On Monday, April 29, 2024, retired Illinois Appellate Court Justice David P. Sterba published an op-ed in the Muddy River News criticizing a judge for putting his personal views above the law.

In the article, Sterba analyzes a case from the Eighth Judicial Circuit involving former judge Robert Adrian. The case stemmed from the criminal sexual assault trial of Drew Clinton, who was accused of assaulting an intoxicated 16-year-old girl at a graduation party. Adrian initially found Clinton guilty after a bench trial and ordered him taken into custody, which would have resulted in a mandatory minimum four-year prison sentence under Illinois law.

However, months later, Adrian acknowledged the sentencing statute but said he felt the punishment was too severe. He then reversed his finding of guilt. Sterba asserts Adrian did this to avoid imposing the mandatory prison term, ignoring the clear sentencing statute. Adrian openly declared in court that there was no way Clinton should go to the Department of Corrections and that five months in county jail was sufficient punishment for the crime.

This led the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board to file a complaint against Adrian, alleging he improperly reversed the guilty finding to avoid imprisonment. At a subsequent hearing, the Illinois Courts Commission found Adrian’s testimony to be “untruthful” and his actions in the Clinton case to be unethical and in circumvention of the law. The commission unanimously removed Adrian from office, determining this was the only appropriate sanction.

In the article, Sterba refutes Adrian’s claims that he was targeted for political reasons, stating the true victim was the 16-year-old girl denied justice. Sterba asserts judges cannot arbitrarily reverse judgments simply due to personal disagreements with penalties established by law. The op-ed serves as a reminder that judges must faithfully apply the law rather than substituting their own views of justice.

 

 

Source: Muddy River News