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Judge Suspended for Allowing Law Clerk To Rule

Illinois State Attorney offices are investigating a judge who allowed a soon-to-be colleague wear a robe and facilitate two court cases.

Cook County Judge Valarie E. Turner, who worked at the Sixth Municipal District Courthouse in Markham, Ill.,, is under fire for giving her robe to law clerk Rhonda Crawford, a Democratic candidate for judge, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Chief Judge Timothy Evans reassigned Turner to administrative tasks and suspended Crawford from her job.

Sources say that Crawford was shadowing Turner to learn how to perform the duties of a judge. However, it was not disclosed if Turner remained in the court while Crawford took the bench.

Evans’ spokesperson said the case involved two traffic tickets. Evans’ rulings in both cases were not revealed, but both cases will be heard again by a second judge.

Lawyers who represented different parties in the cases have said the incident has gone beyond a display of extraordinarily bad judgement and violates judicial ethics.

Steven Lebut, North Western University law professor, is astonished that something like this even occurred. “This is more than misguided,” said Steven Lebut, Northwestern University law professor. “You don’t put on the robes. You don’t rule on people’s fate unless you are a judge.”

“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,”Judge Evans released in a statement.

The Judicial Inquiry Board and the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission are expected to launch investigations as well.