An Illinois judge caught on video leading a young girl into a courtroom holding cell has been permanently reassigned to administrative duties, officials said.
Cook County Judge Jackie Portman-Brown will now oversee tasks like performing legal research, conducting marriage ceremonies and reviewing petitions for reduced court-filing fees after security footage showed her putting a female relative – reportedly as young as 6 – into a courtroom lock-up at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Feb. 19.
“The assignment is effective until further notice,” according to a statement released Wednesday by Chief Judge Timothy Evans. “In addition, Judge Portman-Brown will receive mentoring.”
Portman-Brown had already been removed from the bench on Feb. 26, but Wednesday’s decision makes her reassignment indefinite. The circuit court’s executive committee also reported her actions to the Judicial Inquiry Board, which can impose additional penalties for misconduct by judges.
The footage, which was obtained by the Chicago Tribune, shows Portman-Brown taking a girl into a cell behind her courtroom and leaving her alone for about 10 minutes. The child’s face is obscured, but sources told the newspaper she was between 6 to 8 years old and was clearly distressed at the time.
Portman-Brown may have put the youngster into the holding cell as a “scared straight” form of discipline, sources close to the matter told the Tribune.
Two sheriff deputies also seen in the footage have been stripped of their law enforcement powers as an investigation continues, the newspaper reports.
Portman-Brown, who was elected in 2008, had been previously assigned to bond court and two specialty courts prior to hearing adult felony cases in Chicago.
The cells at the Leighton Criminal Court Building — also known as 26th & Cal — are notoriously unsanitary, WLS-TV reports.
“The child had no business being at 26th and Cal to begin with, let alone in a courtroom and in a lockup where a judge is taking her into the lockup,” Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Institute of Technology Professor Richard Kling told the station.
Portman-Brown also had a reputation as an unconventional judge at the courthouse, Kling said.
“She does long lectures, she does some role-playing, she used provocative language,” the professor said. “Judges have the right to be judges, but you don’t have a right to put a kid in a lockup.”
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