DuPage County judge returning to work after acquittal in gun incident

DuPage County Circuit Court Judge Patrick O'Shea, recently acquitted of reckless conduct charges for firing a gun inside his Wheaton apartment, is headed back to work for the first time since his October arrest.

Chief Judge Daniel Guerin met with O'Shea on Thursday and temporarily assigned him to administrative duties beginning March 26 and continuing until further notice.

Those duties, Guerin said, will include "reviewing legal and administrative materials as requested by the chief judge and judges of the circuit court."

O'Shea, 67, was elected circuit judge in 2012 and was assigned to the law division since 2014. After his arrest, the executive committee of the DuPage Circuit Court, which includes the presiding judges of the court's five divisions, stripped O'Shea of his duties.

O'Shea was acquitted of the reckless conduct charges March 2 when Kane County Judge Keith Johnson ruled O'Shea was negligent when he accidentally fired a bullet from his revolver through his wall and into a neighbor's apartment, but that his actions did not meet reckless conduct requirements because his neighbors were not home and, therefore, not in danger.

Special Prosecutor Dave Neal, of the Illinois office of the state's attorney appellate prosecutor, said he hopes the case will spur a change in the law.

"This ruling seems to indicate that firing a weapon into an empty apartment does not endanger people under the law the way that it's written," Neal said. "As such, our agency will be taking this up with the General Assembly ... because people shouldn't be shooting bullets into their neighbors' apartments. It should be illegal."

O'Shea's attorney, Terry Ekl, said Thursday that O'Shea's FOID card has not yet been reinstated by Illinois State Police, but his 51 guns have been turned over by Wheaton police to a valid FOID holder who O'Shea designated to take possession of the weapons.

The complaint against O'Shea, 67, stems from Sept. 15, when authorities say he fired a bullet through a common wall in his Wheaton apartment.

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."

A neighbor noticed a hole in a living room wall after returning home from work 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 the floor. They turned it over to police, along with photographs of their damaged wall.

Police reports say O'Shea gave property managers and police at least three 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.

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