Remembering Judge Raymond Myles

Myles

The entire Cook County legal community is shocked and saddened to learn about the murder of Judge Raymond Myles.

Judge Myles was a Cook County Judge for nearly 20 years.  He was assigned to the Criminal Division.  Over the years, I appeared before him many times, and tried two cases before him.  He was a very good trial judge, well versed in the law.  He was fair and impartial.  He was open-minded and did not pre-judge cases until he heard all of the evidence.  He was big-hearted and street smart.  In short, he was everything that you would want in a judge.

Just a few weeks ago it was reported that Judge Myles had been seriously injured a year a half ago, after a motor vehicle accident, when the other driver assaulted him, fracturing his nose among other injuries which required reconstructive surgery.

Police are still investigating the murder, and preliminary reports indicate that they believe that this was a robbery gone wrong, unrelated to the assault case or any other matter before him.

My condolences to his family.  He did so much for our community and will be missed tremendously.

“You have a right to an attorney” – but will you actually get to talk to one?

According to the Chicago Tribune, Cook County Chief Judge has issued an order requiring the Chicago Police Department to provide suspects with access to a lawyer upon arrest.  However, the mechanics of how this will work in reality were left murky.

Until this order, when a person is arrested, they are advised of their “Miranda rights” which includes the right to an attorney.  But this is a mere formality; the police will usually encourage the arrestee to “make it easy” on everyone by “explaining” what happened “so you can get out of here.”

Usually, when I get a call from someone that his or her relative has been arrested, it becomes a race for me to get to the station before the “explaining” starts.  If I call up the station to tell them not to question my client until I arrive, I will be told that the “detective is busy right now” and he or she will get back to me “when they get a chance” (i.e., after my client has confessed).

So I was gladdened to see the headlines about Chief Judge Evans Order requiring access to attorneys.  In my mind, I envisioned a public defender or two getting a space at each Chicago Police Station (like the State’s Attorney have) and getting the opportunity to interview and advise each arrestee.  Of course, I also imagined that this would not go over too well with the police, who have no interest in having lawyers interfering with their cases and preventing confessions.

But I am concerned about the lack of implementation in the Order (which I have not read).  According to the Tribune:

But the success of such an order may ultimately depend on the cooperation of Chicago police, who in the past, say legal aid officials, have been reluctant to grant suspects phone calls or give attorneys access to suspects while they’re being questioned.

A Chicago police spokesman said Tuesday the department has agreed to post signs with a phone number for “free legal services” in arrestee areas and outside interview rooms but did not comment on questions about granting phone calls to those in custody.

Posting signs is not much of an improvement.  They are almost certain to go unnoticed.  On the other hand, Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli is quoted as saying, “I’m going to make it happen — this is way too important. This is groundbreaking,” she said. “I could have every lawyer do (a rotation) if I don’t get the funding.”  She is an aggressive advocate, and I am convinced she will work hard to provide representation.  But this will be a battle, because I expect that without an Order specifically stating what “access” entails, the PD’s office will face resistance from the CPD.

What do you think?

Lawyer who donned robes indicted, may still take bench as a real judge soon

Rhonda Crawford, the law clerk who was was running unopposed for judge this November and was allowed to put on a judge’s robes and hear traffic cases as part of an unofficial “training” has been indicted and charged with official misconduct, according to the Tribune.

She is still running in the election, although now she is opposed by write-in candidate Maryam Ahmad.  Assuming that Crawford wins election, she will be sworn in as a judge but will probably be put on administrative duty while this is pending.

Cook County Judge Censured for false mortgage application

The Illinois Courts Commission has censured Cook County Judge Beatriz Santiago for making false statement on a mortgage application.  The full text of the order can be found here: https://www.scribd.com/document/321625953/Santiago-order

The gist of the complaint was that Santiago has owned a home since 2005.  In 2012, she decided to run for a the Sixth Judicial Subcircuit, even though her home was outside the subcircuit.  She claimed to have solved the residency issue by moving in with her parents, who do live in the subcircuit.  She did not sell the house.  There was a residency challenge to her candidacy, which she defeated, and then she went on to win her election.

After being sworn in, she then sought to re-finance her house.  As part of this process, she affirmed several times that the house was her principal place of residence.  This helped her obtain FHA loan approval for the refinance.  It also was revealed by a WGN investigation that the Judge had claimed a homeowner’s tax exemption on the property in 2012, which she later paid back.

In her defense, she claimed that she did not read the paperwork closely, and had quickly signed it during a lunch break.  She was a former public defender not familiar with real estate law.  She claimed that she in fact lives with her parents in the subcircuit, does not live at the house, and that it is currently being used by members of her family.  Several attorneys attested to her good character and reputation for honesty.

The Judge was charged with failing to maintain high standards of conduct and failing to respect and comply with the law.  As a sanction, she was censured.

Update: More details emerge about Judge who let clerk wear her robes

Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times has a story with more details about the Markham Courthouse judge who let a law clerk (who is running unopposed for Cook County Judge this November) to take her place on the bench.

I have re-ordered a few of the paragraphs to give you the gist.  Click on the link above to read the whole story.  The way I see it, Judge Turner was probably taking pride in mentoring the longtime courthouse law clerk who is about to become a judge but crossed a major line when she allowed Crawford to take her place, even if it was for a couple of minor tickets.  In essence, Judge Turner was just previewing what soon to be Judge Crawford will be doing at Traffic Court next December or January, which is learning how to handle a traffic call — assuming that she will be allowed to take the bench after this incident.

Sources say Crawford was informally “job shadowing” Turner to learn how to perform a judge’s duties when Turner allowed her to take the bench and rule on some cases.

Evans’ office did not disclose whether Turner remained in the courtroom while Crawford took the bench.

Unfortunately, their “training session” was about four months premature….

A spokesman for Evans said the Aug. 11 incident involved “two minor traffic tickets — one for driving with no insurance and another for driving on a median.” Evans did not reveal how Crawford ruled in those cases, but his spokesman indicated both cases will be heard again by another judge….

Crawford, 45, won the Democratic nomination in March for a judgeship from the 1st judicial subcircuit, which includes portions of the South Side and south suburbs.

With no opponent in the November election, Crawford is certainly expected to win the office. But she and other new judges won’t be sworn in until December and have no authority until they are.

Crawford received 47 percent of the vote to beat out two other candidates in the primary despite being rated “not recommended” by all of the major bar groups after she declined to participate in their evaluation process. She defeated the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate.

During the campaign, Crawford described herself as a staff attorney for the Cook County Circuit Court and assigned as a law clerk in the Markham courthouse…

Crawford, who lives in Calumet City, became a lawyer in 2003 after graduating from Chicago Kent College of Law. Prior to that, she was a registered nurse.

I am curious to see what consequences, if any there will be for this.  I am guessing just a written reprimand for the Judge and Ms. Crawford. The key is that I don’t believe that either of them had any bad intent in doing this.  It was part of a mentoring process that went too far.

I am also curious to find out how this got to the attention of Chief Judge Evans, and whether that person will face retaliation for whistle-blowing.