Summary: A state attorney who was allowed by a judge to act as a judge and preside over three traffic cases will face criminal charges.
An Attorney who posed as a Judge was indicted on criminal charges. Allegedly a law clerk donned a black rope and presided over three traffic cases. The Cook County grand jury that handled the case gave out the charges against Rhonda Crawford today.
Crawford was informed by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office of the two criminal counts but the specific charges have not been reported. The charges are just one week after the state commission came to the conclusion that she committed a crime, asking the Illinois Supreme Court to suspend her license and prevent her from taking office.
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In less than three weeks Crawford was hoping to win a seat on the First Judicial Subcircuit bench in the November general election. The district she is running for includes the South Side and some south suburbs. She has refused to drop out of the race and is trying to prevent her only opponent from taking it as a write-in campaign.
The judge that allowed her to wear the robes and handle the three cases, Valarie Turner, is being investigated. Chief Judge Timothy Evans removed Turner from the bench and put her on administrative duties. The incident has been turned over to the Judicial Inquiry Board.
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Crawford claims that she made an honest mistake and places the blame on Turner for encouraging her to take the role as a judge in the cases. She insists that she took no actions in the three traffic cases but documents show she did. In one case, a lawyer for the Village of Dolton asked to continue a case because the police officer involved was not in the courtroom. Crawford denied the motion.
Crawford had worked for the chief judge’s office for five years as a $57,000-a-year law clerk/staff attorney before being fired. Before obtaining her law degree in 2003, she worked as a nurse.
Turner graduated from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago law school. She was a federal prosecutor but also worked as an associate for Kirkland & Ellis. She was first elected to the bench in 2002 to hear municipal cases in Markham.
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To learn more about attorneys that get caught up in fraud, read NJ Attorney Charged with Fraud; Stole $40,000 from Law Firm.