Judge Lets Clerk Wear Her Robes, Hear Actual Cases

Rhonda Crawford for Judge Facebook page

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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A judge in Illinois has been temporarily removed from duty after she allowed a law clerk to wear her judicial robes and hear two actual cases.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Valerie Turner allowed a law clerk named Rhonda Crawford to don judicial robes and take the bench in two traffic cases Aug. 11. One case concerned a citation for driving without a license, the other for driving on the meridian. Crawford is herself a candidate for a judgeship in Cook County. She is running unopposed after prevailing in the Democratic primary.

Chief Judge Timothy Evans removed Turner from duty Wednesday after a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Circuit Court of Cook County. She will work under the supervision of Judge E. Kenneth Wright Jr. The circuit hosts approximately 400 judges, making it one of the largest in the country. Crawford has been suspended without pay until an investigation is concluded. (Related: This Judge Actually Joked About Drunk Sex, Temptresses In Court)

The incident shocked legal ethics experts. Aside from the fact impersonating a judge is a crime, the incident could be permanently disqualifying for both Turner and Crawford. “She may never get to put those robes on again,” judicial ethics expert Irv Miller told local news. “The sitting judge may lose her robes for doing this also.”

Turner is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School. She then worked as a federal prosecutor and as a litigator at Kirkland Ellis. Crawford is a graduate of Chicago Kent College of Law.

The two cases adjudicated by Crawford will be reheard by an actual judge.

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