DUI Prosecutor's Drunk Driving Death a Hard Lesson for Profession

The recent drunk driving death of a renowned Chicago area prosecutor is a hard lesson for the legal profession – and a number of those who could learn from it haven’t necessarily done so.

Too often, those in charge of enforcing the law against others don’t apply it to themselves. And that was clearly true not only of former DuPage “prosecutor of the year” Jane Radostits, 46, but the colleague who drove her back to her car after a “boozy lunch” on May 11, according to a Sunday editorial in the Chicago Tribune.

Radostits, whose blood alcohol later tested at three times the legal limit, died later that day in a head-on collision with another driver. Among the high-profile cases she had handled was the drunk driving prosecution of a suburban Chicago driver in the deaths of four persons. Given the comments made after her death, one has to wonder whether Radostits would have received the same “tough justice” had she survived and the other driver died, writes James Warren, the Tribune’s managing editor for features.

Her case also, however, reminds us of the fallacy of our human tendency to characterize people in “an overly simplistic, white hat/black hat” fashion, says Michael Josephson, a Los Angeles ethics expert quoted in the editorial. “All heroes have flaws, all villains have virtues.”

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