A candidate for a Cook County Circuit Court seat has faced professional discipline for misconduct on multiple occasions.
Arthur Sutton, who worked as a deputy director in the parole division of the Illinois Department of Corrections, resigned under pressure in 2015 after his son was involved in two shootings using Sutton’s government-issued weapon.
The first incident came in July 2014 when Sutton’s son, then 17, took the gun from a lockbox and accidentally shot himself in the ankle while playing with the weapon. Sutton was suspended from IDOC for five days for failing to secure his service weapon. In an interview with investigators, his son claimed that the key to the lockbox was left in a “community bowl where family members kept their keys,” according to court documents.
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Less than a year later, Sutton’s son accessed the gun again and, with two friends, used it in an attempted robbery in which a victim was shot in the leg, according to court records. His son told investigators that he once again got the key from the community bowl, but Sutton contends that he had hidden the key prior to this incident. Sutton resigned when given the option to step down or be fired.
After stepping down, Sutton sought unemployment benefits but was denied them on the grounds that he “was discharged for misconduct in connection with his work.”
In an interview with Injustice Watch, Sutton claimed that he was terminated “for other reasons” and noted that he initially won unemployment benefits on these grounds. “I didn’t violate any policy,” he said.
More than a decade earlier, when he was an attorney in private practice, Sutton was disciplined by the Illinois Supreme Court for negligent bookkeeping.
In 1999, Sutton wrote a settlement check from a client trust account that bounced because of insufficient funds. He eventually paid out the settlement a year later when a lawyer for Marriott, which was owed the money, threatened to sue him.
Sutton claimed that he always intended to pay the settlement but did not have enough money to do so, according to documents from the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. He also acknowledged that he used the client trust account for personal and business expenses and that he had not balanced his books properly.
The ARDC found that he had violated the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct by failing to separate business and personal funds and spending settlement money for personal use, though it did not find any malicious intent. Sutton received a 90-day stayed suspension that was served as nine months of disciplinary probation.
In addition to the probation, Sutton was ordered to improve his bookkeeping and complete a seminar from the Illinois Professional Responsibility Institute.
This type of discipline is rare; only about two out of every thousand registered attorneys in Illinois faced discipline each year, according to Injustice Watch reporting.
In an interview, Sutton downplayed the discipline, noting that he never served the suspension. “I was fairly new and just made some bookkeeping errors,” he said.
Sutton is one of six candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for the Mason vacancy. This is his second time seeking judicial office after running for another position in 2006.
He is running against Chris Stacey, who was slated by the Cook County Democratic Party; Bonnie McGrath; former prosecutor Jennifer Callahan; prosecutor Joy Tolbert Nelson; and Joseph Chico, who is related to former Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico.