Pubdate: Thu, 17 Feb 2005
Source: Daily Herald (IL)
Copyright: 2005 The Daily Herald Company
Author: Tona Kunz, Daily Herald Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)
Bookmark: (Drug Test)


One of the most-recognizable names in Illinois for keeping drug offenders 
out of jail is facing his own trial.

On Wednesday, the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board leveled a 20-count 
complaint against Kane County Judge James Doyle, accusing him of violating 
the constitutional rights of defendants by engaging in intimidation, 
violating privacy laws, denying legal counsel and showing bias in his 

The charges stem from a months-long investigation by the board of five 
judges and two citizens into complaints from attorneys, a probation officer 
and drug court participants.

The board's decision to move forward with what amounts to a civil trial 
puts Doyle in rare company. Although nearly 500 complaints are filed 
annually against Illinois judges, the board has found only 71 complaints 
valid enough in the past 34 years to launch a trial by the Illinois Courts 

Doyle has been a lightning rod for attention since he started the drug 
court in August 2000. Advocacy groups and national court watchdog 
organizations have pointed to Doyle's courtroom, one of fewer than a half 
dozen drug courts in Illinois, as a model for funneling addicts away from 
jail and into a two-year program of counseling and random drug tests.

Critics have said Doyle bullies people into what is supposed to be a 
voluntary program, fails to police the drug tests and makes it impossible 
for people to check the accuracy of a recidivism rate that Doyle claims is 
as low as 10 percent.

That scrutiny is what Doyle blamed for the Kane County Bar Association's 
not recommending him for retention on the ballot in November, a nearly 
unprecedented black mark against a sitting judge. He won nonetheless, 
continuing the judgeship he's held since 1989.

Whether the cop-turned-judge will have such success with this new challenge 
remains to be seen.

Most cases before the commission get settled before reaching the point 
where the commission must hold what amounts to a trial. Even so, 62 percent 
of all cases end up with some sort of penalty rather than dismissal.

The most-recent trials held by the board involved Cook County judges.

In 2004, Francis Golniewicz went to trial over residency requirements. In 
2001, Oliver Spurlock went to trial over the sexual harassment of female 

Although the board isn't saying Doyle's case will make it to trial, the 65 
pages of complaints and court transcripts of describing violations in 
Doyle's drug court likely won't get settled quickly.

"We think the charges speak for themselves and the board is ready to 
proceed," said John Gallo, trial counsel for the Judicial Inquiry Board.

A hearing date has not yet been set for the complaint. It can take anywhere 
from a few weeks to a few years to decide the fate. Most cases are settled 
before they go to trial.

Critics say several complaints have been filed against the judge in the 
past three years, including complaints from at least one former drug court 
participant, a probation officer and several attorneys.

Gallo refused to confirm whether the current charges against Doyle stem 
from one complaint or from a compilation of complaints. The names of those 
filing the complaints are kept secret, but Elgin attorney Van Richards is 
claming at least some of the responsibility for himself and four fellow 
lawyers who have gone before Doyle in his courtroom.

Doyle directed questions to his Chicago-based attorney Theresa Gronkiewicz.

"We are extremely disappointed that the (board) decided to pursue these 
charges," she said. "All I can say is we are going to vigorously fight this."

Gronkiewicz declined to speculate on a motive for the complaint.

In the past, Doyle has called the criticism nothing more than a few defense 
attorneys expressing anger about losing money as addicts get funneled into 
the drug court to break the cycle of crime. Police have said much of Kane 
County's property crime comes from repeat offenders seeking to feed drug 
and alcohol habits.

Defense attorneys say they like the drug court and don't fear a loss of 

Even those defense attorneys most critical of Doyle's court said they tried 
to work with him and judicial leaders to get the court and Doyle's behavior 
reformed before going to the commission.

Philip DiMarzio, who served as chief judge until December, could not be 
reached for comment.

Donald Hudson, the new chief judge, said he did meet recently with several 
attorneys about problems with the drug court when he was chairman of the 
Kane County Bar Association's criminal law committee. The complaints did 
not deal with Doyle, but more with how the court was run.

Hudson said he didn't find the complaints surprising because the court was 
created nearly 1( years before the state legislature would draft a drug 
court treatment act, which laid out guidelines for programs like Kane's.

Doyle's proponents say the complaints are simply backlash from attorneys 
afraid of change or backlash from addicts resistant to the tough-love 
approach needed to break the abuse cycle.

"In my opinion, (the complaint) is people's reaction to change," said Chic 
Williams, who works with Geneva schools and police to route troubled teens 
into jail alternative programs.

He often refers and accompanies people from throughout the Tri-Cities to 
Doyle's courtroom.

"I saw nothing that was inappropriate," he said.
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