Cook County Judge William Raines, who last January was caught on a hot mic disparaging Roosevelt Myles’ attorney during a hearing, has been charged with several counts of misconduct by the Illinois Judicial Review Board.
The case made global headlines as Myles seeks to have his murder conviction overturned.
Prominent New York Attorney Jennifer Bonjean, who represents Myles in his post-conviction case, filed a complaint with the board after Raines made “sexist” remarks with two assistant state attorneys and a public defender during a hearing January 11.
Raines was suspended from the bench after the taped conversation emerged, hours after a Zoom hearing ended, in which the judge was unaware that he was still being recorded.
The recorded conversation came after several heated exchanges between Raines and Bonjean, who accused the judge of allowing prosecutor Todd Dombrowski to make allegedly false statements as he explained delays in subpoenaing two news outlets that published stories on Myles’ post-conviction case.
After the hearing ended and the workday came to a close, Raines initiated a conversation with the assistant states attorneys and the public defender, where he talked about Bonjean without knowing they were still live on Zoom.
Raines said “Can you imagine waking up to her every day, oh, my God!”
Raines was also recorded describing Bonjean’s associate attorney as her “man child.”
In a four-page ruling, the Illinois Judicial Review Board said Bonjean and Kennedy “were mocked and ridiculed” by Raines.
The board charged Raines with five counts of judicial misconduct after he made “derogatory, injudicious and demeaning statements” about Bonjean and Kennedy while he was livestreamed on the bench.
The board said Raines while serving on the bench violated the Illinois codes of integrity, impartiality, propriety.
“A judge should respect and comply with the law and should conduct himself or herself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary,” the ruling states.
The ruling also says “A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice. A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, and shall not permit staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control do so.”
A former police officer from Oakland, California, Raines began his judicial career in 2014. He presided over Myles’ post-conviction case for a year.
Raines showed little compassion for Myles’ case as it dragged on, but he granted Dombrowski numerous hearings to subpoena media outlets, Buzzfeed and Discovery LLC, despite the prosecutor’s failure to follow Illinois law to seek other options to obtain published and unpublished material before ordering the outlets to release information.
In July, Judge Carol Howard denied Dombrowski’s request to subpoena the news outlets, saying he never exhausted other options before subpoenaing the news outlets.
With his judicial future in doubt, sources told the Crusader that Raines may retire to keep his pension.
In response to Raines’ comments, Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans scheduled a meeting with his Executive Committee before Raines was removed from the bench and ordered to undergo sensitivity training.
Raines apologized to Bonjean in an email but he “did not apologize specifically for engaging in gender discriminatory behavior.”
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx did not say whether the assistant states attorneys would be disciplined for their role in the video but said, “Their actions reflect poorly on the work of our office and the entire criminal justice system.”
Myles has been waiting for an evidentiary hearing for over 22 years.
He was convicted in 1996 after he was arrested and charged with murdering 16-year-old Shaharian “Tony” Brandon on the West Side in 1992. He was released from prison in 2020 after serving 28 years for a crime he didn’t commit.
The state’s main witness, 15-year-old Octavia Morris, who was with Brandon during the murder, in 2018 admitted that she was forced to confess that Myles was the killer after six Chicago police officers visited her mother’s home several times.
Myles had a string of public defenders who racked up over 70 continuances under Judge Dennis Porter, before he secured Attorney Bonjean in 2017 to represent his case.