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Pig Owner Wants Trial, Village Tries For Swift Justice

February 27, 2003

Hinsdale trustees have ruled - twice - that Dawn McCarthy Brandt can't keep two Vietnamese potbellied pigs at her home.

All that's left is the ticket she received last summer after a neighbor complained to the village. Brandt faces a fine of up to $750 and a court order to remove the pigs from her property.

Officials delayed prosecution until after trustees ruled on her request for a code amendment classifying potbellied pigs as pets, not swine. Instead, trustees decided to maintain the village code, which prohibits keeping or maintaining cattle, goats, sheep and swine.

After a series of continuances, the case proceeded Feb. 18 in a DuPage County courtroom. Brandt asked for a trial by jury, which is within her rights.

Brandt referred all questions to her new attorney, Dennis Sopata, who couldn't be reached for comment.

Village officials intend to ask the judge to order the pigs to be removed from the property.

Village prosecutor Linda Pieczynski asked to file a motions for a summery judgment, which asks the judge not to allow a trial by jury. It is a very common request in civil cases to expedite the proceeding, she said.

"When no facts are in dispute in an ordinance case, there's no reason to go to a jury trial," Pieczynski said. "She has admitted that she has kept them. That's really the only issue."

Brandt's request for a trial by jury basiclly is postponed until the judge determines if there is a need for a jury trial, Pieczynski said.

Village officials have a month to file the motion, said public services director Dan Schoenberg.

Brandt's next court date is Tuesday, April 15, when the judge will decide whether to grant the village's motion for a summary judgment, Pieczynski said.

"If he grants (the motion), she is found guilty and the next step is sentencing," she said.

The judge doesn't have the power to allow Brandt to keep the pigs. Even if the judge doesn't order the pigs to be removed from the property, the village could ticket Brandt every day they are there, Pieczynski said.

"She's made attempts to get the law changed," she said. "The board considered it but decided not to make a change. Therefore, like anyone else, she needs to bring her conduct within the parameters of the law."

By Brian Boyle
Suburban Life

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