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posted: 5/20/2012 3:10 PM

Judges do not communicate with people not involved with case

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The 16th Judicial Circuit office in St. Charles has received more than 20 letters and phone calls for the judge who will decide the sentence of repeat dog abuser Phillip Rinn from Aurora on May 31.

But Judge Timothy Sheldon won't read a single word of them.

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Not because he doesn't care -- he's not allowed to.

Under the state's Supreme Court rules, judges cannot have communication with people who are not a party to a case.

Animals rights activists, or for that matter anyone without a direct connection to the case, who writes to a judge will receive a form letter in return, citing Illinois Supreme Court Rules for Judicial Conduct.

One section says: "A judge should accord to every person who is legally interested in a proceeding, or his lawyer, full right to be heard according to law, and, except as authorized by law, shall not permit ex parte or other communications concerning a pending or impending proceeding."

Another part states: "A judge should abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court, and should require similar abstention on the part of court personnel subject to his direction and control."

So if you want to express your views and don't have the time to make a protest sign, you can write or email a letter to the Daily Herald.

Another alternative is to comment on the website's message boards. But the phrase "tell it to the judge" doesn't apply here.

Stern words from McMahon: When the Kane County State's Attorney's Office secures a conviction, State's Attorney Joe McMahon on occasion will add a comment to the end of a news release issued by his office.

Most of the time, they are relatively straightforward, thanking a police department, his assistants who prosecuted the case and maybe a jury or judge.

But last week's case of Anieka Johnson, a 34-year-old Aurora woman who chased a sport utility vehicle full of teens in August 2010 and fired two shots at them, grazing a then-13-year-old girl, after a fight involving Johnson's relatives, drew some strong words from the Elgin Republican.

"Ms. Johnson's actions were incredibly dangerous and outrageous, from her decision to carry a loaded gun in her car to her decision to insert herself into a dispute among teenagers to her decision to shoot the gun at the teenagers while driving through a residential neighborhood. It's not hard to envision this incident ending even worse than it did," McMahon said. "When it comes to disputes between children, adults should become involved only as peacemakers and voices of reason. If children do indeed fear for their safety or their lives, call the police. It is fortunate that no one suffered more serious injuries or death. Ms. Johnson quite easily could have been a defendant in a murder trial."

A jury acquitted Johnson of attempted murder, but convicted her of aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school. She faces six to 30 years in prison.

hhitzeman@dailyherald.com

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