Two local judges on wrong side of bench

More than one 17th Circuit Court associate judge has found himself on the wrong side of the law. Associate Judge Steven Nordquist pled guilty to driving under the influence charges, according to a July 26 City of Rockford press release. Nordquist was fined $2,300 and sentenced to a year of supervision.

Those charges stem from Nordquist’s June 30 arrest. According to the Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press, Rockford Police officers stopped Nordquist for driving 20 miles over the posted speed limit. His blood alcohol level was 0.116. Illinois’ legal limit is 0.08.

Nordquist is also required to receive alcohol treatment and attend a victim impact class. He’s also been stripped of his driving privileges for three months. The associate judge has also paid a professional price for his actions. Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Kathryn Zenoff said she signed an order June 30—effective July 1—that reassigned Nordquist to preside over only civil matters. According to Zenoff, his reassignment was announced in a July 3 media advisory.

Fellow jurist, Associate Judge Patrick Heaslip, ran afoul of the Lake Mills, Wis., Police Department and was ultimately arrested on charges of permitting underage drinking. Police have also asked prosecutors to file disorderly conduct against Heaslip because he confronted police officers.

While confirming Heaslip was arrested on the above charges, a representative for Jefferson County, Wis., District Attorney David Wambach, said Wambach hasn’t determined what, if any, charges he’ll file.

According to Zenoff, Heaslip denies the charges. Zenoff said it’s up to Wisconsin authorities to investigate and handle the situation. She stressed her duty is to determine whether Heaslip, who presides over civil juvenile abuse and neglect cases, can fulfill his responsibilities. She said, after monitoring the situation, Heaslip will remain in his post—for the time being.

Lake Mills Police Chief Kathleen Hansen said Sgt. Doug Messmann and Officer Orin Christensen responded to a complaint regarding a disturbance in the 200 block of Sandy Beach. Hansen said the disturbance took place outside of a residence.

She said someone alerted Messmann and Christensen there was an altercation on a Department of Natural Resources bike trail. Messmann went to the bike trail, while Christensen interviewed the complainants.

According to Hansen, Heaslip approached Christensen, informed him his son, Mitchell, was a victim in the fight and demanded the officer come to his home. Hansen said Heaslip allegedly became agitated when Christensen said he would arrive after finishing his interviews, asking: “Do you know who I am?”

Hansen alleged Heaslip referred to her officers as “hick cops” as well. She said Messmann went to interview Mitchell, unaware of Patrick Heaslip’s run-in with his fellow officer. Though Heaslip allowed Messmann to conduct an initial interview with Mitchell, he refused to allow any follow-up questioning after Heaslip asserted he was acting as Mitchell’s counsel.

Hansen said Heaslip then accused the officers of trespassing on his property.

Mitchell was arrested on two battery charges and one disorderly conduct charge. An unidentified male was arrested on one underage drinking, one disorderly conduct and one battery charge as well as four bail-jumping charges, while an unidentified female was arrested on an underage drinking charge.

From the Aug. 9-15, 2006, issue

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