CHRISTOPHER G. PERRIN is an associate judge for Sangamon County . He was appointed to the bench in 2009. In November of 2010, the Judicial Inquiry Board filed a complaint against him that the Illinois Courts Commission later dismissed.
What the judge did: After his daughter received a traffic ticket for driving on a closed road, Perrin raised the issue first to a police officer in the Springfield courthouse, then with a more senior judge, and finally, in June 2010, to the judge assigned to hear the case against his daughter. Perrin told the assigned judge that his daughter would be absent the day her case was scheduled to be heard, since she would be with a group staying in an Ohio church while refurbishing houses for the poor. The assigned judge then dismissed the ticket, stating on the forms that he did so at the suggestion of the State’s Attorney.
What the Judicial Inquiry Board said: The board filed a complaint against Perrin in November, 2010, alleging that he had an improper ex parte conversation with the assigned judge, and permitted a family relationship to affect his conduct as a judge. The board contended that Perrin’s actions warranted a public reprimand.
What the Illinois Courts Commission did: In September, 2011, the commission dismissed the complaint, citing the lack of evidence that Perrin expected the assigned judge to dismiss the charges. While Perrin’s conversation about his daughter’s case with the assigned judge violated the Judicial Code, the commission concluded, “This is not a judicial corruption case.” The commission order states that a private admonishment by the Judicial Inquiry Board – without ever filing a complaint that would make the incident a matter of public record – would have been the appropriate resolution. “Although this form of discipline is less public than that sought by the board,” the majority wrote, “it is by no means an empty gesture.”
What the dissent said: Commission member Paula Wolff wrote a dissent, noting that Perrin had three different discussions about the ticket for his daughter’s case with officials in the courthouse. That, she wrote, was contrary to the very training judges receive on the serious violation of discussing cases ex parte. The impact of Perrin’s actions is significant, she wrote, both because they violate a basic tenet of the Judicial Code, and because the commission’s dismissal of them serves as guidance for all current and future Illinois judges.