Judge Robert Adrian’s Farcical Self-Reversal

It was a bench trial, and the judge found the defendant guilty. It was, at the time, in the hands of Adams County, Illinois, Circuit Judge Robert Adrian to decide whether the prosecution had fulfilled its burden, and he did. Guilty of sexual assault.

Mr. Clinton was charged with criminal sexual assault on June 1, 2021. The girl stated that he sexually assaulted her after she became drunk at a party on May 30, according to court records.

During the trial, she testified that she was unconscious and woke up to find a pillow covering her face and being attacked by Mr. Clinton.

Anita M. said: Rodriguez, the assistant state attorney who brought the case, “didn’t agree at all,” during the sentencing hearing on Jan. In fact, earlier in the evening, she had specifically indicated that she did not want any sexual contact with this defendant.

If the victim is unconscious, she is helpless and unable to be satisfied. While consent can be given while intoxicated, it cannot be given when you are incapacitated. Whether the facts were as you claimed was left to the one looking for the facts, in this case, to come to his conclusion. sinner.

But then came the sentence.

Mr. Schnack argued that mandatory sentences invalidate the judge’s discretion.

He said, according to the transcript: “Everyone should be tried by the court during the execution of its judgment and not by a legislator from years and hundreds of miles away.”

There is merit to an argument, but it is not an argument to be presented to a judge, whose power is limited by laws, including those of mandatory judgments, which are enacted by the legislature.

He also said prosecutors did not prove their case against Mr. Clinton and that the girl was able to agree. Mr. Schnack said she made several decisions that night, including drinking and stripping off her underwear to go swimming.

“It wasn’t the best decision,” he said. “I knew what was going on.”

No doubt these were poor choices, but these decisions had no bearing on the question of whether the case was proven. If she was stripped naked, it would not constitute a defense of sexual assault or rape. There is no “I asked for it” defense. But the judge considered that there were other mitigating factors. Then there was the fundamental question, whether the obligatory sentence was justified.

Judge Adrian said he knew that by law Mr. Clinton was supposed to serve time in prison, but in this case, the sentence was unfair, in part because Mr. Clinton turned 18 just two weeks before the party, and until his arrest, not He has a criminal record.

“It’s not fair,” Judge Adrian said during his January 3 hearing, according to the transcript. “There is no way what happened in this case that this teenager would have gone to the Department of Corrections. I wouldn’t do that.”

It is not new for a judge to find that mandatory sentencing laws are too inflexible and too harsh to be properly applied in the circumstances of the case. Some judges, such as Kevin Sharp, walked off the stand rather than sentencing the defendants to prison terms that he found inappropriate. Others, like Jack Weinstein, decided to ignore the law and do what he believed to be right, leaving it up to the government and the Court of Appeals to do the dirty work he refused to do. But Judge Adrian took a different path.

He said that if he decides the ruling is unconstitutional, his decision will be overturned on appeal. Instead, he said, what he could do was “discover that people failed to make their case”.

Thus, having ruled at the conclusion of the court trial that the accused was guilty, the judge reversed his judgment and found the accused not guilty, uttering words of acquittal to avoid the duty to sentence the defendant to a mandatory four-year period. Notably, the defendant spent five months in custody, which the judge described as “a lot of punishment.”

But the judge had stern words for the parents who devised the scenario in which this crime occurred.

Judge Adrian reprimanded parents and other adults who he said served alcohol to the teens at the party and failed to “exercise their parental responsibilities.”

That’s what happens, he said, “when we have people, adults, and we throw teen parties, and they let husbands and wives swim in their underwear in the pool.”

And no, the judge added, “underwear is not like a swimsuit.”

While there is certainly justification for blaming adults who enabled this behavior to occur, does it diminish the fact that a young man sexually assaulted a helpless woman? The mitigating factors are certainly true, but the scope of the court’s duty was to enforce the law, even stupid law, as defined by law. Rejecting this, the judge sought to circumvent the law and the limitations on his power, by manipulating the sentence.

Just as activist jurors have raised issues of integrity at a trial, a judge who reversed a trial judgment before the court not because of the facts, but because he refuses to apply the law as it was enacted, raises even worse questions of integrity.

“It made me look like I fought for nothing and that I put my words out there for no reason,” [the 16-year-old victim] WGEM-TV said. I immediately had to leave the courtroom and go to the bathroom. I was crying.”

Judge Adrian could have imposed the legally required penalty, with an opinion condemning it as excessive and improper and urging the legislature to change the law and the governor by pardoning the defendant. Judge Adrian could have imposed the sentence he thought was appropriate and left it to the Court of Appeal to overturn his unauthorized sentence. Judge Adrian could have found the law unconstitutional as applied and suffered a vitriolic appeal.

What Judge Adrian could not do was sacrifice the integrity of the trial because he disagreed with the mandatory sentence. If the crime was proven beyond a reasonable doubt, to do so was not an act of bravery, but an act that turned the trial into a farce.

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