The Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board is alleging a DuPage County judge retaliated against two courthouse employees for accusing him of sexual harassment and repeatedly lied to police and the board, in a separate matter, about firing a bullet through his apartment wall into an adjacent unit.
The board filed a complaint for disciplinary action Oct. 25 against DuPage County Circuit Judge Patrick J. O’Shea. The board’s complaint will go before the Illinois Courts Commission. O’Shea is a 68-year-old Republican who was elected circuit judge in November 2012. O’Shea is seeking retention in the Nov. 6 election, but the DuPage County Bar Association is not recommending he stay in office.
The Chicago-based Judicial Inquiry Board said O’Shea’s conduct harms the administration of justice and “brought the judicial office into disrepute.”
On Sept. 15, 2017, O’Shea fired a round from his .38-caliber revolver, while inside the bedroom of his Wheaton apartment, into a mirror. The bullet drilled through the mirror and common wall separating his unit from the adjacent apartment, hitting the wall on the opposite side of the second unit, then dropping to the floor. No one was present in the second apartment.
O’Shea told employees of the apartment complex he accidentally pushed a screwdriver through the wall while trying to hang the mirror. However, a resident of the neighboring apartment later found the bullet and told Wheaton police.
Detectives questioned O’Shea, with O’Shea again saying he made the hole with a screwdriver, but one detective said he believed the cause was a gunshot. O’Shea then said his son must have accidentally fired one of O’Shea’s guns. After further questioning, O’Shea said, “If you want me to say I shot the gun, then I shot the gun,” and admitted he fired the revolver, according to police.
O’Shea went before the Judicial Inquiry Board in April 2018, saying under oath he immediately and voluntarily told police he fired the shot and never initially told them he made the hole with a screwdriver or his son may have been responsible, the board asserted.
Apart from the board’s action against O’Shea, he was charged in October 2017 with reckless conduct and was suspended from the bench. O’Shea opted to have a judge, in his case Kane County Associate Judge Keith Johnson, decide the facts instead of a jury. Johnson found O’Shea not guilty and O’Shea resumed judicial duties.
Besides the gun matter, the board is also alleging O’Shea took revenge on two female courthouse employees for their filing of sexual harassment complaints against him.
In the first case, O’Shea made inappropriate comments to a female employee, both alone with her and when Associate Judge Michael Wolfe was present, between March and May 2016, according to the JIB report. Wolfe and the employee both submitted complaints, with the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts substantiating the complaints.
However, O’Shea then allegedly reduced the employee’s workload, refused to let her in his office when he was present and once yelled at her. Further, O’Shea allegedly told the employee’s supervisor the employee was “nasty and loud” and had gang tattoos. O’Shea said he wanted her fired, wanted to sue her and would hold her in contempt of court and jail her if needed, the board alleged.
The employee was transferred to another department, at her request, to avoid O’Shea’s “erratic and aggressive behavior,” according to the board.
One year later, O’Shea allegedly directed sexual remarks in separate incidents to two other female courthouse employees, the board said. He was notified of the complaints and warned to not take reprisals, the board stated.
O’Shea then filed his own complaint with the county human resources department, which he termed a “response” to the complaints against him. In O’Shea’s complaint, he criticized the work performance of one of the employees and attacked her harassment complaint. O’Shea said he wanted his complaint put into the employee’s personnel file, according to the board.
O’Shea “abused his position in a manner that compromised the integrity of and public confidence in the judiciary, and failed to maintain professional competence in judicial administration and facilitate the performance of the administrative responsibilities of other judges and court officials,” the board contended.
The board is asking the Illinois Courts Commission to take whatever action it deems fitting.
The board is represented by the Chicago firm of Sidley Austin LLP.