1994-08: Response to Criticism of Court's Philosophy

1994-08: Response to Criticism of Court’s Philosophy

DISCLAIMER:  This Opinion interprets the 1993 Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct, which was superseded on January 1, 2023, by the 2023 Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct.  This Opinion does not consider or address whether the 2023 Code affects the analysis or conclusion of the Opinion.  A table cross-referencing the 1993 Code to the 2023 Code can be found at  IJEC CORRELATION TABLE.

IJEC Opinion No. 1994-08

April 21, 1994


A judge responding publicly to criticism of court philosophy.


Judges may speak out to clarify the court's philosophy of the law or procedures in the area of domestic violence.


Illinois Supreme Court Rule 63A(6) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 63 (145 Ill.2d R.63) and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 64A of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 64 (145 Ill.2d R.64).


Defendant was charged with unlawful restraint in that he held his wife hostage at gunpoint for two hours. He was finally talked out of it. The defendant pleaded guilty and at the sentencing, the judge commented that this was not a criminal offense and should be in Divorce Court. Further, in response to the State's Attorney's argument that it was a crime for a husband to point a gun at his wife's head and threaten her, the Judge said that that is the way things are in these domestic matters.

In response to a public outcry, the other five judges want to make a public statement that they do not accept the outdated approach to domestic violence situations. The legislature and the courts have found these to be crimes and they wish to assure all that they are strongly behind these laws.


Is it permissible for the Chief Judge and other judges of the circuit to issue this type of a statement now that the case is concluded?


Illinois Supreme Court Rule 63A(6) states: "A judge should abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court... This subsection does not prohibit judges from making public statements in the course of their official duties or from explaining for public information the procedures of the court." The statements in this inquiry fall within the second sentence and are permitted. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 64A affirmatively provides that a judge may speak or write on activities concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice.