The Cook County judge, who banned a mother from visiting her son for not being vaccinated against COVID-19 and reversed his ruling weeks later, withdrew from her case on Tuesday.
In a statement distributed by a court spokesman, Cook County Judge James Shapiro said, “Although I believe I can be fair and impartial, the Canons of Judicial Ethics address the perception of fairness and impartiality, and fairness and impartiality itself. The public perception may be that I cannot be fair and impartial. Therefore I will withdraw from further proceedings in this case. ”
The case Shapiro was referring to is the alimony case between Rebecca Firlit and her ex-husband Matthew Duiven.
During a hearing on child support on Aug. 10, Shapiro asked Firlit if she was vaccinated against COVID-19. After responding that it was not a medical reason, Shapiro issued an order prohibiting her from seeing her son until she was vaccinated.
Firlit told the Chicago Sun-Times that she “has had side effects from vaccines in the past and my doctor advised her not to get vaccinated. It carries a risk. “
Schapiro was sharply criticized by both court observers and Firlit’s attorney Annette Fernholz, who said that in her client’s case, the judge “far exceeded his judicial authority”.
On Monday, Shapiro issued an unexplained new order that revoked his order preventing Firlit from seeing her son. He did not respond to a request for comment.
The Chicago Sun-Times also learned that Shapiro questioned other parents about their vaccination status in at least two separate child support hearings in July and admitted that some parents and children ordered the vaccination.
Arrived on Monday after Shapiro changed his order, Firlit said, “I am very happy, I will see my son now.” But she added, “I know they will say that I am a danger to my son. It’s not over for me yet. “
Jeffery Leving, Duiven’s attorney, called the judge’s repeal “unfortunate”.
“I’m currently working on an emergency application to take action,” Leving said on Monday.
Now the case has to be continued with a new judge. Mary Wisniewski, director of communications for Chief Judge Tim Evans of the Cook County Circuit Court, was unavailable for the next trial on the case.