In Defense of Judge Mark Lopez

Being a Judge is difficult. Being a Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Domestic Relations Division requires a herculean effort without requisite honor or respect. Not only do emotions run rampant in domestic relations court but lawyers and litigants are unruly and can be outright cut-throat. When I read the news story about Attorney Nancy Murphy and her “confusion” as to the reason she was held in contempt and jailed by Judge Mark Lopez, I felt it was my obligation to clear up the “confusion” and come to the aid of Judge Mark Lopez.

For those of you who did not catch the story, Nancy Murphy, a divorce lawyer, claims she was hauled off to spend a night in Cook County Jail, after a child support hearing. Murphy stated that Judge Mark Lopez held her in direct civil contempt and ordered her to be taken into custody after a child support hearing because the Judge objected to Murphy’s version of the Judge’s decision in a court order hand drafted by Murphy–according to FOX News and the Chicago Sun-Times.

The bottom line is that Murphy’s story simply does not make sense. It is implausible to think that Judge Lopez would act in such a way unless there was a running record of egregious violations that went unchecked. Judge Mark Lopez is not only one of the brightest and most professional Judges in the domestic relations division but he has the temperament and patience of a saint. After all, Judge Lopez runs one of the most difficult and heaviest court calls in the domestic relations division and yet stills manages to be courteous and respectful to litigants and lawyers alike.

There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that Judge Mark Lopez had no other choice but to follow through on his threat of contempt only after such warnings to Murphy had prove futile. This situation must have been tantamount to the parent who repeatedly threatens to ground a child who keeps violating curfew but the child does not pay attention until the parent finally follows through on the threat. Lopez’s warnings and threats did not stop the grievous conduct so Judge Lopez had no choice but to finally implement the punishment.

For those of you who think that Judge Lopez overreached and abused his power as Judge by holding a lawyer in contempt, think again. Unless and until you have walked in the shoes of this Judge and were privy to the facts and conduct of Attorney Murphy over time, it is not unfair for you to come to a determination based on a one-sided story leaked to the press by Nancy Murphy. In fact, because of Murphy’s one sided tirade to the press, Judge Lopez may be subjected to defend himself before the judicial inquiry board in Illinois. Thus, there is no advantage for Judge Lopez to make comments or defend himself in the flurry of Murphy’s press releases. Perhaps, it would be wise to refrain from falling prey to the easy conclusion that Judge Lopez’s silence is an admission of guilt. Such is not the case as there are at least two sides to this story and you have only heard one account.

 

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  • Hopefully you can keep us informed of what actually happens with this situation so that it doesn't continue to be a one sided show.

    Looking forward to many more blog posts from you!

  • Lil Spicy - Absolutely agree with your comments. It's about time that someone looked into this story to give us the REAL story.....Way to go Love Lawyer! Can't wait to keep reading your posts.

  • This was the first story Corri mentioned to me when I met her for the first time. I'm glad she posted and that it resonates with others out there. Sometimes we journalists wonder whether what we write about matters. Clearly, this story matters to you.

    Thanks for commenting so quickly.

    You should take a minute to upload a photo so you don't have a pothole for a profile pic ;)

  • I don't have my glasses on, so I wasn't aware of the pothole avatar til you pointed it out and I looked real close. I'll try to upload a photo asap! Thanks for the heads up!

  • In reply to LilSpicy:

    I got your back Spicy!

  • In reply to LilSpicy:

    The above just seems to defend the judge by reputation. Although you assail the rest of the news media about not having both sides of the story, it appears that you have neither.

    Maybe the best way of settling this is to have the Judicial Inquiry Board look into it. It seems like the judge exercised a power that is not immediately reviewable in a harsh manner, and maybe the Board can determine if it was exercised with the proper level of discretion.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, Thank you for your comment and for reading my blog.

    No offense but I think you missed the point of my article. I specifically pointed out that there was another side to the story other than what was reported by the media. The media only represented one side of the story and immediately inferred that Judge Lopez was to blame.

    My knowledge is not just based on "reputation." Rather, my business partner and I have appeared and litigated numerous highly contested cases in Judge Lopez's courtroom. We have also personally observed Judge Lopez's demeanor, legal ability, procedures and temperament in other cases in his courtroom. We also interact with other lawyers who regularly practice in front of Judge Lopez.

    Logic, experience and common sense dictate that the reported account does not make sense.

  • In reply to CorriFetman:

    But apparently you don't have the facts of this case, and, from what you say, only the Judicial Inquiry Board can get them.

    Hence, you missed the point of my post, even if I used "reputation" instead of "observed in other cases."

    _____________________

    Lil: I agree with your point that members of the media do not know the law. I had a smackdown with Eric Zorn on his contradictory columns on "No rush to seat Burris" followed the next day by "Sign, Jesse, Sign," followed a couple of days later by in effect Roland didn't commit a crime, so seat him. I replied that I knew mandamus law better than he did, and understood why the Illinois Supreme Court didn't order it, to which he replied that reporters always speculate. I basically said that that was the problem and he didn't have the toolkit to do it.

    There was a similar thing when the Sun-Times reported that Conrad Black's attorney said that the U.S. Supreme Court, in agreeing to hear the case, put doubt into Ryan's and Sorich's convictions. No it didn't, as it denied cert in both of those cases.

    So, yes, I don't trust the press to get legal news right. Not even some of the experts, such as Terry Sullivan on WGN, who was convinced that Ryan would eventually get off on the strength of the dissents.

    Unfortunately, Joel Daly and Bill Kurtis (who had legal training) are no longer on local news.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack:
    I did not state that "only the Inquiry Board" can obtain the facts of the case. I merely stated that there was no advantage to Judge Lopez making statements in the media because he MAY be subjected to the judicial inquiry board process.

    Likewise, it is unwise for anyone who may be involved in potential or actual litigation to make definitive substantive statements in the media since the statements may be used against the person to impeach their testimony.

    Moreover, just because the matter is submitted to the judicial inquiry board does not necessarily mean that all of the relevant facts will be revealed.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CorriFetman:

    Judge Mark J Lopez is everything the lawyer said. He Destroyed my life and my children with harsh judgment. I suffered greatly and my wife, my daughter from him discriminating against me. I am Black and my x wife is an illegal immigrant from Mexico. We had a custody battle over my now teenage daughter who was abandoned by her mother and I was given temporary custody. When the mother decided to take her back, he sided with and gave her back to under false evidence that was presented against me. The mother lied under oath, came to court dressed like she mentally abused and said I tried to kill her and my daughter. Revealing that she went to a program that assist illegal immigrants who are abused or victims of domestic violence and receive their citizenship. She exploited that with know evidence or records of an arrest on my part. He bought it and was bias to the real evidence I presented in court with lawyers. My lawyer could not understand what was happening because I had prove she was abusing my daughter and making us suffer from fidelitities with three fathers involved inclouding me. The judge not only raised child support hire than state law requires, but reacted harshly taking my child away with prejudice. My lawyers took my money that was life savings fighter for the best interest of my daughter. My daughter has not spoken to me in three year because her mother alienates her. I became sick and had a miner stroke and my youngest daughter who is 4 has been growing up without her big sister and sees our suffering. Tried to give the judge another chance in making things right a second time in submitting evidence of abuse in alienating my child and rebuttal my 17 teen your had written, he refused that. My daughter has chosen to accept what it is and now she dating a 20 year old man and I still pay high child support and do not receive visitation because of the mother neglect of our joint custody and Mark J Lopez discriminating against me by not viewing my case. I am under doctors care now
    and tried to hold together what left of my life.

  • In reply to jack:

    I uploaded a picture. It shows in my profile page, but not here on the blog. Not sure why.....or what to do to get it to show up here.

  • In reply to jack:

    Looks like it doesn't appear until you post something after the upload...

  • In reply to jack:

    I actually appreciated the fact that Corri didn't do a blog entry that was purely a cheerleader piece supporting the Judge or a piece that trashed the lawyer in question. She raised an issue that has been a long standing pet peeve of mine and that's the way the media reports on things that happen in court. The quality of reporting legal news has taken such a nosedive in the last 10 years that I rarely read something that doesn't make me cringe at some point.

    It's unfortunate, but as an attorney, I look to the blogosphere for all of my legal news now. The lingo is correct, the important facts are reported, it's not overly biased, and the comments that follow tend to be on point and not that 6 grade, ignorant, wacky stuff you see in the newspaper comment sections.

    Journalists of today just don't seem to care how crappy their articles are. They miss critical facts, they get the lingo wrong, they make up words that are NOT substitutes for legal ones, and the general public gets watered down garbage.

    Kudo's to Corri for attempting a legal blog for the Chicago market!

  • In reply to LilSpicy:

    Hi Lil Spicy. Thank you so much for reading my blog and taking the time to write intelligent and insightful comments. I appreciate your support and comments. If you have any topics of interest or any ideas for my blog, please do tell me. You seem to be on the pulse of Chicago Law!! Thank you again.

  • In reply to LilSpicy:

    I just wanted to clarify something that Jack said. I do NOT expect a journalist to "know the law," but I do expect them to accurately report about it.

  • In reply to LilSpicy:

    The problem is that if they don't know something about the law, they don't know when someone is feeding them nonsense about it.

    While lawyers often do it (cf. my observation about the Sun-Times quoting Black's attorney, above), others get away with it too, such as Ron Huberman, when he was giving the ATU tacit support for a strike, while saying on camera that CTA workers are not allowed to strike. I knew better at the time, and the Appellate Court later confirmed that. Chicago Transit Authority v. Illinois Labor Relations Bd., 325 Ill. Dec. 443, 898 N.E.2d 176 (1st Dist. 2008).

    Now, of course, you have lawyers like Brodsky using a P.R. firm, thereby double suckering the press.

    Unless the reporters go to independent "legal consultants" (and I did say what I think about Terry Sullivan), then either they need to know the law or just report what happened (i.e. someone testified in court today) instead of giving their legal conclusions or speculation.

  • In reply to LilSpicy:

    I believe that every lawyer should spend a night in jail and experience the humiliation of being mocked, belittled, stripped searched, and rods shoved up their private parts. I believe it would make lawyers (some who eventually become judges) more honest and ethical. Right now, lawyers make a complete mockery of the rules of civil procedures and judges look the other way... always coming up with excuses for not entering sanctions against lawyers who violate the rules. I applaud Judge Lopez, and I wish more judges had the guts to enter legal sanctions against lawyers who violate the rules. I am a Pro Se Litigant who has experienced everything that "poor cry-baby" lawyer experience multiplied by TEN. No Sun-Times articles were written about my experience. No Fox reporters came to my house to interview me about sever violations of my civil rights. Lawyers should be held to the same high legal standards as Pro Se litigants. And, this is the first time that I've heard about a judge actually sanctioning a lawyer for violating the rules in open court.

  • In reply to LilSpicy:

    Corri, just a friendly observation. Regardless of your intent, outsiders could look at your piece and derive certain impressions that might not be favorable.

    1. You and you partner appear and litigate before the judge you are writing about; and you write favorably about the judge, in a matter that seemed to malign him. One might derive an impression, fair or not, that you anticipate the judge might see your piece and form a favorable impression of your support of him.

    2. Your commentary on media reporting of legal news, which seems well-supported, is mixed with your seeming exoneration ("clearing up the confusion") of the judge's action, which is not currently supported by known facts (even though it might turn out to be later). I appreciate your appeal to logic based on personal experience of the subject, and it is understandable based on your professional occupation as an advocate, but logic, experience, and common sense might also dictate, for example, that an outwardly family-oriented parent could never harm his own children, yet that does happen, much to the dismay of confused neighbors. Back in the 16th c., logic, experience, and common sense said that Galileo was wrong. (If you have a chance, peruse Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions.")

    Or to put it in more practical terms: what would you do to an adverse expert witness if you could show they had reached their conclusions, based on what they claim to be logic and common sense, before they had known the actual facts of the matter?

    Just a few impressions. Best wishes!

  • In reply to Drzlecuti:

    Drzlecuti: Just a friendly reply. I respectfully disagree with your comment.
    1. There are so many problems with the logic behind your comments. First, a Judge would not give favorable treatment to a lawyer just because a lawyer wrote a "favorable" article about the Judge. Second, you assume without proof that Judge Lopez even read this post which is probably not the case. Lastly, taken to a logical extreme, you have suggested censorship by lawyers thereby restricting First Amendment rights just because a lawyer writes a piece about a Judge in a particular division in which he or she happens to practice.
    2. You have misread my commentary and my opinion. I was presenting another position contrary to the media reporting which only provided one side of the story. My post provided another viable explanation based upon my experience with Judge Lopez. You do not have the facts and Judge Lopez is prohibited from providing factual information at this point. The media relied on one explanation which not only lacked important facts but only relied on a statement from the alleged "victim." Such is not reliable reporting.

  • In reply to CorriFetman:

    I feel that I should comment on this subject as I have first hand experience with Nancy C. Murphy (

  • Hey Everyone. Thank you so much for your insightful comments and support. If you have any suggestions for questions or stories, please do tell me. You can email me at thelovelawyer@gmail.com. or post here. Have a great day.

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