A Cook County criminal court judge was removed from courtroom duty indefinitely on Wednesday, six days after WBEZ reported that the white judge told a black defendant, “You were never a slave.”
The circuit court system’s executive committee has placed Richard Schwind, a judge in the Rolling Meadows courthouse, on administrative duty, according to a statement from Chief Judge Timothy Evans’ office.
The committee also is sending Schwind for sensitivity training and has referred the matter to the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board, the agency that investigates complaints regarding judges.
According to the statement from Evans’ office, “Judge Schwind made an inappropriate remark while on the bench.”
WBEZ detailed the case last week, after obtaining a transcript of comments that Schwind made in the case of Deon Lindsey, a 31-year-old African American from the northwest suburbs who was convicted in a misdemeanor battery case.
Lindsey admitted hitting his girlfriend’s white brother at her apartment in Hoffman Estates in May. But Lindsey told police he was provoked by being called the N-word, records show.
Speaking from the bench on July 18, Schwind said the slur was an “ignorant term” for the recipient of the punch to have used with Lindsey.
But the transcript shows Schwind then told Lindsey, “You take offense to a word that — you, you were never a slave, but you take offense to it. And I understand that. But the bigger man walks away. You don’t resort to violence. That’s why society is the way it is now.”
According to a Hoffman Estates police report, Lindsey came to the station on May 25 and told officers that his girlfriend’s brother “called him a ‘n-----.’”
Schwind, 66, makes a salary of $192,000 a year as an associate judge chosen by a vote of the circuit court judges who are elected by voters.
He took his spot on the bench in April 2012 and has been assigned to the 3rd Municipal District courthouse in Rolling Meadows since 2013. He is currently serving a four-year term that expires on June 30, 2019.
In addition to his salary, records show Schwind is collected pensions of more than $57,000 from the state and about $21,000 from the county.
Before becoming a judge, he worked for seven years for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office and then more than 27 years for the Illinois Attorney General’s office, rising to chief of the criminal enforcement division.
Schwind’s reassignment is “effective until further notice,” according to the statement from Evans’ office.
“A reassignment of this nature is the strongest action that the executive committee can take regarding a judge’s assignment status,” the statement said.
The executive committee is made up of Evans and 16 other judges.
Dan Mihalopoulos is an investigative reporter for WBEZ. Follow him at @dmihalopoulos.