A Jumbo, And It WORKS! Double Standards, “Beyond A Reasonable Doubt” And The Judge’s “Toy”

Here is a rare case where a Jumbo (as in Jimmy Durante’s desperate “Elephant? What elephant?” defense when caught stealing the biggest pachyderm alive in the Broadway show “Jumbo”) actually worked.

Judge Joseph Claps of Cook County, Illinois, was acquitted this week on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon into a prohibited area, reports the Chicago Tribune. 

You see, a gun, or what looked like a gun and sounded like a gun when it hit the floor appeared to fall out of Claps’ jacket when he was entering the courthouse. The judge was licensed to carry, but it is still illegal to bring a firearm into the building. Sheriff’s deputies testified they believed the object was a gun, but they didn’t intervene because they weren’t sure whether the judge was allowed to have the weapon, and because, well, he was a judge.

Did Judge Claps admit he screwed up and accept the consequences like a trustworthy, honest public servant? No! He went to trial, and allowed his lawyer to argue that prosecutors couldn’t prove the “object” was a gun. ( “Gun? What gun?”) Claps’ lawyer argued that the dropped object could have been a replica or a toy. “It could have been a cap gun,” Breen said. “It could have been a water pistol. It could have been a lighter, a cigar lighter. It could have been anything.” Anything that looked like a gun sufficiently to convince the security personnel that it was a gun. And really, we all know how judges sometimes carry water pistols and cap guns into court!

Edward Burmila, the Will County judge who tried  his 70-year-old colleague, said prosecutors had failed to prove that the dropped object was a gun.Would such a ludicrous defdense have been successful for anyone else? If you think so, I have some prime Florida swampland you might want to buy. Witnesses saw what they believed was a gun fall out of the judge’s jacket, and coincidentally, he owned a gun and was licensed to carry one. And he was acquitted because a fellow judge believed that there was a reasonable possibility that it was just a water pistol or a gun-shaped cigar lighter?

Now this judge resorted to an evident lie to avoid accountability for an illegal act. Note that he never took the stand so he could be asked, under oath, “what dropped out of your jacket?” That’s because everyone knows that it was a gun, and he knows that lying under oath would force the judicial ethics panel to remove him. This isn’t Brett Kavanaugh searing that a three-decades old discovered-memory is false. This is a judge denying that a legal violation that was witnessed and recorded on tape is what everyone knows it is, and corrupting the  justice system to do it..

Both he and Judge Burmilla disgraced to their profession, Claps by lying, and Burmilla for using a standard of reasonable doubt that he would have laughed at if it had been argued on behalf of a typical citizen.  Both hould be disciplined. If it were up to me, I’d kick them off the bench for good.

12 thoughts on “A Jumbo, And It WORKS! Double Standards, “Beyond A Reasonable Doubt” And The Judge’s “Toy”

  1. Wow, judges can’t carry into the courthouse? Even the attorneys can carry into the courthouse here. I guess it could have been a black powder cap-and-ball revolver which legally isn’t a firearm federally (but may be in Chicago). Legality aside, this was very careless storage and handling of a weapon. Concealed weapons need to be in holsters, even (and especially) when in pockets.

  2. Chicago is the seat of Cook County, Illinois. The Leighton Criminal Court Building is in Chicago, and not too far from the Lower West Side, where is one of the biggest crime areas along with the South Side. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/data/ct-shooting-victims-map-charts-htmlstory.html
    Good for them for being down over 600 from last year in terms of shootings – but the year isn’t over yet. Just last weekend there were 28 shot ending up in 8 fatalities. https://abc7chicago.com/28-shot-8-fatally-in-chicago-weekend-shootings-/4534305/
    Chicago is a cesspool. The mayor does nothing, the police have a high rate of unsolved homicides and have their hands tied in this PC culture because heaven forbid some non-white person who just shot and/or killed another person *may* be taken down if they get caught fleeing or resisting or with a weapon aimed at the police. Our governor also sucks, and the one opposing him is no better – probably worse. I’m hoping one of the others running on the independent ticket or the others has a fighting chance. (Yes, I’m from Illinois, thankfully a couple hours out of Chicago).
    My whole point here, I don’t blame the judge one bit for carrying. Should he have taken it into a federal building? No. That is what the cops in that building are supposed to be there for. The defense was nonsense. It sounds like a case of Judge protecting Judge, and I agree, both should be disciplined.
    But, it’s Chicago.

  3. Seventy years old and still on the bench trying cases. Terrible. Don’t these guys have enough to retire on and do something else? Fish? Watch Judge Judy? These guys just keep their snouts in the publicly funded trough.

  4. Wait. How did Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 not sit on the witness stand and each state plainly “Yeah, I was 2 feet away from what he dropped. It was a gun.”

    Of course this is all acknowledging that there never should have been a trial but an acceptance of responsibility.

    • Michael West, I’m thinking that the witnesses actually saw and heard an unmistakable gun; their testimony in that case was waffling (with much syrup on it) between the lie and the truth. It would be hard to disprove and all concerned would probably be satisfied with their statements.

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