Of the approximately 2,000 columns I’ve written since I started toiling for the then suburban Sun-Times newspapers back in 2006, none has generated the kind of continuing and consistent reader responses that the piece on 16th Circuit Judge John Dalton has. I’ve received at least 60 emails and Facebook PMs on the topic in the last year.
They all ask the same question, too! “How can we remove such a poor excuse for a human being from the bench?” It’s also the only column I’ve ever written where the responses have been unanimous. There hasn’t been a single comment, email, or private message supporting Judge Dalton.
But before I explain how exactly how we can put the Judge out of our collective misery, let’s review Hizoner’s greatest hits:
1. He doesn’t follow the law
One of Dalton’s favorite courtroom theatric is to lean back in his chair, steeple his fingers, and declare, “I’ve read [name of a law book] from cover to cover,” and then he “interprets” the law in a way that clearly indicates he hasn’t. I’ve never had so many attorneys reach out to me to complain about a judge who makes it up as he goes along.
2. He doesn’t enforce his own rulings
And that includes child support rulings, which is beyond cruel. Not only is that justice denied, but his mercurial inconsistency costs plaintiffs and defendants thousands of dollars in legal fees, lost work, and court filings. Judge Dalton takes great pride in reversing himself and watching attorneys squirm because he knows there’s absolutely nothing they can do about it.
3. He isn’t terribly fond of women
Of those aforementioned 60 responses, 75 percent of them came from women. I’ve watched the Judge berate and belittle female plaintiffs and defendants to the point of tears. And if he has no problem being a bully when I’m in the gallery, you can only imagine what he’s like when I’m not there.
Dalton also enjoys making blatantly sexist comments to female attorneys. I’d provide examples, but he’d figure out who my sources were and the he’d extract his typical pound of flesh.
4. He isn’t fond of minorities
And that’s especially true of Hispanic males. But don’t take my word for it – ask any attorney who’s ever had the misfortune of appearing in front of him. Put a minority defendant in front of him and Dalton becomes exponentially more condescending, more imperious, and more sarcastic. I’ve seen attorneys’ eyes get as wide as satellite dishes while watching his racist antics.
5. He’s needlessly cruel and nasty
Here’s a perfect example. When a white female plaintiff was trying to get a bogus order of protect against her black boyfriend, the boyfriend admitted he pulled a chair out from under her in 2007 – a decade before the hearing. Meanwhile, it was clear to everyone else in the courtroom that she was lying through her teeth. But that didn’t stop Dalton from finding in her favor.
Here’s the kicker, as he made the ruling, he sat back in his chair, put his hands behind his head, laughed and said, “If you hadn’t admitted to the chair thing, I wouldn’t have ruled against you.” Nice! I’ve personally seen him play the “are you really that stupid” game at least six times.
Make no mistake, he can behave, it’s that he chooses not to. Because some Fox Valley Court Watch folks have caught onto him, when they’re present, Dalton has no problem acting like any reasonable judge should.
But when they’re not there, Dalton uses the office to exact his “revenge” against every perceived slight he’s ever “suffered.” And the fact that his elected peers, and especially the Chief Judge, refuse to call him out on it makes them almost as bad as he is.
So, what can we do to get this bleep from the bench?”
Circuit judges run for retention every six years, and John Dalton just happens to be on the ballot as we speak. If the 10 to 20,000 people who read this post vote “no,” and they encourage just one friend to do the same, that would be the end of this bully’s reign of terror.
We have the power people to change this people. Let’s use it!