Recently, it was reported that a former law clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Presiding Judge, was allowed by a sitting judge to don the judicial robes at Chicago’s Traffic Court, and actually issue judgments on several cases appearing in court that day. Is it a crime to impersonate a Judge, and is she in big potential trouble? The answer to both of those questions is yes. It is a crime, and yes she could be in serious trouble if the authorities choose to enforce the law as it is written. Of even greater concern is that the clerk is presently running for the office of Circuit Court Judge on the November Ballot.
Among other possible criminal charges that could be brought, Chapter 720, Illinois Compiled Statutes, Section 5/33-3 defines “Official Misconduct”, and the portions that are relevant to this situation are found under subsection (a) (2), which makes it unlawful for a public officer to perform an act which he or she knows is forbidden by law to perform, such as sitting as a Judge even though not yet elected, and not yet sworn to a Constitutional Oath of Office. The offense is a Class 3 Felony, and the person, upon conviction, may forfeit the office held. If the former Law Clerk can be described as an employee under the statute, then there may be potential liability.
At the very least, the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys state that when an attorney is a candidate for a judicial office, then that attorney is bound by the Judicial Canon of Ethics. By most accounts, acting outside one’s proper authority is hardly in line with those ethical rules. Meanwhile, the attorney is still on the ballot, and will likely be elected as she is running unopposed. However, she may experience the ultimate “revolving door of justice” if she is elected, and if she is then brought up on charges by the authorities, or sanctioned by the Supreme Court.
Since 1990, the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC. have assisted those charged with criminal and traffic crimes. They can be reached any time of day at (312) 644-0444 to arrange a free consultation.