February 06, 2017 Top Story

Judging Without Being Sworn In Can Jeopardize Bar License

Law clerk cannot act as judge without running afoul of ethical rules

By Kathy Milenkovski

A Chicago law clerk was suspended from the practice of law and was criminally indicted for impersonating a judge just weeks before the November election in which she was the unopposed democratic candidate to actually become a judge. She won the election but has been enjoined from taking the bench by order of the disciplinary commission pending resolution of the charges issued against her. Section leaders note her action was a clear ethics violation.

Law Clerk Dons Robe and Hears Traffic Cases

The clerk in question claimed to be shadowing the Cook County Circuit Court judge to learn more about the position in light of her upcoming election. The clerk maintains she donned the robe and sat in the judge's chair at the urging of the judge, who has been removed from the bench by special order of the court and assigned to desk duty while the Judicial Inquiry Board considers whether to take any action against her in connection with this matter. Circuit judge Valarie E. Turner, who allowed the clerk to take the bench, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and is "mentally unable to perform her duties," according to a complaint filed by the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board.

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