CHICAGO -- The Illinois Supreme Court has removed a Chicago judge from a pending wrongful death case in civil court for the second time in two years.
Court records show that Cook County Judge Daniel Lynch indicated in both cases that he'd uncovered wrongdoing or a conspiracy among parties. But attorneys in one of the cases accused Lynch of overstepping his authority.
Lynch most recently was removed from a cancer death case after attorneys complained he had launched a two-year "rolling inquisition" when a settlement already had been reached, the Chicago Tribune reported. Lynch declined the newspaper's request for commenting, citing pending litigation.
"The ability of the Respondent Judge to discern unfounded suspicion from provable fact has collapsed," attorney Lance Northcutt wrote in his Supreme Court petition of the most recent case. "The desperation of ... (Lynch) ... to find a conspiracy where none exists is beneath the dignity of his office and only underscores the need for this Court's prompt intervention."
The case of the 2015 death of Bertha Winford from mesothelioma is ongoing. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that has been associated with exposure to products containing asbestos. Winford's family said she was exposed to such products while working at several gas stations over five years, beginning in 1965.
The Supreme Court didn't give a reason for removing Lynch from the cases.
Legal observers said while a higher court will sometimes reverse a judge's ruling and order the case reassigned on appeal. But they say it's unusual for the state's Supreme Court to oversee pending civil cases in this way.
"I don't know that I've ever seen that happen," said Warren Wolfson, a former Cook County and appellate judge for three decades.
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com