Saturday, August 20, 2016

Updating the Turner-Crawford story and suggesting a step back

This week's story about a Cook County judge getting suspended after allegedly allowing a law clerk/ staff attorney (and judicial candidate) to wear a robe and decide cases on the judge's call has grown national legs.

In addition to the coverage here, and in the Tribune, and the Sun-Times (the Sun-Times has also published an editorial on the case -- the paper is against non-judges pretending to be a judge, in case you were in doubt), the story has been picked up by
If a Google search this morning can be believed, a couple of Chinese-language sites have picked up the story as well.

Also weighing in on the story, albeit tangentially, is Second City Cop. In a post throwing darts at the Cook County Sheriff (*ahem*), SCC bumps a blog comment into its post:
Sheriff's office attempted to cover-up Judge scandal at the Markham Courthouse. Numerous sources saying a Deputy wrote a memo stating Judge was allowing her friend to wear a robe and play Judge on the bench. The Deputy's memo was never reported by the Sheriff's office. The Sheriff's office is now claiming they did not know if Judge was running a "training" exercise. Numerous sources say this is a lie cause Sheriff Dart blew a gasket today in his office as he just learned the Deputy documented the incident.

I'm not accepting SCC's reported rumor as fact. But, whether it's true or not, it reminds us, or it should, that this Turner-Crawford business is more that what-were-they-thinking story. There's another story here, too, namely, whether anybody could have, or should have, seen this coming -- and maybe even headed this off.

Because this is not a 'funny story' for the people involved. It's at least career-threatening, maybe even career-ending. And, on paper at least, nothing in Judge Turner's background, at least, suggested that she would ever have thought this unauthorized job-sharing to be a good idea. As Mark Brown's August 17 Sun-Times article pointed out, Judge Turner came to the bench after "two years as an assistant U.S. attorney and six years at Kirkland & Ellis. She received her law degree from the University of Chicago." Since her election to the bench in 2002, Judge Turner was found recommended or qualified for retention by every bar group, both the CBA and every Alliance member, in both 2008 and 2014 (the sole exception being a negative review from the Chicago Council of Lawyers for the 2008 retention election -- and, as noted, the CCL urged a yes vote for Judge Turner in 2014).

So I have to think that maybe something changed for Judge Turner between 2014 and whenever she first let Ms. Crawford don her robe. But maybe not -- that's what investigations are for.

But take that step back with me now. Let's just talk about judges generally, not about Judge Turner or Ms. Crawford.

I realize that judges have pretty autonomous working conditions. But judges typically have support staff, at least a courtroom clerk and (as SCC notes this morning) a courtroom deputy. Every judge has at least a supervising or presiding judge to whom he or she reports. No, there's no clock-punching---quite the opposite---and there are no ra-ra meetings in the breakroom (although wouldn't that be pretty cool? OK, team, we're having a special on 2-615 motions this week...). But, still, there are people who interact with any judge often enough that a marked change in behavior, in demeanor, in appearance... for whatever reason... illness, substance issues, depression... you'd think something might have been seen. By someone. Wouldn't you hope something might also be said?

Now, maybe, that judge---that hypothetical judge we're now talking about, not anyone in particular---might respond to a friendly offer of help or concern by biting the head off of the person having the temerity to ask. Or maybe he or she might burden the person asking with more than he or she can handle alone. There's a range of possible responses. But if your helping hand is slapped away, mightn't you then take your concern to the judge's supervisor maybe even the Chief Judge? I just don't see why a situation has to get so far out of hand, to the point where someone jeopardizes their career, or worse. If it was you who'd wound up, for whatever reason, in a bad place, wouldn't you want someone to offer help? Wouldn't you want someone to warn your supervisors before you harmed yourself or your livelihood?

So wouldn't you, shouldn't you, want to offer help if you see a judge---or any colleague---drifting into peril? When the snickering stops over the Turner-Crawford business, I hope that this thought remains.

Not vindicated, but spared; Judge Santiago censured by Illinois Courts Commission

In an order released Thursday (still not online, but I'll update when I can supply the link), the Illinois Courts Commission censured Judge Beatriz Santiago for violations of Canons 1 and 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Supreme Court Rules 61 and 62. For the non-lawyers who follow along here, the censure order means that the Courts Commission agreed that Judge Santiago was guilty of misconduct, but did not deem that misconduct sufficient to remove her from office.

Questions of residency had dogged Santiago since she announced her 6th Subcircuit judicial campaign in the Fall of 2011.

The timeline provided by the Courts Commission Order serves as the basis for the summary that follows.

Santiago, a career Assistant Public Defender before being slated for the bench, bought a house in 2005 on Spaulding Avenue. The house was in walking distance of the home where she grew up, on Potomac Avenue, but it was just a couple of blocks outside the 6th Subcircuit (it was just inside the 7th Subcircuit, if that's of vital import for you). She fixed up the house and moved in and lived there just like anyone else would live in their own house for a number of years.

But then Santiago was slated to run in the 6th Subcircuit. She could not continue to live in her own home and run for judge in the 6th Subcircuit. Goodman v. Ward, 241 Ill.2d 398, 412, 948 N.E.2d 580 (2011). So, she said, sometime in August or September 2011, she moved back to her parents' home.

Several other candidates coveted the vacancy for which Santiago was slated. Two challenges were filed to her candidacy, at least one of these asserting that Santiago lived in the house that she owned and not, as she claimed, back with the folks. The Courts Commission quotes from the hearing officer's opinion in one of those challenges in its August 18 Order, at p. 2: "The hearing officer found that despite 'a number of facts regarding [respondent's] residency that are not entirely plausible,' there was not sufficient evidence to 'conclusively establish' that respondent did not reside at the Potomac property." The Cook County Electoral Board adopted the hearing officer's findings and recommendation and Santiago was permitted to remain on the ballot.

And, of course, she won.

But she still had the house on Spaulding.

So, in June 2013, after taking judicial office, Santiago decided to refinance her mortgage on that property. She submitted a loan application to American Equity Mortgage (AEM). In the loan app and accompanying documents, Santiago made the following representations (Order, p. 2):
  • in Section II, that the Spaulding property would be her "Primary Residence,"
  • in Section III, that the Spaulding property was her "Present Address," and
  • in Section IV, that she owned the Spaulding property as her primary residence.
The lender did a background and credit check and (p. 3) "discovered that most of the documents accompanying respondent's application, including pay stubs and proof of employment, showed respondent lived at the Potomac property rather than the Spaulding property." It asked for an explanation. In two letters requested by the lender, Santiago said she just used her mother's Potomac address for work-related issues, and that it was a former address. On August 9, 2013, Santiago completed and signed an occupancy certification that the lender provided. On that same day she signed a "mortgagor's affidavit" in which she certified, "I presently occupy, or intend to occupy, the subject property as my principal residence, and am not now considering any proposal to sell subject property to third persons." All the while, though, Santiago continued to live on Potomac.

FWIW readers will remember what happened next: WGN-TV and the Medill Watchdog Group collaborated on a series entitled "Judging the Judges." Prominently featured in the series were stories about subcircuit judges who might have moved, for one reason or another, from the subcircuits from which they were initially elected. I wrote about the series; from this archived post you can still read what WGN and Medill Watchdog had to say at the time about Judge Santiago's mortgage (I had not mentioned her by name in my post).

The Court Commission's August 18 Order notes (pp. 4-5) that, after the WGN pieces aired, Judge Santiago took corrective action. First, she repaid the homeowner's exemption on her taxes (she'd improperly claimed that, too) and, second, she notified her lender that she was not living at the property after all.

And Santiago's lender turned out to have a corporate heart of gold: It did not prosecute her for fraud but instead "attempted to help her rectify problems resulting from her claiming the Spaulding property [as] her primary residence" (p. 5). The lender did not even require Judge Santiago to refinance; although the lender acknowledged in writing that it had been notified that Santiago was not using the Spaulding home as her primary residence, the mortgage would be left as is.

Since then, Santiago has sold the house on Spaulding and bought another one safely within the confines of the Sixth Judicial Subcircuit. The tainted mortgage is gone.

Judge Santiago testified at her hearing before the Courts Commission (p. 5), "she never deliberately intended to deceive AEM, but admitted she was 'careless' in signing the mortgage documents. Respondent signed the 2013 mortgage documents in a room in the courthouse while she was on her lunch hour, and the entire process took only ten to fifteen minutes. She said she was rushed and did not actually read the documents, but just signed in the places she was required to sign. Respondent testified she has been humiliated and embarrassed by the incident, and she has been humbled. She testified her career has basically been ruined because she failed to read the mortgage papers prior to signing them." Santiago told the Commission that her entire legal career has been spent in the area of criminal law; she "knows little about real estate law" (p. 5).

The Commission stressed that most of the evidence in this case was stipulated to and most of the facts in the case undisputed. Because Santiago did not really contest the Judicial Inquiry Board's allegations of violations, the Commission saw its task as merely determining what sanction to impose. The Commission noted (p. 8), "Respondent engaged in consistent hedging and her candor was reasonably in question." On the other hand, the Commission noted (p. 9), Santiago's "actions and omissions were not related to her official duties. Further, there is no indication in the record of any prejudicial impact to any litigant appearing before respondent. * * * There is no contest in the record that the actions of respondent are not likely to recur and the financing situation, as well as the question of residential qualification, appear to have been resolved."

The key passage in the Order may be this one, at p. 7:
At a minimum, respondent knew or should have known of her residency problems when she faced a challenge to her candidacy for circuit judge of the Sixth Judicial Subcircuit in the 2012 election. Subsequent to that, however, the record shows that in her disclosures, in order to secure an FHA loan, she designated the Spaulding property residence as "primary." Respondent argued that her actions could be characterized as careless. Given, however, the highlighting of her residence problems in the electoral challenge to her candidacy, one could reasonably characterize her activities as reckless. In effect, respondent got trapped. Her response to her situation only made her situation worse. She could be charged with reasonable notice of her problem due to the electoral challenge; however, the documents that she executed and the representations she made to AEM aggravated rather than corrected the situation. Respondent argued that ultimately no harm was done to AEM as all obligations were paid in full as the house was sold for more than the original obligation. We note, however, that her actions, taken in order to qualify for an FHA loan as opposed to a regular residential loan and the subsequent financing resulted in financial benefit to her. We also note the corrective actions were taken only subsequent to exposure of her residency problems by the media.
Now, for the non-lawyers, and even for the lawyers-who-are-not-judges who may happen on this post, let me suggest to you that it may not go so well for you if you misrepresent your residency plans in a mortgage application and the mortgage company finds out about it. Or if the county finds out that you're claiming a homeowner's exemption on property where you don't reside. But Judge Santiago has been spared; she has the opportunity now to resume her judicial career and restore her reputation.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tributes, scholarships conferred at IJF Summer Reception

The CBA's Corboy Hall was packed last evening for the Illinois Judges Foundation Summer Reception.

Proceeds from the reception support the charitable and educational programs of the Illinois Judges Foundation, the charitable arm of the Illinois Judges Association, including in particular the Harold Sullivan Scholarship. Three of these scholarships were awarded last evening.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, retired Illinois Appellate Court Justice Gino L. DiVito, and Lake County Chief Judge Jorge L. Ortiz were honored by the IJF as judicial icons.

Pictured below are Lake County Associate Judge Elizabeth M. Rochford, IJF Immediate Past President; Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans, who provided an introduction for Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke; Justice Burke; and Cook County Associate Judge Jeanne Reynolds, the current President of the IJF.

Here is Justice Burke, accepting her award.

Justice DiVito accepted his award as Judges Rochford and Reynolds looked on.

This is Lake County Chief Judge Jorge Ortiz accepting his award.

The Illinois Judges Foundation also acknowledged the passing of Laura C. Liu, Appellate Court Justice and IJF President in 2013-14. Justice Liu's husband, attorney Michael J. Kasper, provided appropriate and moving remarks as their daughter, Sophia, looked on.

Two of the three Harold Sullivan Scholarship Award winners, Jennifer DiVincenzo of John Marshall Law School and Matthew Griffin of Chicago-Kent College of Law, were present to accept their awards from Scholarship Committee Chair, Judge Diane Larsen. Pictured below are Judge Larsen, John Marshall Dean John E. Corkery, and Ms. DiVincenzo.

At right are Chicago-Kent Dean Harold J. Krent, Mr. Griffin, and Judge Larsen.

The third award winner, Patrick Tipton from the University of Illinois College of Law, was unable to attend, Judge Larsen explaining that he had previously committed to assisting at an incoming student orientation at the school.

IJF Auxiliary Committee member Christine Athanasoulis was also cited by the organization for her assistance in the organization's fundraising efforts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Judge suspended for letting judicial candidate decide cases

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced this afternoon that, pursuant to action taken today by the Executive Committee of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Judge Valarie E. Turner has been temporarily reassigned to duties other than judicial duties in the office of the Presiding Judge of the First Municipal District, Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr. The assignment is effective until further notice.

According to the Chief Judge's press release, Judge Turner allegedly allowed attorney Rhonda Crawford, a law clerk/staff attorney employed with the Office of the Chief Judge, to adjudicate at least two cases from the bench while wearing a judicial robe in Judge Turner’s courtroom." Crawford has likewise been suspended without pay from her current job, according to the Chief Judge's press release.

Rhonda Crawford's name should be familiar to FWIW readers: This past March, Crawford defeated two other candidates, including a judge sitting pursuant to Supreme Court appointment, for the Hopkins vacancy in the 1st Subcircuit. Crawford faced no Republican opponent in November. She was on track to assume judicial office for real on the first Monday in December.

And now...?

Crawford did not participate in either the CBA or Alliance candidate screenings and was unanimously rated not qualified or not recommended as a result.

An image of the Order entered by the Circuit Court today on this matter follows below (click to enlarge or clarify):

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Updating: Judge Pethers issues new statement

An alert reader directed me to a new letter from Judge Sheryl A. Pethers published yesterday on the Windy City Times website. That's a link to the complete letter. Please click over and read it.

I appreciate the fact that Judge Pethers did not intend her original memo for the general public. I referenced it here, and responded to the Sun-Times column about it, when the memo was already in the public domain.

Here again is a cautionary tale about the modern age: Anything we write, whether intended for general consumption or not, may slip into the public eye. If you send a private letter to Aunt Betty and it winds up getting quoted in the newspaper, you probably know who to blame. If you send an email blast, however, to multiple recipients, you should realize that you are encouraging the sharing of the views expressed therein. You lose control, then, of how that sharing takes place, and with whom. And if you post something on Facebook, even though you have only 22 "friends," you are only one "share" away from a potential news story.

And one last suggestion: If a reporter ever does call you about something you've written -- especially if it's not something you intended for the consideration of the general public -- return the call immediately. You may not be able to prevent the wider dissemination of your statement, even if it was only meant for poor Aunt Betty's private amusement, but it's better to try and provide clarification and context before than after.

Friday, August 05, 2016

August 25 fundraiser at Cavanaugh's for James E. Hanlon, Jr.

Supporters of James E. Hanlon, Jr.'s bid for the "A" vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit are planning a fundraiser for their candidate on Thursday, August 25, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., at Cavanaugh's Pub, 53 West Jackson, in the Monadnock Building.

The fundraiser is being hosted by Beuke & Beuke, Mike Krejci & Associates, and the Law Offices of Michael F. Clancy. The organizers say "donations are welcome" (well, yeah, it's a fundraiser).

Persons interested in attending are asked to contact Nicole at (312) 427-3050 or by email at before August 20.

Hanlon is the Democratic nominee for the "A" vacancy; his Republican opponent in November is Steven A. Kozicki.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Reacting to Dan Mihalopoulous's column today

Dan Mihalopoulos (@dmihalopoulos) gets all the best judicial emails. I admit to being jealous.

FWIW readers probably read Mihalopoulos's column in this morning's Bright One (does the Sun-Times still use that slogan?) and most of them probably went to the Sun-Times website to read Judge Pethers' email and Judge Evans's response. (Judge Pethers' email is no longer downloadable on Scribd, but it was still on the website when I was last there.)

So rather than reproduce Mr. Mihalopoulous's work product here, let me react to some things in the column and in the, um, attachments.

Isn't it interesting that today's column follows so closely on the heels of yesterday's disclosure that Chief Judge Evans may face a challenger next month? Sure, it might just be a coincidence. Then again, as Finley Peter Dunne's Mr. Dooley observed more than a century ago, "Politics ain't beanbag." Mihalopoulos wrote, "[Judge Pethers] doesn’t name any of the allegedly better-clouted colleagues who were promoted unfairly over her. But Pethers put the blame for the situation squarely on longtime Chief Judge Timothy Evans."


I guess we'll know for sure if there are more of these kinds of stories in the next couple of weeks... but there may be some storm clouds gathering on Judge Evans's horizon.

There are obviously different levels of nobody-sent-ness. There's a neologism for you (OED take note). But Judge Pethers, who was elected to the bench (from the 8th Subcircuit, for all you vultures out there salivating about the forthcoming vacancy) in 2004, describes herself as a "nobody nobody sent."

Judging by the comments I regularly receive here, I'm pretty sure that I lost a number of readers to head explosions when they read that.

They'd give anything for that one brief shining moment that Judge Pethers experienced after the 2004 Primary, the moment that she finally learned that she'd bested a field of three challengers (all male) even if it was by only 53 votes over her nearest competitor.

I have a number of readers who would protest that, in winning an election, Judge Pethers necessarily became Somebody, capital-S deliberately inserted. But I also have a friend who never tires of telling me that 'where you stand depends on where you sit'---and in a group where everyone has won an election---where winning an election is just the minimum buy-in to the game---maybe Judge Pethers was politically disadvantaged. She obviously felt that she was.

And I sure as heck have nothing to add on the questions of whether Judge Evans did or didn't respond to Judge Pethers's request for assignment to the Law Division or whether Judge Pethers did or did not withdraw that request. But, while I understand that those of us among the Great Unwashed cannot simply walk in and see the county's Chief Judge, wouldn't you think that fellow judges, especially judges working in the same building, would have just a tad more access?

Why is it not OK to acknowledge that being a judge is a job? Judge Pethers wrote, "I never thought I would refer to being a judge as a 'job,' but it feels that way." Why shouldn't it?

Being a judge is a job. It is also a great honor and privilege---but if there wasn't also a paycheck every couple of weeks to accompany that honor, I daresay most of Judge Pethers' colleagues would likewise quit. Being a judge is (I assert with all the confidence of an outsider) a great job, but I think I'm on safe ground in advancing that claim. As Judge Pethers acknowledged, "Good pay, great benefits, lots of vacation. Even as a 'job,' it's the best one I've ever had."

The real story may be that there are some who have the job but aren't doing it. Judge Pethers mentioned, more or less as an aside, that "there are judges who regularly don't even come to work, but get to choose their courtrooms."

Let's stop that statement before the comma.

There are judges who regularly don't come to work?

Of course Mihalopoulos picked up on that statement.

Andy Shaw at the BGA and Rick Tulsky at Injustice Watch probably perked right up when they saw that one, too.

And I had a commenter here recently who made a very topical joke about two judges "notorious for taking off far more days than they actually show up, [who] gave court personnel and lawyers a shock recently when they both appeared at the Daley Center on one of the days they called in sick. It was soon discovered that [they] were playing Pokémon Go and given their unfamiliarity with the building, did not realize they were in the courthouse."

Maybe this is all so much slander. But, if it's not, I sure hope we can count on the bar association JECs or other reform-minded groups to name names and provide documentation. Because---and my readers know this as well as anyone---there is no shortage of qualified persons willing to step up and replace those who are not doing the job.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Chief Judge Evans to face challenge in reelection bid?

The Chicago Tribune reports this morning that Judge Thomas R. Allen will attempt to unseat Judge Timothy C. Evans as Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Judge Allen, like Judge Evans a former Chicago Alderman, was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to a countywide vacancy in late 2010 and thereafter elected to the Circuit Court from the 10th Subcircuit (running without opposition in the 2012 primary and general elections). Judge Allen is currently assigned to the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court.

The full judges of the circuit vote on who will be their chief. The election will be held next month. Since becoming Chief Judge in 2001, Judge Evans has only faced one prior reelection challenge, that from former Judge William D. Maddux in 2010.

Update 8/3/16: Herewith, the link to Mark Brown's coverage of the potential challenge in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Illinois Judges Foundation plans Summer Reception for August 17

The Illinois Judges Foundation, the charitable arm of the Illinois Judges Association, will host its Summer Reception on Wednesday, August 17, from 5:00 to 7:00 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 Anne Burke, retired Illinois Appellate Court Justice Gino L. DiVito, and Lake County Chief Judge Jorge L. Ortiz. This year's Harold Sullivan Scholarship recipients will be honored.

A special tribute to the late Laura C. Liu, Appellate Court Justice and IJF President in 2013-14, is also planned.

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 IJF Executive Director Kevin Fagan at or Christine Athanasoulis.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Rhonda Sallee's independent judicial bid undergoes challenge

Update 7/20/16: According to the Illinois State Board of Elections website, Ms. Sallee withdrew her candidacy on July 18. Daryl Jones is again unopposed in his bid for the Williams vacancy in the 5th Subcircuit.

It will probably not come as a surprise but, for the record, a challenge has been filed to the petitions recently filed by Rhonda Sallee, seeking to run as an independent candidate for the Williams vacancy in the 5th Judicial Subcircuit.

If Ms. Sallee survives the coming challenge, her opponent in November would be Democratic nominee Daryl Jones.

An initial hearing has been scheduled on the objectors' petition for the afternoon of July 12.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

One Appellate Court justice, 58 Circuit Court judges file for retention in Cook County

Appellate Court Justice Joy Virginia Cunningham has filed for retention and will appear on the November ballot, according to information provided by the Illinois State Board of Elections website.

Actually, the headline here is slightly misleading, inasmuch as three of the 58 Cook County Circuit Court judges who have filed for retention are currently serving by assignment on the Illinois Appellate Court (but must be retained in office as Circuit Court judges in order to remain in their assignments). One of these three, Bertina E. Lampkin, is unopposed in her bid for election to the Appellate Court in November. The other two are Mary Lane Mikva and Daniel James Pierce.

Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans has also filed for retention. By law, circuit court judges elected in Illinois, whether elected countywide or from subcircuits, must seek retention every six years in order to remain in office. (Justices of the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts must seek retention every 10 years.) In Cook County, the retention election is countywide, meaning voters from the entire county can vote on each judge's retention, even for judges originally elected from other subcircuits. Retention judges have no opponents; voters are asked whether Mary Jones (to make up a name) shall be retained in office as a Cook County Circuit Court judge. Voters choose 'yes' or 'no.'

Each judge must obtain a 60% 'yes' vote (60% + 1 if you wish to be technical) to be retained; the last time any Cook County judge failed to achieve a 60% yes vote was in 1990, when seven judges were removed (though one was simultaneously elected to the Appellate Court). That may sound like a pretty sure thing... but strange things have happened already in 2016... and even in 'normal' election years judges who have been hailed by every bar association, civic group, and scout troop, by every newspaper, community group, and garden club -- the best, the brightest, the acknowledged cream of the crop -- will have a hard time cracking the 80% positive level.

That means that, at a minimum. two out of every 10 Cook County voters seek to oust each and every retention judge regardless of that judge's qualifications.

Of the 58 Cook County Circuit Court judges filing for retention, twenty-three were originally elected countywide; thirty-two were first elected from subcircuits. Three judges on this year's retention ballot were elected prior to 1992, when the subcircuit system was adopted. Before 1992, Cook County voters elected judges on either a countywide, Chicago-only, or outside Chicago basis. Two of the judges on this year's retention ballot were first elected on a Chicago-only basis; the third was elected from outside Chicago.

Here, then, is the complete list of all Cook County Circuit Court judges who have filed for retention in 2016:
  • Robert Balanoff
  • Steven James Bernstein
  • Robert W. Bertucci
  • Kathleen Marie Burke
  • Charles Patrick Burns
  • John P. Callahan, Jr.
  • Jeanne R. Cleveland Bernstein
  • Bonita Coleman
  • Ann Finley Collins
  • Paula Marie Daleo
  • Deborah Mary Dooling
  • Laurence J. Dunford
  • Timothy C. Evans
  • Denise Kathleen Filan
  • Nicholas R. Ford
  • Daniel J. Gallagher
  • Vincent Michael Gaughan
  • John C. Griffin
  • Sophia H. Hall
  • Kay Marie Hanlon
  • Edward Harmening
  • William H. Hooks
  • Arnette R. Hubbard
  • Cheryl D. Ingram
  • Raymond L. Jagielski
  • Sharon O. Johnson
  • Linzey D. Jones
  • Thomas J. Kelley
  • Susan Kennedy Sullivan
  • John Patrick Kirby
  • Geary W. Kull
  • Bertina E. Lampkin
  • Diane Joan Larsen
  • Daniel Joseph Lynch
  • Thomas V. Lyons
  • Terry MacCarthy
  • William Maki
  • Daniel Malone
  • Leroy K. Martin, Jr.
  • James Patrick McCarthy
  • Claire Elizabeth McWilliams
  • Mary Lane Mikva
  • Raymond W. Mitchell
  • Allen F. Murphy
  • Patrick T. Murphy
  • Timothy Patrick Murphy
  • Kathleen Mary Pantle
  • Sheryl Ann Pethers
  • Daniel James Pierce
  • Sandra G. Ramos
  • Jim Ryan
  • Kevin Michael Sheehan
  • Irwin J. Solganick
  • Sharon Marie Sullivan
  • John D. Turner, Jr.
  • Edward "Ed" Washington, II
  • Alexander Patrick White
  • Thaddeus L. Wilson
Any errors or omissions in this list are mine.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rhonda Sallee files as independent candidate in the 5th Subcircuit

Remember how I told you that everyone who won their primary race in March (with the exception of a handful of outliers in the far north and northwest suburban 12th and 13th Subcircuits) was pretty much guaranteed of election in November?

Well, as ESPN pundit Lee Corso might say, not so fast, my friend!

According to the Illinois State Board of Elections website, attorney Rhonda Sallee has filed as an independent candidate seeking the Williams vacancy in the 5th Subcircuit.

According to my archives, Sallee's is the first independent judicial bid filed in Cook County since 2010. Two candidates filed as independents for judicial office that year; neither made it to the November ballot.

The Election Code makes it difficult for judicial candidates to enter a party primary; there are large signature requirements and very particular rules about how those signatures are collected and arranged and what must be filed along with them. But these requirements, onerous as they may be, pale in comparison to those imposed on a would-be independent bid: The signature requirements are much, much greater than those required of a candidate seeking to file in an established party primary.

So Ms. Sallee's candidacy may falter without her ever making it to the ballot.

If she overcomes any objections to her petitions, however, Sallee's November opponent would be Daryl Jones. Jones won the Democratic race for the Williams vacancy in the March primary.

Sallee has been an attorney in Illinois since 1999. According to the ARDC, Sallee maintains a law office in the Chicago Temple Building across the street from the Daley Center. Sallee's LinkedIn page notes that she has also served as a hearing officer for the ARDC, as an arbitrator in the Cook County Mandatory Court-Annexed Arbitration System, and as administrative law judge (though the LinkedIn page does not specify the agency for which she works, or has worked). Sallee was a countywide judicial candidate in 2012.

Judge Robin D. Shoffner appointed to 8th Subcircuit vacancy

The Illinois Supreme Court today appointed Judge Robin D. Shoffner to an 8th Subcircuit vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Candace J. Fabri. The appointment is effective this Friday, July 1, and runs until December 3, 2018.

Judge Shoffner is currently sitting by Supreme Court appointment to the Williams vacancy in the 5th Subcircuit. In the March primary, Daryl Jones defeated Shoffner's bid to hold that vacancy. Shoffner was rated Qualified or Recommended by every Alliance bar association in the March primary; she also carried the Tribune's endorsement. However, neither Shoffner nor Jones was rated Qualified by the Chicago Bar Association (Jones having been automatically found Not Recommended because he "was an active member of the [CBA] Judicial Evaluation Committee at the beginning of this election year").

For those of you keeping score at home, Judge Shoffner's appointment today does not qualify as a "recall" to judicial service; Judge Shoffner's 5th Subcircuit appointment continued despite her loss in the March primary. Today's order means only that Judge Shoffner will be permitted to remain on the bench past the December 2016 expiration of her current appointment. In recent years, the Supreme Court has reappointed a number of judges -- not all of them, mind you, but some -- who came up short in a contested primary. Some of these reappointed judges (although again not all) have fared better with the voters when they next ran for election.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Justice Theis announces vacancies in Subcircuits 3 and 10; July 25 deadline set for applications

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis has announced application processes to fill vacancies in the 3rd and 10th Subcircuits.

Full details about the application process for the 10th Subcircuit vacancy can be found here; information about the forthcoming 3rd Subcircuit vacancy can be found here.

The deadline to apply for either vacancy is July 25 at 4:00 p.m. -- and, no, interested persons can't apply for both: Persons wishing to be considered must be a resident of the subcircuit from which they seek appointment.

Candidates seeking appointment by Justice Theis will have to participate in screening by the Alliance of Bar Associations, which is made up of 11 bar groups in the Cook County area, and the Chicago Bar Association. Further review will be conducted by a special judicial screening committee that Justice Theis established in 2013 and is co-chaired by retired U.S. District Court Judge Wayne R. Andersen and retired Illinois Appellate Court Judge Michael J. Gallagher. Persons who have submitted applications to Justice Theis's committee before will have to submit a new application.

The 10th Subcircuit vacancy is created by the elevation of Judge Eileen O'Neill Burke to the Appellate Court; Burke ran unopposed for the Epstein vacancy in the March primary and was appointed to fill that vacancy soon thereafter. She was first elected to the Circuit Court in 2008.

The 3rd Subcircuit vacancy will occur on July 31 when Judge Maureen Leahy Delehanty retires. Judge Delehanty began her judicial career in 2009, when she was appointed to a countywide vacancy. She was subsequently appointed to a 3rd Subcircuit vacancy in 2010, winning election to that vacancy in 2012.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sometimes you gotta maintain perspective....

The post below about Clare Quish's appointment to the bench and Judge Mary Mikva's elevation to the Appellate Court drew the predictable comments about "friends and family" and "insiders," in large part because Ms. Quish served for several years as a law clerk to then-Appellate Court Justice Mary Jane Theis... and it was now-Supreme Court Justice Theis who recommended Quish's appointment by the Supreme Court.

It's not 'sour grapes' to harrumph about the prior association. Please. I am certain that there were a great many applicants for the Circuit Court appointment (Justice Theis uses a committee to screen judicial wannabes) who were at least as qualified and capable and smart as Ms. Quish. And who'd do as good a job in office, too.

On the other hand, when your sink backs up, do you call the plumber who fixed your hot water heater last year? Or do you ignore that good experience and pick a name out of the phone book? You might ask your neighbors who they've used -- and your neighbors probably know some excellent plumbers, too -- but (in Chicagoese) if you've 'got a guy,' why would you look elsewhere?

Human nature is hard to overcome. We tend to rely on those we know, those we've met before, those with whom we have some 'history.' (This, I think, is the true value of diversity programs -- these help us meet people we'd not otherwise have met and find we share things in common we would otherwise never know. Our list of 'who to call' -- or who might call us -- grows.)

One of the anonymous comments (they're all anonymous, of course; only an idiot blogger gives his name) was signed "The Guy Nobody Sent." Another, after venting about Ms. Quish, added, "please do not get me started on the Mikva appointment to the Appellate Court. If the Mikva name sounds familiar to anyone with respect to Democratic Politics, it should."

Yes, the name Abner Mikva is familiar... former State Representative, former Congressman, former Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Former White House Counsel (during Bill Clinton's first term). Mentor to a then-young Barack Obama. The ultimate insider.

Except... on my bookshelf is a book, yellowing slightly now with age, by the late Milton L. Rakove, titled We Don't Want Nobody Nobody Sent (Indiana University Press, 1979). It's an "oral history" of the Daley years (that's the Richard J. Daley years for you young people out there). Think Studs Terkel, only Professor Rakove was interviewing politicians, not war veterans or people along Division Street.

Here is Abner J. Mikva, quoted by Professor Rakove (p. 318):
I guess I had always an interest in politics. The year I started law school, 1948, was the year that Douglas and Stevenson were heading up the Democratic ticket in Illinois. I was all fired up from the Students for Douglas and Stevenson and passed this storefront, the 8th Ward Regular Democratic Organization. I came in and said I wanted to help. Dead silence. "Who sent you?" the committeeman said. I said, "Nobody." He said, "We don't want nobody nobody sent."
Abner Mikva may be as much of an "insider" as anyone can imagine... now. But he was the original nobody that nobody sent.

Things change. Today's outsiders may be insiders tomorrow. I don't pretend to know what alchemy or magic spell converts an outsider to an insider. But history shows that it happens. Sometimes.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Quish appointed to Circuit Court bench; Mikva promoted to the Appellate Court

In an order entered yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Clare J. Quish, a partner at Schuyler, Roche & Crisham, to the countywide vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Michelle D. Jordan.

Quish's appointment is effective June 28 and will terminate on December 3, 2018.

Quish's firm biography stresses her appellate and commercial and civil litigation experience "including professional liability, employment law, personal injury defense, insurance coverage and construction law." A 2000 graduate of Loyola University School of Law, Quish began her legal career as a law clerk to then-Appellate Court Justice Mary Jane Theis. In the 2004-05 school year, Quish was an Adjunct Professor of Appellate Advocacy at Loyola.

In another order entered yesterday, the Supreme Court assigned Chancery Judge Mary L. Mikva to the Appellate Court, filling the vacancy created by the recent passing of Justice Laura C. Liu. Judge Mikva's appointment is effective July 15.

Both of these appointments were made at the recommendation of Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis (see press release).

Monday, May 30, 2016

Norwood Park observes Memorial Day

The 2016 Norwood Park Memorial Day Parade was held this morning under picture postcard conditions.

We can't have a parade without politicians -- maybe this could happen elsewhere, but never in Chicago. The first political group down the street Monday morning was Water Reclamation District Commissioner Frank Avila... and family.

There were more politicians on the march, but first there were old police cars...

...and modern fire engines...

... and historical reenactors....

They were far enough away when they loosed a volley that my granddaughter Diana was fascinated, not frightened.

The parade Grand Marshal was 95-year old Army vet Morris Factor. According to Heather Cherone's article, posted May 2 on DNAinfo, Factor served with Merrill's Marauders in Burma (now Myanmar).

Smyser Elementary School's marching band provided entertainment.

For more pictures from today's parade, turn to Page Two.

What is a supermajority for?

Tomorrow, unless something miraculous happens, another Illinois budget deadline will be missed.

Illinois has become a national joke -- but many of our citizens, especially those who are poor or elderly, or students enrolled at state colleges and universities, or dependent on government pensions, are not laughing.

The people I talk to all blame Gov. Rauner -- and I agree that Mr. Rauner has been intransigent, unreasonable and wholly derelict in his duty to put forth, and obtain, a balanced budget.

I accept, pretty much without reservation, the Democratic narrative that Mr. Rauner's idea of "compromise" is pretty much equivalent to a demand for unconditional surrender.

But even a political dummy like me understands that Mr. Rauner's pension-ripping, term-limit-demanding, public employee-baiting, union-bashing rhetoric plays well in certain circles. It's just good politics.

I also accept, also without much hesitation, that the Democratic budget, recently unveiled and passed by the Illinois House in a legislative blink of an eye, contains bouquets for every Democratic constituency and interest group without providing the revenue to pay for the largesse. I don't know if it's really $7 billion out of whack, as the Republicans charge, but I can accept that it's a wish list, not a serious budget proposal.

A political dummy like me understands that a proposal like this, that makes extravagant promises to so many, plays quite well in certain circles. And makes Rauner look Scrooge at his worst. Again, it's just good politics.

But I'm old enough to remember Richard J. Daley -- Daley I. I was in college when he passed away; I never met the man. I'd been to a prayer breakfast with Mayor Daley -- and several thousand other people -- just a few days before he died; that was about as close as I got.

I do remember, though, that the first Mayor Daley used to preach that "good government is good politics and good politics is good government." I'm not holding up Daley I as a plaster saint and I don't want to get sidetracked talking about Daley's legacy.

But it just seems to me that, with this saying, the first Mayor Daley had a point. And both sides in the ongoing debacle in Springfield seem to have lost sight of the principle. Again (and this is my partisan bias, I suppose) I can sort of understand Gov. Rauner not grasping the idea -- after all he's just a Republican -- but I'm finding it hard to believe that Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton seem also to have forgotten this basic axiom.

And yet, at least on paper, Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton have supermajorities under their control. In theory, they could craft a real budget, and pass it, and pass it again over Governor Rauner's almost-certain veto.

And it hasn't happened.

Granted, even a political dummy like me understands that any realistic budget will include an income tax hike. I pay taxes. I won't be thrilled about an income tax increase. Especially with my Chicago property taxes going higher than anything SpaceX can launch. But, staying with the outer space theme here, as Carl Sagan might have put it, we are 'billions and billions' in debt. We have to start paying down our debts.

Also, any realistic budget is going to disappoint some interest groups. Not every program can be funded as much as some might like. And surely there must be some sinecures for politicians' idiot relations and soft-landing spots for retired or defeated politicians that can be identified and uprooted. Messrs. Madigan and Cullerton have been in Springfield a long time; if it makes you feel better to say that they're part of the problem, go ahead. But what productive end does that serve? And who is in a better position to figure out where to make the least painful cuts? And there would have to be some significant cuts in a serious budget.

Oh, there'd be howls. In our culture, how could there not be? But all members of the disparate strands of the Democratic Party's supermajorities could find something in a realistic budget to sell back in their districts: The restoration of stability and predictability in various social programs might be more important in Chicago, the cuts and other efficiencies might be more important Downstate or some suburban districts. Putting the state back on a solid financial footing, tax hikes notwithstanding, would appeal to financial and business interests.

Moreover, a budget passed by a veto-proof majority would render Gov. Rauner a complete nullity. He could speechify until he turns red in the face (he could hardly be expected to turn blue, right?) but he would be irrelevant.

And if you really want to get crazy, maybe a serious budget could be made palatable to one or more Republicans. A few more dollars might have to be cut here or there, but it would diminish Rauner even more.

Oh, even a political dummy like me understands there are risks: For example, some vulnerable legislators might be defeated as part of the inevitable anger and backlash that follows any tax increase. But, c'mon, from the standpoint of the Democratic Party, our legislators have the best and safest boundaries that computer science can conjure. Now, a political dummy like me thinks that some of our poisoned, hyperpartisan political atmosphere might dissipate if the state were instead blessed with fair, contiguous, and competitive districts... but we can't expect everything all at once. And we need a budget now. Does anyone seriously think that the Democratic Party would be turned out of the majority in Springfield for doing its job... and Rauner's? Or is there a fear that, somehow, Rauner will get credit, at least in some circles, where it is absolutely not deserved?

But, even if there's a backlash, even if there are losses, even if Forbes or the Wall Street Journal lionizes Mr. Rauner for getting steamrolled -- what is a supermajority for if it's never used?

Why wouldn't proposing and passing a serious budget despite Gov. Rauner be good government and good politics?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Should a judicial hopeful's politics be taken into account when passing on his or her qualifications?

You may have missed this article a few Sundays ago when it appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times: Rough Road To Judgeship For Top Aide To Anita Alvarez, by Robert Herguth. (The link is to the BGA website, where the article was also published.)

I don't know Daniel Kirk; I think I have been introduced to him, but I've never worked with him, or even seen him in court. I don't know if he'd be a good judge or a bad one.

I learned, from reading Mr. Herguth's article, that Mr. Kirk has served as First Assistant State’s Attorney, as Anita Alvarez’s chief of staff, and as Alvarez's campaign chairman.

I also learned, from Herguth's article, that Mr. Kirk had been rated "recommended" by the Cook County Bar Association in his pursuit of an associate judgeship -- and that the rating was thereafter pulled. Reversed. This is not a situation where a prior favorable evaluation had grown stale because of the passage of time and a new evaluation committee disagreed with its predecessor; rather, this is a situation where Mr. Kirk was first approved... and then he wasn't.

Herguth mentioned that "Alvarez’s lackluster history of prosecuting police for excessive force and other alleged misconduct," had made her quite unpopular in the African American community, particularly after the release of the Laquan McDonald video.

So... was Kirk's close association with Alvarez the reason his favorable rating got pulled? Herguth asked the question:
Arlene Coleman, president of the Cook County Bar Association, would only say “there were concerns” expressed by her group’s judicial evaluation committee about Kirk, so his rating was revisited by her board and, ultimately, downgraded.

“I’m not going to say what all those concerns were,” Coleman said. “I don’t think we have to give a reason why, we have a right to change our minds.”

Either way, she acknowledged the switch was unusual and added that Kirk has appealed his “not recommended” label.
If I get word about the disposition of the appeal, I will advise.

Meanwhile, in the absence of an explanation, speculation abounds. And it's difficult not to see a political motivation in this ratings switch.

Now, FWIW readers who have not been directly involved in judicial evaluations, either as candidates or evaluators, may be shrugging their shoulders here. After all, getting on the bench, whether by election or by appointment, is, after all, an inherently political process, right? Once Anita Alvarez's office became a focal point of community protest and media criticism, didn't it just make good political sense that the county's oldest and largest African-American bar group would reverse an initial favorable recommendation for one of Alverez's top lieutenants? Alvarez's reelection bid was supported by only 28.68% of the electorate countywide -- but she proved really unpopular among African-American voters. For example, in Chicago's 21st Ward, Alvarez received only 7.47% of the vote. In the 8th Ward, she received only 7.52% of the vote, 7.54% of the vote in the 6th Ward.

The problem, however, is that politics isn't generally supposed to factor into judicial evaluations. The Cook County Bar Association website, for example, says, "judicial candidates and sitting judges are evaluated on litigation and professional experience, legal knowledge and ability, sensitivity to diversity and bias, judicial temperament, diligence, punctuality, professional conduct, health and age, impartiality, character and integrity." No mention of political considerations there.

The Chicago Council of Lawyers says expressly, "The Council does not evaluate candidates based on their substantive views of political or social issues. Nor do we take into account the particular race in which a candidate is running or the candidates against whom a candidate is running."

I've often argued that an individual's political leanings are particularly unimportant for a person seeking a judicial position. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts famously analogized a judge's role to that of a baseball umpire, merely calling the balls and strikes. Such an analogy seems particularly inappropriate for a justice of the highest court in the land -- but it does seem pretty descriptive of the role of a trial court judge. If both are faithful to their oaths of office, a Trotskyite judge and a hidebound reactionary judge should usually arrive at the same conclusion when applying the law to a given set of facts (one may be happier about the outcome than the other, depending on the case).

Whether a judge has voted for Republican or Democratic candidates should not matter when evaluating whether Mrs. Jones ran the red light. On the other hand, a judge who is such a political ideologue that she automatically assumes all police officers are liars -- or, contrariwise, is certain that police officers never lie -- would be a terrible judge, right?


FWIW readers: Do you think bar associations should take a judicial hopeful's political opinions or associations into account when passing on his or her qualifications? If so, how? If not... how can bar association JECs avoid considering a candidate's politics?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

BGA, Sun-Times, Law Bulltetin collect Kogan Awards; John Rooney receives Career Award

Chicago broadcaster Geoffrey Baer provided the keynote address at this year’s celebration of the Chicago Bar Association’s Herman Kogan Media Awards this past Tuesday, May 10 at Maggiano’s, Chicago. The annual awards are presented by the CBA to honor journalists who cover the legal community, courts, judges, police and public officials who administer justice. Joining Baer were special guests, journalist John Flynn Rooney of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, who was being honored for his career, and Rick and Mark Kogan, sons of Herman Kogan.

Last August, Rooney, a 27-year veteran of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin announced his retirement due to the progression of ALS. Rooney was honored with a special “career” Kogan Award, as a way to formally and personally thank him for his years of observing and reporting on the law, the courts, and the legal profession.

Of Rooney, former CBA president Justice Michael B. Hyman, who made the presentation, said, "Our legal community was truly fortunate to have had such an honorable and capable reporter as John. On a daily basis, John told our stories, and told them with integrity and accuracy, insight, and dedication to the highest ideals of journalism."

The Kogan Awards have been presented every year by the Chicago Bar Association since 1989. Award categories are: print - legal beat reporting, print - feature or series reporting, broadcast, and online reporting. In addition to the Kogan trophy, a $1,000.00 scholarship donation is made in the name of each Kogan winner to the university English or journalism department of his/her choice.

CBA president Hon. Patricia Brown Holmes hosted the luncheon event, while Kogan committee chair Dennis Culloton emceed the awards presentation.

Keynoter Geoffrey Baer captivated the audience of lawyers and journalists with his unique gift for imparting history through storytelling about Chicago’s past. He touched on several points in the City’s history when legal issues affected the course of events. He cited philanthropist Montgomery Ward’s years of legal wrangling to establish Grant Park; aldermen and bribes in the digging of train tunnels under the City; property disputes over the relocation of railroad lines; a lawsuit between St. Louis and Chicago over the reversal of the course of the Chicago river that ended in the U.S. Supreme Court; a graveyard that spared a suburban golf club from annexation for the railroad; and an all-out brawl between the citizens of Wheaton and Naperville over County records complete with a violent midnight raid and the formation of a posse.

2016 Kogan award winners

In the “Print – Legal Beat Reporting” category, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mary Mitchell was awarded the Kogan for her series of columns on police shootings. Mitchell began to use her column to explore the now famous videotape settlement before the rest of the public was aware of Laquan Macdonald.

Also in this category, two Meritorious Awards were presented. The first of these went to Timothy O’Neill, of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, for his piece “Justice Kennedy Shines Light On Prisons’ Dark Side In Concurrence” on the long term effects of solitary confinement. The columnist told the story of one prisoner’s suicide and asks if solitary drove him to the action.

The second Meritorious Award went to Law Bulletin reporter Lauraann Wood, whose coverage of the Illinois statehouse left no stone unturned in pursuing answers about the pension fight and the legal issues surrounding it. Wood helped her readers understand the Illinois Supreme Court rulings on the issue, the oral arguments before the Court, and the legislature’s reactions in law and policy making.

In the “Print-Feature or Series” category the Kogan Award winner was Roy Strom of Chicago Lawyer Magazine for his expose, “Prosecutor. Police Chief. Perhaps Both.” This remarkable article asked why the LaSalle County State’s Attorney was allowed to set up a team of investigators which formed a de facto secondary police force in the county. The article led to the Illinois Supreme Court hearing a review of the case. It also revealed that money seized by county officials from drug traffickers that is supposed to go to drug addiction treatment organizations was not getting to its appropriate destination. The article caused the State’s Attorney to make a sizable contribution to heroin addiction treatment centers in LaSalle County with the confiscated funds.

In the same category, the Kogan judges voted a Meritorious Award to Tim Novak, the Chicago Sun-Times investigative reporter, for “McPier And Its Attorney, Langdon Neal.” The investigation revealed the corruption that plagues the workings of the McPier Agency, which owns McCormick Place and Navy Pier including how its law firm has profited to the tune of $99 million over the years.

In the “Online” category, the Kogan Award went to Andrew Schroedter of the Better Government Association for his piece “Did Ex-Chicago Detective Frame Multiple Suspects?” The article shines a light on the cases of more than 12 men, almost all Latino, who accused a retired Chicago detective of being a frame up artist.

Also in this category, a Meritorious Award was presented to Robert Herguth and Andrew Schroedter of the Better Government Association, for their piece “Accused Of Raping Intern, Cop Still On Force.” The article suggested that irregularities in the handling of an accusation against a Forest Park officer by an intern create suspicion that the department protected a police officer who should have been investigated rigorously.

About The Herman Kogan Media Awards

The Herman Kogan Media Awards Competition was established in 1989 to honor local journalists and legal affairs reporting. The competition celebrates the career of Herman Kogan, "a true friend of the CBA," whose career spanned more than 50 years and included experience as a reporter, feature and editorial writer, editor, author, historian, biographer, literary critic, radio host and television executive.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation May 22 at Diversey Harbor

There's still time to register for, or donate to, the Great Strides Chicago Walk for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The event steps off from Diversey Harbor on Sunday, May 22 at 11:00 a.m. Registration opens at 9:30.

If you click on the first link in the preceding sentence, you'll be taken to a page where you can register as a walker, register a team to walk, or donate to the cause.

But -- as you've no doubt guessed already -- this isn't just a generic plug for a charity walk. I have an angle.

One of the "teams" registering for the walk in two weeks is called "Katie's Smelly Cats," a group organized in honor of Katie Kelly, who passed away this January, at only 26 years of age, from CF-related complications. That's a link to the team page in the preceding sentence; that's a fairly recent picture of Katie Kelly on the right.

Katie's Smelly Cats is the brainchild of three of Katie's lifelong friends and grammar school classmates (Immaculate Conception School, Class of 2004), Brigid Olsen, Bea Toda, and Allison Welch. (On the left you see Katie Kelly and my younger daughter Brigid, to Katie's right, at a birthday party a long, long time ago.) The team name, I'm told, was inspired by the TV show Friends. Don't ask me how; I don't know. What I do know is that my older daughter, Katie Stoner, has volunteered to help her sister and Bea and Allison organize this fundraising effort. I was asked to give their joint efforts a little publicity. "Well, Dad," one of my daughters said, "you're always publicizing fundraisers for judicial candidates. How about our event?"

And I didn't think either one of them ever read this blog.

Anyway, for any of you who might not know, cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits a person's ability to breathe. The defective gene causes a thick buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage and eventually, respiratory failure. In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients. This is not one of these extremely rare conditions that afflicts only a few. The Kellys aren't even the only family in my parish who have had to cope with this condition.

CF affects different people differently, some worse than others. Katie Kelly was often sick. She had long stints at Children's and, later, at Northwestern -- but she was no invalid. In between these "tuneups," as they were sometimes called, she was as vital and energetic as anybody else. And maybe just a wee bit more besides.

Great strides (notice how I worked in the event name there, kids) have been made in controlling the disease in recent years, extending life expectancy for persons with CF, but there is as yet no cure. Events like this upcoming May 22 walk will help, eventually, to find that cure.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cook County names 13 new Associate Judges

The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts has announced the names of the 13 newly elected Cook County Associate Judges. These are:
  • Sophia Jane Atcherson,
  • George Louis Canellis, Jr.,
  • Vincenzo Chimera,
  • Jean Margaret Cocozza,
  • Geraldine Ann D’Souza,
  • Mohammed Mujahid Ghouse,
  • Patrick Joseph Heneghan,
  • Robert Wade Johnson,
  • James Lewis Kaplan,
  • Marc William Martin,
  • Mary Catherine Marubio,
  • Edward Nicolas Robles, and
  • Marita Clare Sullivan.
Three of the new judges won't need to buy robes: Jean Margaret Cocozza, James Lewis Kaplan, and Marc William Martin are all currently serving as Circuit Court judges pursuant to Supreme Court appointment. Judge Kaplan, like Judge Peter Vilkelis in the last round of associate judge selection, was elected as a write-in candidate; he was not on the "short list."

Martin and Patrick Joseph Heneghan were both unsuccessful candidates for election to the Circuit Court in the March primary; neither Judge Cocozza nor Judge Kaplan ran this year.

Geraldine Ann D'Souza and Edward Nicholas Robles were both finalists in the 2014 associate judge selection process.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Appellate Court Justice Laura Liu passes away

First District Appellate Court Justice Laura Cha-Yu Liu, the state's first Asian-American Appellate Court justice, died late Friday afternoon after a courageous five-year battle with breast cancer.

A statement released by her family stresses that Justice Liu "refused to be defined or constrained by her illness." In addition to being the first Asian-American to serve on the Illinois Appellate Court, Liu will be remembered as the first Chinese-American to be elected to public office in Chicago and Cook County and the first female Chinese-American to serve as a judge. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, the Illinois Supreme Court asked Justice Liu to chair its Language Access Committee, to ensure the court system was navigable to those whose first language was not English.

Justice Liu was first elected to the Circuit Court in 2012 (she ran, unopposed, from the 8th Subcircuit). She was appointed to the Appellate Court in 2014.

Justice Liu is survived by her husband, Michael J. Kasper, and a daughter, Sophia. To honor Justice Liu's memory, the family has established the Justice Laura Liu Scholarship Fund at St. Therese Chinese Catholic School. The fund will benefit needy children active in community service. Donations may be made at or mailed to 247 W. 23rd Street, Chicago, Illinois 60616.

For more on Justice Liu's life and career, see Dustin J. Seibert's profile in the June 2014 Chicago Lawyer (from which the accompanying photo is taken) or this February 1, 2014 David Ormsby piece for the Huffington Post.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Guest post: Dr. Klumpp analyzes the 2016 judicial primary

by Albert J. Klumpp

First and foremost, last month's Democratic primary set a new record for judicial votes cast. Unofficially, the median number of votes cast in the eight countywide contests was 836,222. As illustrated below, this total outdistanced the previous high of 795,418, set in 2008, and marked only the third primary with more than 600,000 judicial votes since partisan judicial primaries debuted in Cook County in 1974. Not surprisingly, the three--1984, 2008 and 2016--were headlined by three of the most spirited and competitive Democratic presidential primaries over that time span. Last month's high voter turnout and the extra judicial votes it generated had a huge impact on the results of both countywide and subcircuit contests.

Using the procedure that I developed for studying groups of nonpartisan or party-primary judicial contests, I analyzed the results of the eight countywide contests. The small size of the data set -- only 23 candidates in eight contests (and one contest distorted by a late withdrawal) -- was a potential problem. But for the most part my procedure produced useful estimates of the impact sizes of the factors that historically have the strongest influences on judicial voting. I must emphasize that the individual estimates are just that -- estimates -- and have margins of error of various sizes. However, they are very consistent with estimates from previous primaries having larger data sets, and as a group they "fit" the data set quite well.

Generally the impact sizes correspond closely to those of the 2008 primary. Above all, the impact of gender, on two primary ballots topped with a female presidential candidate (and the same candidate at that). In 2008 gender conveyed an advantage of roughly 23 percentage points per contest, to a single female or divided among multiple females. The advantage this year was in the 20-22 point range. Gender typically is the most influential factor in the county's judicial contests, but it also is the most variable and has been as low as 6 percentage points. Its impact this year was one of the largest impacts ever of any factor in any single primary.

Of course, when one factor increases in influence, at least one other must decrease. Last month the losers were bar/newspaper recommendations and party slating. Recommendations are typically used by voters who turn out reliably and who have the greatest impact when turnout is low. True to form, a candidate in last month's primary who held both a Tribune endorsement and the highest bar ratings in his or her contest gained only a 6 point advantage. This is only around half of the long-term average value. (The refusal of the Sun-Times to endorse judicial candidates also played a role, as it did two years ago.)

As for slating, it conveyed an advantage of only 4-5 points. Notably, this is the one major difference between last month's primary and 2008's; in the latter, slating was roughly twice as valuable. A common misconception about slating is that without exception, its impact varies inversely with voter turnout. That is not the case; turnout does affect it but so do other important factors such as the mood of the electorate and the popularity of the party and its leaders on election day.

Another common misconception is that the Irish-name advantage long observed in the county's judicial contests behaves like gender, rising and falling in lockstep with turnout. In fact, it is surprisingly stable from year to year and much less variable than gender. Its long-term average has been 9-10 percentage points; its value in 2008 was roughly 11 points; and last month was roughly 13 points.

The one historically important factor that I could not estimate satisfactorily is ballot position. The data set had too few contests to allow it. However, the clearest evidence of its impact is seen in the two-person contest for the Walsh vacancy. Fredrick Bates, the party-slated and Tribune-endorsed candidate, was narrowly defeated by Patrick Powers, who held not a single advantage over Bates besides the first ballot position. In recent years the value of the first ballot position had increased to the range of 7-8 points, and in eyeballing last month's result a similar impact is very plausible, if not provable.

As for the subcircuit contests, a single group of them cannot be analyzed in the same manner as above because of significant differences in impact sizes among different subcircuits. (Also, full information on campaign spending is not yet available, and unlike in the countywide contests campaign spending has a significant effect on subcircuit contests.) However, a simple accounting shows the primacy of gender across the entire county. Including the subcircuits, there were eighteen contests in which at least one male candidate faced at least one female candidate. Fourteen of those contests were won by females. Two others had a lone female with a surname of an ethnicity that has been historically disadvantageous. The remaining two were in the 5th Subcircuit, where gender has been slightly less influential than elsewhere in the county and where last month's surge in judicial votes was the smallest of all of the subcircuits holding judicial contests.

As a basis for comparison, slated candidates and Tribune-endorsed candidates had success rates of less than 50 percent in all contests. In short, this was a very good year to be a woman running for judge in Cook County.

Albert J. Klumpp has been a generous and frequent contributor to this blog over the years. A research analyst with a public policy PhD, Klumpp is the author of several scholarly works analyzing judicial elections including Judicial Primary Elections in Cook County, Illinois: Fear the Irish Women!, 60 DePaul L. Rev. 821 (2011); "Voter Information and Judicial Retention Elections in Illinois," 94 Ill. B.J. 538 (October 2006); and "Cook County Judicial Elections: Partisanship, Campaign Spending, & Voter Information," CBA Record, January 2007 (p. 34).

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Getting behind some of the numbers in the judicial primaries

Many people with whom I've discussed the outcome of last month's primary election mentioned voter anger and discontent as a motivating factor in the turnout. People are dissatisfied with the status quo, I was told, and that discontent was represented best in the outpouring of support for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and for (Heaven help us all) Donald Trump in the Republican.

Of course, these opinions are not particularly novel: Virtually any talking head on cable news, when MSNBC, CNN or Fox, is spewing something similar at any given moment.

(Speaking of anger, have you ever noticed how angry the cable news talking heads are? When the light above the camera lens goes out, do they ever deflate, even a little? How awful would it be to go through life being that angry all the time?)

Just because these tales of voter anger and discontent are widely shared and believed does not make them false -- or true.

But voter anger is, I think, too general an explanation to account for any outcomes in judicial elections. I did ask a number of people whether voter discontent in African-American communities with the State's Attorney might have spilled over into an anti-incumbent, anti-establishment vote generally in those areas. I found no one willing to agree with that hypothesis.

Instead, a number of people told me that the poor performance of Democratic Party judicial candidates in the primary, at both the countywide and subcircuit levels, stemmed from defections among the committeemen and defective strategies in some campaigns.

There's no question that there were some Election Day defections by committeemen from the judicial slate. It was ever thus: Some candidates are more slated than others.

On March 15 I tried to keep track of palm cards that were posted to Twitter (primarily by @Aldertrack) that showed instances where committeemen had strayed from a unified front:

Of course, I didn't come close to catching them all... such as this palm card from the 41st Ward showing the organization there supporting Carolyn J. Gallagher over slated candidate Chaudhuri.

And I live in the 41st Ward, too... but there wasn't anyone passing out these cards when I went to my polling place on that Tuesday afternoon.

Gregory R. LaPapa was supported over Sean S. Chaudhuri and Patrick J. Powers was supported over Judge Fredrick H. Bates according to this 23rd Ward palm card posted by @Aldertrack:

Of course, not every story about a committeeman's alleged infidelity to the slate is necessarily true. I heard tell of one slated countywide judicial candidate complaining directly to 14th Ward Ald. and Committeeman Ed Burke that he, Burke, was supporting the candidate's opponent. If this 14th Ward palm card, posted on Election Day by @Aldertrack, may be believed, however, the candidate was mistaken:

But that brings up another point. Some judicial candidates have more skill at politics and campaigning than others.

The skills that make someone a good lawyer, such as a talent for research, a dogged determination to understand and organize facts or precedents, a cautious and thoughtful mode of expression -- these skills may serve a judicial candidate well before the bar associations... but not be very helpful on the cocktail party circuit or in dealing with professional politicians, where a certain amount of bonhomie and 'glad-handing' is required.

I have often insisted that judicial candidates are different than candidates for other political offices because most judicial candidates are not professional politicians. One of my favorite examples dates back to the 2008 primary, when I first did my Organizing the Data posts. When I put my post for this particular candidate's race, he immediately sent me an email. I had inaccurately stated a bar rating for one of his opponents, he wrote. I had said that his opponent received a "Qualified" rating from one of the bar groups when in fact that candidate was actually rated... wait for it... "Highly Qualified."

I don't think that happens too often in races for the state legislature or the City Council.

Some judicial candidates, who might be very productive judges if given the chance, may find venturing too far out of their comfort zone and onto the campaign trail highly stressful. On the campaign trail, judicial candidates invariably run into opponents, or opponents' supporters. In my spectacularly unsuccessful career as a judicial candidate, I always felt a kinship with those I saw out on the hustings; maybe being thrown together on so many occasions gave us all some form of Stockholm Syndrome. But some candidates may react to their opponents and their opponents supporters in an adversarial way. Well, we are supposed to be zealous advocates after all; that is our training, but it is not a way to win friends and influence people in a campaign.

Other judicial candidates may seek to avoid the stress of the campaign trail by not venturing out at all -- or on as few occasions as possible.

I have heard that at least some slated candidates may have chosen to sit back and let the 'establishment' carry them into office. If the rumors about these particular candidates are true, their expectations were not realized.

I have previously suggested that slating -- and the $40,000 payment to the Democratic Party for countywide slating (I don't know what is asked of slated subcircuit candidates; no one's ever told me) -- buys only credibility and access. Frustratingly, for some candidates, "access" means access to invitations to spend still more money -- everyone needs to raise funds and judicial candidates are apparently expected to be a gift that keeps on giving.

As aggravating as that may be for some candidates, it would be far worse to put one's fate in the hands of a consultant who can get a candidate slated -- but who does nothing thereafter to advance the candidate's chances.

And the demands for money are not limited to politicians' fundraisers. Candidates are asked to spend money for advertising, for 'street money' -- to pay people, for example, to hand out reminders for the candidate at the polls.

What should the candidate spend money on, even after being slated? The best one word answer I've been given is: Everything.

Case in point: I've been told that several African-American judicial candidates did not advertise on African-American radio stations in the weeks leading up to the primary. Judge Patricia S. Spratt, who is not an African-American, did advertise on African-American radio stations. Is that alone enough to explain Spratt's fairly narrow margin of victory in her 7th Subcircuit race over Jennifer Ballard? Maybe not; one must also take into account the significant support given to another African-American candidate in that same race, Mable Taylor.

While we're on the subject of Judge Spratt, an anonymous commenter sent me a link to this contribution record on the ISBE website, showing that Spratt's campaign made a $10,000 donation to something called the Illinois Alliance on March 11, the Friday before the election.

Illinois Alliance, in turn, appears to have been formed on March 3 by former Ald. Ike Carothers, a nephew of recently retired Judge Anita Rivkin-Carothers, whose vacancy Spratt was seeking. Former Ald. Carothers, you may recall, did some jail time a few years back after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges. A couple of other candidates put some money into this venture as well, but no one put as much money in as Spratt's campaign.

Now I suppose that this is the part of the story where I'm supposed to wring my hands and decry the corrosive influence of money in judicial elections... but I'm finding it hard to work up the requisite dander. Here's why: If judicial candidates are different than political pros, they particularly need the assistance of those more, um, familiar with the realities of finding votes in Chicago. I haven't the faintest idea what, if anything, Mr. Carothers did with the donations Spratt and others made to the "Illinois Alliance" or whether any actions he may have taken had any influence in that subcircuit race. If Judge Spratt's campaign managers were smart enough to find someone who gave value for money received, good for them.

Some campaigns never quite get going. The Travis Richardson campaign may be an example of this. Like Judge Steven Watkins before him, Richardson lived in the 3rd Subcircuit for some time before deciding to seek a 2nd Subcircuit vacancy. (Watkins, FWIW readers may recall, ran from the 3rd Subcircuit in 2010 before relocating to the 2nd Subcircuit in time to win election there in 2014.) Richardson moved into the 2nd Subcircuit in time to file for 2016, but his family remained behind in the 3rd. Two challenges were made to Richardson's residency and a hearing officer decided to rule him off the ballot. Although there was a dissent, the Cook County Electoral Board reversed that decision, holding that Richardson had successfully planted himself in the 2nd Subcircuit and was eligible to run there (Electoral Board decisions here and here). The challenge to Richardson's candidacy was carried into the Circuit Court on judicial review, and the Electoral Board ultimately affirmed, but this came apparently too late in the campaign season for Richardson's campaign to regain lost traction, his positive bar ratings and Tribune endorsement notwithstanding.

According to my sources, Richardson was strongly supported by 21st Ward Ald. and Committeeman Howard Brookins and 34th Ward Ald. and Committeeman Carrie M. Austin, but Richardson trailed the field in these wards just as he did in the subcircuit as a whole. Is Richardson's unhappy showing entirely attributable to the distraction of the lengthy petition challenges? From my vantage point, I can not say. But I can say without hesitation that it didn't help.

Next up: Another guest post, this one from frequent FWIW contributor Albert J. Klumpp, PhD.