Law Bulletin staff writer
The state Supreme Court late Monday afternoon suspended the law license of former law clerk and current Cook County judicial candidate Rhonda Crawford and enjoined her from taking the oath of office should she win her election.
The high court’s order is final until the justices say otherwise — meaning Crawford will be unable to practice law or serve as a circuit judge until the proceedings before the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission run their course.
The one-page order from the Supreme Court is brief, saying Crawford is being suspended under Rule 774. That rule allows for interim suspensions of attorneys and judges while criminal or disciplinary charges are pending.
“The court may make such orders and impose such conditions of the interim suspension as it deems necessary to protect the interests of the public and the orderly administration of justice,” the rule says in part.
The move is a complete rebuke to Crawford, who only days ago asked the high court to give her 14 more days to show cause after she masqueraded as a judge and ruled on three traffic cases in August.
Alternatively, Crawford proposed keeping her license active but prohibiting her from joining the bench right away.
Crawford is facing professional discipline and criminal charges after allegedly donning a robe and adjudicating traffic cases as a judge during Markham Courthouse proceedings in August.
Crawford is set to formally respond to the ARDC’s charges by Thursday. ARDC Chief Counsel James J. Grogan said as of this morning, she has not requested additional time.
The Supreme Court’s order came in response to a petition the ARDC filed last month requesting Crawford’s suspension and prohibition from taking judicial office.
Crawford argued there was “no precedent in this state for an interim suspension being ordered based upon conduct akin to that involved here.”
The ARDC signaled it was amenable to Crawford’s proposal, saying it would agree to an extension of time so as long as she could not take the judicial oath when newly elected judges are sworn in Dec. 5.
Grogan declined to comment on the high court’s order.
At this point, Crawford will still be on next Tuesday’s ballot for the 1st Judicial Subcircuit Hopkins vacancy, and votes will still count for her. She faces no Republican opposition.
But Cook County Circuit Judge Maryam Ahmad, who has mounted an independent write-in campaign for the seat, has attempted to cite Crawford’s ongoing disciplinary matter to have election officials revoke her candidacy. Ahmad’s petition is pending before the state Supreme Court.
For her part, Crawford is also trying to invalidate Ahmad’s write-in candidacy ahead of the election after a Cook County judge ruled she was cleared to run for the seat. Her appeal of that ruling is pending in the 1st District Appellate Court.
Crawford was fired by Cook County Chief Circuit Judge Timothy C. Evans’ office in August for wearing Circuit Judge Valarie E. Turner’s robe and adjudicating at least three traffic cases at the Markham Courthouse. Turner allegedly oversaw Crawford as she handled the cases.
Meanwhile, the Cook County State’s Attorney Office has charged Crawford with official misconduct by a public employee who knowingly performs an illegal act, a Class 3 felony, and false personation of a public employee, a Class A misdemeanor. Crawford has pleaded not guilty.
The ARDC has charged Crawford with dishonesty as a result of handling cases on a judge’s call while dressed and seated like one; criminal conduct of official misconduct and false personation of a public officer; and giving false statements in a disciplinary investigation.
Crawford is being represented in her ARDC case by Mary T. Robinson, a former ARDC administrator and a partner at Robinson Law Group, and Adrian M. Vuckovich, a partner at Collins Bargione & Vuckovich. They did not return requests for comment.
The ARDC case is In re Rhonda Crawford, No. 2016 PR 115.
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Candidate’s law license suspended