Squad car video shows now-former prosecutor Sarah Naughton in handcuffs the night she was arrested. / Image courtesy Cook County state’s attorney’s office
Back in 2012, after a Cubs game and a day of drinking, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Sarah Naughton and a male companion ended up in an off-duty scuffle with a shopkeeper from an adult-themed business along Belmont Avenue, public records show.
Naughton was detained by a female Chicago police officer, who Naughton indelicately referred to as a “whore” and “f—— b—-” while sitting on a curb, handcuffed, heaving and trying to pull away from the cop.
Naughton, who hails from a clout-heavy family, also was not shy about mentioning during the incident that she was a prosecutor, according to records and interviews.
And when she was put inside a police vehicle, she tried to kick out the window. She also slipped out of her handcuffs and took a swing at a police officer.
Some of this was caught on a bystander’s video – which was posted to YouTube and has so far logged 74,000 views. And some of this was caught on the police vehicle’s video, which we’ve reviewed.
Naughton, 34, was charged with a variety of offenses, including resisting a peace officer and attempted official misconduct, but she was acquitted of everything at trial. The judge said his decision was based on the evidence, and questionable testimony.
Naughton, however, still had to answer to regulators – the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, an arm of the Illinois Supreme Court that enforces the ethical codes by which lawyers are supposed to operate.
The ARDC recently announced what penalty Naughton, who left the state’s attorney’s office after her acquittal, will face: A 30-day suspension of her law license – a relative slap on the wrist considering the agency could have pursued the revocation of that license, preventing her from practicing law in Illinois.
Here’s what the ARDC wrote: “During a time when employed as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney, she entered a retail store with a companion after consuming alcohol. She engaged in disruptive behavior both inside and outside of the store. Police who were called to the scene handcuffed her and placed her in a police SUV. Thereafter, she repeatedly identified herself as an Assistant State’s Attorney and swore at a female officer, calling her derogatory names, and, after she was taken out of the SUV, sat on a curb screaming obscenities. The suspension is effective on October 13, 2015.”
The ARDC also wrote: “Suspension for a specified period reflects a determination that the lawyer has engaged in misconduct and that the misconduct warrants an interruption of the lawyer’s authority to practice law during the suspension period, which is a fixed period of time identified in the Supreme Court’s order. The lawyer is not authorized to practice law during the period of the suspension.”
The 30-day suspension was agreed upon by Naughton and the ARDC, as a sort of plea agreement, records show. It was approved by the Supreme Court in September.
ARDC records indicate various people had been willing to testify about Naughton’s good character if necessary, including a judge.
As we’ve previously written, Naughton’s family has connections to powerful people, including former Chicago Ald. Ed Vrdolyak, with whom Naughton’s father once worked. Naughton also once included a member of the Joyce family, a South Side clan with historically close ties to ex-Mayor Richard M. Daley, as a job reference.
We wrote earlier this year that Naughton, after leaving the state’s attorney’s office, met twice with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office about job opportunities, though she wasn’t hired.
We reached out to Naughton to ask about the 30-day law license suspension, but didn’t hear back.
This blog post was written and reported by the Better Government Association’s Robert Herguth, who can be reached at email@example.com or (312) 821-9030.