilty pleas that he could be deported.
[¶5] Mark Dobrzycki, an employee of the Polish National Alliance, testified about defendant's family life and immigration status. Defendant came to the United States as a child. He was the caregiver for his elderly mother. Because of his convictions, he was under an order of deportation, and expungement of those convictions would prevent deportation. On cross-examination, Dobrzycki stated that defendant had multiple siblings in the Chicago area who assisted in caring for defendant's mother, although they did not live with her. One of the letters presented by defendant showed that his sister lived with her daughter in the apartment below defendant and his mother.
[¶6] Defendant presented six additional witnesses, who identified themselves to the court. With the agreement of the State, defendant's attorney proffered that they would testify about his good character, good citizenship, and sobriety. Defendant argued that expungement should be granted because of his good character, employment history, substance abuse treatment, and immigration ...