Cook County Judge Jackie Portman-Brown reassigned after video shows her put child in holding cell

Thursday, February 27, 2020
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Cook County Circuit Court Judge has been reassigned to administrative duty after security video shows her putting a young girl into a holding cell and leaving the child there.

From several different camera angles, Judge Jackie Portman-Brown is seen dragging a little girl into an empty holding cell behind her courtroom.

Still wearing her black robe, surveillance video shows Portman-Brown leave the cell, while what appears to be a sheriff's deputy locks it up.

The young child remains inside for about 10 minutes, while the sheriff's deputy stays and talks with the girl.

The incident took place last week at the Leighton Criminal Court building, commonly known as 26th & Cal.

"The child had no business being at 26th & Cal to begin with, let alone in a courtroom and in a lockup where a judge is taking her into the lockup," said Richard Kling, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Institute of Technology.

The legal community is outraged, especially since holding cells at the Leighton Criminal Court building are known to be extremely unsanitary from inmates waiting for court.

Questions remain over who the girl is or why she was locked up.

On Wednesday, Chief Judge Timothy Evans reassigned Portman-Brown to administrative duty pending a March 4th meeting of Cook County Circuit Court's Executive Committee.

The sheriff deputies involved have been de-deputized pending an internal investigation.

Portman-Brown is known at the courthouse for being an unconventional judge when she handles her daily call.

"She does long lectures, she does some role-playing, she used provocative language. Judges have the right to be judges, but you don't have a right to put a kid in a lockup," Kling said.

Judge Portman-Brown could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The Circuit Court's Executive Committee can discipline her internally or refer the incident to the Judicial Inquiry Board, where it makes decisions on whether the judge stays on the bench.
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