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August 23, 2016


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Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

This is one of those OOOPS kind of moments. An "Oh Shit" kind of thing. The two women appeared to be good friends and the attorney judicial candidate desired a taste of "judging," a test drive. To see what it feels like. All of this was done under the supervision of the judge standing over her shoulder. I do not see bad faith here. I don't even see bone headedness. What I see is something that seemed innocuous and was perhaps even viewed as a good idea by both at the moment that was not entirely thought through. How would it appear? Cook County was stung by Greylord ---and the pain 30 years on is still acute and palpable. In an environment like that one needs to be extra vigilant.

J. Bogat

"Although they do appear to have inconvenienced two traffic defendants, they did not commit a grave injustice."
That seems an odd description, and a bit obtuse.

Steve L.

The faux judge evidently disposed of two traffic tickets, which will now have to be re-decided by a real judge. It is possible that the two drivers will have to come back to court (though probably not, based on what I have learned subsequently), which would be a significant inconvenience. But no one was erroneously held in contempt or sent to jail, which is what I would consider a grave injustice.


Here in the Bay Area, we had a judge back in the 1990s who was hearing Barry Bonds' divorce case. After the hearing was over he asked him for an autograph.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

In many suburban Chicago "field" courts and quite a few County courts south of I-80, traffic matters are routinely disposed of without even stepping up to a judge. The prosecutor simply writes the negotiated "disposition" on the ticket jacket and then one proceeds to the clerk to pay the fines. The plea or disposition is not even run by the judge for his approval. Many defendants enter guilty pleas by simply sending in a ticket with a #120.00 payment or others send in a slightly higher payment and receive traffic safety school without ever stepping foot into a court room. In some jurisdictions, one can enter a plea online. In other words, these petty and business traffic offenses are ministerial.

Eric Rasmusen

The incident may not have resulted in injustice, but that doesn't mean it isn't shocking and doesn't show unfitness to be a judge. Suppose the judge made a similar boner and took a bribe one time, or slept with a plaintiff, etc., but not in a case where it made any difference.This kind of thing shows that the judge has a fundamentally unsound idea of what it means to be a judge.

J. Bogart

So the two defendants took time from work and traveled to court in the expectation of presenting to a judge and getting a decision. Now they must set aside time and travel again, and that is not important because? They aren't important? Inconvenience is waiting a bit, not be denied a hearing and being forced to carry the burden of re-appearing. Why should they carry the burden of the errors of the judge? That no one went to jail is not the appropriate standard. And in this context, "erroneously" has no real meaning. I think the defense is confused -- the conduct is wrong and should result in a sanction. That should not depend on whether someone was sent to jail. I still find the characterization obtuse. I agree that this is not the stuff that should end a career.


A Judge Pro Tem is often an attorney, and traffic is the place, folks.

Did the judge have authority to appoint a Judge Pro Tem to adjudicate what appear to have been infractions?

If not, what would have been required to obtain such authorization?

Not much, one suspects.

This bunch focuses its outrage in the wrong places, usually.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

This type of situation in Illinois is not unprecedented. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 7/11 (not to be confused with that convenience store of Slushes and decent chocolate brownies) provides that a law student can practice or appear at the bench under the direct supervision of an attorney. Perhaps they both contemplated that rule? The issue is not inconvenience or lack of consequences. The defense is, "what did they really do?"

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