A defense attorney said she will file a complaint with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Board over comments a Cook County judge allegedly made about her that were captured on a courtroom broadcast earlier this week.
Following his court call Tuesday, Judge William Raines engaged in a conversation with two assistant state’s attorneys and an assistant public defender in his courtroom that attorney Jennifer Bonjean called “sexist and offensive.”
“Can you imagine waking up next to her every day? Oh, my God!” Raines said of Bonjean, according to a transcript of the conversation the defense attorney included in a motion to preserve video of the conversation.
“I couldn’t have a visual on that if you paid me. So, there you have it,” Raines allegedly added.
The judge and prosecutors also made inappropriate comments about Bonjean’s assistant, according to the motion.
Raines apparently didn’t know the conversation was being recorded and streamed live on YouTube, according to the transcript.
“Ohh, wait ... Media streaming live on YouTube? What’s up with this?,” the judge allegedly said before the stream was ended.
Bonjean is a New York-based attorney who has represented a host of high-profile clients, including actor Bill Cosby, whose sexual assault conviction she was able to have overturned last year.
She had appeared before Raines on behalf of her client, Roosevelt Myles, who is seeking to have his 1996 murder conviction thrown out. She had left the call before the comments were made, and was later alerted to them by a “good Samaritan” who overheard the exchange.
Bonjean’s paralegal, who had earlier opened a YouTube livestream of the courtroom’s proceedings, was able to go back in the stream and make a transcript of the off-the-record conversation, Bonjean said.
Presiding Judge Erica Reddick approved Bonjean’s emergency motion to preserve the video Thursday and reassigned the case to Judge Carol Howard, court records show.
Bonjean said she was hurt that the two female assistant state’s attorneys had participated in the conversation, but added that she believed the “power dynamics” between the woman and the judge may have impacted their participation.
The motion stated the both prosecutors laughed at the judge’s comments and pointed to a statement by one of the attorneys that the filing characterized as “vaguely homophobic.” In that instance, the prosecutor allegedly responded to the judge that “There would be a number of things wrong with my life if I was waking up next to [Bonjean] every day.”
In a statement Thursday, a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office called the assistant state’s attorney’s comments “unacceptable.”
“Their actions reflect poorly on the work of our office and the entire criminal justice system. State’s Attorney [Kim] Foxx has spoken directly with both ASAs and as a personnel matter, this will be addressed appropriately,” according to the statement.
Bonjean said she intended to file a complaint over the judge’s comments with the Judicial Inquiry Board, which reviews allegations of misconduct by judges.
A spokeswoman for Cook County’s Chief Judge Tim Evans said he would hold a meeting of the circuit court’s executive committee Tuesday to discuss Raines’ comments.
Last month, Evans’s office announced retiring Judge Raul Vega had been reassigned to administrative duties after allegedly making comments the office said “would likely” have violated the state’s code of judicial conduct, the Sun-Times previously reported.
Evans’ office declined to provide details of what Vega said. The complaint against him will likely soon be considered moot because the board will lose its jurisdiction to investigate when Vega retires later this month.
Allegations are only released publicly if they are referred by the board to the Illinois Courts Commission, Michael Deno, the board’s executive director, said in that case.