Legal Ethics

2 judges disciplined for failing to disclose their romantic relationship

  • Print

Two Illinois judges have been disciplined by state legal ethics authorities for failing to reveal their romantic relationship on a timely basis.

Although praised by the Illinois Courts Commission for their work on the bench, two McLean County jurists made serious mistakes when they allowed attorney Joe Foley, who at the time was married to Judge Rebecca Foley, to appear before Judge Scott Drazewski in early 2011, the disciplinary group says. The judges were reportedly having an extramarital affair at the time that began at the end of the previous year.

In a Friday order, the commission imposed a four-month unpaid suspension on Drazewski, effective May 1, calling his conduct “egregious,” and censured Judge Foley for going along with his violation of ethical requirements, according to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (sub. req.) and Bloomington Pantagraph.

Drazewski violated a state supreme court rule that requires a judge to step aside when his or her “impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” the commission said.

It also found that both he and Judge Foley violated an ethics rule requiring judges to behave “at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary” and engaged in conduct that was “prejudicial to the administration of justice and brought the judicial office into disrepute.”

Both judges were represented by attorney Warren Lupel, who told the Daily Law Bulletin that previous decisions have held that it must be proven by clear and convincing evidence that judges acted with actual prejudice in order for them to be found guilty of of failure to recuse.

“I’ll tell you the truth, I’m bitterly disappointed about the whole thing,” he told the Daily Law Bulletin, saying that the commission’s order would “destroy the careers of some of the best trial judges in the circuit” and “ignored stare decisis.”

Now divorced, the two judges said they planned to continue their relationship, the Pantagraph reports.

Related coverage: “2 judges testify about romantic relationship, say they didn’t have to report it to chief judge”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.