Many of the judges in St. Clair County are using the word "mandatory" to shield themselves from drug testing.
Nine of 13 judges we interviewed said they favored mandatory drug testing. For instance, Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson: "I think it would go a long way to restore the public's opinion of the judiciary." And Chief Judge John Baricevic: "If the Illinois Supreme Court says, 'take a test," I'll take a test."
Ah, but there's the rub. The state Supreme Court isn't planning to require drug testing of judges, and they all know it.
If the judges really think drug testing is such a good idea, they shouldn't wait for it to become mandatory. They would follow the example of Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn and just do it. Baricevic as chief judge should volunteer to go next.
Unfortunately, the judges are much more interested in thinking up excuses of why drug testing can't happen than how it could. Baricevic pooh-poohed McGlynn's idea for testing of associate judge candidates, arguing that the appointed associate judge seats should be treated as elected offices. Gleeson and Judge Robert Haida said they couldn't require drug testing of appointed associate judges without also requiring it of elected circuit judges.
The most ridiculous excuse came from Circuit Judge Jan Fiss, who opposes drug testing: "There is absolutely no reason for that to happen." Seriously? One St. Clair County judge died from a drug overdose, another resigned as a result of his drug use and criminal convictions are getting overturned in the aftermath.
There's every reason for drug testing of judges in St. Clair County.