Judge Adrian Removed From the Bench By IL Courts Commission

By Benjamin Cox on February 26, 2024 at 5:58am

An 8th Circuit Judge based out of Quincy who drew outrage for reversing a rape conviction in 2021 has been removed from the bench by the Illinois Courts Commission.

The Illinois Courts Commission removed Adams County Judge Robert Adrian from the bench Friday after it held a three-day hearing in Chicago back in November on a filed complaint. According to the decision, Adrian gave untruthful testimony before the Judicial Inquiry Board constituting “willful misconduct” and has ordered him removed from office.

Adrian found then-18-year old Drew Clinton guilty of felony criminal sexual assault following a three-day bench trial in October 2021. Then, on Jan. 3, 2022, Adrian vacated the decision saying that the time that Clinton had already spent in jail was enough of a punishment, resulting in Clinton being released from jail.

Clinton cannot be tried again for the same crime under the Fifth Amendment’s “Double Jeopardy” law. A motion to expunge Clinton’s record was denied in February 2023.

The day after Adrian threw Jones out of his courtroom, Judge J. Frank McCartney, chief judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, removed Adrian from criminal cases at the Adams County Courthouse and assigned him to the small claims dockets, the Law Magistrate docket and the probate docket. McCartney then reassigned Adrian to the criminal cases on Jan. 1, 2023. Adrian retained his seat as a circuit judge in the Eighth Judicial Circuit during the November 2022 election, winning 61% of the vote.

The Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board filed a complaint on June 17, 2022, against Adrian alleging he had circumvented the law by vacating his verdict and refusing to impose a mandatory sentence, couldn’t be an impartial justice after he had removed Assistant Adams County State’s Attorney Josh Jones from his courtroom because “he couldn’t be fair with him” after Jones had liked a comment critical of Adrian’s decision to vacate the conviction on social media, and that Adrian made statements he knew to be false while testifying under oath before the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board on April 8, 2022.

According to the I.C.C. ruling on Friday, in reversing the decision, Adrian “engaged in multiple instances of misconduct” and “abused his position of power to indulge his own sense of justice while circumventing the law.” The commission could have issued a reprimand, censure or suspension without pay, but its decision said it had “ample grounds” for immediately removing Adrian from the bench. The I.C.C. used three separate prior cases in which a justice was removed along with other Judicial Inquiry Board cases as precedent to support their decision.

In speaking to Muddy River News on Saturday, Adrian called the decision by the I.C.C. “a political hit job” and claims he did nothing wrong.

Clinton was accused of sexually assaulting Cameron Vaughan, who was 16-years old at the time of the incident. The press usually does not identify minor victims in sex crimes unless they come forward publicly. Vaughan came forward after the trial and has attended protests and the I.C.C. hearings in Chicago in November. Vaughan told Muddy River News on Saturday that she can now gain some sense of closure to her case.

Megan Duesterhaus, CEO of QUANADA, also issued a statement following the decision, saying her organization was “grateful” by the I.C.C.’s decision: “his decision reassures survivors of sexual violence that they can have confidence in the criminal justice system in Illinois knowing that if they are mistreated it will not be without consequence and accountability.” Duesterhaus also commended Vaughan for coming out and speaking about her case openly to give hope to survivors of sexual violence.

Chief Judge J. Frank McCartney will now have 30 days to fill Adrian’s vacancy.