CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago area attorney on Tuesday was calling for the resignation of Cook County’s chief judge and the presiding judge of the Domestic Relations division, for allowing what he calls unchecked power in how attorneys are selected by the courts in messy divorce cases.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, the committee that selects those attorneys has been chaired by David Pasulka, who is now facing allegations of sexual assault.
Pasulka has hand-picked and curated a list of family attorneys. If you’re on the list, you’re eligible to be tapped by a judge to represent children caught in the middle of divorce cases – and it pays well to get on the list.
“The list can harm children,” said attorney Lawrence Thompson.
Pasulka was selected more than 20 years ago by a judge to hold this powerful role of gatekeeper.
In a 2016 picture posted to Facebook, Pasulka posed with the current presiding Cook County Judge for the Domestic Relations Division, the Honorable Grace Dickler.
“We will never know the number of children and parents and spouses who have been impacted by this,” Thompson said.
Thompson wrote a letter to Judge Dickler and Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans, raising concerns about the list, who is on it, and the power Pasulka has held for decades.
“There’s a crystal clear conflict of interest,” Thompson said. “It created an incentive for those attorneys to favor Pasulka in the divorce litigation.”
In the letter, Thompson says Pasulka had the ability to blackball opposing attorneys from the list – or remove a lawyer already on it – so it benefitted Pasulka’s competition to toe the line, potentially putting profits over the interests of the child
“Pasulka, if the allegations are accurate, was doing some horrible things for a long time,” Thompson said.
In a complaint filed with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, Pasulka is facing allegations of sexual assault and exchanging a favorable custody recommendation in divorce case in exchange for sex.
Most recently, Pasulka was charged with driving drunk in a Glenview McDonald’s parking lot.
“I tried doing something good for the system a long time ago,” Thompson said. “I failed.”
Thompson took Pasulka to court unsuccessfully some 15 years ago raising similar concerns about Pasulka and the conflict of the screening committee.
“I want the system to change,” Thompson said.
In the letter sent on Tuesday, Thompson wrote: “The administration selected a bully-pervert, and put him in charge of regulating which of his associates would be the high-income in-crowd in the Cook County domestic relations courts.”
Thompson is calling for chief Judge Evans and Judge Dickler’s resignations, accusing them of enabling Pasulka through the unchecked power given to him
“I would hope that they would have an investment in cleaning up the system now,” Thompson said.
Thompson does acknowledge and does not shy away from the fact that his is personal for him. When Thompson went through a divorce, Pasulka represented his ex-wife in a divorce case.
Pasulka has been suspended from serving as guardian ad litem in Cook County; Judge Dickler, who presides over domestic relations cases, prevented him from doing so when she found out about the complaint, according to a spokesperson for Office of the Chief Judge of Cook County.
Dickler also suspended Pasulka from “any other Court Committee to which he has been appointed” in the domestic relations division due to the “serious allegations” in the complaint, the spokesperson said.
Also, a spokesperson for Chief Judge’s office declined to comment, citing Supreme Court rules on the letter submitted by Thompson because of the open ARDC case against Pasulka.