An Illinois judge disparaged a lawyer in comments captured on video
CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois judge could face punishment after mocking an attorney in comments he apparently didn’t realize were being streamed live on YouTube.
Cook County Judge William Raines made comments about attorney Jennifer Bonjean after appearing before him on a court appeal. Bonjean – a New York-based attorney who has represented a number of high-profile clients across the country, including Bill Cosby – was before Raines in a case in which she sought to have a client’s murder conviction overturned in 1996.
“Can you imagine waking up next to her every day? Oh my God!” Raines said during a conversation with two assistant prosecutors and an assistant public defender in the courtroom after Bonjean left, according to a transcript of the exchange. “I couldn’t get a visual on that if you would pay me.”
Shortly after, Raines, whose court appeal was broadcast live like many hearings have been during the COVID-19 pandemic, apparently realized that his comments were still being broadcast.
“Ohh, wait… Live media streaming on YouTube? What’s up with that? said the judge before the video ended.
Last year, Bonjean won an appeal of Cosby’s sexual assault conviction which led to Cosby’s release from prison.
She is a familiar presence in Chicago. His clients include men who claimed they were tortured by police, including one whose rape conviction was overturned and was later awarded $5.2 million by a jury and another won a multi-million settlement out of town after a detective accused him of murder.
In a hearing Thursday before another judge, Bonjean asked that the video be preserved so she could file a complaint with the state Judicial Board of Inquiry, which is investigating allegations of judicial misconduct. In addition, Chief Justice Timothy Evans has scheduled a court executive committee hearing of himself and the presiding justices of the court next Tuesday, according to a court spokeswoman. These hearings often result in a judge being placed in administrative duties until a full investigation is conducted.
“There was an incredible flippant nature to these conversations that certainly suggests this isn’t the first time this kind of banter has happened,” Bonjean told judge Erica Reddick, who agreed to keep the video.
Bonjean called the remarks “sexist and offensive” and said the two prosecutors who took part in the conversation as well as Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx apologized.
A spokeswoman for Evans’ office said Raines could not comment because it was an ongoing matter.