Suit Over Impersonator’s Judicial Win Thrown Out

CHICAGO (CN) – A lawsuit seeking to stop a newly elected judge from taking office was dismissed because the state’s high court is still deciding whether she can fill the role, after her law license was suspended for previously impersonating a judge.

“The material facts are not in dispute,” Cook County Circuit Court Judge Celia Gamrath wrote in her Dec. 2 opinion.

Rhonda Crawford, an attorney and former law clerk in Cook County’s Office of the Chief Judge, won the primary and the November election to fill a judge’s vacancy.

However, Crawford had been fired several months before the election for impersonating a judge and hearing two minor traffic cases while wearing her robe.

The Illinois Supreme Court then suspended her law license and barred her from taking the judicial oath or assuming office pending its investigation.

The Markham, Illinois Municipal District Courthouse judge who allowed Crawford to hear the cases was put on administrative duties and the cases were set to be reheard by an actual judge.

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

Maryam Ahmad filed an emergency motion in October to remove Crawford’s name from the ballot. A court refused to do so, and Ahmad, a write-in candidate, lost to Crawford.

She then sued last month, claiming Crawford should have never been on the ballot.

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

Seeking an order from the court that the Illinois and Chicago Boards of Elections not count the votes towards Crawford or certify her as the winner, Ahmad filed her claim after the attorney general and state’s attorney declined to do so.

But Judge Gamrath ruled last Friday that “an action is premature when usurpation of office is simply threatened.”

“Crawford does not hold the office of judge, and may never hold the office, depending on the outcome of disciplinary proceedings and criminal charges,” Gamrath wrote.

The judge said “this court will not interfere with the Illinois Supreme Court’s assumption of jurisdiction over Crawford’s fate.”

Ahmad’s attorney, Burton Odelson of Odelson & Sterk, did not return immediately a phone call from Courthouse News on Thursday.

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