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posted: 5/29/2010 12:01 AM

Cook County judges reassigned after probe

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Four Cook County judges shown leaving court early this week as part of a joint investigation between Fox Chicago News and the Better Government Association will be transferred and their duties changed beginning June 1, said Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans in a prepared statement released Friday.

One judge was caught on videotape sunbathing while others were captured leaving early during daytime hours when the courts are typically open.

Gloria Chevere, Jim Ryan and Frank DeBoni were among the Chicago judges reassigned. Also reassigned was Cynthia Brim of Bridgeview's Fifth Municipal District.

The investigation also prompted Evans to assign mentors to the aforementioned judges and to appoint two new supervising judges to oversee Chicago's criminal branch courts, where three of the four judges had served.

While he acknowledged that a majority of the county's 428 judges work diligently, Evans said the measures were necessary to maintain public confidence in the judiciary.

"I do not want any unacceptable behavior of a few judges to undermine the credibility and integrity of our entire system of justice," Evans said in a prepared statement.

Evans challenged the implications of an unpublished Loyola University study cited by Fox News and the BGA and based on information from Cook County Sheriff's Department deputies. According to the report, the study indicated a quarter of the county's courtrooms were open fewer than 31/2 hours per day. Evans responded, saying the study also indicated half the county's courtrooms were open more than five hours per day.

He also pointed out that a closed courtroom does not mean the judge isn't working. Judges frequently do research, review documents, conduct pretrial conferences and write decisions outside the courtroom.

"To conclude that a judge is not working because he or she is not sitting in a courtroom is egregiously unfair and inaccurate," Evans said.