Families say retired judge's 'unethical' behavior has hurt families

Former Judge Edward Jacobson

Last month, a formal investigation released 13 confirmed cases where the former Northwest Iowa judge had rulings ghostwritten.

Now the people whose lives were impacted are coming forward.

"I kind of just froze," said Lacey Bird, who couldn't believe it when she found out her case was one of 13 cases where, state investigators found, former judge Edward Jacobson had winning attorney's "ghost write" his rulings.

Bird, lost custody of her daughter a little over two years ago after Jacobson granted custody to her ex-husband.

"I miss out multiple things of her and her life. School events, special activities and just being with her, so it's been a life changing experience," said Bird.

Bird was number six on the list of those 13 cases and says it's been a difficult experience.

"It's terrible. You know you put your faith into these people and then this happens. I trusted the judge and I trusted the lawyers and look where it's at now," said Bird.

Jose Fernando Buenrostro, also among the 13, lost custody of his three children; a battle he says left him in emotional distress.

"It was horrible, I don't have words to explain the only thing I can say is I feel so bad, a person that's professional. They go so down like that," said Buenrostro.

Buenrostro's divorce case was ruled in Plymouth County back in 2015.

His case was number five on the list, gathered in a formal investigation by Judge Robert Hutchison and former State Court Administrator David Boyd who were appointed by Iowa State Court Administrator Todd Nuccio.

The 40-page review found that Former Judge Edward Jacobson used proposed orders from opposing attorneys as the final say, without notifying the other parties in the case. Even though there are only 13 confirmed cases, Jacobson has admitted directing one of the counsels to write the final ruling after a contested trial "a couple hundred" times, according to page 7 of the review.

"For me it's hard to know, there's still corruption in the world. Especially people that do law. You trust the people too much. I can be homeless because of what happened to me, just because one person didn't want to do his job," said Buenrostro.

During his 16 year career, Jacobson tried around 2,000 divorce cases.

Chad Krastel, also cited in the 13, lost custody of his daughter, saying the opposing attorney wrote the proposed order in favor of his ex-wife.

"It makes it extremely difficult for not only a father to trust the judicial system that's obviously broken, but almost to make sure that my daughter has the best relationship with parents and that's ultimately what any father or parent really wants,"said Krastel.

Attorney Rosanne Plante addressed Jacobson's improper actions earlier this year, and has been in contact with Bird, Buensroto, Krastel, in addition to most of the others on the list, and she is encouraging them to file a complaint with the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board.

"Every attorney that engaged in this behavior that actually wrote the ghostwritten opinion, they actually violated several ethical rules as well because they should've said, I know better. Your honor I'm not going to do this, they should've actually stood up and said that," said Plante.

We reached out to Jacobson’s attorneys, but they said they had no comment at this time. If you believe your case was improperly conducted, click on here to fill out the application for the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board.

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