Kelly researches legal issues on drug testing; ACLU says tests are misguided

News-DemocratJuly 11, 2013 

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly.

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St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly plans to address the legal consequences of a push to expand random drug testing of county employees during a meeting at the end of the month with County Board members.

Kelly declined to give details of his findings until the meeting on July 29. The board's judicial committee, which has previously addressed the issue, typically meets before the full board meeting.

The state's American Civil Liberties Union has criticized the expansion of random drug tests on county employees. The group believes the tests are misguided, costly and a violation of a person's privacy.

Kelly was asked by County Board Chairman Mark Kern and other county leaders to research the legal issues surrounding the expansion of the county's drug testing policy following a drug scandal involving two St. Clair County judges and a probation officer.

Proponents of more drug testing believe it will help restore the residents' confidence in public officials and employees following the cocaine overdose death of Circuit Judge Joe Christ in March and the federal indictment of former Circuit Judge Michael Cook on drug and weapons-related charges.

Former St. Clair County probation officer James Fogarty also faces federal charges for allegedly intending to distribute cocaine and possessing a gun while being a drug user.

County employees with the public safety and highway departments are already tested for drugs. Elected officials, including judges, are not required to be tested.

Kelly has already tested all of the employees in the state's attorney's office and personally submitted to a test.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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