Dennis Drake, the husband of Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, will not go on trial today as originally scheduled. The 58-year-old Drake was charged in July with interference with official acts in connection with an underage drinking party on his property.
On Tuesday, Drake entered an Alford plea to a misdemeanor charge of harassment of a public official. Drake could have the conviction wiped from his record if he successfully completes one year of probation. A statement released to the media from the family includes the first public comments on the matter from Chief Justice Ternus. She claims she was asleep at the time of the party and was unaware what was happening a half-mile from the couple’s home.
The family lives on property near Grimes that covers 29 acres. The party involved a bonfire and seven teenagers, including the couple’s 19-year-old son. Rob Drake and another teen were convicted of underage possession of alcohol. The Polk County Sheriff’s deputy who responded to the scene after a noise complaint said he could not determine who purchased the beer for the teens. Dennis Drake is general counsel for Iowa Health System.
Here is the statement issued by the Chief Justice and her family:
Marsha Ternus, Iowa Chief Justice
I am pleased that the situation has been appropriately handled within the court system for which I have the greatest respect. Now that the matter has been concluded, I can speak about the event without violating the Iowa Code of Judicial Conduct that prohibits judges from talking about pending cases.
There have been questions concerning my whereabouts on the evening in question. The reality is that I was asleep in our house. Unknown to me, a group of college students that included our son had gathered nearly a half mile from our house where they had started a bonfire. I had no knowledge my son and his friends were on our property that night, or that they were drinking, until after the Polk County Sheriff Deputy had arrived.
This event and its aftermath have been difficult for me and our family. Just like all parents, we strive to raise our children to be responsible citizens. My husband and I have taken steps to ensure a similar event will not occur in the future. I want to take this opportunity to thank the many friends, colleagues and members of the community who appreciate the challenges faced by parents raising teenage children and who have been supportive of me and my family during this challenging time.
I am pleased this matter has been resolved. I apologize to anyone affected by my actions, including my children, and to my wife for the difficulty my actions have created for her as Chief Justice.
I want to take this opportunity to apologize to my parents for my behavior this summer. I made a poor decision, and recognize the impact this has had on both my mother and father. I am thankful for my parents’ love and support.
The family will have no other comments regarding this issue. Thank you in advance for your understanding.