Baricevic yet to appoint special prosecutor

Ann Knef Dec. 15, 2006, 1:23am

St. Clair County Circuit Judge John Baricevic, who was elected interim chief judge by a vote of the 12 circuit judges in the 20th Circuit Wednesday, must decide whether to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the Dec. 3 DUI arrest of Circuit Judge Patrick Young.

Baricevic took the place of Circuit Judge Jan Fiss, who stepped down as chief because of his involvement in the arrest as Young's passenger.

The court's chief judge holds responsibility for appointing a prosecutor of his choice or not at all.

Baricevic could not be reached for comment Thursday.

St. Clair County State's Attorney Bob Haida said the matter is "technically in limbo" until Baricevic acts on a motion he filed requesting a special prosecutor be appointed to evaluate "the entire event of Dec. 3."

Young was ticketed for driving under the influence of alcohol and failure to yield after turning left into the path of a vehicle driven by Abel Muhammed. Young, driving a 2005 GMC Yukon, and Fiss were returning from a St. Louis Rams game at approximately 5 p.m. when the accident occurred at the intersection of Frank Scott Parkway and Dutch Hollow Road in Belleville.

Muhammed, who had complained of a broken leg to emergency personnel, had to be extricated from his 2006 Toyota Tundra. He was treated at Belleville Memorial Hospital.

According to the police report, Fiss was spotted pouring out a can of Bud Light at the scene. Fiss told a Belleville police officer he was "told" to pour it out, but refused to answer who directed him to empty the beer.

Haida said he requested outside assistance from the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor's office because of a potential conflict of interest with two major criminal cases he has pending before Young and Fiss.

In one case, convicted murderer Gerrado Forest has filed a motion for a new trial, a matter before Young.

Fiss has been assigned to the Edward Phillips murder case.

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