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.