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    Saturday, October 4, 2008

    Will County Judge Denies Indigent Status to Disabled Transgender Woman

    Will County Circuit Court Judge Stephen White believes in omnipotent power for judges and defied his oath of office on July 6, 2007 in denying a petition to litigate as an indigent person by Daunn Turner. Ms. Turner is a severely disabled individual, now unable to work, who receives supplemental social security after a terrible illness. She was assigned the sex of male at birth and has a female gender identity. Ms. Turner has been successful in her careers as a bank vice-president, a member of the Illinois State Police, a caseworker for the Illinois Department of Public Aid, and a customer service manager for the Wall Street Journal. She was attempting to pursue a career as a stage and television actress when she became seriously ill. Ms. Turner has been undergoing medical treatment to facilitate her gender reassignment.

    As a pre-requisite to the final surgery pertaining to gender reassignment, she is following medical advice and changing all aspects of her life to living as a woman. She wanted to obtain a name change from her legal name of Donald to Daunn. This required filing the appropriate documents in court in Will County. She went to the Court with the appropriate pleadings to change her name and a petition to litigate this cause as an indigent person with fees waived.

    Judge White denied the petition stating that he refused to force the County to pay "for something like this." He said this was "not that important" and that there was "no urgency."

    The Clerk refused to file the name change papers and assign a case number. This is a violation of 735 ILCS 5/5-105. This statute also requires that judges grant indigent status to anyone who is on social security, food stamps, or Medicaid. The judge and clerk have clearly violated statutes.

    Ms. Turner has sued the judge and clerk in a complaint for mandamus asking the Illinois Supreme Court to order the judge to grant the indigency petition and the clerk to file the papers as of July 6, 2007. These are NOT discretionary administrative duties of the judge and clerk, but are mandatory. Please read 735 ILCS 5/5-105 ( which states that anyone on supplemental social security and food stamps automatically qualifies for indigent status.

    This is yet another example of the lack of oversight of judges in Illinois, who after given a little power, completely defy their oaths of office to follow the law and the constitution and rule based on emotions, bias, personal prejudices, and faith. This is not an option for them. Judges who do so should be removed from the bench. Denial of access to the courts on cases with legitimate controversies is a violation of our First Amendments right to redress of grievances with the courts and Fifth Amendment rights to due process.

    I ask my readers to show their support to Ms. Turner by writing her attorney Christopher Clark at the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. 11 East Adams, Suite 1008, Chicago, IL 60603, as well as write to newspapers and ask that this case be covered by the press.

    10-25-08 Lambda legal defense informs me that the IL S. Ct in January ordered the Clerk to file the Petition for name change without paying the fee and ordered the judge to either grant petition for indigent status or put in writing details why Ms. Turner should be denied indigent status. I am told she was eventually able to obtain a name change.

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