Judge Joseph Claps was in pretty deep water. He supposedly had a firearm in a prohibited area, namely the Cook County Courthouse. You see, despite being a judge and angering a lot of people as a routine part of his job, Cook County made no provision for anyone other than law enforcement to carry a firearm inside the courthouse.
Cook County takes after the city it encompasses–Chicago–and has no love for citizens being able to defend themselves.
Luckily for Judge Claps, he’s getting to walk.
A Cook County judge on Tuesday was acquitted of misdemeanor charges for allegedly carrying a gun into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
Surveillance videos appear to show a handgun falling out of Judge Joseph Claps’ jacket as he walked through the lobby of the courthouse on July 3, passing within about a foot of a uniformed sheriff’s deputy as the alleged weapon drops.
But, crucially, as the judge casually picked up the purported pistol and tucked it into his pocket, he continued walking. Two deputies saw the alleged gun hit the floor, but neither stopped Claps nor took the gun from him, choosing instead to notify a supervisor.
Claps was charged two days later with carrying a firearm into a prohibited area. Only law enforcement officers on-duty are allowed to bring guns into the courthouse.
With no gun in evidence, Will County Judge Edward Burmila found the nonchalance of the sheriff’s deputies on the surveillance footage to be proof that there was no gun back in July.
“I can’t believe they would simply walk away from a firearm laying on the floor in the courthouse,” said Burmila, who was appointed to preside over the case at the Maybrook courthouse in west suburban Maywood.
Now, to be fair, I could see them doing just that. After all, this is a judge. He’s clearly one of the good guys, and a lot of law enforcement have learned that gun control doesn’t work, so seeing a judge drop a gun wouldn’t necessarily be something they’d be interested in handling. After all, police won’t ignore crime, as a general rule, but they do occasionally let people walk if they feel they aren’t a threat to anyone. They might do this for various reasons, but it happens.
Was this one of those times?
Who knows. More importantly, who cares.
What I do care about is that the standards are applied evenly. For example, would an average citizen who was arrested for having a gun in the courthouse under similar circumstances get the same benefit of the doubt? Undoubtedly, Judge Burmila would argue that they would, but I hope he will forgive me for not being convinced.
I can’t help but think that if it were you or me, we’d be required to jump through all kinds of hoops to prove our innocence regardless of who is supposed to have the burden of proof.
Yes, I’m a bit paranoid.
Of course, all of this could be avoided if Cook County recognized that guns aren’t the threat they’re portrayed to be by the media. Instead, the problem is certain individuals who have a propensity for violence. Allowing armed citizens in the courthouse would discourage these people from acting on their impulses, thus making the courthouses safe.
Not that Cook County is remotely interested in such a thing.