Judge Nordquist no longer to hear only civil cases

17th Judicial Circuit Associate Judge Steven Nordquist is on the move again, but he’s not alone. According to Trial Court Administrator Todd Schroeder, the shifting is part of an overall plan to deploy more judicial resources to the Boone County portion of the 17th Circuit.

“Judge Nordquist will be assigned divorce and various type civil cases in Boone County three days per week,” Schroeder indicated, citing a dramatic increase in Boone County’s case load over the last year. “He will remain in Winnebago County two days per week hearing divorce cases.”

Effective July 2, Nordquist will hear divorce cases in Winnebago County Mondays and Thursdays. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Nordquist will preside over probate, small claims, forcible, family, abuse/neglect, and divorce cases in Boone County.

In July 2006, Nordquist was reassigned by then-Chief Judge Kathryn Zenoff to preside only over civil cases following a DUI arrest he later pled guilty to. Nordquist was fined $2,300 and placed on a year of court supervision. Nordquist’s driving privileges were suspended for three months, and he was required to receive alcohol treatment in addition to attending a victim impact class.

Nordquist was named as a defendant in a $300 million federal class-action lawsuit filed May 16 in Cook County. Winnebago County State’s Attorney Paul Logli, attorneys Dan Cain and Kathryn Bischoff, Rockford Public School District 205, a variety of doctors, therapists, counselors and agents of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) were also named in the lawsuit.

By Supreme Court mandate, judges are prohibited from commenting on pending litigation.

May 10, Zenoff was assigned by the Illinois Supreme Court to the Appellate Court. Judge Janet Holmgren was named to replace Zenoff as chief judge the following day. Zenoff replaced Judge Frederick Kapala, who was appointed to federal judgeship in the Northern District Court of Illinois.

“Once one domino fell, that required other moves,” Schroeder explained.

In a letter dated May 23, posted on the Winnebago County Bar Association’s web site, Holmgren wrote: “As all of you are aware, several different events over the past few weeks have necessitated making some changes regarding judicial assignments…In addition, due to upcoming judicial retirements over the next two months and other scheduled obligations, these changes need to be implemented in stages over a period of several weeks.”

Other new judicial assignments

Effective June 11, Chief Judge Holmgren will preside over Therapeutic Intervention Program (TIP) Court, Judge Edward Prochaska will preside over major civil cases, Judge Todd Kennedy will temporarily hear felony cases, Judge Eugene Doherty will oversee probate, small claims, forcible and civil calls, as well as the Financial Compliance Unit (FCU). Judge Patrick Heaslip is slated to preside over civil jury trials.

Effective June 18, Judge Steven Vecchio will preside in Boone County over the Associate Judge call. Judge Todd Kennedy will temporarily preside over felony cases. Judge John Truitt will also preside over the felony calls.

Effective July 2, Judge Heaslip will also preside over abuse/neglect cases, Judge Fernando Engelsma will preside over juvenile cases, Judge Craig Sahlstrom will preside over divorce cases, and Judge Gary Pumilia will hear felony cases. Judge Angus More will preside over the morning felony pre-trials and afternoon Video Court. Judge Richard Lucas will continue presiding over DUI and major traffic cases, while Judge Patrick Yarbrough will hear misdemeanor and domestic violence cases. Judge John Young will preside over Family Court, Singer Court and felony pre-trials. Judge Brian Shore will preside over afternoon misdemeanor and felony pre-trials. Judge Kennedy will hear felony and major civil cases in Boone County, replacing Judge Gerald Grubb, who is retiring this summer.

from the June 13-19, 2007, issue

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