CHICAGO (CBS)–A veteran Cook County Judge has been stripped from the bench and placed on administrative duty pending further notice from an executive committee.
Judge Joseph Claps was seen on surveillance video July 3 at the Criminal Courts building at 26th and California as a gun he was carrying under his jacket slipped out and fell to the floor.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams was at the courthouse Wednesday, where he examined how the Judge was able to carry a gun inside.
Legal analyst for CBS Irv Miller tells Williams that judges are exempt from metal detectors used to screen other people streaming into the building. A private entrance allows them access to the building from their designated parking area.
“No metal detectors. No metal detectors for them. They have a clear shot right into the building,” Miller said.
Even though officials say Claps has a firearm owner’s identification (FOID) card and a concealed carry license, Cook County judges aren’t allowed to brings guns into the courthouse. He is changed with a misdemeanor.
Miller previously worked with Judge Claps in the state’s attorney’s office.
“Even though he may be a friend of mine, I still would be critical I’d he wasn’t good,” Miller said. “But he is–he’s a very good judge.”
Regardless of the side of the bench someone is sitting on, guns and court don’t mix in Cook County.
A deadly courthouse shooting at the Daley Center 35 years ago prompted security increases at courthouses across the county. Eyewitnesses in a divorce court hearing reported seeing 54-year-old Hutchie Moore stand up from his wheelchair and pull out a gun from a blanket before shooting Henry A. Gentile and attorney James Piszczor, 34.
Moore was convicted of the two murders and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Also in 1983, a man walked into a judge’s chambers and held a group of attorneys hostage for nearly nine hours.
Judge Clap was first put on administrative duty on July 5, and the executive committee’s decision Wednesday means his administrative status will continue.