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Judge removed from bench after seen on video locking child up in holding cell behind her courtroom

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A Cook County judge last week marched a young girl into the lockup behind her courtroom and left the child alone in a holding cell for about 10 minutes, the Tribune has learned.

Judge Jackie Portman-Brown has been reassigned to administrative duty as of Wednesday, according to Pat Milhizer, a spokesman for the office of Chief Judge Timothy Evans.

Milhizer did not specify the reason for Portman-Brown’s reassignment. But security footage from the Cook County sheriff’s office released to the Tribune via a public records request on Wednesday shows the judge and another woman moving a young child into the holding cell behind Portman-Brown’s courtroom at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

The judge, wearing her black robe, then walks away as a sheriff’s deputy appears to lock the child inside. The judge’s motivation for putting the child in the lockup was not immediately clear.

The child remains in the empty lockup for about 10 minutes, the video released by the sheriff shows.

The video is redacted and does not show the child’s face. But sources who saw the unredacted video confirmed to the Tribune that the child is a girl about 6 to 8 years old.

The Tribune could not immediately confirm the girl’s relationship, if any, to Portman-Brown. The judge could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

Two sheriff’s deputies who can be seen in the video have been de-deputized pending an internal investigation of the incident, according to a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, who directed further questions to Portman-Brown and the chief judge’s office.

mcrepeau@chicagotribune.com

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