Cases presided over by law clerk posing as judge reheard

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Rhonda Crawford lost her job as a Cook County law clerk after authorities say she donned the robes and played judge in a Markham courtroom. (WLS)

Two cases heard by a Cook County law clerk fired for allegedly posing as a judge in a Markham courtroom have been reheard.

Authorities say Judge Valerie Turner allowed Rhonda Crawford to preside over two traffic cases.

Crawford is a candidate to become a real judge in the November election, running unopposed.

Those two traffic cases from August 11 had to be heard again Thursday.

One of those cases was originally dismissed, and the other had been continued.

State election officials tell the I-Team that Crawford will likely still be elected, but it is unlikely she will ever be sworn in.

Chief Judge Timothy Evans' office said in a statement Tuesday that Crawford was no longer employed by the Cook County Circuit Court.

She worked for his office as a law clerk for the past five years.

Both Crawford and Turner are now the subjects of criminal investigations by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

In a mostly self-funded campaign, the Kent law graduate surprisingly defeated two opponents in the March Democratic primary. At this point, even if Crawford drops out, the Illinois State Board of Elections says her name will likely still appear on the ballot.
"We're already at a situation where it's probably on the late side," said Illinois State Board of Elections General Counsel Ken Menzel. "We have a candidate that's on the ballot. We certified the ballot at our August 26th meeting, so the candidate line-up is out there."

Menzel tells the I-Team if Crawford wins the November election it will be up to other agencies to determine if she can take the judicial oath of office on December 5.

"You might see a situation where having been declared the winner, if the qualifications for the office were no longer there, like for a judge being a licensed attorney in Illinois, then there would be the issue of not swearing that person into the office. It's up to other entities such as the Attorney General or State's Attorney or the Supreme Court itself to step in as to preventing someone from taking office," said Menzel.

The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission would not confirm or deny if Crawford is being investigated. The ARDC is responsible for licensing and disciplining lawyers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related Topics:
cook countyjudicial misconductI-TeamCook CountyMarkham
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