2 Investigators: Judge Takes Sick Leave For 17 Months, Collects Full Pay

(CBS) — Imagine getting more than $200,000 in sick pay.

That’s how much a Cook County judge was paid after she says she was injured in a hate crime attack in Daley Plaza.  But 2 Investigator Pam Zekman dug deeper and reveals the incident might turn out to be a case of wasted tax dollars.

“I wish I would have done something different that day,” David Nicosia says.

On “that day,” Nicosia and Cook County Circuit Court Judge Arnette Hubbard argued about Hubbard’s smoking near him.

“I think I said something like, ‘It’s not like you’re the Rosa Parks of smoking,” he recalls.

He says Hubbard blew smoke with spit in it at him, which got in his mouth, and he spit it out. An altercation followed.

“I raise my arm to get rid of her, she comes back and she slaps me in the face,” he says.

Nicosia appears to strike Judge Hubbard. Nicosia says he was trying to block her from spitting on him.

“I didn’t purposefully hit her in any way to harm her, it was all reactionary,” Nicosia says.

Nicosia was charged with 4 counts of felony battery and a hate crime. He later was found not guilty on all counts.

“I’ve never had anything like this in my life,” he says. “It’s been horrible.”

Testimony during that criminal case raises serious questions regarding the extent of Judge Hubbard’s injuries and her subsequent 17-month medical leave.

She earned more than $250,000 during that time

The judge declined to comment when Zekman asked her about the case.

“Ms. Zekman, I believe you have talked with the person at the Office of the Chief Judge,” Hubbard says.

The chief judge’s office said after 30 days, judges must provide a doctor’s note for additional sick time.

But six months after taking leave, Hubbard submitted a doctor’s letter, saying she’s being treated for a “medical illness and is unable to work.”

“I did not see a factual basis which would legitimize that kind of time off from work,” says criminal defense attorney Thomas Breen, who represented Nicosia. “There’s just no evidence of any bodily injury.”

At trial, Hubbard testified she had a “post-concussion disorder,” saying “my speech was very hesitant, I had to search for words, my thought patterns were not normal for me.”

The judge hearing the Nicosia case said in his ruling: “There was never any evidence put forth in this case that the defendant ever suffered a concussion.”

During the criminal trial, Judge Hubbard said she followed a doctor’s instructions. A spokesperson for the chief judge says she provided the information he requires and declined to comment further.

In a pending civil lawsuit, Hubbard charges Nicosia with assault and spitting in her face. He has filed a countersuit.

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