Judge Benched for Claims She Let Clerk Fill In

     CHICAGO (CN) — A Cook County Circuit Court judge was reassigned to administrative duties Wednesday after she was accused of letting a law clerk put on a judge’s robe and hear cases in her courtroom.
     The executive committee of the court, headed by Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans, put Judge Valarie E. Turner in the Illinois Supreme Court Peer Mentoring Program while “further investigation and ultimate determinations are pending,” according to the committee’s special order.
     The committee was alerted that Turner allegedly permitted Rhonda Crawford, an attorney and law clerk in the office of the chief judge, to “adjudicate at least two cases from the bench while wearing a judicial robe” in the Sixth Municipal District Courthouse in Markham, Ill., Evans’ office said.
     Pat Milhizer, director of communications for the office of the chief judge, says the cases at issue involved two minor traffic tickets for driving without insurance and driving on a median. Both will be heard again in front of a judge.
     Crawford, a former nurse who has worked as a law clerk since 2011, was suspended without pay. She is a candidate for a judicial position in the November election.
     “The public’s confidence in the judiciary is the cornerstone of our system of justice, and I have taken the steps necessary to preserve that confidence,” Evans said in a statement. “Because the investigation is pending, I believe it is inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

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