SHILOH – Two St. Clair associate circuit court judges running in next year's general election to fill vacancies on the bench recently presented a program to teenagers about the consequences of making poor choices, according to a press release.

Judge Heinz Rudolf and Judge John O’Gara, associate judges on Illinois' 20th Judicial Circuit Court, presented the Illinois Judges Association (IJA)'s program "7 Reasons to Leave the Party" at Shiloh Middle School on Oct. 25, according to an IJA press release.

"Teens need to know the personal and legal consequences of drinking and driving, taking drugs and having underage sex," O’Gara was quoted in the press release. "And we hope to make parents more aware of the judges’ attempt at preventative law. Many of the presentations will be scheduled just prior to homecoming, prom and other popular party times during the school year."

O’Gara, who was appointed to the bench in March 2016, announced last month his plan to run for the circuit court vacancy created by retiring Judge Vincent J. Lopinot.

Rudolph, an associate judge since 2006 who currently presides over a civil docket, is running in next year's general election for the at-large seat being vacated by retiring Circuit Judge Jan Fiss.

Described as a "blunt, visual and interactive school program," the presentation provides teenage participants an opportunity to sign a contract with a parent or guardian, pledging not to drink alcohol and not to drive with someone who has been drinking, according to the press release. The contracted teens also promise that, should they find themselves in a place where they feel uncomfortable or unsafe, they will call their parent or guardian for a ride home, no questions asked, according to the Oct. 27 press release.

During the 50-minute program for seventh through 12th grade, students receive information about the consequences of poor choices as presenters walk teens through each "room," provide examples from actual court cases, and give them the seven reasons to leave a party.  

"By the time a teen hits the courthouse, it is too late," Judge Mark A. Drummond from Illinois' 8th Circuit was quoted in the press release. Drummond is a father of three who made a similar pact with his children when they were teenagers, according to the press release.

"Most teens want to do the right thing, and hopefully they’ll encourage their peers to do the same," Drummond said.

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