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updated: 2/12/2012 4:09 PM

Batavia resident excited about his new role as judge

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For William J. Parkhurst, serving as the newest judge for the 16th Judicial Circuit comes down to one mandate.

"What (Kane County Judge Judith Brawka) says is you have to listen and try to be fair and that's what I'm going to try to do," said the 51-year-old Batavia resident.

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Parkhurst found out in early February that he emerged from field of 41 candidates to be elected by fellow judges for a four-year term in the 16th Judicial Circuit.

It wasn't the first time Parkhurst applied to be a judge and he immediately called his wife, Julie, with the good news.

"It's something I've dreamed about," he said. "I was very surprised and excited."

Parkhurst had to leave the Geneva law firm Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt, of which he was a partner.

"It's bittersweet because they're great people. I'm going to miss working with them on a daily basis," he said.

Before moving to the area in 1991, Parkhurst began his legal career as a law clerk for a federal magistrate judge in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1986.

He is a member of the Illinois and Michigan State Bar Associations and a member of the Kane County Bar Association. He also has been recognized for providing free legal services for low-income clients.

Parkhurst was named 2006 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, and by the Kane bar in 2008.

"It's just the way I was brought up," he said of his desire to help low-income clients. "My parents were (Great) Depression-era kids. They didn't have a lot of money. It's very rewarding to help people."

His first day on the bench will be Feb. 21.

He does not have a courtroom assignment yet, and doesn't have a preference.

"I'd be happy to go anywhere," Parkhurst said.

Minor amount, major penalty: An argument and drugs left in a pants pocket could spell big trouble for a St. Charles man.

Thomas Eliason, 49, of the 6N500 block of Tuscola Avenue, was charged with felony marijuana possession and battery Feb. 3 after authorities were called to Tuscola Avenue.

But Eliason also was charged with bringing and possession of contraband -- in this instance, cocaine -- into a penal institution, court records show.

And that's a felony punishable by a four- to 15-year sentence.

Kane County Sheriff's Lt. Pat Gengler said the 1.5 grams of drugs were found in Eliason's pocket when he was taken to the booking area at the jail. The drugs never made it into the cell block, Gengler said.

Eliason is free on $2,500 bond while his case proceeds.

hhitzeman@dailyherald.com

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