A case of really bad judgement

A case of really bad judgement

Every now and then a trusted reader asks me why I was “so hard” on a particular public official and that feedback generally makes me consider whether another approach would’ve been more effective. After all, the point of this endeavor is to bring balance to the force, not to administer semi-random beatdowns. But the fascinating thing about that dynamic is, 90 percent of the time I think about taking a different tack, that public official will go out of their way to prove my original point.

Take 16th Circuit Judge Susan Clancy-Boles. Whether it was my story on her attempt to hide her brother’s affair with Anjum Coffland, her ham-handed maneuvering to circumvent the county’s 2017 across-the-board budget cuts as chief judge, or her abysmally poor handling of the 2018 Kane County probation workers strike, I haven’t been shy about calling her out.

Though I certainly haven’t gone out of my way to write about her, my 2018 conclusion was this:

Chief Judge Boles is one of those individuals who’s had everything handed to her all her life. She hasn’t had to work or struggle for much. As a result, she’s become arrogant, dictatorial and has absolutely no empathy for anyone who doesn’t come directly from her world.

That’s when a number of local attorneys leapt to her defense claiming I was being unduly harsh. But just like the aforementioned clockwork, the Judge just went out of her way to prove my original assessment of her was dead on.

This story starts with a long-time Geneva, Illinois, Facebook friend contacting me in regard to a neighbor “butchering” her backyard trees while she was on vacation. I put the word “butchering” in quotes because that’s how a Geneva Police officer described the tree trimming aftermath.

While it’s  certainly an interesting story, I told my friend that it didn’t rise to the level of a column and advised her she may have to resort to civil court to resolve the issue. But when she asked me, “What if I told you those neighbors were Judge Susan Clancy Boles and her husband Bob?” Suddenly, I was all ears.

So, let’s examine exactly what a sitting Kane County judge just did:

1. She had her neighbor’s trees “butchered” without making any attempt to contact them first. The Boles never complained about the trees, they’d never inquired about cutting them back, and then they waited until their neighbors went on vacation to call out the chainsaws. Apparently good fences don’t always make good neighbors.

2. As clearly depicted in the attached photographs, with the exception of an unsightly 12-foot trunk, you can see how the Boles removed the entirety of a 100-year-old elm that was primarily on their neighbor’s property. Worse yet, as anyone who lives in Geneva’s downtown historical district will tell you, no tree can be removed there without the express written consent of the city council. And Judge Boles was well aware of that statute because a local attorney told me she’s heard similar cases before. Who cuts down a neighbor’s tree while they’re on vacation and leaves a 12-foot stump? The word “arrogance” doesn’t begin to describe the act.

3. Our intrepid judge also ran afoul of Illinois’ “Wrongful Tree Cutting Act” which has been on the books since 1830. She knew that ordinance opened her to treble damages, but she proceeded with her plan, regardless.

4. Judge Boles, or more likely her agents, clearly trespassed on her neighbor’s property to perpetrate this underhanded task. The photo below clearly shows the trampled garden, and the only way they could bring that large elm down is if they illegally entered that backyard. They certainly weren’t the least bit concerned with the final aesthetic, either.

It would’ve been bad enough if this heartless act involved a “regular” neighbor, but for a sitting Kane County judge to instigate it puts it well into “beyond the pale” territory. Oh! Have I mentioned that Judge Clancy-Boles is currently running for a seat on the second district appellate court?

After my friend returned home, and she and her husband recovered from the shock of this violation, the husbands briefly discussed the need to further discuss the problem. But there was no subsequent communication until a GPD officer knocked on the Boles door and told the Judge she needed to call her neighbor. Judge Boles clearly adheres to that proud “if you ignore something long enough it will go away” American tradition.

When she finally did call, the Judge offered no apology or remorse, casually explaining that “the tree was blocking the sun from my back yard.” My friend’s eminently reasonable request was to ask to have the remaining trunk removed and have it replaced it with a row of arborvitae, to which Boles replied, “I can’t agree to that, I’ll have to ask my husband.”

And that cavalier response comes from a full circuit judge who makes over $200,000 a year, who just broke three separate laws, who will likely be fined by the City of Geneva, and who’s already on the hook for triple damages.

On July 2nd, the Boles delivered a letter “explaining” that “They only removed what was on their property, and they were willing to have the unsightly trunk removed.” Be still my beating heart! The irony there, of course is, if a defendant tried to tell a tall courtroom tale that was completely contraindicated by photographic evidence, Judge Boles would have their hide.

Apparently the rules only apply the peasantry and not judges born with the Clancy name.

So now, despite being wrong beyond any and all reasonable doubt, the Boles inexplicable refusal to accept a more than reasonable settlement means this dispute will involve attorneys and is likely headed to court.

And Judge Clancy-Boles has the nerve to think she’s appellate court material? If you ask me, I don’t think she should be judging a second-grade cutest costumed pet contest, much less making life altering decisions. I’ll be voting for her opponent in November and I would encourage you to do the same.

As is always the case, I would’ve happily reached out to the Judge to hear her side of the story, but if you recall, she has illegally blocked this journalist’s email address.

Since this story speaks for itself, I’ll leave you with this. To all the fine attorneys who claimed I’ve been too hard on Judge Boles my response would be, I don’t think I’ve been nearly hard enough.

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