Cook County judge charged after dropping firearm in lobby of courthouse, relieved of duties for now
A Cook County judge has been temporarily removed from the bench, as he faces charges after he dropped a concealed handgun in front of county sheriff’s deputies at the county’s criminal courthouse.
On July 3, shortly before noon, Cook County Associate Judge Joseph M. Claps was walking through the lobby of the courthouse at 26th and California on the city’s South Side, with a jacket draped over his arm. At that time, according to a Cook County Sheriffs police report, deputies in the lobby saw a “silver pistol” fall out of one of the pockets of the jacket and land on the floor. Deputies said the judge immediately picked up the firearm and attempted to place it in the pocket of his pants. The judge then continued walking.
According to the police report, the deputies in the lobby reported the incident to a lieutenant, who obtained video of the incident and completed the report.
The report indicates Claps responded to police inquiries by coming to the Cook County Sheriff’s Maybrook headquarters on July 6, where he was charged with carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited area, a misdemeanor. He was released on bond.
According to a release from the office of Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans, the county court’s Executive Committee is aware of the charge against Claps, and has “reassigned Judge Claps to administrative duties” until further notice.
Citing Illinois Supreme Court rules, Evans declined further comment on the case, as it involves “a pending or impending proceeding,” according to the statement released by the chief judge’s spokesman.