CHARLES M. TRAVIS was first elected as a Cook County Circuit Court Judge in 1996, and served until his retirement in 2004. In 2003 he was suspended for one month after a series of incidents that, the Illinois Courts Commission found, involved misusing his position as a judge to advance his own or his daughter’s interests.
What the judge did: In July, 2001, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Charles M. Travis called the DuPage Circuit Court Chief Judge about a matter involving his daughter. Downers Grove officials had cited her for dumping coffee grounds and cat litter on a vacant lot next to her property. When she failed to pay the $75 fine or appear in court, a judge issued an arrest warrant on her behalf. When he called the DuPage chief judge, Travis identified himself as a judge and said the warrant should be quashed, the evidence of her arrest expunged, and either the court or the police should apologize to her.
It turned out to be one of a series of incidents of questionable conduct by Travis. He had previously bought a phony judicial badge that he flashed to Hoffman Estates police after he was pulled over for speeding. And he once tried to have a traffic ticket issued against another driver, though no police had seen the alleged infraction.
What the Judicial Inquiry Board said: The board charged Travis in June, 2002, with violating the Judicial Code in those three incidents, both by failing to uphold the integrity of the judiciary and by using the prestige of his office to advance private interests.
What the Illinois Courts Commission decided: In February, 2003, the board suspended Travis for one month. The sanction was jointly recommended both by the Judicial Inquiry Board and by Travis, who acknowledged the misconduct. The commission action followed a statement from Travis that his “military background, strong sense of right and wrong and a parent’s need to step in and help a child in difficulty…prevented him from being objective and clear-headed.”
What happened since: Travis, now deceased, retired from the bench on August 16, 2004 at age 63.