As every child knows, playing dress-up can be a lot of fun. As a least one Circuit judge in Illinois doesn’t, it can also be serious violation of judicial ethics.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Judge Valarie Turner was removed from the bench on Wednesday after she allegedly allowed lawyer Rhonda Crawford to put on her judicial robe and rule on at least two cases. Crawford—who is currently running unopposed for a subcircuit judgeship—has also been suspended without pay from her job as a law clerk for Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans pending an investigation. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
A spokesman for Evans said the Aug. 11 incident involved “two minor traffic tickets — one for driving with no insurance and another for driving on a median.” Evans did not reveal how Crawford ruled in those cases, but his spokesman indicated both cases will be heard again by another [i.e. real] judge.
But that’s not expected to be the end of it.
Lawyers tell me the case goes beyond just a display of extraordinarily bad judgment and could be regarded as a serious breach of judicial ethics if the allegations are accurate.
“I can’t see how someone else can just sit and be a judge,” law professor Clifford Scott-Rudnick told the Tribune. “Obviously, if you’re entitled to have a judge hear your case, it has to be a real judge.”
As the incident itself demonstrates, however, even real judges make mistakes.