Young admits driving drunk, accepts court supervision

Steve Gonzalez Mar. 2, 2007, 8:25am

Clyde Kuehn

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young has admitted he was driving drunk in return for negotiated terms and conditions of his sentence.

"Under circumstances comparable to Judge Young's case, we would expect to negotiate similar treatment for anyone, no matter their station in life," a prepared statement by Young's attorney Clyde Kuehn stated.

"Simply stated, the penalties that Judge Young agreed to accept in return for a sentence of court supervision on his DUI ticket are in line with those received by most other first offenders," Kuehn added

Kuehn said Young accepted responsibility for his error in judgment, despite legal advice from Kuehn, because he felt that a protracted defense would be harmful to public confidence in the judiciary, harmful to his fellow St. Clair County judges, and harmful to the accident victim.

"He did not want to engage in a public quarrel about the opinion of any officer of the law, for members of law enforcement are people whose opinions and judgments he routinely values," Kuehn said.

Kuehn added, "Judge Young accepted a finding of guilt because he has feelings of remorse over what has happened, and wants to avoid public perception that his position allowed him to escape the kind of justice most people must face for similarly charged misconduct."

Kuehn said Young will not discuss the incident as long as civil liability and judicial discipline still await disposition.

The day before he was to be sworn in as newly elected circuit judge, Young, 58, was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and failure to yield by a Belleville Police Department patrolman.

St. Clair County Chief Judge Jan Fiss, 64, who was a passenger in Young's vehicle, was seen pouring out a can of beer at the scene.

He was charged with illegal transportation of alcohol on Feb. 8, by special prosecutor Randy Patchett.

Young and Fiss were returning from the St. Louis Rams football game when the accident happened at 5:05 p.m., according to the police report.

Young was driving a 2005 GMC Yukon.

According to the police report, Young -- northbound on Frank Scott Parkway in Belleville -- turned left onto Dutch Hollow Road in front of a southbound vehicle driven by Abel Muhammed, 40, of Swansea.

Muhammed, who had to be extricated from his 2006 Toyota Tundra, was treated and released from Memorial Hospital's emergency room.

According to the police report, Muhammed suffered facial lacerations and complained of a broken leg.

According to the police report, Young was "unstable in his stance, swaying forward and backwards...when the suspect walked to the rear of the vehicle I noted he was staggering side to side in an unbalanced motion," Patrolman Shane Brown wrote in a report.

Patrolman Jeffrey Sheary, who assisted Brown, stated in a supplemental report that Fiss tried to hide the beer can.

"After pouring out the beer, Fiss made several attempts to conceal the can in an inside pocket on the front of his coat before finally sweeping," Sheary wrote.

Brown asked Fiss what he did with the beer can.

"Witness #2 (Fiss) stated, 'I was told to get rid of it'," Brown wrote. "I asked witness #2 who told him to get rid of the beer can and he refused to answer my question. I then asked him where he disposed of it and he stated, 'along the road.'"

Madison County Associate Circuit Judge Janet Heflin presided over the Young case.

Ann Knef contributed to this report.

More News