When attorney Joe Foley represented a client in a matter before Judge Scott Drazewski in early 2011, he was unaware that the married judge was involved a year-long secret romantic affair with Judge Rebecca Foley, the attorney’s wife.
Now both Illinois judges have been disciplined by state legal ethics authorities for failing to reveal their romantic relationship and violating multiple ethics rules as a result. The ethics commission imposed a four-month unpaid suspension on Drazewski for “egregious” judicial ethics violations, and censured Judge Foley for assisting, aiding, abetting, and not reporting his violation or their affair.
Drazewski violated a state supreme court rule requiring a judge to step aside when his or her “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Every jurisdiction has an equivalent rule; this is basic judicial ethics. Drazewski and Judge Foley also violated the universal ethics principles requiring judges to act “at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary” and not to engage in conduct that in conduct that is “prejudicial to the administration of justice and brought the judicial office into disrepute.”
The lawyer for both judge’s expressed disappointment that the punishment didn’t take into consideration the sterling records and reputation of his amorous clients. I’d say the punishment did take that into consideration. A judge presiding over a case in which the lawyer arguing one side is married to the judge’s lover? That’s an outrageous conflict of interest, and a sordid one. Moreover, it makes the county’s judiciary look like it’s part of a Steven Bochco TV drama, and places the entire justice system under suspicion.
You will be delighted to learn, however, that mutual divorces have freed the two robed love-birds from any entangling relationships, and they intend to keep up the court-ship.
(Sorry. There were much better puns available, but they were all dirty.)