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More MS news articles for October 2003

Give Judge Kouros one last opportunity

The issue: The judge's illnesses

October 1, 2003
NWI Times

Our opinion: This should have come to light sooner, but give her some time to get treatment.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Joan Kouros has been given deadline after deadline to try to get her to improve the administration of her court. Now she's pleading again for more time to straighten things out.

This time, she's saying two illnesses are slowing her down.

Kouros, who was suspended by the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission for not clearing cases promptly, disclosed Monday that she suffers from multiple sclerosis and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The admissions are part of a response to a 78-count complaint filed by the commission on Sept. 26.

Kouros' multiple sclerosis, according to the response, "caused her to ruminate over orders to make sure they were perfect" and resulted in cases piling up.

Her obsessive-compulsive disorder, the response said, "caused her to work extreme hours in an effort to check and re-check orders she had issued. This has been the reason for retaining files beyond the court's order and, in some cases, beyond good administrative practice."

She unnecessarily kept criminal files in her office instead of returning them to the clerk's office, according to the allegations of incompetence filed against her.

This translates into prisoners who weren't transferred from the Lake County Jail to the Indiana Department of Correction when they should have been, among other problems.

This isn't just a matter of bungled paperwork. This affected people's lives.

It was not until after Kouros' suspension that she sought the advice of a medical doctor, her attorney Stanley Jablonski of Merrillville said, and the obsessive-compulsive disorder came to light.

It is disturbing that Kouros waited so long, despite the numerous warnings and deadlines to get her court in order, before getting the treatment she needs to correct this problem.

She had plenty of warnings and should have sought help long ago. But now that she is getting treatment, she should be given more time to treat this disorder, while still under suspension, and change her behavior.

She should be given another specific deadline, and if she isn't ready by then, the job should be made available to someone who is already capable of handling it.

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