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Judge candidate admits license suspension
By Josh Stockinger | Daily Herald Staff

Fred Morelli

 

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Published: 1/28/2010 7:01 PM

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An Aurora attorney and former judge who is running in Tuesday's primary for a seat in the 16th Judicial Circuit, says he's "learned from" a black mark on his legal career that resulted in a 30-day suspension of his law license five years ago.

But former Kane County associate Judge Fred Morelli continues to deny a conflict of interest in that matter.

"I've got a lifetime of experiences. Some good, some bad," Morelli told the Daily Herald. "This is one I hope never happens to me again, and I've learned from it."

Records show the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission suspended Morelli's license for 30 days in March 2005.

The sanctions stemmed from a complaint in late 2001 accusing him of a conflict of interest related to an early 1990s drug case and, separately, of inappropriately contacting a defendant who was already being represented by a public defender in 1997.

In the 1991 case, Morelli represented a drug dealer and the man's ex-wife and had a then-undisclosed sexual relationship with the woman, the complaint stated.

In an interview, Morelli admitted to the accusations involving the public defender but said, "I still don't think I had a conflict of interest" in the other matter.

"I never said I was perfect. No one is, though I know some people who claim to be," he said. "I think the public needs a judge who doesn't believe he's perfect, recognizes his faults and learns from his mistakes."

Morelli, an appointed Kane County judge from 1976 to 1981, is running against fellow Republican and Associate Judge Kevin Busch of Batavia in the Feb. 2 primary for a circuit-wide judgeship in the 16th Judicial Circuit, which includes Kane, Kendall and DeKalb counties. He said media attention to the suspension so soon before the election is suspect.

"I'm disappointed the campaign has come to this," Morelli said. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where this came from."

Asked to comment, Busch said, "I'd rather not, because I believe the facts speak for themselves."