Quick Hits – Let’s Send Judge Dalton packing!

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!

11 thoughts on “Quick Hits – Let’s Send Judge Dalton packing!

  1. Great reporting on this.
    Hopefully voters know THIS TIME how to vote.
    His “Sub-Cicuit” is heavily Democratic and unfortunately voted based on party, not ability for his initial election. Wish judges were non-partison. Of course who do we have to thank for sub-circuits? – NOLAN!!! Enought said.

  2. While I agree with you in part, judge Dalton is much harsher towards men than women. The orders he isn’t enforcing aren’t just about child support. You even gave an example. Maybe women spoke up because we all know family court is against men from the start, so if a woman gets lectured or held in contempt for not following the orders they are going to complain. Men are resigned to being screwed in family court.

    And once again you bring up child support in your articles. Why don’t you believe parenting time is just as important as finances? Men aren’t ATMs too bitter exes who withhold access to children.

    1. Stacey,

      I’m sorry but either you have not ever sat in his court room or you have a significant other who didn’t get his way with Dalton. I can assure you that he is much more harsh with women than men!

      Jeff made have used one example of child support, maybe you should talk to all the women who have been bullied in his court room for asking to enforce child support because they haven’t received a payment in months. If the child lives with Mom or Dad the other parent if ordered should be paying their support.

      Speaking on your parenting time reference….

      I’ve witnessed a GAL recommend no extra time with the father for the best interest of the child and Dalton gave the father more time. The child was being abused and when it was brought to Dalton in court based on HIS own order he laughed and said well that’s parenting after he admitted it was legally considered child abuse.

      1. MK your assumption is incorrect. My husband has full custody. Yet, he was the one get the endless lectures and snarky comments from Dalton when asking Dalton to enforce his own orders. Numerous attorneys, as well as his, would comment to my husband how the law was pretty black and white on the issues raised yet it was never enforced.

        I also frequently think of the South Elgin family whose child is missing because Dalton gave the mother, a known flight risk, unsupervised parenting time. 15 months and she is still missing. My heart breaks for that family. Dalton would have no issues ordering supervised visits for a father who had left the state with his child illegally, yet did not do that when it was a mother.

  3. I routinely vote against all retention questions as a matter of principle. No one should be guaranteed a position of power for life. Any judge that spends 6 years on the bench and doesn’t get promoted is a crappy judge. Move up or move out.

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