Candidate Files Ouster Suit Against Judge-Elect

(CN) – A candidate who lost a judicial election in Chicago filed a lawsuit to dethrone the winner, who faces criminal charges of impersonating a judge earlier this year.

Maryam Ahmad, a write-in candidate, claims in a lawsuit filed Monday in Cook County that the Chicago Board of Election commissioners allowed Rhonda Crawford’s name to remain on a ballot to preside over the 1st Judicial Subcircuit even though her law license had been suspended.

Crawford won the Nov. 8 election even after the Illinois Supreme Court barred her from taking the bench last month, according to the complaint.

Ahmad alleges Crawford submitted a statement of candidacy that falsely stated she was a legally qualified candidate for the position of judge, despite losing her license weeks prior to the primary election.

“By remaining on the ballot after October 31, 2016 and receiving more votes than plaintiff after she no longer held a valid license as an attorney, Crawford will be usurping, intruding into, and ultimately unlawfully holding the office of the Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County,” the complaint states.

Crawford allegedly wore a judge’s robe and presided over three traffic cases while working as a law clerk and staff attorney.

Cook County prosecutors charged Crawford with one felony count of official misconduct and one misdemeanor count of impersonating a judge, and suspended her license on the recommendation of the Illinois attorney registration and disciplinary commission, according to local news reports.

In her complaint, Ahmad asks election authorities to forfeit all votes counted in Crawford’s favor and certify her as the winner of the election.

“She’s not the winner,” Ahmad said in a released statement. “She can’t take the bench. She’s just the person that got the most votes.”

The Cook County State’s Attorney and the Illinois State’s Attorney declined Ahmad’s request to file an action on her behalf designed to eject elected officials convicted of criminal activity.

A member of Crawford’s legal team publicly stated that the lawsuit is inappropriate because “it is intended to ‘oust’ someone who already holds elected office without authority.”

“This has never been done,” Ahmad’s attorney Burton Odelson said in a released statement.

Crawford’s attorney could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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