Judge disparaged lawyer, apparently unaware of livestream: 'Can you imagine waking up next to her every day?'
Lawyer Jennifer Bonjean and actor and comedian Bill Cosby approach members of the media gathered outside Cosby’s home in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, on June 30, 2021. An Illinois judge could be facing discipline after he mocked Bonjean in comments that he apparently did not realize were being broadcast live on YouTube. Photo by Matt Slocum/The Associated Press.
Updated: A high-profile criminal defense lawyer plans to file an ethics complaint against a Chicago judge who disparaged her last week during a livestreamed video.
Judge William B. Raines of Cook County, Illinois, was apparently unaware that his comments were being broadcast, report the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, BuzzFeed News and the Associated Press.
“Can you imagine waking up next to her every day? Oh, my God!” Raines said.
“There would be a number of things wrong with my life if I was waking up next to her every day,” responded one female prosecutor.
Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans signed an order Tuesday reassigning Raines to other duties that likely include paperwork, the Chicago Tribune reports. He also must take sensitivity training and receive counseling on gender bias. The order said the matter will be referred to the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board.
Raines made the remarks about Jennifer Bonjean, a New York-based lawyer who persuaded the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn actor and comedian Bill Cosby’s conviction. Bonjean was seeking to overturn a client’s 1996 murder conviction when she appeared before Raines on Jan. 11.
The recording is no longer available on YouTube at the link provided by the Chicago Tribune. BuzzFeed News published a transcript, which was included in a motion filed by Bonjean to preserve the video. The motion was granted. Raines recused himself from the case before his reassignment.
Raines was speaking with a court clerk, an assistant public defender and two assistant state’s attorneys when he ridiculed Bonjean.
“Did you see her going nuts?!” Raines said of Bonjean. “Glasses off, fingers through her hair, the phone’s going all over the place, it’s insane.”
Another prosecutor asked about the identity of “that sweet young man” with Bonjean, who looked like a “13-year-old boy dressed up in a suit.”
Raines identified the man as Bonjean’s assistant and said he was “her man-child.”
The livestream ended after Raines said, “Ohh, wait. … Media streaming live on YouTube? What’s up with this?”
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said in a statement the prosecutors’ conduct “will be addressed appropriately” as a personnel matter. Bonjean told the Chicago Tribune that the prosecutors and Foxx have reached out to her to apologize.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Raines had grown frustrated with Bonjean during the hearing. She sometimes interrupted or shook her head in displeasure and alleged that prosecutors were lying about the history of the case, the newspaper reported.
Raines had directed Bonjean to please stop shaking her head and to be professional.
“You know what’s professional?” Bonjean had responded. “Telling the truth and understanding the law. That’s professional. Telling the truth and understanding the law is more professional than me shaking my head. I would ask that people state the law and the record correctly.”
Raines said he didn’t need Bonjean to yell at him, and she responded that she was “passionate” but was not yelling.
Bonjean was described in a 2017 story as a feminist lawyer who is known for her advocacy on behalf of wrongfully convicted inmates. The story described a federal appeals court decision rejecting Bonjean’s argument that a federal judge had prejudiced a jury by showing contempt toward her. The decision said Bonjean had engaged in “frequent and serious” outbursts during the trial, and she shouldn’t be rewarded for success in baiting the judge.
Updated Jan. 19 at 4:02 p.m. to include information on Raines’ reassignment.