Illinois Supreme Court removes judge from a second case after alleged ‘rolling inquisition’

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The Illinois Supreme Court has removed a Chicago judge from a case after a lawyer alleged the judge had engaged in a two-year “rolling inquisition” in a desperate bid “to find a conspiracy where none exists.”

It wasn’t the first time Judge Daniel Lynch of Cook County was removed from a case, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The state’s high court also tossed Lynch from a wrongful death case last year. Lynch had sentenced an uncle of the decedent to six years in prison for contempt of court for allegedly lying about whether his niece was married. Lynch had appointed a special prosecutor after prosecutors declined the case. An appeals court overturned the uncle’s conviction.

In both cases, Lynch said he had found wrongdoing or a conspiracy among litigants, the Tribune says. The Illinois Supreme Court didn’t explain why it removed Lynch, who told the Tribune he couldn’t comment on pending cases.

The latest case involved a suit alleging a woman died from mesothelioma because of exposure to asbestos in brakes from her work at several gas stations. Lynch had questioned whether there had been a conspiracy to keep defendant and gasket manufacturer John Crane International in the case to avoid removing the dispute to federal court.

Another defendant, Ford Motor Co., sought sanctions against the plaintiff’s lawyers. Lynch later released a lengthy preliminary opinion that added other possible contempt targets, including Ford’s lawyers. The Tribune described the 270-page opinion as “meandering” and said its writing left some confused. The article offered this example from the opinion:

“It is reasonable to ask if this this (sic) is a case where there was JCI liability risk or one where there was not but a remainder to defeat removal deal still stood so JCI could avoid it later, the next time it came around with C&V.”

Lynch also allegedly told the decedent’s daughter that her lawyers could no longer represent her, according to the lawyers.

Lynch was removed from the case on Sept. 6.

The Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Illinois State Bar Association both gave Lynch an unqualified rating in judicial retention elections last November, the Chicago Sun-Times reported at the time. The Chicago Council of Lawyers raised concerns about Lynch’s “unorthodox uses of judicial discretion.”




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