Cook County Prosecutor: Judge Ford improperly held pregnant woman in custody

A top county prosecutor angrily insisted in court this week that Cook County Circuit Judge Nicholas Ford had improperly ordered a pregnant woman jailed without bail in June for more than a month this summer on a non-violent offense.

The dispute between Cook County First Assistant State’s Attorney Eric Sussman and Ford erupted in harsh tones as reporters from a number of news organizations including Injustice Watch observed. The hearing was the first since Ford ordered Karen Padilla held in June; at the hearing Monday she appeared in court with a three-week daughter, born in custody, strapped to her chest.

Padilla was taken into custody in June on an outstanding arrest warrant that was discovered by an officer who pulled her over on a traffic violation. The original arrest involved charges Padilla had taken customers’s money while working in a restaurant.

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Since taking office last year, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has joined other county officials who have sought to reduce the number of inmates held in Cook County jail on non-violent charges awaiting trials.

Injustice Watch last year reported on a series of cases in which Ford decisions were later reversed by the appellate courts, which found in repeated cases that he had violated the rights of defendants. In another controversial case, Ford twice threw out charges against a Park Ridge police officer accused of chasing down and beating teenaged suspects.