State senator acquitted of trespassing, damaging neighbor’s property
Illinois State Senator 31st District Suzi Schmidt of Lake Villa is interviewed by CBS television outside the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan with her attorney Charles Schneider after being cleared of two misdemeanor charges. Schmidt was charged with criminal damage to property and trespassing. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 12, 2012 12:03PM
State Sen. Suzi Schmidt (R-Lake Villa) was acquitted Wednesday of trespassing and criminal damage to property charges stemming from a June squabble with neighbors.
After the ruling, Schmidt said it was “very sad” that the dispute with a neighboring family had escalated to the point that she was hit with misdemeanor charges.
“I’m happy we had time in court. I had no doubt” about the outcome, said Schmidt, who had announced she was not running for re-election before the incident.
Lake County Judge George Strickland ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Schmidt of the criminal charges. She was accused of storming onto a neighbor’s property and damaging a sack of animal feed.
But Strickland left in place an order of protection barring Schmidt from contacting those neighbors, who contended that Schmidt had bombarded them for more than a year with phone calls and emails because she thought her now-estranged husband was having an affair with a woman in that family.
Schmidt’s arrest on June 12 followed earlier disclosures that police had been called to her Lake County home several times because of domestic disputes involving her husband.
That included one instance on Christmas Day 2010, when Schmidt, the former longtime chairwoman of the Lake County Board, called 911 and told the operator to disregard any calls from her husband. Authorities have said Schmidt locked her husband out of their home during a quarrel, though Schmidt was not charged.
On Wednesday, two neighbors testified that they had felt harassed by Schimdit and had asked her several times to leave them alone.
Schmidt denied damaging the feed bag, saying she went onto her neighbors’ property to look for a ladder she needed to clean her gutters. She testified that she didn’t see a no-trespassing sign on the property.
Strickland said he couldn’t be sure what happened that day. “I am not deciding this case on reasonable suspicion,” he said.