JAMES T. DOYLE was first named a Kane County Associate Judge in 1989; three years later, he was elected as a Circuit Judge. In 2000, Doyle helped launch the county’s drug court. But in February, 2005, the Judicial Inquiry Board alleged that Doyle had systematically violated the rights of criminal defendants in his drug court, among other acts of judicial misconduct. The charges were dismissed when Doyle resigned from the bench while the charges were pending. Doyle last registered to practice law in 2012 and is now retired, collecting $128,257.08 in his pension this year.
What the judge did: In a series of Kane County drug court cases from 2002 through 2004, Circuit Judge James Doyle repeatedly violated defendants’ rights, forcing them to admit to drug use and sending them to jail without telling them of their rights or making sure they were represented, the Judicial Inquiry Board charged. After the chief judge warned Doyle of the need to honor defendants’ rights, Doyle took defendants into back rooms, with no court reporter present to record the proceedings, and continued actions the board contended violated defendants’ rights. In one of many cases the board cited, Doyle ordered a defendant to jail for 69 days, marking on the file that the defendant had violated his probation, though the defendant was not on probation and was allegedly given no opportunity to be heard.
What the Judicial Inquiry Board said: The board first filed a complaint against Doyle in February, 2005, charging Doyle “systematically violated criminal defendants’ fundamental constitutional rights” to be represented and not be forced to incriminate themselves. The board also concluded that Doyle, who ran the Kane County drug court, “displayed poor temperament and intimidated, threatened, and acted vindictively” toward defendants, probation officers, court officials, public defenders and other lawyers in his courtroom. The board found the judge had multiple violations of the Judicial Code of Conduct: among them failing to promote public confidence in the integrity of the court; failing to maintain decorum; failing to conduct himself in a dignified manner; failing to give all defendants the right to an attorney; failing to perform his duties without bias or prejudice; and failing to abstain from public comment about pending cases. The board in February 2006 filed an amended complaint, charging that Doyle had misused county resources after the first complaint was filed, having a drug court staff member assisting him on court time in preparing a defense.
What happened next: Following the amended complaint, Doyle resigned as a judge, effective August 2, 2006.
What the Illinois Courts Commission decided: The courts commission dismissed the complaint in August, 2006, based on its prior rulings that it lacked authority in the case once Doyle resigned.
What happened since: Doyle is scheduled to receive judicial pension of more than $128,000 this year.