Judge O’Brien, convicted of fraud, outlines reasons for not stepping down
A look of resignation settled on Cook County Judge Jessica Arong O’Brien’s face when a federal jury convicted her of fraud in January.
But as for actually resigning, that’s another matter. O’Brien isn’t going to step down from the bench — even though Illinois law would appear to require her to do just that — without a fight.
This week, her attorneys filed a motion in the Illinois Supreme Court, saying that court doesn’t have the authority to force her out. The attorneys argue, among other things, that the state constitution grants only the Judicial Inquiry Board and the Illinois Courts Commission the power to remove a sitting judge.
Those attorneys also say no action should be taken because she hasn’t had the “opportunity to exhaust her due process rights” in the place where she was convicted — U.S. District Court. That’s because she’s still fighting the guilty verdict.
O’Brien — the first female Filipino-American elected judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County — was convicted earlier this year of bank fraud and mail fraud affecting a financial institution. Federal prosecutors say she pocketed $325,000 as she lied to lenders amid a $1.4 million mortgage scheme.
O’Brien, 50, is the wife of Cook County Judge Brendan O’Brien. Her sentencing is set for July 6. She has been assigned to administrative duties ever since her indictment — which a spokesperson for Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans at the time called “the strongest action” the court’s executive committee could take.