Candidate accused of posing as judge barred from bench

AP News
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Posted: Oct 31, 2016 9:19 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Supreme Court on Monday barred a Chicago-area judicial candidate accused of posing as a judge during traffic court from taking the bench if she wins and revoked her law license.

Rhonda Crawford, 45, was a shoo-in to win in November until news that she briefly played a judge drew ridicule and condemnation among those who practice law in Cook County. Her only opponent, Judge Maryam Ahmad, is a write-in candidate.

Crawford's attorney did not immediately return a telephone call Monday night seeking comment on the court's action.

Crawford is charged with misdemeanor false impersonation and felony official misconduct for allegedly donning a robe on Aug. 11 when she was a Cook County court staff attorney.

In explaining her actions during a September news conference, Crawford said she had been shadowing judges, observing how they work with the expectation that she would soon be a judge herself. She said Judge Valarie E. Turner "encouraged" her to put on the judge's robe and sit in her chair during a hearing on several traffic cases.

Crawford last week asked the Illinois Supreme Court for more time to explain why it shouldn't revoke her license.

Crawford, who was a staff attorney assigned to Chief Judge Timothy Evans, was fired from her $57,000-a-year position; her annual salary as a judge would have been more than $180,000. Turner, a former federal prosecutor, was removed from the bench indefinitely.