QUINCY — Judge Bob Adrian threw Josh Jones, lead trial attorney for the Adams County State’s Attorney’s office, out of his courtroom Wednesday morning for a “comment” Jones recently made on social media.
Jones and Adrian were in courtroom 1B for status hearings on a series of felony cases in Adams County Circuit Court. After Adrian entered the courtroom and was seated, he immediately turned his attention to Jones.
“Mr. Jones, get out,” he said.
Jones didn’t immediately react to Adrian, so the judge continued.
“I’m not on social media, but my wife is,” Adrian said. “She saw the thumbs up you gave to people attacking me.
“I can’t be fair with you today. Get out.”
With a quizzical look on his face, Jones walked out of the courtroom without saying a word.
Adrian made a rare reversal of his own ruling on Jan. 3. After finding 18-year-old Drew Clinton guilty of one count of criminal sexual assault during a bench trial on Oct. 15, Adrian changed his mind at Clinton’s sentencing hearing and declared him not guilty.
“… This happened when this teenager … was two weeks past 18 years old,” Adrian said, according to transcripts provided by Kim Cattrall, a court reporter for Adams County. “He has no prior record, none whatsoever. By law, the court is supposed to sentence this young man to the Department of Corrections. This court will not do that. That is not just. There is no way for what happened in this case that this teenager should go to the Department of Corrections. I will not do that.”
Adrian said the 148 days Clinton served in the county jail was “plenty of punishment” and released him from custody.
Several people have expressed their dissatisfaction with Adrian’s ruling on social media outlets in the past four days. Megan Duesterhaus, executive director of the Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse (QUANADA), expressed her outrage about Adrian’s decision in a letter posted Tuesday on Muddy River News.
Following Adrian’s courtroom remarks, State’s Attorney Gary Farha said his office has “internal ways” by which it can respond to Adrian’s decision.
“First and foremost, we certainly disagree with the assertions that the judge was making about Josh,” he said. “Josh is a very, very ethical attorney. It’s entirely inappropriate for him to be assailed like that. The bottom line is we’re not going to talk about Judge Adrian in public, but we will respond appropriately to what happened in court this morning.”
He explained if anyone from his office disagrees with a judge in the performance of his job, they can respond internally through Frank McCartney, the chief judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court that is comprised of eight counties — Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Mason, Menard, Pike and Schuyler.
Jones said he reacted to a Tuesday post on QUANADA’s Facebook page by “liking” the post, which is indicated by a blue thumb’s-up logo. The post included the statement from Duesterhaus. It also had a photo of the QUANADA logo that said “Hold rapists accountable” underneath.
“I’d like to think that’s a pretty benign position to take as the lead trial attorney with the state’s attorney’s office to support the rights of victims,” he said. “We obviously have to and want to support victims in all cases. I have not made any comment publicly, privately or otherwise about Judge Adrian and the decision. I’m not going to. That’s not my role.”
Farha offered no thoughts about why Adrian would remove Jones from the courtroom.
“Obviously Judge Adrian is under a lot of pressure because of the publicity on the other case,” he said. “I can’t speak to anything as to why he would do this. It’s an extraordinary measure. This is a judge who we have had a great deal respect for. He is tough on crime, and we appreciate that.
“But this is something that we did not expect and we do not feel is at all warranted nor appreciated.”
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