JIB complaints have resulted in 10 censures, 25 reprimands since creation in 1970

By Record News | Feb 12, 2019

SPRINGFIELD – Some judges fall to the Judicial Inquiry Board (JIB), some rise above it, and some suffer consequence in a single word.

The Illinois Courts Commission, which adjudicates JIB complaints, has ordered censure 10 times, and 25 times has ordered reprimand. 

Censure stings more than reprimand because it reflects violation of group standards higher than general standards. 

Illinois citizens created the inquiry board when they adopted the Constitution in 1970. Its complaints have led to eight removals, 18 suspensions, and 11 resignations. 


Kevin Fee, left, for the Judicial Inquiry Board, and St. Clair County Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert, at right  

Commissioners have dismissed complaints against 18 judges. 

They ordered their first three censures in 1974. 

They censured Montgomery County circuit judge William Ginos for pressuring inmates to be informants and raising bond on one who wouldn’t inform. Also, a defendant he released on personal recognizance fled. And, he appointed his brother guardian ad litem and acting probation officer. 

Commissioners censured Ford County circuit judge George Kaye for receiving money to convene a special jury. 

They censured Stephenson County circuit judge Robert Law for three incidents of driving while intoxicated. 

They didn’t censure anyone again until 1989, when they deemed it appropriate for Cook County circuit judge Glynn Elliott. 

He called to the bench a student from a school tour without just cause and had him handcuffed to a chair in his chambers. He ordered the student to apologize in open court before releasing him. 

Commissioners censured Kane County circuit judge Michael O’Brien in 1995, for creating a false impression that he won a Congressional Medal of Honor. 

They censured former Supreme Court chief justice James Heiple in 1997, for disobeying officers who investigated him for traffic violations and telling them he was a judge. 

They censured DuPage County associate judge Mark Dwyer in 2005, for conduct as a candidate for circuit judge. 

He circulated materials with graphic and sensational images, misrepresentations, and statements that appeared to commit him with respect to certain issues. 

In 2011, commissioners censured Cook County associate judge Douglas Simpson for interrupting a judge to tell him a defendant on his docket was a good guy. Simpson later expressed regrets and apologies, but the other judge reported him anyway. 

In 2016, commissioners censured McLean County circuit judge Rebecca Foley for failing to tell her husband about an affair with circuit judge Scott Drazewski. 

Husband needed to know, because he practiced law in Drazewski’s court. Drazewski spent four months on suspension for not recusing himself. 

Also in 2016, commissioners censured Cook County circuit judge Beatriz Santiago for causing a lender to believe she occupied a property when she didn’t. 

Reprimands, a step lower on the disciplinary ladder, usually involve misconduct on the job if they don’t involve drunk driving. 

In 1974, commissioners reprimanded Cook County circuit judge Robert Sulski for finding three defendants guilty before they fully presented their defense. 

They reprimanded Piatt County circuit judge John Shonkwiler for using judicial process to collect civil judgments. 

They reprimanded Cook County associate judge Charles Durham for dismissing charges against defendants who gave civil releases to arresting officers. 

In 1975, they reprimanded Cook County associate judge Robert Sweeney for driving while intoxicated, interfering with police, and resisting arrest. 

In 1978, they reprimanded Cook County circuit judge James Condon for nonsuiting two traffic tickets that weren’t assigned to him. 

In 1982, they reprimanded Fifth District appellate judge John Karns for driving under the influence and orally abusing Caseyville police. He took custody of the records and was never prosecuted. 

In 1985, commissioners reprimanded DuPage County associate judges Lewis Morgan and Duane Walter. 

The judges retained fees for solemnizing marriages outside the regular session of the court’s marriage division. 

In 1987, commissioners reprimanded Cook County circuit judge Arthur Cieslik for making intemperate, rude and sexist remarks to women attorneys. 

In 1988, they reprimanded Cook County circuit judge Robert Sklodowski for falsely claiming in mortgage documents that a $15,000 down payment existed. 

In 1991, they reprimanded Sangamon County associate judge George Ray for driving under the influence and refusing to cooperate with a deputy sheriff. 

They reprimanded Cook County circuit judge John Tully for authorizing improper advertisements and failing to oversee finances in his campaign for appellate judge. 

In 1999, they reprimanded Cook County associate judge Edwin Gausselin for driving under the influence and telling officers he was a judge. 

In 2001, they reprimanded LaSalle County circuit judge Cynthia Raccuglia for driving under the influence and trying to influence officers not to charge her. 

They reprimanded Jackson County circuit judge William Schwartz for acting on a grudge against Southern Illinois University law school. 

When the school rejected an application from his stepson, he banned students from the school who rendered services in his court under supervision of attorneys. 

In 2003, commissioners reprimanded Kankakee County circuit judge Gregory Householter for rendering 12 decisions in 147 to 640 days. 

In 2005, they reprimanded DeKalb County circuit judge Kurt Klein on two counts. 

He caused a case to be transferred to him and allowed ex parte communication to influence his conduct and judgment in it. He also endorsed a judicial candidate when he wasn’t running for office. 

In 2007, commissioners reprimanded St. Clair County circuit judge Patrick Young for driving under the influence. 

They also reprimanded his passenger, St. Clair County circuit judge Jan Fiss, for transporting open alcohol. 

They reprimanded Winnebago County associate judge Steven Nordquist for driving under the influence and telling officers he was a judge. 

In 2009, they reprimanded Cook County circuit judge Sheila McGinnis for driving under the influence. 

In 2010, they reprimanded Peoria County associate judge Albert Purham for driving under the influence. 

They reprimanded McHenry County circuit judge Michael Chmiel for showing favoritism to a powerful family. 

Off duty, on request of a member of that family, he presided over a special bond hearing on a family member’s felony charge and released him. Commissioners found the hearing created an appearance of impropriety but the board didn’t prove actual impropriety. 

In 2014, they reprimanded LaSalle County circuit judge Joseph Hettel for driving under the influence. 

Last year, they reprimanded Fourth District appellate judge Robert Steigmann for using office resources and staff to solicit paid lecturing opportunities. 

The only pending complaint currently before the JIB involves St. Clair County circuit judge Ron Duebbert. 

The board alleges he made false and misleading statements to officers investigating a murder and to the board. 

The commission plans to hear the complaint on Feb. 27. 

Its members are Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, Supreme Court appointees Thomas Hull of Kane County and Erica Reddick of Cook County, appellate court appointees Margaret McBride of the First District and Mary Schostok of the Second District, and governor’s appointees Aurora Austriaco and Paula Wolff.  

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