The former law clerk who allegedly masqueraded as a judge will now face a write-in challenge from a sitting Cook County judge who lost her primary in March.
The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners today added Circuit Judge Maryam Ahmad as a write-in candidate for the Hopkins vacancy, the same 1st Judicial Subcircuit seat Rhonda Crawford is seeking.
Crawford was fired by the Cook County Circuit Court on Aug. 30 after the chief judge’s office said she donned Circuit Judge Valarie E. Turner’s robes and adjudicated at least two cases in her Markham courtroom on Aug. 11.
Crawford does not face a Republican candidate in the Nov. 8 general election. She captured 51 percent of the vote in the March 15 Democratic primary against two others for the Hopkins vacancy.
Meanwhile, Ahmad narrowly lost her own primary race for the Brim vacancy in the 1st Judicial Subcircuit — by a margin of 127 votes — to Jesse Outlaw, an associate with The Stuttley Group LLC.
The 1st Subcircuit includes part of Chicago’s South Side and part of suburban Thornton Township along the Illinois-Indiana state line.
According to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, Ahmad filed her paperwork to be a write-in candidate on Tuesday.
Crawford will remain on the November ballot unless a court order removes her, Crawford is convicted of a felony or she loses her active law license — which is a constitutional requirement for a judicial candidate, said Jim Tenuto, assistant executive director of the State Board of Elections.
However, Tenuto expressed doubt that any investigation would result in Crawford’s removal from the ballot before Election Day, now 60 days away.
“That’s usually a long process before something like that happens,” Tenuto said.
Crawford’s alleged misconduct appears to be in violation of multiple professional rules and even state law.
An official with the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board declined to comment, only reiterating the fact the board conducts confidential investigations until it decides to charge an attorney or judge with misconduct.
If the charges are ultimately upheld, the attorney or judge in question can be sanctioned, which can include disbarment or removal from office.
Meanwhile, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is investigating both Crawford and Turner, a spokesperson said in a written statement.
Ahmad was appointed by the Supreme Court to the Cook County bench in December 2014. Her term expires Dec. 6. She’s currently assigned to the Maywood Courthouse.
She was one of 26 finalists named for 13 associate judgeship openings in Cook County this year, but the county’s circuit judges ultimately did not pick her.
Campaign to Elect Judge Maryam Ahmad was shut down on June 27 having spent all of the $69,565.80 she spent over the prior year, according to state campaign finance records.
Those same records show Crawford’s electoral committee is still active, but she had only $230 on hand as of June 30.
Tenuto described Ahmad’s write-in challenge to Crawford as a “long shot,” although he emphasized it’s not because of her qualifications. Tenuto said he is unaware of a successful write-in candidacy outside of a municipal election like a school board race.
In a candidate questionnaire submitted to the Daily Law Bulletin ahead of the March primary, Crawford wrote that she would bring “integrity, fairness, compassion, empathy, humility and the ability to problem-solve and make rational decisions under pressure” to the bench, if elected.
Meanwhile, Ahmad in her own questionnaire wrote that she treats the parties in her courtroom as if they’re family.
“I thoughtfully render decisions based on the law and with compassion, and I am respectful of everyone’s time so I move my court call with purpose,” Ahmad wrote.
Crawford graduated from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2003; Ahmad graduated from DePaul University School of Law in 2009.
Requests for comment to e-mail accounts affiliated with Crawford’s and Ahmad’s campaigns were not returned.
Norma Spain, who is listed as the treasurer of Crawford’s campaign, said she was no longer affiliated with the campaign after the March primary. She declined to comment further.