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Western Illinois judge removed from bench

Eighth Circuit Judge Robert Adrian in a Quincy Herald Whig file photo.
Herald-Whig Photo/
Matt Hopf
Eighth Circuit Judge Robert Adrian in a Quincy Herald-Whig file photo.

The Illinois Courts Commission is removing an Adams County judge from the bench over judicial violations including the reversal of a guilty verdict in a sexual assault case.

The Feb. 23 decision from the commission states Eighth Circuit Judge Robert K. Adrian “has engaged in multiple instances of misconduct, he abused his position of power to indulge his own sense of justice while circumventing the law, he lied under oath on multiple occasions, and he has failed to acknowledge his misconduct.”

Following a bench trial in October 2021 that Adrian presided over, he found a then 18-year-old Quincy man guilty of count of sexual assault of a then 16-year-old.

At the sentencing in January 2023, Adrian acknowledged he was required to impose a mandatory prison sentence on the defendant, following the guilty verdict.

But Adrian refused to, saying the defendant had already served five months in Adams County jail and he believed that was “plenty of punishment.”

Adrian then reversed his finding of guilt and the defendant was released from custody.

The judge later threw an Adams County prosecutor out of his courtroom after the prosecutor had liked a Facebook post that was critical of his reversal of the conviction.

The Illinois Courts Commission found both situations “prejudicial to the administration of justice, bringing his judicial office into disrepute.”

In addition, the commission found Adrian lied under oath to the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board in April 2022, when he stated he reversed the guilty finding due a lack of evidence.

An amended three-part complaint against Adrian was filed in January 2023. Adrian again testified before the Illinois Court Commission and the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board in November.

In its decision, the commission stated the role of a judge in the administration of justice must adhere to the highest standard of personal and official conduct – in fact, a higher standard than what is expected of lawyers and citizens.

“Much more was required of respondent," the decision reads.

Adrian – a Republican – was first elected to the Eighth Circuit in 2010. Prior to that he worked in private practice and as both a prosecutor and public defender in Adams County.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson is TSPR's regional reporter.