Editorial | Chicago Convicted judge Jessica Arong O’Brien stains the courts

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HELLO! Yes, the judges that are found to have abused their position are a "STAIN" to the judicial system. The problem is there are far more judges NOT meeting their duty - it is a national epedemic.

Editorial | Chicago Convicted judge Jessica Arong O'Brien stains the courts

It's a fair bet that Cook County Circuit Judge Jessica Arong O'Brien is no shrinking violent.

Judges — those black-robed courtroom gods — aren't always what they present themselves — or most people expect them — to be.

Most are, but some aren't, and their aberrant behavior disgraces a system premised on the concept of fair treatment for all that is carried out by impartial judicial officials who are above reproach.

In that context, the case of Judge Jessica Arong O'Brien is affront to everything the judiciary is supposed to stand for.

In February, she was convicted of bank and mail fraud in Chicago federal court. Authorities alleged — and a jury found — that O'Brien made a $325,000 profit from a $1.4 million mortgage fraud plan. One of O'Brien's co-conspirators pleaded guilty and testified against her.

Following the guilty verdict, the Illinois Supreme Court took the kind of action that most people would expect. It moved to suspend O'Brien from the practice of law and "enjoined from acting as a judge until further order of the court."

Her response to the court's order is defiance.

In a legal motion, O'Brien argued she shouldn't be suspended as a lawyer or enjoined from acting as a judge because the Supreme Court doesn't have the power to take that action. She argues the Illinois Constitution vests sole authority to take action against a judge in the state's Judicial Inquiry Board and the Illinois Courts Commission.

Further, O'Brien argued that she should be able to "exhaust her due process rights" before "any determination" is made regarding her law license or judicial office.

It's an interesting legal argument, one magnified by O'Brien's chutzpah.

Given the facts, most people would be too embarrassed to challenge the court's disciplinary action.

For starters, the high court is ordering a suspension that could presumably be reversed should O'Brien ultimately prevail.

Further, Illinois Supreme Court oversees the Illinois Court Commission, the judicial panel that acts as a trier of fact when judges who get in trouble challenge the accusations against them. The high court also acts as the final reviewer of decisions made by the courts commission.

Finally, the Judicial Inquiry Board and the Illinois Courts Commission act as prosecutor and hearing panel, respectively, when accusations of wrongdoing are alleged against a judge.

In O'Brien's case, she was named in a federal indictment and convicted of a serious crime after a trial in federal court. There's no good reason why the Illinois Supreme Court can't take judicial notice of those events.

Judicial wrongdoing is exasperating because it's an assault on a system that demands probity. When it's followed by the kind of unapologetic, unembarrassed nitpicking on display here, it's a disgusting reminder that not all our judicial officials have the character necessary to carry out their important duties.

Source: The News-Gazette