Will Co. judge should resign
SouthtownStar editorial August 24, 2012 11:20PM
Updated: September 27, 2012 11:23AM
We believe that public officials must be held to a higher standard of conduct than the average citizen, and none more so than a judge.
The nature and authority of the office demand that a judge avoid illegal or improper behavior, lest he damage the public’s perception and confidence in the court system and his effectiveness in dispensing justice.
For that reason, Will County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Polito should resign from the bench.
The Illinois Judiciary Board, which investigates alleged misconduct by judges, has filed charges against Polito, who recently admitted using his work computer to try to access pornography sites while in his chambers on five days in 2011. His attorney says he’s going through counseling for his behavior.
Polito, 69, a judge since 2006, tried to log on to porn sites 243 times during those days but was blocked by filtering software designed to stop county employees from using non-work-related websites, according to county records obtained last spring by the Chicago Sun-Times.
The newspaper’s request for the computer log in May 2011 led Chief Circuit Court Judge Gerald Kinney to order an inquiry into the unusual activity on Polito’s computer and later reassign the judge from divorce court to misdemeanor cases.
The judiciary board’s charges will be heard by the Illinois Courts Commission. In a filing with the commission this month, Polito admits trying to view porn during work hours and knowing there was a policy against such conduct. He acknowledges that his behavior “brought the judicial office into disrepute” but denies that it has damaged the “integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
The key is his admission to bringing disrepute to the bench. We don’t see how Polito can command the necessary respect or effectively sit in judgment of others in light of his transgression.
The courts commission will conduct a hearing and can impose a penalty ranging from a reprimand to removal from the bench. Polito should avoid such a proceeding and resign.