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Judge Facing Charges for Gun Possession in Courthouse

A Chicago judge who has been accused of carrying a loaded gun into the courthouse when the weapon allegedly dropped to the floor in the lobby of the building.

On July 3 during the middle of the afternoon Joseph Claps, a 70-year-old judge at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, was walking through the entrance hall toward a courtroom when a revolver reportedly fell from his person and clattered onto the floor.

Security cameras captured the event on video and Claps, who is permitted to enter the building without passing through the metal detectors, was allegedly seen using the weapon to steady himself while standing up after he bent down to retrieve it and then put it into his pocket.

The deputies on duty were not sure whether judges were permitted to carry arms inside of the building under certain circumstances, and their supervisors confirmed that it is not allowed due to state law, and he was not granted immunity from that for any known unique circumstances.

Claps was confirmed to have legal ownership of the gun in addition to a license granting him permission to carry a concealed weapon, but that does not allow him to bring it to places that the state has deemed unlawful.

On Friday, Claps was issued a charge for carrying a firearm in a prohibited place, which is a misdemeanor that reportedly holds a penalty of a maximum of two months in jail and a fine of $150. He is scheduled to appear in court on July 19.

Claps is still employed at the courthouse but he has been taken off the bench and assigned to other tasks until members of the circuit court meet on Wednesday to determine how they plan to proceed.

If you or someone you love is suspected of carrying a concealed weapon, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.

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