Fiss pleads guilty to transporting beer, fined $500

Steve Gonzalez and Ann Knef Mar. 20, 2007, 4:38pm

Jan Fiss

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Jan Fiss was fined $500 after pleading guilty Tuesday to unlawful transportation of alcohol.

In addition to the fine, Fiss will be placed on court supervision for 60 days.

Special Prosecutor Randy Patchett charged Fiss on Feb. 8, more than two months after St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young, 58, was arrested by a Belleville patrolman for driving under the influence of alcohol and failure to yield.

Second Judicial Circuit Judge Robert M. Lewis of Benton was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to hear the case

Fiss, 64, who was a passenger in Young's vehicle, was seen pouring out a can of beer at the scene. He was represented by former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Phil Rarick of Granite City.

Following the incident, Fiss stepped down as chief judge of the 20th Judicial Circuit. Circuit Judge John Baricevic was elected acting chief judge.

Fiss was sworn into office for another six-year term on Dec. 4, having been retained in the November election.

Young and Fiss were returning from the St. Louis Rams football game when the accident happened.

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 a 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.

On March 2, Young admitted he was driving drunk in return for negotiated terms and conditions of his sentence.

Young's attorney, former Illinois Appellate Justice Clyde Kuehn said Young accepted responsibility for his error in judgment, 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.

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

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