On Wednesday, June 12, 2024, the Chicago Sun Times reported that Judge Kathy Flanagan was referred to the Judicial Inquiry Board following an incident in her courtroom on May 7th.

According to the article, Brad Schneiderman, an attorney from the firm Johnson & Bell, was arguing a motion in Flanagan’s courtroom when she abruptly ordered him to stop talking. Flanagan then instructed all the attorneys present to step back. Schneiderman was walking towards the gallery when Flanagan yelled, “That’s it, take him!”

A courtroom deputy proceeded to escort Schneiderman to a back hallway and handcuff him to a chair, as per protocol for detaining someone in custody. However, Flanagan had not found Schneiderman in contempt of court, which is normally required before detaining an attorney. When deputies later presented Flanagan with a remand order to officially take Schneiderman into custody, she declined and instead spoke with Schneiderman before letting him go.

After being released, Schneiderman returned to the courtroom with a court reporter in tow. He complained that Flanagan had not allowed him to argue the merits of the motion in question before ruling on it. Schneiderman stated that in his 17-year career, he had never had an issue with a judge, male or female, accusing him of sexism without justification.

Flanagan denied Schneiderman’s version of events, claiming his statements were inaccurate. However, she acknowledged not wanting the deputy to move Schneiderman to the hallway as it “would only give him a further forum to continue his disruptive behavior,” implying some intent to detain him.

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans decided to refer Flanagan’s conduct to the Judicial Inquiry Board for potential charges. Flanagan would remain presiding over her courtroom in the interim. The executive committee of judges also referred Schneiderman’s behavior to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

Flanagan has served as a judge since 1988 and supervised the Law Division since 2011. However, she has developed a reputation for being knowledgeable but also critical of her temperament and demeanor on the bench. A 2012 evaluation cited issues with her “judicial temperament,” calling her “not qualified” and describing her as “hostile,” “imperious,” “rude” and “discourteous.”

While intelligent with a good grasp of the law, many attorneys felt Flanagan’s qualities negatively impacted her ability to manage her courtroom. In response, Flanagan said she is strict with lawyers to maintain efficiency but rarely raises her voice with litigants. As the incident and referral remain under investigation, Flanagan is up for retention on the bench later this year. The outcome could impact her future as a judge in Cook County.



Source: Chicago Sun Times