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Editorial: Judge pulls fast one

Judge Maureen P. McIntyre

Judge Maureen P. McIntyre

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Updated: March 20, 2013 6:25AM

The last person who should pull a fast one is a judge, even if it may be legal.

As Tim Novak and Chris Fusco reported in the Sun-Times on Monday, McHenry County Judge Maureen P. McIntyre divorced her husband in 2006 in a deal that gave her most of the assets, including their house, while many of her husband’s creditors were left out in the cold.

Though the couple is now divorced after 31 years of marriage, records show them still living together in their Barrington Hills home, and McIntyre — who is presiding over the involuntary manslaughter case of former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s nephew, Richard J. Vanecko — continues to earn $181,929 a year as a juvenile court judge. The judge, who did pay off her husband’s credit cards, also got to keep three time-share condos in Kissimmee, Fla., Gulfport, Miss., and northwestern Michigan.

But the divorce — called a “divorce of convenience” by the son of one creditor — means the judge’s former husband, now a disbarred lawyer, hasn’t had to tap into those marital assets to pay back at least $500,000 he owes to former clients and the IRS.

This isn’t a case of an entrepreneur whose business went belly up. Former clients complained that the ex-husband, Raymond X. Henehan, misappropriated nearly $100,000 of their money. One client said she gave Henehan $17,379 to pay estate taxes after her mother’s death, but that he never did. Another said he had paid Henehan $640 to file a bankruptcy case that the lawyer never filed. Henehan also misspent most of $89,852 he had received from a hearing-impaired couple in their late 50s who had hired him to resolve a tax dispute with the IRS, according to Illinois Supreme Court records.

A judge plays a special role as someone who determines what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s fair and what isn’t. In bankruptcy courts, for example, judges using the legal concept of “unfair preference” can go to creditors who have been paid, make them return the money and put them at the end of the line with everyone else.

With that kind of power, judges need to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. This case doesn’t pass that test.

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