Downstate Judge Who Wore a Wire to Expose Corruption in Chicago Traffic Court has died

Brocton Lockwood, a downstate Illinois Judge, who is remembered as the Judge who wore a wire to expose corruption in the Chicago Traffic Court, has passed away.

Judge Lockwood was one of several downstate Judges who were sent to Chicago to do a rotation in the First Municipal Division, due to a shortage of Judges.  He was shocked to see the widespread corruption that was then rampant.  Working with the FBI, he took over the other downstate Judges’ rotation spots and spent three years in Chicago, mostly working at the Traffic Court then located at 321 N. LaSalle Street.  He befriended, to the extent an outsider could, Sheriffs, Clerks and Judges to get inside information and to keep track of suspicious cases.

He published a book entitled “Operation Greylord:  Brocton Lockwood’s story”  which is out of print but used copies can be found on Amazon, ebay and used bookstores.  I got a copy a couple of years ago.  It is not very long, and because he was only a small part of the Operation Greylord story, you won’t get details about, say, corruption in the divorce courts like you will in James Tuohy and Rob Warden’s book Greylord, but it has lots of small details about the workings of First Municipal and especially Traffic Court in the early 80s.  Its most compelling aspect is how it puts in you in Judge Lockwood’s mindset as he became an undercover operative, risking his life, and always worried about what would happen if his cover was blown.

I have to admit that I am bit uncomfortable about the idea of wearing a wire and befriending people in order to betray them, even if these people were committing criminal acts and perverting our justice system.  Yet, as an attorney who obtained his law license shortly after the Greylord scandal was revealed, I am thankful for work of Judge Lockwood’ (and all the others involved) in cleaning up our courts.  In my 24 years of practice, I am not aware of any bribery or other corruption going on in our judicial system.  So thank you, Judge Lockwood.

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