10:33, June 06 39 0 abajournal.com

2019-06-06 10:33:07
Judge who told black defendant ‘you were never a slave’ fails to win retention


Photo by M-SUR/Shutterstock.com.

A criminal court judge in suburban Chicago who told a black defendant he shouldn’t be offended by the N-word because he was never a slave will be leaving the bench at the end of June.

Associate Judge Richard Schwind failed to win retention in a vote by circuit judges in Cook County, Illinois, report WBEZ and Injustice Watch, which co-published its story with the Chicago Sun-Times. He was the only judge who wasn’t retained among 138 associate judges.

A vote of 60% of the circuit judges is needed for retention of an associate judge.

Schwind had made the remark last year to a black defendant accused of punching a man who called him the N-word. “You were never a slave, but you take offense to it. And I understand that. But the bigger man walks away,” he said.

WBEZ had broken the news on Schwind’s comment to a black defendant. Last week the broadcast station reported that Schwind had told a prostitution defendant in 2017 that she had to get out of Illinois because she was a health risk.

“You go to California, do it in California, do it in Tennessee, do it anywhere but Illinois,” he said. “If you want to continue selling your body for money, that’s up to you, that’s your decision, but stay out of Illinois. You are a definite health risk to anyone you come in contact with.”

Earlier in the hearing, Schwind told the defendant she had “an awesome set of fingernails” and asked who paid for her manicures.

Circuit judges in Cook County elect and then vote on whether to retain associate judges, who have shorter terms and are paid less than circuit judges, Injustice Watch reported in a previous story. Circuit judges are elected and retained in public elections.

At least 20 years have passed since a Cook County associate judge failed to win retention, WBEZ reported.

According to a Chicago Bar Association recommendation against retention, Schwind had made statements to minority litigants appearing before him that are “insensitive, improper and evidence bias.”

Writing in support of Schwind, Judge Stephen Kozicki said he had an “excellent reputation for honesty and fairness.”

The Chicago Bar Association also recommended that a second judge not be retained, but he won the retention vote anyway. The bar association said the judge, Luciano Panici, “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.

Panici had argued his rating was “clearly erroneous.”

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