The Mutually Adulterous -Judicial- Affair
|Judges Foley & Drazewski|
Judges are people too, albeit bestowed with authority; therefore, they are imperfect, right along with the rest of humanity. Imbued therefore, with imperfect authority.
A truly one-of-its-kind case hammering that point home comes to us from McLean County, Illinois; two hours to the Southwest of Chicago. Circuit Judges Rebecca Foley and Scott Drazewski provided testimony this week to a panel of the Illinois Courts Commission in Chicago regarding their mutually adulterous affair; an affair that ended both of their respective marriages in divorce.
Of course, all of this is old news for the folks in McLean County; even perhaps for most Illinoisans. The interesting and significant component of last month's hearing was the testimony of the judges, both asserting, through lawyers, that their admitted mutually adulterous affair violated no specific rule of judicial ethics.
Really? That one is a stretch for us over here at the Law Blogger, knowing as we do the choppy seas of the mutually adulterous affair. The case also involves a component where Judge Drazewski presided over a trial involving Judge Foley's attorney-husband.
Not only do such affairs put a bullet into two marriages; the adulterous lovers, upon being freed from the bonds of matrimony through the divorce process -again, in this case, a high-profile proceeding- usually, eventually, cool toward one another, and split-up.
In this case, however, the two judges plan to wed. Does their claim of "true love" now provide a hall-pass for their silence, concealment, and deception relative to their long-rumored affair. Extensive proofs -yes, there were text messages- have been submitted and the Commission is expected to issue an opinion in 6-weeks.
As practicing trial lawyers, we are most troubled by Judge Drazewski's legalistic argument that no judicial ethics violation occurred regarding the specific case of Judge Foley's lawyer-husband, who litigated a trial before Judge Drazewski while the lid blew-off the judge's affair with his wife.
We here at this blog see an inherent conflict whenever a trial lawyer is cuckolded by the judge presiding over his case. Every ruling -procedural, evidentiary, dispositive- would be, with good reason should be, second-guessed. Thus, why ever conduct such a trial?
In February 2011, the husband blew-up the situation after witnessing his wife, Judge Foley, kissing Drazewski. The judge refused to recuse himself from Foley's cases and argued to the Commission that unless Foley could demonstrate actual bias by Judge Drazewski that would alter the case outcome, he was not required to step-off the case.
Will the Commission be persuaded by the judges' argument? Will the judicial couple survive if they are forced-off the bench in righteous disgrace over their affair?
Even if they retain their seats on the bench through a favorable decision from the Commission, we wonder if the voters will be as understanding about these two judicial love birds.