January trial set for DuPage judge accused of reckless conduct
DuPage County Judge Patrick O'Shea will appear before a Kane County judge Jan. 4 for what's expected to be an hourslong bench trial on his reckless conduct case.
O'Shea on Wednesday demanded a speedy trial and Judge Keith Johnson obliged by setting the trial date at the start of the new year in Kane County branch court.
The complaint against O'Shea stems from Sept. 15, when authorities say he fired a bullet through a common wall in his Wheaton apartment building. His neighbors later found the bullet in their living room.
The complaint says O'Shea "pulled the trigger without first determining that the firearm was not loaded, causing the firearm to discharge, causing a bullet to enter the living area of the adjoining apartment."
If convicted, O'Shea could face a sentence ranging from court supervision to one year in DuPage County jail and fines up to $2,500.
He currently is free on a $5,000 recognizance bond. He has been removed from all his judicial duties in the wake of his arrest.
"This is hanging over his head and he's off the bench until this thing gets resolved," O'Shea's attorney, Terry Ekl, said outside court. "So it's in his interest and everybody's best interest to have this resolved as quickly as possible."
Assistant State's Attorney Dave Neal, of the Illinois State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutor's office, said the trial probably will take just a few hours.
"There are not a large number of witnesses that the people would intend to call," Neal said outside court. "And I suspect most of the facts will not be in dispute. It will be a question of law."
O'Shea, 67, of the 200 block of E. Willow Avenue, was arrested on a warrant.
A neighbor noticed a hole in the west wall of her living room after returning home from work about 4 p.m. Sept. 15 and reported it to the apartment complex's management office, according to a Wheaton police report obtained by the Daily Herald through a Freedom of Information Act request.
On Sept. 24, the neighbors told police they found what appeared to be a spent bullet on their living room floor. They turned the bullet over to police along with photographs they had taken of their damaged walls.
Police reports say O'Shea gave property managers at least three different excuses for the hole, including that he accidentally put a screwdriver through the wall while hanging a mirror and that his son accidentally caused the hole while using a pneumatic nail gun.
Ekl on Wednesday called the shooting an accident.
"Does the accidental discharge of a gun constitute reckless conduct? It's really that simple," Ekl said. "It was an accidental discharge of the gun, which he believed to be unloaded."
In a written statement, issued after O'Shea's arrest, DuPage Chief Judge Kathryn Creswell said the Executive Committee of the DuPage Circuit Court, which includes the presiding judges of the court's five divisions, made the decision to strip O'Shea of his judicial duties after he was charged with the misdemeanor offense.
He also was stripped of his unrestricted access to court facilities.
As a condition of his bond, O'Shea was ordered to turn in all his weapons, ammunition, FOID card and concealed carry permit to the Wheaton police.