Corrupt Police Officer Candidate for Cook County Judgeship

by Vins

In March 2024, Carlos Ballestros of Injustice Watch reported that Lt. John D. Poulus, Chicago policeman and attorney, was running in the upcoming 2024 election for Cook County Judge and raised concerns about his tumultuous past. With the upcoming presidential elections at the peak of the news cycle, many voters are eager to collect as much information to pick their candidate of choice. For the citizens of Cook County, Chicago, there is a much more concerning candidate breaching the ballots.

Prior to his time serving as a police officer, he had several run-ins with the law, including a tampering charge as a result of his decision to try to remove a person’s tires from their car after they failed to pay a debt. His time as a police officer showed continued patterns of dishonesty and manipulation, according to the internal affairs office’s track record.

Even his limited legal career as a real estate attorney is mired by reports of malpractice. After notarizing several documents in which he held stake in one party, many have questioned his ability to perform his tasks as a county judge in an unbiased manner. Despite these concerns, Poulus has continued to hold his position in the Records Department of the Chicago Police Department. He is now asking the  citizens of Cook County to vote for him through a campaign platform based on being tough on crime.

This sentiment may reach many of the citizens of Cook County because according to the Chicago Police Department, there were 77,523 crimes committed in 2023. When a city has a high crime rate, it is important to have fair legal actions taken against perpetrators to serve justice for their victims. This being said, according to an article written in Chicago Magazine, “A new UIC report lists the Chicago area as the most corrupt region in the country, and Illinois as the third-most corrupt state in America.”

His continuous breaches of law and policy have caused a call for proper vetting prior to electoral candidacy and offered a peek into the prevalence of corruption in the Chicago Police Department. It also highlights the importance of voter education regarding candidates in state and local elections.

As of this writing, no major corporate media platforms have covered the story of Lt. John D. Poulus’s actions in correlation with his candidacy. Although his possible candidacy will mostly affect the citizens of Cook County, the possible implications of having a corrupt police officer as a judge, and the precedent that it sets for the legal system going onward is a story of national importance.

As citizens, we deserve to make informed choices about those running for election; without accurate  and comprehensive coverage, we cannot make informed decisions. There are only a few articles from local news sites that have reported on Poulos and his crimes. However there appears to be a lack of concern regarding his ability to carry out his duties as judge in conjunction with his past. With the monopolization of public attention that is held by major corporate media, it is simply not enough to have this pushed to marginalized local news sites.

Source: Carlos Ballesteros, “A Notorious Chicago Cop Wants to Become a Cook County Judge,” Injustice Watch, March 4, 2024.

Student Researchers: Anabelle Canavan, Kayla LaFleur, and Lisbel Vargas  (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Faculty Evaluator: Allison Butler (University of Massachusetts Amherst)