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Illinois judge who overturned sexual assault verdict is removed from the bench

The Illinois Commission on Courts has ruled that senior Quincy state judge Robert Adrian has been removed from the bench after overturning his guilty verdict in a 2022 sexual assault case against a young man.

The seven-member commission’s rare decision, issued Friday, said Adrian attempted to circumvent the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing law. he gave up his decision On January 3, 2022, during the sentencing hearing of 18-year-old Drew Clinton, whom he had previously found guilty of sexually assaulting 16-year-old Cameron Vaughan at a 2021 graduation party.

Adrian sought to argue for the reversal, saying his reevaluation of the evidence and testimony led the Adams County prosecutor to conclude that Clinton had “completely failed” to prove Clinton’s guilt.

Commissioners called Adrian’s reasoning a “trick”. Instead, they concluded that the judge “intentionally circumvented the law to satisfy his personal belief in what a just sentence is, which overturned the criminal defendant’s conviction.”

The commission also sided with the Illinois Judicial Investigation Board, which investigates complaints against sitting judges, saying Adrian lied about his motives during deposition. Investigation of the Board of Investigationand improperly removing a prosecutor from the courtroom after he “liked” a social media post critical of Adrian.

“The nature and scope of this abuse is appalling,” the commission said in its ruling, “and the deliberate, dishonest and extensive abuse demonstrates a complete disregard for truth, judgment and our system of justice.”

Reached by phone on Friday, Adrian said he was presiding over a civil case in the 8th District Court of Justice that morning and learned of the commission’s decision at noon. He said their case was continuing in the afternoon.

“This is a total miscarriage of justice,” Adrian said of his dismissal. “I did the right thing. “I always told the truth about this.”

Vaughan said in a statement Friday that he was “very happy that the commission was able to see through all the falsehoods and lies that he’s been telling all this time.” I’m incredibly happy right now. He cannot harm anyone else. “He can’t ruin someone else’s life.”

Only three judges have been removed from office by the commission since 2003, but others either resigned or otherwise left the bench before their cases were decided.

Adrian attributed his dismissal to the “two-tier justice system for conservative Republicans in Illinois” and repeated his previous claims that he was targeted because he was a “known Christian conservative.”

Adrian, who narrowly won the retention campaign in November 2022, said he planned to retire ahead of controversy over his decision, which attracted intense media attention.

“I’m going to retire and enjoy my retirement,” he said Friday.

Meanwhile, lawyers of sexual assault victims also praised the commission’s decision.

“This decision reassures victims of sexual violence that they can trust the criminal justice system in Illinois, knowing that if they are mistreated, it will not be without consequences or accountability,” said Megan Duesterhaus, chief executive officer of Quincy Area Network Against Domestic. Abuse.

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