By JEAN WILLIAMS
Wife, mother, and former special education teacher for eight years, she is currently working on a master's degree in public affairs reporting at Sangamon State University.
Who judges the judges? Why, other judges, that's who!
So saith the new Constitution. Twelve formal cases have been heard since 1971
WHO JUDGES JUDGES? When a judge makes a minor or serious mistake, or is physically or mentally unable to perform his duties, what court rules on his case? If a citizen has a complaint about a judge's conduct on the bench, where can the citizen turn?
Under the 1870 Illinois Constitution impeachment was the only method of removing a judge. A new judicial article to the Constitution took effect in 1964. One provision established a commission of judges to hear complaints and try judges. Judge Roy 0. Gulley, chief administrator of the Illinois courts, served for a time as head of this commission. He could recall only one judge who was removed by this method between 1964 and the effective date of the new Constitution in July 1971.
The new Constitution continued the "in-house" method for disciplining judges, but instituted a two-step process involving an investigation of complaints by the Judicial Inquiry Board, and an adjudicatory procedure by the Courts Commission. Nine members sit on the Inquiry Board and are appointed to serve four-year terms. Two members are circuit court judges, selected by the Illinois Supreme Court; four members are non-lawyers and three are lawyers, appointed by the governor.
Handling judges' cases is the Inquiry Board's sole function, and its proceedings are confidential. If five of the nine find "clear and convincing evidence" of wrongdoing, they vote to file a formal complaint with the Courts Commission. In this way, the Inquiry Board functions as a grand jury. It does not try a case but examines evidence, and where appropriate, recommends judicial disposition by the Courts Commission.
Several types of charges may be investigated by the Inquiry Board: willful misconduct in office; persistent failure to perform duties; conduct which is prejudicial to the administration of justice or which brings the office into disrepute; physical or mental disabilities.
Since July 1, 1971, when the disciplinary process went into effect, 305 complaints have been reviewed by the board. Once the formal complaint is filed with the Courts Commission, it becomes public information. Before formal filing of a complaint, a judge may resign rather than be tried by his peers. Judge Gulley explained that "station-house adjustments [resignation before trial] can be made before a formal filing of complaints."
Decisions are final
The Courts Commission is composed of five judges—one from the Supreme Court, who is chairman; two Appellate Court judges, and two circuit court judges. After hearing a complaint, three of the judges must concur to authorize one of the following procedures: removal from office, suspension with or without pay, censure, reprimand, or exhoneration. The Courts Commission's decisions are final, and a judge may not appeal to a higher authority.
Only 12 formal cases have been tried by the commission since 1971, with one case still pending. Whether this fact supports the idea that Illinois judges are exemplary, or that they remove themselves from the bench before the public knows of formal complaints against them, is speculative.
Who's been tried?
The following is a chronological list of those judges who have been tried by the Courts Commission:
Circuit Judge Paul R. Durr (Calhoun) charged with operating an abstract company, in violation of court rules that a judge may not have an interest in, or income from, another business. Durr was suspended without pay for one year.
Associate Judge John J. MacDonnel (Cook) charged with waving a gun at a person who took the judge's parking place. MacDonnel was suspended four months without pay.
Circuit Judge Francis McCurrie (Cook) charged with senility, but the complaint was dismissed prior to adjudication upon the judge's resignation and the trial became moot.
Circuit Judge Franklin I. Krai (Cook) charged with conflict-of- interest. Krai was a Housing Court judge who built a home in an area under his court's jurisdiction. Krai was suspended two months without pay.
Circuit Judge Robert J. Sulski (Cook) charged with failure to hear all evidence in Gun Court before entering a guilty sentence. Sulski was reprimanded.
Circuit Judge George Kaye (Ford) charged with selling books to a library fund and diverting money to his personal account; also, charged with being discourteous on the bench. Kaye was censured.
Circuit Judge Robert D. Law (Stephenson) ticketed for driving while
238/Illinois Issues I August 1975
intoxicated and being involved in an accident in which a motorcyclist was injured. Law was censured.
Circuit Judge Randall S. Quindry (Wayne) charged with attempting to persuade a county clerk to alter absentee ballots to favor a political party in a precinct committeeman's race. Quindry was removed from office.
Circuit Judge William Ginos (Montgomery) charged with making promises of lowered bail to jail inmates if they would give him information about drug traffic and crime in the county. Ginos was censured.
Associate Judge George H. Bunge (DuPage) charged with issuing bench warrants against defendants in small claims cases and sentencing them to jail without a trial. Bunge's complaint charges were dismissed, and he was exonerated.
Circuit Judge John P. Shonkwyler (Piatt) charged with entering orders in probate cases in which his father, who was a lawyer, had participated. Shonkwyler was reprimanded.
Associate Judge Keith Sanderson (Henderson) charged with assessing costs against defendants against whom no judgment had been entered. Sanderson was suspended one month without pay.
Associate Judge Charles A. Durham (Cook) charged with offering to dismiss the criminal cases of two defendants if they, in turn, would drop charges of police brutality against the arresting officers. Durham was reprimanded.
Associate Judge James L. Oakey, Jr. (Cook) charged with operating a private detective agency and receiving income from that business. The Courts Commission has not yet filed an answer.
DEAR EDITOR: Ms. McConnelFs article on Secretary Hewlett in the April issue contained two significant inaccuracies. First, Senator Berning's 1974 S.B. 1475, to give Hewlett a separate merit system, was not vetoed by the Governor—because it died in a House committee.
The bipartisan Advisory Board to the Department of. Personnel labeled the S.B. 1475 '"ill-considered" and promised to take a basic look at the Personnel Code before the next session. It has now done so. A thorough-going revision of the Personnel Code. H.B. 2534, was recommended 'do pass' by the House Executive Committee on May 1.
Part of the rationale for the Howlett-Berning attempt to fragment the central personnel system was based on Judge Verticchio's trial court decision in Sangamon County on Boner v. Drazek. which seemed to uphold Hewlett's quoted contention that "it is unsatisfactory for any elected official to have power over the employees of another elected official." This alleged constitutional basis for separate merit systems for the "other" elected officers has now been fully reversed by Justice Schaefer's opinion in the Supreme Court in Boner v. Jones. While the Berning bill has been reintroduced, its purported constitutional justification has been conclusively denied.
Furthermore, it is not correct that all the civil service employees in Hewlett's office were put there under the Ogilvie administration. There have been successive extensions of merit coverage under successive secretaries of state—at their request—beginning with Carpentier and continuing with Powell. The qualifying examinations given to the latest, and largest, batch to which merit coverage was extended during John Lewis' tenure as secretary have been upset by the other aspect of the Boner decision. Tom Page, Member, Advisory Board to the Department of Personnel
State surplus property
DEAR EDITOR: The recent article by Arvid Hammers entitled "How to Buy State Surplus Property" failed to mention one of the property control division statutory responsibilities which the Department of General Services has totally ignored much to the detriment of units of local government. That is Section 133 (b) 11 of Chapter 127 whereby units of local government are entitled to review lists of available State surplus property once that selection has been made available to State agencies and before the sale of such items at auction.
Requirements of this Section became effective in October of 1972; however, the benefits have never been made available to local government by the property control division.
My February 1974 inquiry concerning the established procedure under this section did not even produce a reply.
The obvious intent of this legislation was to provide the taxpayer with the maximum return on his tax dollar by providing this form of assistance to local government without any increase in actual State equipment expense and it would seem that failure to implement the legislation by the Agency has effectively frustrated this intent by the legislature.
Richard M. Baner
Illinois Issues called the Property Control Division Office and were told that any local government wishing to receive the information described in Mr. Baner's letter should write to:
Mr. Joseph McCue
Property Control Division Officer
4390 South Jeffory Street
Springfield, 111. 62705
DEAR EDITOR: I have enjoyed reading the many interesting articles contained in recent issues of your fine publication. I would, however, like to make one small point about a note in your June 1975 issue where you indicate that Illinois ranked 4th in federal aid for 1974. This is true in total dollars. But, I think it is more meaningful to indicate that Illinois ranks 33rd in per capita federal aid or 22 states below New York which ranks 11th. In fact, Illinois ranks below the national average in terms of per capita federal aid.
I wish you continued success with, Illinois Issues.
John N. Lattimer
Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation