Thursday, August 27, 2015

Alison Conlon campaign website goes on line

Per email received from Thom Mannard, a campaign website has been established for Judge Alison Conlon. That's a link to the website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Judge Conlon was appointed to the countywide Hogan vacancy earlier this year; earlier this month, the Cook County Democratic Party agreed to support her countywide judicial bid.

Conlon's campaign website notes her extensive pro bono practice before becoming a judge. "Since her appointment to the bench," the campaign website notes, "in addition to her regular judicial duties [Conlon] has volunteered each week in the 'flexible hours' court for parties who are not represented by lawyers, enabling parties to appear before or after hours between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. or 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. to avoid missing work."

Conlon graduated from New Trier High School and got her bachelor's degree from Yale University. She received a master’s degree from Georgetown University and her law degree from Duke Law School. She began her legal career as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras. She later served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel. Colon was a partner in the firm of Barnes & Thornburg at the time of her appointment to the bench where, according to her campaign website, "she represented people, businesses, cities and villages in commercial and tort litigation."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Patricia S. Spratt appointed to 7th Subcircuit vacancy

The Illinois Supreme Court yesterday named Patricia S. Spratt to fill the 7th Subcircuit vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge Anita Rivkin-Carothers. The appointment is effective September 8 and terminates on December 5, 2016.

Spratt is a currently partner in the Chicago office of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP; she has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1991. She was a candidate for the countywide Neville vacancy in 2014, winning endorsements from the Tribune and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky along the way.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Campaign website found for Judge Marc Martin

A campaign website has been launched for Judge Marc Martin. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence; a link has been added to the blog Sidebar.

Martin's campaign bio highlights his experience as a criminal defense attorney, noting his participation "in numerous high-profile cases and trials (e.g., R. Kelly, Conrad Black, R.J. Vanecko, and cases arising from the federal government’s Greylord, Gambat and Family Secrets investigations)." According to his campaign website, Martin has briefed or argued over 100 cases before the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals -- more than 50 cases before the 7th Circuit alone.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Martin to the Kelly vacancy in the 11th Subcircuit in the Spring of 2014.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ed Underhill announces 6th Subcircuit judicial bid; campaign website launched

Ed Underhill has announced his candidacy for judge in the 6th Subcircuit. That's a link to Underhill's campaign website in the preceding sentence (it has just gone live); a link has been added to the blog Sidebar as well.

Underhill has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1984. He is a principal in the Chicago office of Masuda Funai. His work biography highlights his practice in "intellectual-property disputes, contract disputes, UCC disputes (including commercial warranty claims), dealer terminations, unfair competition, business torts, and limited non-commercial claims." It also states that Underhill has developed a significant ADR practice, representing clients in mediations and arbitrations. The work biography adds that Underhill is a "published playwright and short story writer," winning the Chicago Lawyer Fiction Contest in 1986. Underhill has also been "a finalist in various national fiction writing competitions," according to his work bio.

Underhill's campaign website notes that he has been a homeowner in the Bucktown neighborhood for 15 years (he lives with his husband, Liam, and their dog Finn, according to the website) and has been active in the Bucktown Community Organization. Also according to his campaign website, Underhill has served as a member of the Chicago Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Committee and is a former president of the Northern Illinois University Alumni Council.

FWIW tops 1,000,000 page views

It happened sometime last night.

Here is how matters stood when I left the office last evening:

And here is how things looked when I signed on this morning:

Fellow bloggers will understand the near-obsessive concern with stats; that means 99% of my regular readers will respond with a hearty who cares?

Still, you have to admit, a million seems like a nice, round number. It even gives a blog a certain weight of authority or gravitas, occasional posts like this one notwithstanding.

I would think the achievement even more substantial were I not persuaded (by the comments I've intercepted in comment moderation) that thousands of these one-million-plus page views were initiated by shady characters looking to place spam ads for sex toys or knockoff fashion goods. Of course, since I delete all those comments, you need never know about these.


Well, anyway, most of the people arriving here at FWIW are looking for information about Cook County judicial races -- candidates, lawyers thinking about becoming candidates, judges, campaign consultants, and (when election time draws near) actual voters, at least some of whom must think that FWIW is a resource for making informed decisions on judicial candidates. So, that's good. I think.

Page Two of this blog is not nearly as popular as this one (not quite 85,000 page views according to the stats page). But that's hardly surprising, since Page Two isn't updated that frequently, except at the height of the election seasons, and the content there is not only irregular, but eclectic.

In any event, thank you for visiting FWIW. Now, onward to our 2,000,000th page view....

Thursday, August 20, 2015

William B. Sullivan campaign website, September 10 fundraiser announced

Supporters of Judge William B. Sullivan have launched a campaign website and scheduled a September 10 fundraiser for their candidate. That's a link to the campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

The Thursday, September 10 fundraiser for Judge Sullivan will be at FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres will be available. Tickets are $100 each and sponsorships are available as well ($250 - bronze, $500 - silver, $1,000 - gold, and $5,000 platinum). For additional information about the event, or to order tickets, email

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Sullivan to the Zwick vacancy in the 11th Subcircuit this past April (he took office in June). His campaign website notes that he is a 1984 graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School, and a 1989 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Music and History. Sullivan attended DePaul University Law School, where, according to the campaign site, "he was the founder and two-time editor-in-chief of the DePaul Journal of Art, Technology, and Intellectual Property Law (formerly known as the DePaul Journal of Art and Entertainment Law)."

After graduating from DePaul in 1992, Sullivan set up a solo law practice in Oak Park where, according to his campaign biography, he practiced in the areas "real estate, bank and business transactions, estate planning, commercial litigation, personal injury, landlord-tenant disputes, and probate and estate administration" until he was appointed to the bench. Sullivan was also a licensed real estate broker and operated a real estate brokerage firm from 1998 to the date of his judicial installation.

According to his campaign website, Sullivan has also worked as an Adjunct Professor at DePaul University College of Law and as a Hearing Officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections. He was "twice elected President of the Cicero Township Trustees of Schools, an entity that collected, invested and distributed tax monies on behalf of Oak Park, Berwyn, and Cicero schools." Sullivan has served as co-founder and president of the Oak Park and River Forest High School Alumni Association; vice president of the Oak Park Area Arts Council; president of the Oak Park Huskies Baseball Club, Inc.; and as a member of the Board of Directors of L’Arche Chicago, a not-for-profit social services organization, and the Oak Park Township Senior Services Committee. He has also volunteered as a coach with the Oak Park Youth Baseball program and serves as a cantor and lector at St. Catherine of Siena–St. Lucy Parish.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cook County Dems slate six sitting judges for eight Circuit Court vacancies; Lampkin and Burke slated for the Appellate Court

The Cook County Democratic Party today endorsed six of the eight judges already serving by Supreme Court appointment for countywide vacancies in the March primary. Although the Democratic Party has not announced whether these six judges have been endorsed for the vacancies they currently fill, the six appointed judges receiving the Democratic Party's blessing are:
  • Alison Conlon,
  • Daniel Patrick Duffy,
  • Rossana Fernandez,
  • Alexandra Gillespie,
  • John Fitzgerald Lyke, Jr., and
  • Devlin Joseph Schoop.
The Party endorsed Brendan O'Brien and Maureen O'Donoghue Hannon for the other two countywide vacancies. O'Brien filed for a countywide vacancy in the 2014 primary, withdrawing in January 2014 and leaving the Democratic Party's slated candidate (and eventual victor) Kristal Rivers in a one-on-one with appointed Judge Peter J. Vilkelis. (Vilkelis was subsequently named an Associate Judge.) Hannon was also a candidate in the 2014 election cycle, also withdrawing in January 2014 and leaving the Democratic Party's slated candidate (and the eventual victor) Diana Rosario in a one-on-one contest with Stephen J. Feldman.

Five alternates were also chosen -- meaning that, when and if additional countywide vacancies open up (assuming that the alternate does not run against the Party's slate in the meantime) these individuals are already 'pre-slated.' The five alternates, in order, are Frederick Bates, Sean Chaudhuri, Patrick Heneghan, Nichole Patton, and Peter Michael Gonzalez.

The two appointed countywide Circuit Court judges who did not receive the endorsement of the Democratic Party are Judges Jean Margaret Cocozza and James L. Kaplan. According to Manuel Galvan, press secretary for the Cook County Democratic Party, neither Judge Cocozza nor Judge Kaplan scheduled an appearance before the slating committee.

There are currently two Appellate Court vacancies. Justice Bertina Lampkin holds one of these by Supreme Court appointment; the other is held by Justice Stuart E. Palmer. Justice Lampkin was slated today by the Cook County Democratic Party for one of these two vacancies, as was Circuit Court Judge Eileen O'Neill Burke. Three alternates were also selected. In order, these are Associate Judge William Boyd, Judge Raul Vega, and Associate Judge Leonard Murray. Justice Palmer did not schedule an appearance before the slating committee, according to Galvan.

Reality intrudes -- a programming note

Two years ago, with the Cook County Democratic Party's slating meeting at the Hotel Allegro, steps from my office, and steps from the Daley Center, I was able to sit in and observe as much as of the judicial slating process as any outsider could. I had one matter to cover in the course of the two-day session, and I was able to run to court and run back without missing much of anything.

This year, however,the slating meeting, which began yesterday, is at the Erie Cafe, on the west end of the River North area. Neither my office nor the Daley Center has moved, and I have too much on my desk to permit me the luxury of attending.

It would be one thing if there were useful, productive legal work on my desk. After all, the practice of law is my day job -- this blogging enterprise may be fun for me and informative for my readers, but blogging won't pay my bills.

But the truth is, the red-hot, five-alarm emergencies on my desk are mostly discovery matters.

The discovery matters on my desk break down into two categories -- (1) needless and pointless form discovery and (2) discovery deployed as a "tactical game," notwithstanding the Supreme Court's admonition against that sort of thing in Williams v. A.E. Staley Mfg. Co., 83 Ill.2d 559, 416 N.E.2d 252, 256 (1981).

Of course, since 1981, the Supreme Court has gone into the business of prescribing form discovery....

There was one time, back in the early 1980s, when I personally saw something in discovery that dramatically impacted the outcome of a case: I was the junior associate in my firm, tasked with slogging through the medical records subpoenaed in a personal injury case, when I came across a nurse's note recounting how hospital security had to be dispatched to fetch back the supposedly-seriously-injured patient-now-plaintiff who'd slipped away from his bed... and into a nearby tavern.

I haven't seen anything half as good since. And I've seen far too many discovery requests and responses and piles and piles of subpoenaed records.

As a solo practitioner, I'm still looking. I have to: I have no junior associates or paralegals on whom to dump the thankless task of completing form discovery responses. So, while I'm very grateful for the uptick in paying legal work, my current caseload (in my experience, the mix changes over time) includes a lot of litigation matters, all in the discovery phase. Because I have to do the discovery myself I see first-hand the effect that "discovery" of things already known and/or really unimportant to the disposition of a case has on the cost of litigation. Discovery deployed as a tactical weapon is even more costly -- and injurious to our stated professional goals of civility and access to justice.

But these are issues to take up when the workload permits.

Meanwhile, I've had some rumors from inside the slating meeting about who will be on the list when the list is announced -- but no one, as yet, has volunteered to go 'on the record.'

When I have some results to report, I will do so.

But, for now, however, reality intrudes, and I have discovery issues to which I must attend.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Illinois Judges Foundation Summer Reception set for August 26

The Illinois Judges Foundation, the charitable arm of the Illinois Judges Association, will host its Summer Reception on Wednesday, August 26, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Corboy Hall at the Chicago Bar Association building, 321 S. Plymouth Court.

Proceeds from the reception support the charitable and educational programs of the Illinois Judges Association, including in particular the Harold Sullivan Scholarship. Headlining the event will be Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis, Seventh Circuit Chief Judge Diane Wood, and Lake County Chief Judge John T. Phillips. This year's Harold Sullivan Scholarship recipients (Stephanie Wiggins of the NIU School of Law, Shymane Baker of the John Marshall Law School, and Tolani Odutayo, of the University of Illinois Law School) will also be honored.

Refreshments will be served.

Tickets for the event are $100 apiece and can be purchased online or by calling Christine Athanasoulis at (708) 705-4355.

Persons interested in becoming a sponsor of the event should contact either Kevin Fagan at or Christine Athanasoulis.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Nichole C. Patton planning 2016 judicial bid?

Nichole C. Patton has a Facebook page announcing her plans to run for Cook County Circuit Court judge in the March 2016 primary. That's a link to the Facebook page in the preceding sentence; there is as yet no campaign website that I can find (the website link on the Facebook page is not active). When there is a campaign website, I'll add it to the blog Sidebar.

Patton filed for the Appellate Court in the 2014 Primary, but withdrew. She ran for the Circuit Court countywide in 2012, and from the 15th Subcircuit in 2010.

Patton is an Assistant State's Attorney. She has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1997.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Who sits where -- I can't believe it's already August edition

Petitions can begin circulating a month from today. The Cook County Democratic Party will meet to formally choose its judicial slate on August 18 and 19.

So it's time, again, to update the list of known Cook County judicial vacancies. Generally, these are vacancies that have been filled by interim Supreme Court appointment (or in which appointment processes are underway). There are surely other vacancies which the Supreme Court has not filled (there are rumored to be three vacancies in the 6th Subcircuit, for example, but below you will see listed only two). There will be additional vacancies, and additional appointments between now and late fall when the Illinois State Board of Elections posts an authoritative list of judicial vacancies in anticipation of the 2016 primary (a preliminary list of vacancies should go up on the ISBE website sometime this month).

As always, errors or omissions in this list are mine alone and I am grateful for additions and corrections provided.

Appellate Court Vacancies

Vacancy of the Hon. James R. Epstein -- Stuart E. Palmer
Vacancy of the Hon. Patrick J. Quinn -- Bertina E. Lampkin

Countywide Vacancies

Vacancy of the Hon. Paul P. Biebel, Jr. -- John Fitzgerald Lyke, Jr.
Vacancy of the Hon. Richard J. Elrod -- Rossana P. Fernandez
Vacancy of the Hon. Thomas L. Hogan -- Alison Conlon
Vacancy of the Hon. Michael J. Howlett, Jr. -- Aleksandra Nikolich Gillespie
Vacancy of the Hon. Themis N. Karzenis -- Devlin J. Schoop
Vacancy of the Hon. Noreen Valeria Love -- Jean Margaret Cocozza
Vacancy of the Hon. Patrick W. O'Brien -- James L. Kaplan
Vacancy of the Hon. Susan Ruscitti-Grussel -- Daniel J. Duffy

Subcircuit Vacancies

1st Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Cynthia Y. Brim -- Maryam Ahmad
Vacancy of the Hon. Vanessa A. Hopkins -- Anthony E. Simpkins

4th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. William J. Kunkle -- Edward John King

5th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Jane L. Stuart -- Freddrenna M. Lyle
Vacancy of the Hon. Shelli Williams-Hayes -- Robin D. Shoffner

6th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Leida J. Gonzalez Santiago -- vacant
"A" Vacancy* -- Anna M. Loftus

7th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Anthony L. Burrell -- Marianne Jackson

9th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Andrew Berman -- Jerry A. Esrig

10th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Garritt E. Howard -- Eve M. Reilly

11th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Carol A. Kelly -- Marc William Martin
Vacancy of the Hon. Susan F. Zwick -- William B. Sullivan

12th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Sandra Tristano -- Carrie E. Hamilton
"A" Vacancy** -- Roger G. Fein

I will update this list periodically, as new vacancies are announced or filled.

A navigation tip that blog newcomers may find helpful: If you click on one of the subjects at the bottom of this post, e.g., "2016 Judicial Primary," you will get a page filled with blog posts similarly tabbed, starting with the most recent post at the top.

* This is the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge William J. Maddux. Vacancies of judges elected to city-only or suburbs-only judicial vacancies prior to the adoption of the subcircuit system in the early 1990s are assigned to subcircuits as they occur pursuant to a schedule included in the original subcircuit legislation.

** This is the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert J. Quinn. Like Judge Maddux, Judge Quinn was elected to a 'Chicago-only' Circuit Court vacancy in 1992, the last time judges were elected on a citywide or suburbs-only basis (and also the first time judges were elected from Cook County Subcircuits).

ISBE publishes 2016 Candidate Guide, Election and Campaign Finance Calendar

If you're going to play the game, you've got to know the rules.

The Illinois State Board of Elections has published the rulebooks for the current election cycle. Here is a link to the 2016 Candidate Guide. Here, too, a link to the 2016 Election and Campaign Finance Calendar (both of these are .pdf documents).

Judicial candidates can begin circulating petitions as soon as one month from today -- September 1. The regular filing period opens November 23 and closes November 30.

Nominating petitions for judicial vacancies occurring during the interval from November 9 through November 30 will be accepted from December 14 through December 21.

The ISBE has not yet posted a list of Cook County judicial vacancies -- but if this election cycle is like the last one, we can expect a list to go up sometime in August. Whenever the list does go up, it will still be subject to change if and when new vacancies are posted.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Devlin J. Schoop appointed to the Cook County Circuit Court

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Devlin J. Schoop to the Cook County Circuit Court vacancy that will be created at the end of this month, when Judge Themis N. Karzenis retires.

The appointment, which was announced by Justice Mary Jane Theis and the Supreme Court in a press release dated July 22, is effective August 10 and will expire on December 5, 2016.

Schoop has been a partner with the law firm of Laner Muchin since 2008. He was a finalist for Associate Judge in 2014. Licensed in Illinois since 1997, Schoop began his legal career as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Blanche M. Manning. Before joining Laner Muchin in 2003, Schoop worked for the firm of Wildman Harrold.

The Supreme Court had previously appointed Schoop to serve on the Hearing Board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission; he has served as a panel chair for the ARDC Hearing Board since 2011. He has also volunteered his time for the Cook County Bar Association Criminal Expungement Project and the Center for Elder and Disability Law. Schoop has sat on the boards of the Center for Conflict Resolution and the Cy Pres Award Committee for the Chicago Bar Foundation. He served on the associate board of the Jane Addams Hull House association and recently completed a term on the Board of Managers of the Chicago Bar Association.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rossana Fernandez campaign website launched

Supporters of Judge Rossana Fernandez's bid to remain on the Cook County Circuit Court bench have launched a campaign website. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Fernandez to the countywide Elrod vacancy earlier this year. Fernandez's website notes that she is the daughter of immigrant parents for Uruguay and Guatemala. Before establishing her own firm, Fernandez became the "first Latina Partner" at the law firm of Sanchez & Daniels (in 2007) (Manuel "Manny" Sanchez is co-chairing her campaign).

According to her campaign website, prior to her appointment, Fernandez served on the Board of Governors for the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel and was an active member of the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel and Defense Research Institute. Fernandez continues to serve on the Board of Governors for the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois and is an active member of the Illinois Judges Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association, Justinian Society of Lawyers and Women’s Bar Association.

Judge Fernandez graduated from Chicago Kent IIT College of Law in 1996. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois (in English literature and history). She is a graduate of Chicago's Lane Technical High School. Growing up in Chicago, according to her campaign website, Fernandez was a member of the Erie Neighborhood House Drill Team. She later volunteered there and served as a mentor where she later volunteered and served as a mentor. Fernandez continues to serve as a volunteer with Chicago Cares, "assisting with customized service projects that benefit the Chicago community, particularly the Chicago Public School System," according to her campaign website.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Maryam Ahmad campaign website up and running

A campaign website has been established for Judge Maryam Ahmad. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Ahmad's campaign website touts her "15 years of legal experience and an additional 14 years of service in higher education," noting that she has served as both an Assistant Public Defender and as an Assistant State's Attorney and also "represented plaintiffs and defendants in corporate and civil litigation cases."

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Ahmad to the Brim vacancy in the 1st Subcircuit late last year.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

July 23 kick off for Judge Rossana P. Fernandez campaign

Supporters of Judge Rossana P. Fernandez are planning a kick off fundraiser for their candidate on Thursday, July 23, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at La Taberna, 1301 S. Halsted. Co-hosting the event are Manuel "Manny" Sanchez and Jim Morici.

Tickets for the fundraiser are priced at $100 each, and sponsorships are available (Chair - $1,000, Host - $500, or Patron - $250). For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, contact Aaron Sofian at (773) 414-5156, or by email at

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Fernandez to the countywide Elrod vacancy earlier this year.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

AUSA Carrie Hamilton appointed to 12th Subcircuit vacancy

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie E. Hamilton to the 12th Subcircuit vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Sandra Tristano.

Hamilton's appointment is effective July 17 and terminates December 5, 2016.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1996, Hamilton has been involved in a number of high profile public corruption cases while with the U.S. Attorney's Office, including the trials of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Tony Rezko. More recently, Hamilton was involved in the pending prosecution of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Justice Theis announces application process for 6th Subcircuit vacancy

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis has announced that applications will be accepted to fill a 6th Subcircuit vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Leida J. Gonzalez Santiago.

The application deadline is 4:00 p.m., Friday, July 31. In order to be eligible for consideration by Justice Theis's screening committee, an applicant "must be a lawyer in good standing licensed to practice law in Illinois and a resident of the Sixth Subcircuit."

Interested lawyers will find instructions on how to request an application on the Supreme Court's website at From there, follow the instructions on the "Latest News" scroller announcing the Sixth Judicial Subcircuit of Cook County vacancy.

According to the Supreme Court's press release, completed applications may be submitted by mail to the attention of Ms. Laurie Marino at the Supreme Court's Chicago office, 160 N. LaSalle Street, Suite N2013, or by email to

Saturday, July 04, 2015

John Fitzgerald Lyke, Jr. appointed to Biebel vacancy

Updated 7/8/15 to provide link to Supreme Court press release

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Hyde Park criminal defense attorney John Fitzgerald Lyke, Jr. to the countywide vacancy created by the imminent retirement of Criminal Division Presiding Judge Paul P. Biebel, Jr. The Illinois Supreme Court issued a press release about the appointment on July 7.

Judge Biebel's retirement is effective Monday (per the July 1 edition of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin).* Lyke's appointment is effective July 16, and terminates December 5, 2016. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1994, Lyke served as a prosecutor before entering private practice, according to his firm website.
* A subscription is ordinarily required to access Law Bulletin stories, but this article was posted on the paper's website as a "free read."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lindsay Hugé announces 2016 judicial bid

Lindsay Hugé, a veteran Assistant Public Defender, has announced his intent to run for the Cook County Circuit Court in the 2016 Democratic Primary. That's a link to Hugé's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog sidebar.

Hugé has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1989, and has been with the Public Defender's office throughout his career. According to his campaign website, Hugé also taught history at DePaul University from 2001 to 2003 and has taught law and history at Columbia College since 1998. While still teaching and practicing law, Hugé found time to earn a second M.A. in literature from DePaul in 2008 (he earned an M.A. in history from Loyola University Chicago in 2000) and an LLM in intellectual property from John Marshall Law School in 2014.

According to his campaign website, Hugé also serves on the boards of the Cliff Dwellers Club and the City Lit Theater.

Hugé resides in Uptown with his wife and son. He has launched his campaign with a $50,000 donation, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Fundraiser for Judge Edward J. King set for Wednesday, June 24

Supporters of Judge Edward J. King's bid to hold his 4th Subcircuit seat are planning a fundraiser for their candidate this Wednesday, June 24, starting at 5:00 p.m. at the Via Bella Restaurant, 5412 S. LaGrange Road in Countryside.

Tickets for the event are $75 apiece and will be available at the door.

For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, call (630) 247-1890 or email

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed King to the Kunkle vacancy in the 4th Subcircuit last October.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Brendan O'Brien campaign website launched

Brendan O'Brien's judicial campaign now has launched a campaign website. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

O'Brien has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1996. He was an appropriations and research analyst on the staff of House Speaker Mike Madigan in 1991-1992, after taking his bachelor's degree at Illinois State and before starting his law school career at John Marshall Law School in Chicago. O'Brien has practiced with Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP since 1999.

Brendan O'Brien is the grandson of Judge Donald J. O'Brien, the longtime presiding judge of the Chancery Division, and the son of retired Judge Donald J. O'Brien, Jr. Brendan is married to Jessica A. O'Brien, who was elected to the Cook County bench in 2012.

Campaign website found for Judge Jerry Esrig

Judge Jerry Esrig is running to hold onto the Berman vacancy in the 9th Judicial Subcircuit. That's a link to Esrig's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has been added to the candidate list in the blog Sidebar as well.

Judge Esrig is serving in his second appointment to the Circuit Court. First appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2013, Esrig ran unsuccessfully in the 2014 primary, falling short in a race that, in the opinions of the several screening bar associations, featured two of the most highly qualified or recommended candidates (Esrig being one of them) in the entire 2014 primary field.

As a judge, Esrig's "assignments have included the Municipal Jury Trial Assignment Call," described by his campaign website as "a challenging, high-volume call which includes emergency motion, case management, status, assignment, motions of course and fully briefed substantive motion calls." Esrig was licensed as an attorney in 1978 and, before his appointment to the bence, was a founding partner in the firm of Zaideman & Esrig, P.C.. From roughly 1985-1999 the firm was known as Epstein, Zaideman & Esrig, PC. (former Appellate Court Justice James Epstein, was a partner in that firm before he went on the bench). According to his website, Esrig "represented individuals who have been profoundly injured in catastrophic events" and "small and medium sized businesses and associations in commercial matters."

According to his campaign website, Esrig served as secretary and then president of Am Yisrael Synagogue. As president, he helped initiate construction of the Rabbi William and Toby Frankel Religious Education Center. He has also coached AYSO soccer and Evanston Youth Baseball.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Found on the Internet: 2016 Campaign website for Maureen O'Donoghue Hannon

Found on the Internet: A campaign website has been put up for Assistant State's Attorney Maureen O'Donoghue Hannon. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence; the link will be added to the blog Sidebar (which I am obviously going to have to put up soon).

Hannon was briefly a candidate in the 2014 election cycle, withdrawing in January 2014 and leaving the Democratic Party's slated candidate (and the eventual victor) Diana Rosario in a one-on-one contest with Stephen J. Feldman. Hannon's campaign website at this point is an updated version of her 2014 site; she has also launched a 2016 campaign page on Facebook.

Licensed in Illinois since 1991, Hannon's website notes that for the past four years she has served as Supervisor of the Conflicts Counsel Unit in the State's Attorney's Office, representing "County defendants in cases with a potential conflict of interest that were formerly sent out to private firms." Hannon has worked in several different capacities in the State's Attorney's Civil Action Bureau during the course of her career.

Cook County Democrats to "pre-slate" judicial candidates next week

From the Cook County Democratic Party website:
Pre-Slating will be held June 25-26 for offices up for election in 2016. Please contact the Cook County Democratic Party for the information needed to be submitted prior to receiving a scheduled time for this process. Slating will be held in August of 2015, dates to be announced. For questions or further information please contact the office at (312) 263-0575.
Appearing at the "pre-slating" process is, of course, no substitute for a close, personal relationship with one or more, or preferably dozens, of ward and township committeemen. But, for the candidate interested in obtaining Party support, what can it hurt?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Judge Shoffner's campaign announces June 23 fundraiser, campaign website

Supporters of Judge Robin D. Shoffer's bid to remain on the bench are planning a Tuesday, June 23 fundraiser for their candidate, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Metropolitan Club on the 67th floor of the Willis Tower.

The suggested donation for the event is $250. Persons interested in attending are encouraged to email or call (312) 288-7265 as soon as possible for tickets or more information.

Meanwhile, as the hyperlink in the first sentence of this post indicates, Judge Shoffner's campaign now has a website; that's a link to it. (The link will be added to the blog Sidebar when the list of candidate websites is put up.)

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Shoffner to the Williams-Hayes vacancy in the 5th Subcircuit late last year. Before becoming a judge, Shoffner served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago. Shoffner's campaign bio clarifies that she served two stints in the Corporation Counsel's office, the first time early in her career. Shoffner began her legal career working as a law clerk for then-Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Mackoff; later, before moving onto the City Department of Law, Shoffner served as a law clerk to the late Appellate Court Justice Glenn T. Johnson. In between stints with the Corp Counsel's office, Shoffner worked in a number of private-sector positions including a seven year hitch with Aon Service Corporation as senior litigation counsel.

According to her campaign website, Judge Shoffner served as president of the Black Women Lawyers Association (in 1996). She has also served on the board of the Cook County Bar Association and, among many other community activities, as a member of the Pastoral Council and Finance Council of Holy Angels Church.

Monday, June 15, 2015

June 18 fundraiser for Judge Eileen O'Neill Burke

Supporters of Cook County Circuit Court Judge Eileen O'Neill Burke's bid for the Illinois Appellate Court are planning a fundraiser for their candidate on Thursday, June 18 at fadó Irish Pub, 100 W. Grand Ave., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Individual tickets for the event are $150 each, but sponsorships are available (Bronze - $250, Silver - $500, Gold - $1,000, or Platinum - $5,400).

To reserve tickets for the event, visit Judge Burke's campaign website. For more information concerning the event, email

Saturday, June 13, 2015

All Cook County Associate Judges retained for new four-year terms; some Downstate judges rejected by their colleagues

Three hundred seventy six of the 384 associate judges who sought new terms were reelected to the bench by their full-circuit colleagues, according to election results announced this week by the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. Every one of the 140 Cook County associate judges who applied was chosen for a new four-year term.

Of the eight Downstate judges who sought retention unsuccessfully, one was from Will County (12th Judicial Circuit) and another was from the 6th Judicial Circuit (the circuit which includes Champaign County). According to Beth Hundsdorfer's article in the June 11 editions of the Belleville News-Democrat, the other six were from Madison and St. Clair Counties, including the only African-American jurist in St. Clair County, Laninya Cason, and the only two African-American judges in Madison County, Duane Bailey and Ben Beyers.

According to Hunsdorfer's article, every one of the six judges not retained in Madison and St. Clair Counties had been recommended for retention by the Illinois State Bar Association with the sole exception of Judge Cason. "In recent years," Hunsdorfer reported, "Cason switched her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican."

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 39(a)(1) provides, in pertinent part, "The terms of all associate judges in office shall expire on June 30th of every fourth year subsequent to 1975, regardless of the date on which any judge is appointed."

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Judge Eileen O'Neill Burke announces Appellate Court bid

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Eileen O'Neill Burke has announced plans to seek a seat on the Appellate Court in the 2016 Democratic Primary. That's a link to Judge Burke's campaign website in the preceding sentence; the link will be added to a blog Sidebar when enough Appellate Court candidate websites are accumulated.

Judge Burke currently presides over an individual calendar in the Commercial Calendar Section of the Law Division. Since her election to the Circuit Court in 2008, Judge Burke has served in a number of assignments, including a Law Division motion call. Burke's website notes that, before becoming a judge, Burke had her own firm, handling both criminal defense and civil matters. She began her career in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, serving there for 10 years and, along the way, writing "more than 100 appellate briefs, and [arguing] more than 35 times in the 1st District Appellate Court." Also, according to her campaign website, Burke has also argued three cases before the Illinois Supreme Court.

Judge Burke has served on the Alumni Board of Directors of her law school alma mater, IIT Chicago Kent Law School, since 2012. Her campaign website also notes that she has served as a "host judge" for Women Everywhere, welcoming underprivileged high school girls to the courthouse and presenting information about different career options. Judge Burke has also participated, according to her campaign website, as a presenter in the "Civics in the Classroom" and "7 Reasons to Leave the Party" programs sponsored by the Illinois Judges Association (on which she serves as a member of the Board of Directors).

According to Judge Burke's campaign website, her campaign is being co-chaired by retired Appellate Court Justice Michael Gallagher and retired Circuit Court Judge Maureen Durkin Roy. Her Finance Committee Co-Chairs are Robert Cooney, Terrence J. Sheahan, and Matthew Walsh, II.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Richard C. Cooke kicks off 2016 campaign -- and the potential unintended consequences of a campaign loan

Appearing before the Cook County Democratic Party's judicial slatemakers in August 2013, Richard C. Cooke did not flinch when asked whether he would run against the Party if left off the ticket. If you don't slate me today, Cooke said, "consider this my 2016 kick-off then."

Cooke wasn't slated in 2013, but he has kicked-off his 2016 judicial candidacy in a big way -- one that may have an impact on many Cook County judicial campaigns this primary season -- or maybe not -- but we will come to that in time.

First, we introduce Cooke. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1992, Cooke began his legal career doing subrogation work for Northbrook attorney Michael R. Kuzel and, later, in-house for CNA Insurance Companies. Since 1997, Cooke has operated his own firm, carving out a niche for himself in the petroleum industry, with a focus on Illinois EPA regulatory statutes and underground storage tank issues. His résumé notes that he's drafted sample facility EPA compliance and operation manuals that are in use at gas stations throughout Illinois. Along the way, Cooke says he's had over 200 bench trials and over 25 jury verdicts -- and, since 2008, he's operated a self-funded free legal aid clinic for needy families and individuals in the Logan Square and Humboldt Park neighborhoods.

Cooke's current campaign committee was set up on April 16, 2015, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections website. It's what he did on April 21, however, that is newsworthy. On that date, Cooke loaned his committee $500,000.

No, that's not a misprint.

I confirmed the loan in a conversation with Cooke earlier this week. Cooke is serious about winning election to the bench, he told me, but reluctant to hit up friends, family and clients for campaign donations. He had the wherewithal, Cooke said, to self-fund a strong, credible campaign -- and so he loaned his campaign the half a million.

Nice story, right? The independence and impartiality of the judiciary is of vital import to continued public confidence in our courts. Many serious observers are worried about the potentially corrupting influence of money in electoral politics and particularly in judicial elections. Raising campaign funds makes a lot of potential judicial candidates uneasy. So it's tempting to stop the story right here -- with a candidate who has (spectacularly) demonstrated an ability to avoid the whole troublesome question of fundraising.

But this is Illinois. And Cooke's actions -- well-intentioned as they may be -- may have unintended consequences.

Readers may recall the name William J. Kelly from the Chicago mayoral election just past. No, his name never appeared on the ballot, even in the primary (he never filed nominating petitions). But Kelly announced that he was running for Mayor of Chicago, formed a committee, and, last October, loaned his campaign $100,000.

Kelly told the Tribune last October that he intended by his action "to level the playing field" in the mayoral race, and perhaps that was his intention -- but it had the effect of blowing the caps off all campaign contributions for all mayoral candidates under Illinois law.

Here's why. Section 9-8.5(h) of the Illinois Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/9-8.5(h), provides, in pertinent part, "If a public official, a candidate, or the public official's or candidate's immediate family contributes or loans to the public official's or candidate's political committee or to other political committees that transfer funds to the public official's or candidate's political committee or makes independent expenditures for the benefit of the public official's or candidate's campaign during the 12 months prior to an election in an aggregate amount of more than (i) $ 250,000 for statewide office or (ii) $ 100,000 for all other elective offices, then * * * all candidates for that office, including the nominee who filed the notification of self-funding, shall be permitted to accept contributions in excess of any contribution limit imposed by subsection (b) for the subsequent election cycle." There are notices that have to be filed, and posted on the ISBE website, and given to other candidates -- but the bottom line is that, once one candidate for a particular office self-funds beyond the statutory limit, all candidates for that office are exempt from contribution limits.

That's easy enough to follow when one is running for mayor or governor -- there's only one of each -- but there are a number of Cook County judicial vacancies. We don't even know all of the judicial vacancies that will be up for election in the 2016 Primary.

So... did a gesture meant to express independence from the arguably corrosive, corrupting influence of campaign donations inadvertently blow the lid off all campaign contribution limits in all Cook County judicial races?

Section 9.8-5(h) is not entirely clear, acknowledged Ken Menzel, General Counsel of the Illinois State Board of Elections. In a telephone conversation with FWIW yesterday, Menzel explained that there would have been less of a problem if the loan had come much later in the election cycle. Right now judicial candidates are, theoretically, potential candidates for many possible vacancies. However, Menzel pointed our that regulations were recently adopted (on May 19, in fact) that may provide guidance. Menzel cited FWIW to Title 26 of the Illinois Administrative Code, Section 100.75. Section 100.75(j)(2) states that, "'Candidate for the same office' shall be determined by candidate petition filings. Prior to the actual filing of petitions for a particular office, a candidate for that office wishing to receive official notice of a Self-Funding Notification from the Board must inform the Board in writing of his or her intention to seek nomination or election to the office in question."

At this point -- since Cooke has not declared for any specific vacancy and petitions can not yet be legally circulated -- it is probably safe to say that campaign finance caps (currently $5,400 from individuals, $10,800 from corporations, labor organizations or associations) remain in place for all judicial campaign committees except Cooke's -- and he's not looking for more money. "That's almost certainly the legislative intent," one prominent election law attorney told me, though he would not comment for the record because of the possibility that this issue might be settled in the courts.

Hopefully, it won't get that far. Judicial candidates are more "risk-averse" than candidates for most offices, Ken Menzel observed, and therefore might not press the issue by seeking or accepting over-large donations. And, even if the ISBE might not cite a judicial campaign committee for accepting campaign contributions in excess of the caps because of the Cooke campaign loan, Menzel noted that, under §9-20 of the Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/9-20, any person who believes that the campaign finance laws have been violated may file a verified complaint with the ISBE, triggering a an administrative process that could wind up in court.

For his part, Cooke has not set his sights on a particular vacancy. In 2013 Cooke said he wouldn't run against the Democratic Party in 2014 if he was not slated, and he didn't. This week Cooke told me that nothing has changed; he still does not plan to run against the Party if he is not slated. On the other hand, the Democratic Party has a half million reasons to listen carefully to Cooke's pitch at the next slating meeting.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Celeste Jones announces 2016 judicial bid

A reader alerted me to the 2016 judicial candidacy of Celeste Jones, an attorney in the Public Guardian's Office (Jones is listed in the current Sullivan's as Supervisor of Accounts and Assistant Public Guardian in the Adult Guardianship Division). That's a link to Jones' campaign website in the preceding sentence. Her site will be added to the list in a blog Sidebar when enough of these accumulate.

Jones has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1995. According to her campaign website, Jones has been with the Public Guardian's Office for her entire career, starting in the Juvenile Division, representing "hundreds of child clients affected by the child welfare system," winning promotion to "Lead Attorney" and handling child abuse cases. Jones moved to the Adult Guardianship Division over 12 years ago, managing, according to her campaign site, "the personal and financial affairs of people with disabilities, most of whom were elderly."

Jones' campaign site notes that she "is a past Committee Chair and currently serves on the planning committee for Women Everywhere: Partners In Service Project" and also serves as a board member of Our Community of Illinois. A graduate of Northern Illinois University and the Loyola Chicago School of Law, Jones is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

FAQ's about FWIW

Now that Cook County judicial candidates are starting to reveal their 2016 plans, this seems an appropriate time to address some questions prospective candidates or their supporters may have about this blog. (A lot of this stuff is already addressed in the blog Sidebar, but it may not hurt to spell it out here, too.)
  1. This is a non-partisan blog. I want to cover all candidates running for judge in Cook County. Because Democratic candidates have historically enjoyed such tremendous success in this county, most of the posts here will be about candidates in the Democratic primary. But I will gladly cover Republican candidates, too. If a candidate has a website, I will link to it and (when I get it set up) post it in the blog Sidebar.
  2. This blog does not make endorsements. I'm sure to know some of the candidates who will be covered here, whether I've had cases with or against them over the years, or we've officed together, or because we've met through bar functions, or because we've met through this blog. I will mention significant connections, but I don't think the public cares how many candidates I've met and I am certain the public does not care who I intend to vote for. I've made an editorial decision to try and present all candidates in the most positive light that I can, especially in my first post about a campaign. When the bar association evaluations come out, later in the election cycle, I will also report these -- and, of course, not all of the evaluations will be positive. But I'm not going to go out of my way to slam anyone.

    I believe the best candidates will distinguish themselves when as much information about all candidates as possible is presented for the voters' consideration. In addition to bar evaluations, I will advise of newspaper endorsements (if they're made) or community group or union endorsements (when I can verify them). On the other hand, while I won't make individual endorsements, I have been a lawyer for 35 years and I have fairly well-developed opinions about what I want for my clients when I appear in court. I reserve the right to talk about that -- in general terms -- in future posts.
  3. I want to publicize candidates' events. I'm happy to put up information about candidate fundraisers. But I will cheerfully publicize other candidate events as well. (Organizers of candidate forums are encouraged to contact this blog so I can promote their events.) If a candidate wants to promote a speaking engagement or publicize a petition party, I'll run that, too. I will try and include photographs if the candidate or his or her campaign provides them. Please keep in mind that I have my own practice to run and I can't possibly find out about all candidate events on my own. That means I rely on candidate requests for publicity. I'm sure I'll hear from some campaigns ten times or more; there will probably be others that I'll never hear from once. That does not mean I'm playing favorites; I'm merely responding to the email I receive.
  4. Judicial candidates and committees do not pay for posts appearing on this blog. I do not book the Google ads on that appear on this page, and candidate ads may sometimes appear in those spaces, but I personally do not accept candidate ads. (I will accept ads from persons or companies looking to offer products or services to judicial candidates; see the blog Sidebar for additional information.)

    In this early stage of the election cycle, judicial election posts on FWIW are read primarily by candidates, their supporters, and persons who are thinking about running for judge in the future. A lot of judges tell me that they visit here regularly; so do persons affiliated with the various bar association judicial evaluation committees. Ultimately, however, as the primary date draws close, this site will be increasingly visited by voters looking for information. The information that candidates and their supporters have provided, post by post, will be collected and 'packaged' for the voters. Candidates may want to look at past Organizing the Data posts to get a feel for the kind of information has been collected and posted. I'm always looking to enhance the functionality of this site and I reserve the right to make any improvements within my abilities.)
  5. I am a lawyer, not a professional journalist. However, since professional journalists insist on ignoring judicial elections, I will do the best I can. Having run for judge twice myself (in 1994 and 1996) I appreciate just how little opportunity judicial candidates have to get their credentials before the public. I've already stated my editorial bias in favor of trying to present candidates in the best possible light, at least in my initial post about any given campaign. However, I reserve the right to fact-check information provided, to add information I've discovered on my own, to combine or even ignore duplicative releases. In short, I reserve the right to edit.
  6. Comments on this blog are 'moderated.' This means I read any comment that anyone cares to leave and decide whether or not it will get posted. I will not automatically exclude anonymous comments, but I'd greatly prefer you leave a name. I don't think that comments from friends and family like "he's the best" or "she's the most qualified" are going to really sway any voters when the time comes -- but I will generally let these kinds of comments through. I will, however, block "attack" comments, especially from anonymous commenters.

    I understand that this is a blog and there is an expectation, for better or worse, that all Internet commentary should be freewheeling and even pungent. But this is my blog and I reserve the right to have my own expectations.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Pat Heneghan announces Cook County judicial bid

Commercial litigator Pat Heneghan has announced plans to seek a countywide judicial vacancy in the March 2016 Democratic primary. That's a link to Heneghan's campaign website in the preceding sentence. (When I collect enough of these, there will be an alphabetical list of candidate websites in a sidebar to this blog.)

Heneghan is currently a partner in the law firm of Schopf & Weiss LLP. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1983, Heneghan is a graduate of The Catholic University School of Law. Heneghan began his legal career as a clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Robert Vining (N.D. Ga.) and 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Jerre Williams. Among other career accomplishments, Heneghan was one of the lead counsel for Ehlco Liquidating Trust in the case of Employers Ins. of Wausau v. Ehlco Liquidating Trust, 186 Ill.2d 127 (1999).

According to his campaign website, Heneghan is the immediate past President of the Northeast Illinois Council (NEIC) of the Boy Scouts of America, former Chairman of the NEIC Eagle Scout Committee, a member of the NEIC Executive Board, and an Assistant Scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 156 in Glenview. An Eagle Scout himself, according to his campaign website, Heneghan "has mentored hundreds of young men and women by teaching them outdoor skills and citizenship values."

Heneghan's campaign is being chaired by Thomas Vasiljevich, a shareholder in the Chicago office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Norwood Park remembers -- Memorial Day 2015

The rain held off just long enough for the annual Norwood Park Memorial Day Parade today.  Herewith some photos of the occasion.

The parade's Grand Marshal was Air Force veteran Ramina Oraha, a 2003 graduate of Resurrection High School who served in Iraq.  This story, on DNAinfo Chicago, explains why Oraha was chosen.

No neighborhood parade is complete without a large contingent of scout groups.  The first such group in Monday's parade was Pack 3926 from Immaculate Conception Grade School

It wouldn't be a Chicago parade without politicians.  Newly elected 41st Ward Ald. Anthony Napolitano had a group wedged in between the IC scout groups.

The IC Girl Scouts

More of today's parade pictures follow on Page Two.