KURT P. KLEIN of DeKalb County became an associate judge in 1995, and was appointed to an open circuit judge seat in 2001. He won election for a full term the following year, and retired from the bench in 2012.
What the judge did: In 2003, Klein met a military recruiter at a Rotary Club function and, weeks later, met with the recruiter in his chambers and talked about a pending case. The recruiter told Klein of a potential recruit whose enlistment was delayed because of pending marijuana and drug paraphernalia charges. Klein reviewed the file and told the recruiter that he believed “something could be done.” Klein then arranged for the case to be transferred to his court, where he told the assistant state’s attorney that the defendant wanted to enlist and that he hoped the case would be resolved. The prosecutor then recommended the case be resolved, as Klein suggested.
Before the 2004 judicial elections, Klein also wore a baseball cap endorsing a candidate for another seat on the circuit court.
What the Judicial Inquiry Board said: The board charged that Klein had violated the Judicial Code by having the ex parte meeting with the recruiter, and by publicly endorsing another candidate.
What the Illinois Courts Commission decided: The commission voted to reprimand to Klein, an outcome that Klein and the inquiry board had agreed to. “Not withstanding my intentions to assist a young man in joining the United States Army in the hope of improving his life, as military service has done for so many young men, I now know and acknowledge my conduct was unquestionably wrong and will never be repeated no matter how compelling the circumstances,” Klein said in a statement to the commission.