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Lee County Judge Suspended 30 Days


The Iowa Supreme Court has suspended District Associate Judge Emily Dean for 30 days, starting Sat., Sept. 20.

This is the culmination of an investigation that started more than two years ago.

The Iowa Commission on Judicial Qualifications received a complaint about Judge Dean in May 2012.

The complaint stemmed from an incident where Judge Dean was unable to take the bench due to her consuming alcohol prior to arriving at the Henry County Courthouse.

Court records show this was not the first alcohol-related incident involving Judge Dean.

The Commission determined that she violated two sections of the Iowa Code of Judicial Conduct

  • Rule 51:1.2 requires judges to promot confidence in the judiciary.
  • Rule 51:2.5(A) relating to the competence, diligence and cooperation of a judge.

The Iowa Supreme Court said in its 16-page ruling there is ample evidence to support those charges.

"There can be little dispute that the appearance of a judge in an intoxicated state at the courthouse, unable to perform scheduled judicial duties, violates both rules. On that day, Judge Dean did not promote public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary and did not perform her duties competently or diligently."

Judge Dean was eventually suspended by the Commission for about six months for violating the code, even after she admitted to the charges.

She returned to the bench in late 2012 as part of an agreement that included regular monitoring.

The Iowa Supreme Court was asked to get involved after the Commission recommended an additional three month suspension.

The justices said Judge Dean's conduct was the primary focus of its review.

"Any disciplinary sanction we may impose, as a result of the violations in this case, arises not (as) a result of Judge Dean's status as an alcoholic, but rather because of the effect of her conduct on public confidence in the judicial branch and the need to deter future similar misconduct," said the justices.

The justices said the fact that it appears that Judge Dean has confronted her disease and now has demonstrated a deep personal commitment to recovery played a role in the length of the suspension.

"It has not been an easy road for her and will not always be an easy road in the future," said the justices, "but, the fact Judge Dean has chosen to commit herself to a disciplined program of recovery is a significant mitigating factor and offers her the potential of a continued successful judicial career."

Judge Dean will not be paid during her 30 day suspension, but she will continue to receive her fringe benefits.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.