In addition to the coverage here, and in the Tribune, and the Sun-Times (the Sun-Times has also published an editorial on the case -- the paper is against non-judges pretending to be a judge, in case you were in doubt), the story has been picked up by
Also weighing in on the story, albeit tangentially, is Second City Cop. In a post throwing darts at the Cook County Sheriff (*ahem*), SCC bumps a blog comment into its post:
Sheriff's office attempted to cover-up Judge scandal at the Markham Courthouse. Numerous sources saying a Deputy wrote a memo stating Judge was allowing her friend to wear a robe and play Judge on the bench. The Deputy's memo was never reported by the Sheriff's office. The Sheriff's office is now claiming they did not know if Judge was running a "training" exercise. Numerous sources say this is a lie cause Sheriff Dart blew a gasket today in his office as he just learned the Deputy documented the incident.
I'm not accepting SCC's reported rumor as fact. But, whether it's true or not, it reminds us, or it should, that this Turner-Crawford business is more that what-were-they-thinking story. There's another story here, too, namely, whether anybody could have, or should have, seen this coming -- and maybe even headed this off.
Because this is not a 'funny story' for the people involved. It's at least career-threatening, maybe even career-ending. And, on paper at least, nothing in Judge Turner's background, at least, suggested that she would ever have thought this unauthorized job-sharing to be a good idea. As Mark Brown's August 17 Sun-Times article pointed out, Judge Turner came to the bench after "two years as an assistant U.S. attorney and six years at Kirkland & Ellis. She received her law degree from the University of Chicago." Since her election to the bench in 2002, Judge Turner was found recommended or qualified for retention by every bar group, both the CBA and every Alliance member, in both 2008 and 2014 (the sole exception being a negative review from the Chicago Council of Lawyers for the 2008 retention election -- and, as noted, the CCL urged a yes vote for Judge Turner in 2014).
So I have to think that maybe something changed for Judge Turner between 2014 and whenever she first let Ms. Crawford don her robe. But maybe not -- that's what investigations are for.
But take that step back with me now. Let's just talk about judges generally, not about Judge Turner or Ms. Crawford.
I realize that judges have pretty autonomous working conditions. But judges typically have support staff, at least a courtroom clerk and (as SCC notes this morning) a courtroom deputy. Every judge has at least a supervising or presiding judge to whom he or she reports. No, there's no clock-punching---quite the opposite---and there are no ra-ra meetings in the breakroom (although wouldn't that be pretty cool? OK, team, we're having a special on 2-615 motions this week...). But, still, there are people who interact with any judge often enough that a marked change in behavior, in demeanor, in appearance... for whatever reason... illness, substance issues, depression... you'd think something might have been seen. By someone. Wouldn't you hope something might also be said?
Now, maybe, that judge---that hypothetical judge we're now talking about, not anyone in particular---might respond to a friendly offer of help or concern by biting the head off of the person having the temerity to ask. Or maybe he or she might burden the person asking with more than he or she can handle alone. There's a range of possible responses. But if your helping hand is slapped away, mightn't you then take your concern to the judge's supervisor maybe even the Chief Judge? I just don't see why a situation has to get so far out of hand, to the point where someone jeopardizes their career, or worse. If it was you who'd wound up, for whatever reason, in a bad place, wouldn't you want someone to offer help? Wouldn't you want someone to warn your supervisors before you harmed yourself or your livelihood?
So wouldn't you, shouldn't you, want to offer help if you see a judge---or any colleague---drifting into peril? When the snickering stops over the Turner-Crawford business, I hope that this thought remains.