Ethics complaint filed against Illinois divorce judge

Illinois residents who are going through a divorce expect the judge hearing the case to be ethical. That matter was brought into question recently in Illinois when one judge filed a complaint against another. Politics may be playing a role in the dispute, since the judge who filed the complaint is running against the other judge in an election.

The complaint claims that the current St. Clair County Associate Judge has presided over divorce cases involving lawyers who have made contributions to the judge’s campaign. One lawyer involved in six different divorce proceedings is believed to have also been acting as the judge’s campaign chairman.

Specifically, the complaint cites a 1996 opinion from the Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee. According to that opinion, “a judge is disqualified from hearing matters during the course of an election campaign in which one of the parties is represented by the judge’s campaign chairman.”

The Judicial Inquiry Board would not offer many details about the complaint, but the accused judge’s campaign stated that she “has always maintained and exercised the highest degree of judicial ethics and integrity.”

The Chief Judge reviewing the cases has stated that he doesn’t think any violations occurred, since the accused judge is believed to have disclosed that the attorney in the six cases was her campaign manager. The divorcing parties in each case apparently agreed to a waiver, so there were no legal problems, according to the Chief Judge.

This dispute should remind Illinois residents of the importance of finding the right legal advice before going to divorce court. There may be circumstances that aren’t immediately apparent, but they could negatively affect the settlement if not properly addressed in terms of the law.

Source: Belleville News-Democrat, “Judicial candidate files ethics complaint against opponent; foe denies allegation,” George Pawlaczyk, Sept. 18, 2012

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Ethics complaint filed against Illinois divorce judge