ICC to hold Young and Fiss hearing over last year's DUI arrest

Steve Gonzalez and Ann Knef Dec. 12, 2007, 5:11am



The Illinois Courts Commission (ICC) will hold a hearing next week involving St. Clair County Circuit Court Judges Patrick Young and Judge Jan V. Fiss over a DUI incident last year.

In October, the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board (JIB) filed a complaint with the ICC against Young and Fiss for "conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice and conduct that brought the judicial office into disrepute."

The complaint states that Young drove a car while under the influence of alcohol Dec. 3, 2006, and was involved in an accident in which the driver of another car sustained injuries. Fiss was Young's passenger.

If the ICC finds against Young and Fiss, the commission has the authority to remove from office, suspend without pay, censure or reprimand them for willful misconduct in office.

Young's arrest happened the day before he was to be sworn in as a circuit judge. He and Fiss, who also was to be sworn into office Dec. 4, were returning from a St. Louis Rams game when the accident happened at the intersection of Frank Scott Parkway and Dutch Hollow Road in Belleville.

Young, a former associate judge, was elected circuit judge in November 2006. Fiss, who had been serving as chief judge, was retained in the election, but stepped down as chief judge following the incident.

On March 2, Young was found guilty of DUI by a stipulated bench trial and was sentenced to court supervision for 24 months, fined $1,500 and ordered to complete an alcohol evaluation.

Fiss pled guilty to illegal transportation of alcohol on March 20, and was sentenced to 60 days of court supervision and fined $500.

John Gallo of Sidley Austin will prosecute the complaint on behalf of the JIB.

Gallo alleges that the judges violated the Code of Judicial Conduct, Illinois Supreme Court Rule 61, which states, "An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining, and enforcing, and should personally observe, high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved. The provisions of this Code should be construed and applied to further that objective."

The complaint also alleges that Fiss and Young's conduct violated Rule 62 which states, "A judge should respect and comply with the law and should conduct himself or herself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."

The complaint asks the ICC to make an order in accordance with Section 15 of Article VI of the Illinois Constitution.

According to the Constitution, the Commission shall have authority after notice and public hearing, (1) to remove from office, suspend without pay, censure or reprimand a judge or associate judge for willful misconduct in office, persistent failure to perform his or her duties, or other conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice or that brings the judicial office into disrepute, or (2) to suspend, with or without pay, or retire a judge or associate judge who is physically or mentally unable to perform his or her duties.

According to the Belleville Police Department report, Young was northbound on Frank Scott Parkway when he turned left onto Dutch Hollow Road in front of a southbound vehicle driven by Abel Muhammed of Swansea.

Muhammed, who had to be extricated from his 2006 Toyota Tundra, was treated and released from Memorial Hospital's emergency room. He suffered facial lacerations and complained of a broken leg.

Young was driving a 2005 GMC Yukon.

The hearing will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 17, at the Supreme Court Courtroom, 160 North LaSalle St., 18th Floor, Chicago.

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