Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Fake Judge Presides Over Illinois Traffic Court

oopsHere’s some free risk management advice: if a judge gives you a robe and asks you to take the bench and hear a few cases while they take a break, just say no.

Only bad things will follow if you say yes.

It happened in Cook County, Illinois, where a law clerk in August donned the robe – allegedly with the permission of the presiding judge – and heard several traffic cases. She was subsequently fired. In addition, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission took steps to have her law license suspended.

And more recently, she was charged by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office with felony misconduct and misdemeanor impersonation.

“The role and conduct of a judge is at the heart of our criminal justice system in the pursuit of justice in each and every case,” the prosecutor says in this report. “The defendant’s conduct in this case was offensive to the integrity of our system and cannot be excused or ignored as a mere lapse in judgment.”

To make things even more bizarre, the impersonator is in the running to become the real thing. In March – before she pretended to be a judge – she won the Democratic nomination for a different judgeship. No Republican or independent candidate filed for the seat, which left her running unopposed. A campaign to remove her from the ballot and bar her from being seated has been mounted.

It’s The Robe, Isn’t It?

On the afternoon of the impersonation, the phony judge heard three traffic matters before being busted by the presiding judge and removed from the bench.

When confronted by her actions, she allegedly said, “It’s the robe, isn’t it?” She also said the prosecutor in the courtroom was mad because she didn’t grant him a continuance. She contended her boss told her to put on the robes and get up on the bench, and that she had never actually stated in court that she was a judge.

Illinois disciplinary authorities have charged her with dishonesty, criminal conduct by impersonating a public officer, and making false statements in a disciplinary investigation. They are seeking to suspend her from practicing law and bar her from assuming the office of judge “for having engaged in conduct which threatens irreparable harm to the public.”


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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