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Judge Suspended for Intoxication and Public Urination
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Summary: Judge Emily Dean is facing a 30-day suspension for arriving at court drunk, and for previously urinating in a public street.

Judge Emily Dean is proof that prestige is no protection from our inner demons. Though the Fort Madison-based District Associate Judge has certainly found some success with her career, it did not prevent her to succumbing to her disease of alcoholism, which eventually interfered with her job in a big way.


The judge was driven by a court reporter to the court house on May 9, 2012, and was seen drinking a “colorless liquid,” as reported. That colorless liquid was not water, apparently, since after she was awoken at the court house, an employee recognized her lack of sobriety and persuaded her to not work that day.

Instead, she was taken to an intensive care unit at the hospital suffering from “severe alcohol intoxication,” and stayed there three days.

The Iowa Commission on Judicial Qualifications suspended her a day after the incident. She was initially given a 3 month suspension, without pay, for her conduct, but that has since been reduced to thirty days, in consideration of her progress in addressing her alcoholism.

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“On that day [of May 9], Judge Dean did not promote public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary and did not perform her duties competently or diligently,” said the Supreme Court in a ruling made Friday.

Further compounding the bad behavior was the judge’s previous misdeeds. At one point, in May of 2012, she was seen urinating in a public street. The witness had followed her car back to her mother’s residence – the car was indeed her husband’s – and though Emily reported she was in a “black out state” and could neither confirm nor deny the allegations, they appear consonant with the depth of her problem.

Dean’s attorney, Elaine F. Gray, noted that the judge has been in recover for two years, and also stated that “The Supreme Court was tasked with entering a disciplinary order that we didn’t leave the public wondering whether they were protecting their own or otherwise giving preferential treatment to Judge Dean.”

This last statement addressed the court’s decision to lesson the time on her suspension. The court decided this on the testimony of her substance abuse counselor, who pointed out Dean’s attendance of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the “Complete 180 degree turn” her husband reported in his wife’s behavior.

Certainly prestige and the respect of friends and family are not enough for any of us in facing our inner struggles and problems, and no amount of external propping can fix what it is our own to address. Nevertheless, overcoming the denial and reaching out for others to help is a move of humility and strength anybody can make who faces such a problem.



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