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Cook County judge arrested after dropping loaded weapon in courthouse lobby

July 11, 2018  |  Posted by: Michael Falzarano
Cook County judge arrested after dropping loaded weapon in courthouse lobby Screenshot (Chicago Sun-Times, Cook County Prosecutors)

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A longstanding judge in Cook County, Illinois was arrested on a misdemeanor gun charge after he dropped a loaded firearm in the criminal courthouse lobby last week.

Authorities say deputies arrested Joseph Claps, a criminal court judge on July 3rd.

According to a sheriff’s incident report, Claps reportedly walked into Leighton Criminal Court when deputies witnessed a pistol fall out of a jacket he was carrying over his arm.

Surveillance cameras captured the judge retrieving the silver handgun, which was reportedly loaded and placing it in his pants pocket, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Although Claps has a concealed carry license and firearms owner’s identification card, guns are forbidden in the courthouse even concealed carry holders.

Authorities subsequently charged Claps with a Class B misdemeanor offense for carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited area and he was released on his own recognizance.

The 70-year-old judge is scheduled to appear at the Maywood branch courthouse next week, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

A spokesman for Chief Judge Timothy Evans’ office said Claps has been reassigned to “nonjudicial duties” pending a conference Wednesday of the circuit court’s executive committee.

Additionally, Cook County prosecutors are requesting the Illinois Attorney General’s office handles the prosecution so to avoid a conflict of interest for the state’s attorney’s office, whose prosecutors have worked cases before Claps, Robert Foley, a spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office.

Claps has presided over cases in the Criminal Division for the last 15 years.

Previously, he worked as a Cook County prosecutor and a top assistant to the state attorney general.

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