What does (and doesn't) unseat a judge in Cook County, Illinois

With Chicago a notorious crime-ridden shooting gallery, the judges who sit on the Cook County bench have an important role to play in protecting the citizenry from repeat offenders. So, what does it take to get rid of a judge there?

Not this judge who let a 36-year-old man out on bail for a first-degree murder charge in Chicago:

DULUTH, Minn. (FOX 9) - Two people were arrested over the weekend in what the Duluth Police Department said was the largest heroin seizure in the history of the department. 

On May 30, investigators executed search warrants at an apartment and a hotel room and recovered approximately 4.3 pounds of heroin, a half-pound of cocaine, a loaded gun and $94,623. The heroin has an estimated street value of $350,000, according to police. 

The warrants were the result of a two-month long investigation into a drug trafficking organization with suspected sales of heroin in the region. 

Not this judge who relelased a 53-year old man charged with trying to lure two schoolgirls:

An off-duty Chicago detective intervened after a man tried to lure two girls as they walked from the Disney II Magnet Elementary School in the Irving Park neighborhood, police said.

Prosecutors said the girls were walking near the school in the 3900 block of North Hamlin around 7 p.m. May 23 when 53-year-old George Condon stepped out of an alley and approached them.

“I know the person who suppose to pick you up, so just come with me,” Condon allegedly told the girls. Both girls turned and ran away. (snip)

Condon is charged with two felony counts of luring a child under age seventeen. Judge Michael Clancy released him on a recognizance bond.

A “recognizance bond means no money need be posted as bail before putting Condon back on the streets.

Image credit: CPD, Google, via CWB Chicago

Not this Repeat gun offender, free on bail for gun possession, is charged with murdering teen in drive-by

Last September, a Chicago police SUV pulled up next to Antawan Smith at a red light on the Far South Side. An officer in the squad car looked into Smith’s car. He saw Smith looking back at him, pulling his t-shirt down to cover a gun in his waistband, according to police.

Smith was on parole at the time after being released early from prison for his second gun felony.

Cops say they saw Smith throw the gun from his car (it was loaded when they recovered it) and other officers later caught up with Smith following a foot chase. They said he was carrying about 8 grams of crack cocaine.

Prosecutors charged Smith with Class X felony armed habitual criminal; Class X felony armed violence with a weapon; felony manufacture-delivery of cocaine; felony repeated unlawful use of a weapon by a felon; felony aggravated fleeing and traffic violations.

On March 11 of this year, the state dropped the armed habitual criminal charge, and Smith went free by posting a $6,000 deposit bond—ten percent of the bail amount set by Judge Michael Clancy.

Two months later, while free on bail, Smith murdered 15-year-old Jaylin Ellzey in a drive-by shooting, prosecutors say.

In fact, this is a pattern:

Monday, after a weekend in which 52 people were shot and 10 were killed in Chicago, the police department’s top spokesperson shared some even more depressing information via Twitter:

“As of this afternoon, 11 of the 19 individuals arrested on gun charges over the weekend by #ChicagoPolice are already out on the street. 7 of the individuals were previously convicted felons and 6 had prior gun offenses in their backgrounds.”

So, what does it take to get rid of  judge?

This, via the Chicago Sun-Times:

All but one of 138 associate Cook County judges have won new four-year terms, after a secret vote in which only the county’s circuit judges can vote.

The only one dumped from the bench: Richard Schwind, an associate judge since 2012 who’d been criticized for racially insensitive comments.

Schwind, who didn’t return calls seeking comment, was reassigned last year after telling an African American defendant, charged with assaulting a white man who used a racial slur against him, “You were never a slave, but you take offense to it.” (snip)

The bar group had said Panici, the other associate judge it found to be unqualified, “exhibits a casual attitude regarding whether the state has met the burden of proof” and expressed a belief that nearly all of the defendants who appear before him are guilty.

The other judges getting new terms include several whose decisions had brought rebukes from the court system.

Hat tip: Peter von Buol

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