When calling out a member of a public profession, I typically preface the piece with, “Most [name of profession] serve with dignity and honor; we’re just talking about one bad apple here.” But I can’t do that when it comes to the men and women in black, because, more often than not, they shouldn’t be sitting on as much as a park bench.
It all comes down to Lord Acton’s postulate that, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Because in their courtroom, a judge wields absolute power. If he or she takes offense at something as simple as what you’re wearing, you could find yourself in the pokey with no bail and no right to a trial.
And how often do you hear about a judge being removed for malfeasance? It doesn’t happen nearly as much as it should. Ah! But Cook County Judge Mauricio Araujo might just be that rare exception, but only because he managed to run afoul of the intensifying #MeToo movement.
Let’s just say, in light of the Kavanaugh hearing, his timing was really, really bad.
Irked that a female prosecutor and former law school classmate failed to acknowledge his presence when he walked into the courtroom, the judge went into a Spanish language tirade that included referring to that attorney as a “puta.”
I’m pretty sure I don’t have to translate that for you.
When a male prosecutor tried to smooth things over by joking she might not recognize him in the black robe, Hizzoner replied, “Well, maybe it’s because I didn’t have sex with her or maybe it’s because I did have sex with her.”
The Judge, clearly a poor judge of political realities, did this within earshot of four other people and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office presented a two-page complaint to LeRoy K. Martin Jr., the presiding judge for the court’s criminal division. The complaint also noted that Araujo made “unwanted sexual advances” towards the prosecutor back in law school.
Martin, who actually does have a keen sense of political realities, quickly issued a one-sentence order removing Araujo from courtroom duty. That’s judicial legalese for “he gone!”
To make matters much worse, our intrepid judge was foolish enough to grant the Tribune an interview in which he said he “doubts” he ever made those sexual advances, he “does not believe” he said anything about having sex with her, and he “does not believe” he called her a “bitch,” which we all know means he did. Then he rambled on about how she’s ignored him for the five years they’ve been in that building.
So now we’re back to middle school? A man who regularly holds defendants’ lives in the palm of his hands just sunk his career because a female prosecutor wouldn’t say “hello?” Oh my bleepin’ lord! My fondest wish is that, upon seeing my gleaming visage, you bleeps completely ignore me because I really can’t stand any of you.
I know what some of you are thinking, but Judge Araujo is not nearly the exception. The truth is, it’s easier to offend someone in the black dress than it is to get Donald Trump to start shrieking about walls. So let’s take a look at our own 16th Circuit’s finest:
1. John Dalton
He’s the worst judge I’ve ever had the displeasure of observing, by a long shot. He’s cruel to both plaintiff’s and defendants, he doesn’t know the law, he refuses to enforce his own rulings, he makes it up as he goes along, and he takes great glee in watching desperate people suffer.
Woe be it to any female, African-American, or particularly Hispanic individual who appears before him. Since last year’s column regarding antics, I’ve been besieged with Dalton victims begging me for help.
Just today – as I was writing this piece – another female attorney called insisting that I run an anti-retention campaign against him due to Dalton’s insistent sexist commentary.
Though Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles is well aware of this poor excuse for a human being, she does nothing about it. Ah! But some folks are about to provide Dalton with an electoral surprise. It won’t be enough to get him removed, but he’s up for retention in November and he’s going to have to work very hard to keep his job.
2. Kevin Busch
He would clearly win the Judicial Bleep of the Year Award were it not for Dalton’s presence in the circuit. He’s beyond egotistical, he’s exceptionally arrogant, and he takes great delight in being a jerk just because he can.
Ladies man Judge Kevin T. Busch
I watched Busch go out of his way to embarrass an attorney by ripping her motion apart and throwing it at her page-by-page. Despite having absolutely no lost love for that lawyer, even I felt sorry for that utterly unwarranted display.
Oh! And I’m currently working on a story that will certainly become Judge Busch’s #MeToo moment. One more source and that one goes forward. Apparently, the Judge thinks he’s God’s gift to women, too.
The only reason he doesn’t fall into the Dalton category is he actually does have some sense of the law.
3. James Hallock
We just discussed how “Hang ‘em High” Hallock never met a defendant he didn’t loathe. As a result of playing second prosecutor, he engaged in so much reversible error that the appeals court vacated the Shadwick King verdict in record time.
And I’ve never seen those no-nonsense Second District Appellate Court judges spank a circuit judge so severely. Judge Dalton may be incompetent, but a judge that subverts the process because he can is even worse.
I just learned that Judge Hallock is retiring effective in early December. Apparently, he saw the writing on the wall.
4. Divya Sarang
She’s a real piece of work! Defense attorneys tend to take things in stride because they’d go completely nuts if they didn’t. But I’ve never had so many seething attorneys come to me about how she berates defendants – and especially youthful offenders – just because she can.
Her regular tirades include juvenile defendants who are well on their way to recovery, too. There’s nothing worse than a bully on the bench.
5. Susan Clancy Boles
She shouldn’t be an attorney, much less a judge, but when you have the Clancy name behind you, you get special treatment. We’ve already covered the Chief Judge at length, including her efforts to erase her late attorney brother’s connection to Anjum Coffland and her utter refusal to rein her errant subordinates in.
Since we’ve last discussed her, I’ve received reports that she’s not above flirting – in open court – with good looking male defendants. So much for the #MeToo movement, right? What have I said about the truth and fiction?
6. Sandra Parga
I know I’ve said we need more Hispanic judges on the bench, but she ain’t it! When she was an attorney, I watched her go after a young opposing counsel in the back of a courtroom like an angry third-grand bully. It was disgusting and despicable.
And the fact that she used an affair with prominent defense attorney to eventually vault her way to judge kind of undoes the whole #MeToo movement, too, doesn’t it?
7. David Kliment
We’ve covered this overly imperious bleep at length. Suffice it to say that he shouldn’t be judging a fourth-grade science fair, much less criminal cases.
8. Marmarie Kostelny
She may be the least objectionable of the judges listed here, and I heard she’s doing alright in drug court, but when you’ve never met a male defendant you didn’t despise, it’s a problem. I’ve watched her stare intently at a female plaintiff who was going for an Oscar, but when the male defendant spoke she wouldn’t even look at him.
There is nothing wrong with being gay. In fact, I’ve vigorously defended my gay brothers and sisters for 12 long years in print. But when being gay affects your judgement even more so than the folks who would persecute you for your sexuality, it’s a problem. Kostelny was an abject nightmare in family court.
9. Elizabeth Flood
After I ranked her among the best Kane County judges, a number of attorneys, plaintiffs and defendants came forward to explain that she can’t make a decision. In one case, she drew out the proceedings to the point where the law involved actually changed. That unduly cost a plaintiff quite a bit of time and money.
Being cautious is one thing, but if your inability to do your job starts financially affecting the folks who appear before you, then it’s time to step down.
Look! I know I’ve been a bit more brutal here than I normally am here, but the more I delve into that morass at Rt. 38 and Peck Road, the more disgusted I am with all of them. And their judicial peers who refuse to call them may well be worse. And my brief tirade here pales in comparison to the havoc these judges wreak on regular folks on a daily basis, and no one holds them accountable.
To prove my point, since so many of you reached out to me about Judge Dalton, if you’ve had a real issue with any Kane County judge, please let me know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will perform the required due diligence and your anonymity is guaranteed.
It’s time to send some of these judges back to private practice.