DUI, public employees, public cars

Trial dates have been set for the two Philadelphia City Council aides fired after they were charged Sept. 8 with being under the influence while driving city-owned “pool cars” available only to Council members and certain staffers.

Robin Jones, 50, a 14-year-city worker who was a receptionist in the office of Council President Darrell L. Clarke, had a court appearance Thursday and was assigned a Dec. 12 trial date in Municipal Court. Rodney Williams, 41, a Council sergeant-at-arms since 2004, had his court appearance Friday and has a Municipal Court trial on Nov. 14.

Both were arrested in the early morning hours of Sept. 8. Police said that at 2:30 a.m., Jones crashed the city car she was driving at 13th and Hamilton Streets in lower North Philadelphia. Jones called Williams for help and he was arrested when he arrived in another city vehicle.

Both were charged with driving under the influence and Jones was also charged with driving with a suspended or revoked operator’s license.

Williams’ contact with police wasn’t over. On Sept. 26, Williams was arrested on drug charges after he was allegedly stopped near his house in the 2300 block of Bouvier Street in North Philadelphia with 40 grams of marijuana and 28 pills of the prescription narcotic painkiller hydrocodone. Williams has a Municipal Court appearance on the drug charges on Oct. 29.

And while we’re on the subject of public figures driving under the influence, some may remember the case of state Rep. Cherelle L. Parker, the Mount Airy Democrat stopped by police on April 30, 2011 after police allegedly spotted her driving the wrong way on Haines Street in Germantown.

Police said Parker, 40, who was driving a state-owned vehicle, smelled of alcohol, was glassy-eyed and had trouble getting out of the vehicle. She had no license, registration or insurance card and police said a Breathalyzer test determined her blood-alcohol level was twice the .08 level for driving under the influence.

Round one went to the legislator. Municipal Court Judge Charles Hayden ruled that police had insufficient probable cause to stop Parker and dismissed the charges.

Round two was the prosecution’s. The state Attorney General’s Office had taken on the case after District Attorney Seth Williams disqualified his office from prosecuting because he and Parker are friends in person and on the Internet social media website Facebook. The state prosecutor argued that Hayden should have followed Williams’ lead because he also was a Facebook friend of Parker’s though not one in the flesh. In January, Common Pleas Court Judge Paula Patrick reinstated all charges, ruling that Hayden “abused his discretion” by dismissing the case against Parker.

Round three again went to the prosecution on March 30 when the state Superior Court refused to hear the appeal filed by Parker’s tenacious lawyer, Joseph Kelly, who specializes in DUI cases.

Round four is Nov. 1, when Municipal Court President Judge Marsha H. Neifield has the parties come in for a status hearing.