Judge Facing Misconduct Allegations After Handcuffing Attorney Trying To Respond To A Motion

handcuffed in the officeMisconduct allegations against Cook County, Illinois, Judge Kathy Flanagan have been referred to the Judicial Inquiry Board by the state judicial oversight agency. Flanagan allegedly had Brad Schneiderman, partner at Johnson & Bell, handcuffed to a chair — without first finding him in contempt — during a hearing.

As reported by the Chicago SunTimes:

Schneiderman was making an argument for a client when Flanagan told him to “stop talking” and then ordered the attorneys before her to “step back,” according to the sheriff’s report. Schneiderman was walking toward the courtroom gallery, “speaking in a muttering manner before stopping halfway to the gallery and turning back toward the bench,” a courtroom deputy wrote.

Flanagan then yelled, “That’s it, take him!” according to the deputy, who took Schneiderman to a back hallway and ordered him to sit in a chair, then handcuffed him to it.

The deputy told members of the executive committee last week Schneiderman was handcuffed for security reasons and “that is just protocol that we handcuff somebody that we are … holding in custody,” according to a transcript of the hearing.

Flanagan declined to have Schneiderman officially taken into custody. Indeed, Schneiderman appeared back in front of Judge Flanagan, complaining he wasn’t allowed to make arguments on the motion she granted.

“Instead, the court asked me if I had reached any type of agreement with the plaintiff’s counsel,” Schneiderman said. “I said I had not. The plaintiff’s counsel did not say anything, and the court then simply granted the plaintiff’s motion without any presentation of the actual merits of the motion.”

Schneiderman said he had asked to be allowed to explain his client’s position, and “I was not given that opportunity.”

In 17 years in practice, Schneiderman said, “I have not had an issue with a judge, male or female, nonetheless your honor surprisingly accused me of being sexist and ordered me taken back in chambers in front of a crowded courtroom without even entertaining the motion on the merits.

“The plaintiff’s counsel then entered an order without me reviewing the content, and the motion has still not been adequately presented to the court,” Schneiderman said.

“Are you finished?” Flanagan responded, according to the transcript.

Flanagan accused Schneiderman of making statements that “are not accurate in any way, shape or form, so we’re done.” The judge told Schneiderman to give her a copy of the court reporter’s transcript and the hearing soon ended.

Schneiderman’s conduct was also referred to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

But this incident has highlighted Flanagan’s courtroom management. This isn’t the first time her temperament has come under fire. In 2012, the Chicago Council of Lawyers found her “not qualified” for retention. The Council said Flanagan was “‘hostile,’ ‘imperious,’ ‘rude’ and ‘discourteous.’” They continued, “She was frequently described as impatient or inflexible. A number of attorneys believe these qualities negatively affected her ability to manage her courtroom efficiently. However, even some respondents who were highly critical of her temper noted that she is ‘bright’ and ‘truly cares’ about the outcomes in her courtroom.” This was despite being considered “intelligent, with a good grasp of the law, and appropriate diligence,” “very fair” and “always prepared.”

Earlier: Judge Gets Reprimand Over Penchant For Handcuffing Attorneys In Her Courtroom


Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @Kathryn1@mastodon.social.


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