Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A challenge that any candidate may welcome: In Their Own Words

I truly miss Avy Meyers.

At this point in the election cycle, Avy would generally invite me on his program where I could practice my punditry and try and crack wise about who filed where, and who got challenged, and who didn't. Avy would already be scheduling, if not yet running, candidate interviews, giving me fresh content to post here even on days when I really needed to work at the practice of law.

The opportunity to appear on Avy's program is lost to those in this election cycle.

I can't fill the void. But I can offer an alternative that I've been offering in every election cycle since the 2008 primary season, an opportunity for candidates to have their own post right here -- a chance to get every candidate's 'front porch pitch' out to any voter who happens across this little corner of the Intertubes.

I'm averaging nearly 1,500 page views a day at this point; last month, according to the statistics Blogger keeps, I had over 47,000 page views here. Many of these page views, of course, come from candidates, their family members, their consultants, or from judges and courthouse personnel... occasional Russian spammers... but they can't account for all of that traffic. There are apparently actual voters looking at this site from time to time. More will be coming by when the primary gets closer.

And candidates: Your message can be here waiting for the voters when they come.

Getting one’s message out to voters in a county as large as this one is a herculean challenge. Subcircuits may look a lot smaller on the map, but each covers a lot of ground, as candidates who were walking door-to-door, collecting signatures, will attest.

Let me speak directly to the candidates now: The enormity of the task before you has become clear, whatever support you are already privileged to have. Each of you has a day job to keep up with – and, in your spare time, you’re still seeking endorsements, filling out questionnaires, and showing up at any event that will have you. You’ve undoubtedly noticed, at these events, that judicial candidates spend a lot of time seeing... each other. You may be getting around, but you’re not always around likely potential voters, at least you're not always around likely voters you haven’t already met.

I will give each of you an opportunity to get your message directly to potential voters.

I will print any statement that any Cook County judicial candidate cares to make right here on For What It’s Worth. This is the sixth election cycle in which I’ve extended this invitation. In 2008, more than two dozen candidates took me up on this. In 2010 and 2012, only a few candidates did. In 2014 I had statements from eight candidates; in 2016 I had statements from seven candidates.

I hope many more of you will take advantage of this opportunity in this election cycle, but (subject to a few provisos, stipulations and rules that I will presently address) I will print what I get, whether I get five statements or 55. When I put up the Organizing the Data posts shortly before the primary, I will link back to any statements I’ve received, providing voters an additional chance to receive your message directly.

Candidates need only send me an email (that's a link to my email address; there's also a link you can find in the sidebar of this blog) with their essays.

You may be wondering what you should say. I don’t know that there is any “right” answer. You can provide a statement of personal philosophy, the stump speech you’ve always wanted to make, your ‘closing argument’ to the electorate, or whatever else you think appropriate.

I’m not going to tell anyone what to say or how to say it. However, I would suggest, as my mother used to say, that you don’t make your own candle shine brighter by trying to blow out someone else’s. Tell voters why you should be elected, not why your opponent should not be.

Put your statement in the first person (be personal, use “I” and “me”) because I will run your statement as your statement, under your byline, by Sally Smith, by John Jones. I know some of you are paying consultants to help you craft your message and there may be a temptation to simply delegate this task. Resist that temptation: Get feedback from your advisers before you send me anything (especially if you're paying for it anyway), but let your voice come through in your essay. I know writing such an essay won’t be an easy task: As lawyers, we’re used to advocating for a client -- for someone else. It’s not as easy to talk about ourselves. But this is an opportunity for you to define yourself, rather than be defined by questionnaire responses.

If I don’t already have your picture, send me a head shot. I’ll run your picture with the post. I will not edit candidate statements. I’ll print what you send. (That’s why I need an email, to verify what was sent, and by whom.) To see what other candidate statements have looked like, click on the “In Their Own Words” tag at the bottom of this post and start scrolling down.

I will only put up one statement per candidate.

I realize some of you already have personal statements posted on your own campaign websites. If you ask me to run a substantially similar statement here, or even the same statement, I will do so. However, I will not pull statements from your site on my own. If you want me to put your statement here, you have to send me the statement.

I will begin accepting, and posting, candidate essays immediately. Because I will link to them from the Organizing the Data posts, there’s no advantage to delay. And if you do try and wait until the last minute, when I am working on those roundup posts, I may be unable to get your essay posted. I have a day job, too.

I do not intend to impose any limit on the statement’s length; presumably you won’t want to compose anything overwhelmingly long. For illustration purposes, my word processor advises me that this post is about 1,075 words long.

Challenging times ahead for some judicial candidates

There are 117 active judicial candidates as of this writing, including the handful of Republicans running in the 12th and 13th Subcircuits. By my count, 49 of these candidates will face challenges to their nominating petitions, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The filing of an objection to a candidate's nominating petitions does not mean that there is anything really wrong with said nominating petitions, although it may.

Nearly every candidate's petitions were scrutinized in Cook County judicial races, looking for potential flaws -- but, just as one should not assume that an objection automatically leads to disqualification, neither should one assume that, because a candidate has not drawn an objection, his or her papers were truly 'bulletproof.'

To illustrate, I cite this item from the bottom of this post on Rich Miller's Capital Fax Blog yesterday:

(In the interest of accuracy, unfortunately, I have to include Mr. Mullen's reply to the IL Election Data tweet that Mr. Miller picked up yesterday.... The point, though, remains: A defective set of petitions, unless so obviously defective that the election authority has no choice but to toss it, will, if not challenged, get a candidate on the ballot.)

In any event, the decision to challenge -- or not -- may be based on factors other than the quality or quantity of signatures or the completeness of the other required forms. Candidate A may think that there is a valid basis upon which to challenge Candidate C. But if Candidate A thinks Candidate C will only hurt Candidate B, he not bother to challenge Candidate C. Candidate B may think the same thing -- but if she doesn't have the ready funds to mount a challenge, she may have to let Candidate C slide by.

Some challenges will be sustained; others will be dismissed. But any challenge will tie up resources that the challenged candidate might otherwise have put into advertising or mailers or other GOTV activities. There is an undeniably Machiavellian element involved in mounting a challenge... on the other hand, a certain recently retired POTUS got his start in Chicago politics by challenging his opponent off the ballot.

The Cook County Clerk's excellent website has been redesigned for this election cycle; readers will need to click on this link to track the progress of judicial candidate challenges through the Cook County Electoral Board (as of this writing none of the judicial challenges are yet posted). In past election cycles, the complaints filed in those challenges have been made available via the Clerk's website. I hope that this will again be the case, but it is not my place to promise it.

In any event, some patterns can already be seen in the who has been challenged, and who has not.

Every single countywide judicial candidate slated by the Democratic Party has, once again, escaped any ballot challenge. Many of their opponents, however, are being challenged.

A bench appointment is no guarantee against a ballot challenge. However, in the subcircuits, Judges Litricia Payne, Fredrick H. Bates, Toya T. Harvey, Travis Richardson, Debra A. Seaton, Patrick Thomas Stanton, David R. Navarro, John Andrew O'Meara, Robert Harris, Kent Delgado, Charles "Charlie" Beach, Stephanie K. Miller, Robin Denise Shoffner, Myron "Mike" Mackoff, Stephanie Saltouros, Gerald Cleary, Joanne F. Rosado, Michael Perry Gerber, Samuel J. Betar III, Marina E. Ammendola, and Anthony C. Swanagan did not draw challenges. Appointed judges who did draw challenges were Adrienne Elaine Davis, H. Yvonne Coleman, Marian Emily Perkins, Elizabeth Anne Karkula, and Michael A. Forti.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Reception tomorrow for Mary Alice Melchor

Supporters of Mary Alice Melchor's 5th Subcircuit bid are planning a fundraiser for their candidate tomorrow night, Tuesday, December 12, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., at the Wabash Street Loft, 2635 South Wabash, Suite 305.

Tickets are $100 each and sponsorships are available ($200 - Supporter, $500 - Leader, $1,000 - Champion). For more information, or to reserve tickets, email marymelchorforjudge@gmail.com.

And the first objection of the 2018 primary season to a judicial candidate's nominating petitions goes to....

Assistant State's Attorney Amanda Moira Pillsbury, a candidate for the countywide Flanagan vacancy, has drawn an objection to her nominating petitions, according to the ISBE's website.

There will be others -- probably lots of others -- before today's 5:00 p.m. deadline.

Four file for Liu vacancy in 8th Subcircuit

Judge Michael A. Forti was appointed to the Liu vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court, and has filed to hold this seat.

Three other candidates have also filed for this vacancy. FWIW readers already know about Lindsay Hugé. The links in these first two paragraphs are to the candidates' web sites.

The other two candidates filing for these vacancies do not yet have campaign websites, but both have Facebook campaign pages.

Assistant State's Attorney Athena Farmakis, pictured at left, has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1993, according to ARDC. A press release announcing her candidacy states that Farmakis "is currently a supervisor in the Preliminary Hearings Unit of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau." According to the press release, Farmakis Athena has also held supervisory positions in the Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Divisions at the Juvenile Justice Bureau. According to the campaign, Farmakis has over 65 jury trials, "involving homicide, narcotics and other violent crimes." Here is a link to her Facebook campaign page.

Farmakis did appear before county judicial slatemakers this past August and also at the June pre-slating. Farmakis has previously applied for associate judge.

The fourth candidate in this race is Cyrus Hosseini, who practices in Evanston as the Cyrus Law Group, P.C.. Hosseini has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2012, according to ARDC. His campaign Facebook page may be found by clicking here.

Thomas J. Gabryszewski files for Suriano vacancy in the 10th Subcircuit

I mentioned, back in October, that I'd met first-time judicial candidate Thomas J. Gabryszewski while he was soliciting signatures at the Harlem (O'Hare) Blue Line stop.

Gabryszewski's supporters have now set up 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 website notes Gabryszewski's service in the Marine Corps and that he is a graduate of Chicago's Whitney Young High School. He has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1990, according to ARDC, and maintains a law office on North Michigan Avenue.

Gabryszewski did not file his petitions until the close of the filing period, on December 4, so I did not mention his candidacy when I profiled the other four candidates for the Suriano vacancy in the 10th Subcircuit in this linked November 28 post. But, as Paul Harvey would say, now you know... the rest of the story.

January 9 fundraiser for Judge Oran F. Whiting

Supporters of Judge Oran F. Whiting's countywide election bid are planning a Tuesday, January 9, 2018 fundraising reception for their candidate, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Billy Goat Tavern, 1535 W. Madison St.

Tickets are $100 each and sponsors promise "plenty of food, drinks, & parking." For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, email staff@JudgeWhiting.com or call (312) 533-5294.

January 9 fundraiser for James A. "Jamie" Shapiro

Supporters of James A. "Jamie" Shapiro's 8th Subcircuit candidacy are planning a fundraiser for their candidate on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., at the Hubbard Inn, 100 W. Hubbard Street.

Tickets for the fundraiser are $100 each, but sponsorships are available ($150 - Supporter, $250 - Bronze Sponsor, $500 - Silver Sponsor, $1,000 - Gold Sponsor). For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, email james@lasallestrategies.com.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Cook County once again named a "judicial hellhole" -- but why?

The American Tort Reform Foundation is out with its annual Judicial Hellholes report and, once again, Cook County fares poorly in the ATRF's estimation. The good news, I suppose, is that we dropped a notch this year: Last year, we were number 6. This year, we're no. 7.

This year, Cook County is lumped in with Madison County for the dubious 'hellhole' honor.

I have nothing to say about the ATRF's critique of Madison County as "the national epicenter for asbestos litigation." I'll leave that to some blogger in Edwardsville. However, one can't help but notice the prominent place asbestos litigation has in the ATRF's complaints about most of the jurisdictions on its hellhole list.

At least the ATRF doesn't mention asbestos in connection with County Cook. Instead, the report charges (p. 40):
Cook County continues to host a disproportionate amount of the state’s litigation and is known for large verdicts. Recent studies have shown a “litigation explosion” in the county, accounting for roughly two-thirds of Illinois’ major civil litigation, even though a significantly smaller fraction of the state’s population lives there.
The charge is repeated from last year's report; the linked report (to a Illinois Civil Justice League report from April 2015 titled "Litigation Imbalance III" and subtitled "Revealing Trends in Court Dockets Demonstrate Lawsuit Abuse in Select Counties") is the same as it was last year, too.

The basic concern is that more "major civil litigation" is filed in Cook County than in adjacent counties -- and the disparity is more than can be accounted for by population alone.

"Major civil litigation" appears to be the report's name for Law Division cases -- in other words, not just tort cases, but contract cases and collection cases, too. However, some "major civil litigation" cases can not be filed other than here in Chicago. For example, there is no commodity litigation outside County Cook; Downstate farmers who try and hedge their risks in futures trading are required to litigate their disputes in Chicago. That fact has to do with contract language and nothing to do with the local PI bar. Because many huge corporations have national or international headquarters in Cook County, all sorts of disputes arising from national and international trade can be heard in Chicago; these are not likely to be properly venued in courts Downstate. But even with these built-in factors to boost Cook County case filing totals, there simply aren't as many cases filed in the Law Division as there were in days of yore. Not even close.

I've heard Cook County insurance defense lawyers complain that tort filings here are in free fall. One of these, who works for a 'captive' law firm (meaning he is an employee of the insurance company whose insureds he defends), suggested that the many case management conferences in Law Division cases nowadays are scheduled to make up for the dwindling number of cases -- it gives the judges something to do, that lawyer told me. (I'm not endorsing this view, mind you; I'm merely reporting that it exists.)

At one time, in comparable cases, it was pretty well agreed that Cook County juries were more generous than their neighbors in the surrounding counties.

The ICJL report linked to the ATRF hellhole report contends that this is still the case and offers this table in support:

But did you notice? According to this table, juries in the four collar counties (McHenry was left off for some reason) found for plaintiffs more often, on a percentage basis, than juries in Cook County.

Even if we could look at injury cases alone, it wouldn't take that many cases involving malpractice at a teaching hospital to swell the average verdict totals here. There are some great hospitals in the farthest reaches of the six county metro area. But the best hospitals, handling the most difficult cases, are in Chicago or nearby suburbs. The largest potential malpractice exposures, therefore, are also right here in Cook County. Also, in catastrophic injury cases, the necessary treatments may be available only here. A catastrophic injury case might arise Downstate, but between medical treatment and the residence of corporate defendants, the case may be properly venued here. And we can't just look at injury cases alone: Millions of dollars can be at stake in commercial cases that can't be filed except in Chicago. All of these might inflate our 'average' verdicts without proving that our juries are still more generous than those elsewhere. Granted, if I had a good auto liability case, with reasonable medical bills, and the choice of proceeding in Cook County or one of the collar counties, I'd probably still want the case filed in Chicago. But if a gap in comparable cases really remains, it is narrowing -- and it's nowhere as big as this chart suggests. I don't think the ATRF is comparing apples with apples here.

The ATRF also condemns Cook County judges generally (p.41):
Judges consistently display a pro-plaintiff bias and a disregard for truth and fairness. The Cook County court has been plagued by unqualified and unethical judges, yet somehow most continue to be reelected.
Offered in support of this grave charge are the cases of Judge Jessica A. O'Brien and former Judge Richard C. Cooke.

I do not pretend to know whether the pending mortgage fraud charges against Judge O'Brien are well-founded. I do know, however, that Judge O'Brien's alleged misdeeds are alleged to have occurred before her election. I won't say that I'm outraged by the ATRF's gratuitous insult to the character of the hundreds of other Cook County judges on account of what O'Brien may have done before getting on the bench; "outrage" and "outrageous" are words that are so overused in the world today that these need to be retired from the vocabulary of serious persons. But I will say that trying to tar the Cook County bench as a whole on account of the charges against Judge O'Brien is anything but persuasive.

Nor is the ATRF's charge made more persuasive by throwing former Judge Cooke into the mix. Yes, Cooke refused orders to report to Traffic Court following his election. Again, I don't pretend to know all the details of, or motivations leading to, the standoff and Cooke's eventual resignation. But I am very, very sure that the ATRF is way off base when it speculates (p. 41) that, because Cooke "had contributed nearly $70,000 to the campaigns of other judges, perhaps [he] thought he would draw a more desirable civil court assignment."

As the hellhole report charges, and as FWIW already know, Cooke had a lot of money at his disposal when he ran for the bench -- but it was his own money. He didn't need money from "personal injury lawyers," an appellation that is somehow always rendered with a sneer in the ATRF hellhole report. The report complains (p. 41) that personal injury lawyers spend millions to encourage "Illinoisans to sue over anything and everything, clogging the county courthouse with litigation that invariably delays justice for those with legitimate claims" and then reinvest some of their fees to "contribute millions to Cook County judges’ election campaigns, hoping to cultivate a plaintiff-friendly bench." You'd think, given this stated concern, the ATRF would be rooting for more men and women like Judge Cooke to come forward for judicial service, people who don't need to take the money that the ATRF thinks the PI bar throws around.

I wish the ATRF would read this blog more often: Even the fundraising posts might calm the ATRF's fears. Yes, prominent personal injury lawyers (no sneer) sponsor some fundraisers -- frequently in conjunction with prominent insurance defense attorneys (likewise no sneer) -- and many times for candidates who are working, or who have worked, for insurance defense firms. I personally have serious problems with lawyer advertising -- which I will address in a future post when time permits -- but not because it 'cultivates' a 'plaintiff-friendly bench.'

Readers may have noticed that only Cook and Madison Counties are singled out in this year's hellhole report while, last year, the ATRF also included St. Clair County in its crosshairs. The ATRF hellhole report does not explain why St. Clair County got a pass in the current report.

Now, I'm not one of those persons who argues that everything is fine here just because things are worse some place else... but it's been a rough few years for the judiciary in the 20th Judicial Circuit and St. Clair County in particular.

I wrote earlier this year about Judge Ronald Duebbert, elected in 2016 and banished almost immediately to administrative duties because his sometime roommate, a convicted felon, paroled after serving time for the battery of a pregnant woman, was arrested on a new charge of first degree murder, that crime occurring not even four weeks after Duebbert was sworn in.

There wouldn't have been a vacancy for Duebbert to be elected to in the first place, but for the fact that the Chief Judge of the 20th Circuit, John Baricevic, was one of three 20th Circuit judges to bypass retention by resigning from the bench and seeking to remain in judicial service via the contested election process. (Duebbert defeated Baricevic in the 2016 election.) You might not figure out why Baricevic et al. chose this path from Cook v. Illinois State Board of Elections, 2016 IL App (4th) 160160, the case that allowed them to try, but a major part of the motivation was the judges' belief that, as general election candidates, they could more freely defend themselves and their records after a newly appointed associate judge, a former St. Clair County Assistant State's Attorney, was found dead, from a cocaine overdose, at the hunting lodge of a fellow judge (the judge who presided over the circuit's drug court cases) -- and who was himself arrested soon thereafter for heroin possession. See, Death of a Downstate judge, downfall of another.

Anyway, Judge Duebbert was back in the news recently when, according to Beth Hundsdorfer, in the December 1 edition of the Belleville News-Democrat, he waived a preliminary hearing on "felony charges of criminal sexual abuse and intimidation, along with misdemeanor charges of battery and solicitation of a sex act." These, by the way, have nothing to do with the judge's roommate, or the judge's texts to said roommate the day before the murder, or to the judge's lengthy visits to said roommate in prison but, rather, to charges that Duebbert, in November 2016, after his election to the bench, but before he was sworn in, grabbed "a male client's genitals and [offered] to reduce a legal fee by $100 if the man would perform oral sex on him." (See also, "Marion County judge picked to preside over Duebbert criminal case," by Beth Hundsdorfer, in the November 18, 2017 Belleville News-Democrat.) According to Hundsdorfer's reporting, obstruction of justice charges against Duebbert that are related to his alleged contacts with the sometime roommate also remain possible.

The Cook County court system is not perfect. Far from it. Some judges are better than others, just as some lawyers are better than others and some plumbers are better than others and some chefs are better than others. Pick any trade or profession you wish: Some will be better than others. Some judges come to our bench with less than stellar qualifications. Some of these will turn out to be great judges. Some lawyers with seemingly great qualifications will turn out to be poor judges. As with investments, so too with judges: Past results do not guarantee future performance.

But ATRF does not make a convincing case for Cook County as a "judicial hellhole." I suggest that persons or groups looking to "reform" our court systems, such as ATRF, would better serve their stated objective by working to make the decisions issued by our judges more predictable, certain, cost-effective and fair rather than by unfairly damning whole court systems.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

One, and only one, new Cook County judicial vacancy during the 'special filing period'

The December 1 decision of the Illinois Courts Commission to retire Judge Valarie Turner creates a sixth vacancy in the 2nd Subcircuit.

The many and various rumors notwithstanding, this was the only #CookCountyJudicial vacancy to open up during the special judicial filing period.

Petitions for this new vacancy can be filed between Monday, December 18 and close of business on Tuesday, December 26.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Associate judge candidates? The Alliance of Illinois Judges would like to hear from you

All Cook County judges are elected.

Many -- most -- are elected by the people, either countywide or from one of the 15 Cook County subcircuits. These are the "full" Circuit Court judges.

But some Cook County judges are elected by the "full" Circuit Court judges. These are the Associate Judges.

There's an election going on for Associate Judges right now, also. It's been going on since February 8 of this year; that was the deadline for interested lawyers to send in their applications (click here to see the list of those who applied). It will most likely be going on throughout the primary season, too. Eventually a nominating committee, composed primarily, if not exclusively, of presiding judges, will interview every one of the 272 applicants (at least every one of those who does not drop out along the way).

The nominating committee's function is to promulgate a "short list" of finalists -- winnowing down that long list of applicants into a list containing twice as many vacancies as there are vacancies. This may not happen until April or May of next year. (We don't know how many vacancies there are in the associate judge ranks at the present time. There have to be at least five before the process begins in Cook County. The number of vacancies is likely to increase while the process drags on. The largest number of vacancies filled at one time that I can remember was 31. This was in 2007.)

In any event, when the short list comes out, the rest of the judges have a brief time -- a few weeks at most -- to evaluate the finalists and decide from among them. Mostly, they do. However, in both of the last two associate judge classes, at least one associate judge was elected who was not on the short list.

Presumably, all the current associate judge candidates already know this. But there may be some FWIW readers who don't know how the AJ process works. Without some context, this announcement from the Alliance of Illinois Judges might be confusing.

But enough context. The AIJ is asking associate judge candidates to provide their ratings and résumés and to respond to a questionnaire. The first link in the paragraph above will take you to it (and associate judge candidates will find directions there about how to return completed questionnaires and other requested materials). These are the questions that the AIJ is asking associate judge candidates to answer:
  1. List your community service including civic, bar association and legal community activities.
  2. List your activities that directly impacted the LGBTQ community.
  3. Provide a personal statement that includes the reasons for your interest in the judiciary.
The AIJ has set a January 8, 2018 deadline for responding.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Two countywide judicial races will be uncontested

There may be more uncontested races when challenges are heard. But, for now, it seems that two of the three alternates -- pre-slated for late-opening countywide vacancies -- drew no challengers.

Congratulations are in order for Rosa Maria Silva, the now-presumptive winner of the Egan vacancy, and Thomas F. McGuire, pictured at right, who has a clear path now to the Dunford vacancy. (Tom Sam Sianis, who was 'pre-slated' for what turned out to be the Dooling vacancy drew two challengers.)

In the 13th Subcircuit, none of the Democratic candidates, namely, former Judge Ketki "Kay" Steffen (Crane vacancy), Shannon P. O'Malley (Lawrence vacancy), and current Judge Samuel J. Betar III (O'Donnell vacancy) will face primary opposition. Judge Michael Perry Gerber, who was appointed to the Lawrence vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court, filed this morning to run as a Republican for the vacancy. He would face Daniel Patrick Fitzgerald in a contested Republican primary. Christine Svenson, who filed as a Republican for the O'Donnell vacancy, is also unopposed, setting up a potential general election match against Judge Betar.

Karla Marie Fiaoni, pictured at left, who filed for a 15th Subcircuit vacancy as a Republican in the 2014 primary cycle, but withdrew from that race, is the only Republican to file this morning for the Zelezinski vacancy. A former Chicago Heights Police Chief, Fiaoni also sought a 15th Subcircuit vacancy in 2010. Two Democratic candidates, Judge Anthony C. Swanagan and Scott McKenna, have filed for this vacancy.

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A contest in the 14th Subcircuit?

The clock is ticking fast now... the doors will soon close at the Illinois State Board of Elections and for the regular judicial filing period and there are, as expected, lots of new filings today, some from candidates you've read about on FWIW, some from candidates not previously mentioned here.

Perhaps the single most newsworthy development is that Beatriz Frausto-Sandoval (pictured at left) has filed to run against Judge Marina E. Ammendola for the Garcia vacancy in the 14th Subcircuit. This sets up a possible primary contest -- in a subcircuit where primary contests are rare as hens' teeth.

There was one vacancy in the 14th Subcircuit in 2016. It was uncontested. There was one vacancy in the 14th Subcircuit in 2012 as well. It, too, was uncontested.

There was one vacancy in the 14th Subcircuit in 2010. Uncontested. There was a 14th Subcircuit vacancy in 2008. Also uncontested. There were two 14th Subcircuit vacancies in 2002... and one candidate apiece for each.

You get the picture.

Of course, there are a number of places where a candidacy might falter between the filing of nominating petitions and the certification of the primary ballot. So we can't promise a contested primary. But there is a possibility, at least.

According to ARDC, Frausto-Sandoval has been licensed in Illinois since 2006. She has an office in the Temple Building, across from the Daley Center, according to Sullivan's, where she practices immigration law. Her LinkedIn profile, from which the accompanying picture is lifted, gives a Bridgeport office address.

Attention #CookCountyJudicial candidates: LinkedIn says you're doing it all wrong

This was in my mail this morning. I felt duty-bound to pass it along....

And, always remember, free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it.

Republican primary contest shaping up in 12th Subcircuit?

Thursday afternoon, after I put up a post saying that only one #CookCountyJudicial candidate had filed since Monday, Republican David Studenroth filed his nominating petitions for the Maki vacancy in the north suburban 12th Subcircuit.

Friday morning, Studenroth got an opponent: Alan M. Jacob filed as a Republican for the same vacancy. According to ARDC, Jacob has been licensed in Illinois since 2007. He is a principal of AMJ Legal Services in Skokie. An Avvo biography, from which the accompanying picture was lifted, emphasizes Jacob's handling of DUI cases. According to that same biography, Jacob became a lawyer after working as a police officer or deputy sheriff in California and Illinois. A Marine Corps veteran, Jacob began his legal career in the Cook County Public Defender’s Office.

The only Democrat to have filed for the Maki vacancy is Joel Chupack.

This sets up a potential general election contest in November 2018.

There are two potential general election contests in the northwest suburban 13th Subcircuit, too.

Former Judge Ketki "Kay" Steffen, pictured at right, filed as a Democrat for the Crane vacancy last Monday. Gary William Seyring and Susanne Groebner filed as Republicans. (The links in this paragraph are to the Steffen and Groebner campaign websites, newly added to the blog Sidebar.)

In the race to fill the O'Donnell vacancy, Christine Svenson filed as a Republican last Monday. Judge Samuel J. Betar III, who was appointed to this vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court, filed as a Democrat.

Some other potential general election contests may be yet be set up; candidates have until close of business today to file nominating petitions.

However, no Republicans have filed for any countywide judicial race. No Republicans have filed in any subcircuits other than 12 or 13 either. No matter who files today, it is unlikely that this will change.

Therefore, in most #CookCountyJudicial races -- in the overwhelming majority -- barring some totally bizarre happenstance (which we now all know can happen, the winners of the March 2018 Democratic primary contests will be unopposed in November.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

So what else is new?

Newcomers to FWIW -- and, from the stats Blogger provides, there are many, and not all of them Russians -- may wonder why I keep talking about #CookCountyJudicial candidates who filed Monday. I mean, it's Thursday already... hasn't anybody else filed in any of these races since Monday?

Why, yes -- just this morning, in fact, Judge Marina E. Ammendola filed for the Garcia vacancy in the 14th Subcircuit. (She has no campaign website or campaign Facebook page yet that I can find.)

But she's the only one.

That will almost certainly change now that I'm putting up a post -- and, of course, it will certainly change by close of business next Monday, when the regular filing period ends. The bottom ballot position is supposed to be almost as advantageous as the top one, and with a multitude scrumming for the top line, some candidates hold back, deliberately lingering on the sidelines in hopes of snagging the bottom line. If you peruse the blog Sidebar, you will notice that there are several declared candidates who have, for whatever reason, chosen to hold off on filing... so far. Some of these may be worried that their petitions are yet too 'thin' -- but others may have the Good Book in mind in fashioning this strategy: The last shall be first, and the first last.

Turning back to those who have filed, lets quickly look at the countywide races:

For the countywide Brewer vacancy, there are three candidates at present, two of whom are already known to FWIW readers, Kathryn Maloney Vahey and Judge Oran F. Whiting. The third candidate filing in this race is John Maher. Maher's name is linked to a campaign Facebook page; I've been unable to find a campaign website. I believe the candidate is Assistant State's Attorney John G. Maher, who has been licensed in Illinois since 1993 according to ARDC. My conclusion in this regard is heavily influenced by Russ Stewart's October 11 column, which forecast that a John Maher would be on a 'state's attorney's slate' and would file to oppose Whiting.

Four candidates filed Monday morning for the Clay vacancy, three of whom were previously introduced to FWIW readers, Kathaleen Theresa Lanahan, Jonathan Clark Green, and Michael I. O'Malley. But also filing Monday was Mary A. Lopez (pictured at left), a partner with the Integrity Law Group. Lopez was a nurse for roughly 20 years before she graduated from law school. According to ARDC, Lopez has been licensed as a lawyer in Illinois since 1999. Her name here is linked to a campaign Facebook page; I could not find a campaign website.

There were two candidates filing for the late-opening Dooling vacancy, neither of whom yet appears in the blog Sidebar. One is Tom Sam Sianis, who, as one of the Cook County Democratic Party's alternates, was 'pre-slated' for this race. That's a link to his Facebook campaign page; there is no campaign website yet that I can find. A bullet point biography on the Facebook page lists Sianis's career highlights: Special Assistant Attorney General for the Illinois Attorney General's Office, Enforcement Division Chief of the Illinois Securities Department, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, and owner of the Billy Goat Tavern. (I will save for a future Page Two post my favorite Billy Goat Tavern story -- the night the great Mike Royko called me a yuppie and then took it back.) Sianis has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2004.

The other candidate filing for the Dooling vacancy is Assistant Public Defender Timothy John Leeming. I couldn't even find a Facebook campaign page for Leeming, but I did find this May 2014 Law Bulletin story about Leeming's artistic talents. Leeming is the husband of Circuit Court Judge Pamela M. Leeming; he has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1986.

I wrote about the four candidates filing for the Flanagan vacancy in a post yesterday.

There were two candidates in line at the Board of Elections Monday morning with petitions for the Jordan vacancy, both of whom are known to FWIW readers, Jerry Barrido and Judge Clare Joyce Quish.

Two candidates also filed for the McGinnis vacancy, Judge Peter Michael Gonzalez and Brian Terrence Sexton. Gonzalez will be familiar to current FWIW readers, but unless you go back quite a ways with this blog, you may not have heard of Sexton: He sought a countywide vacancy in 2008. His candidacy was forecast by Russ Stewart as part of the 'state's attorney's slate,' but Sexton retired from that office (he had been Chief of the Narcotics Bureau) about a year ago and set up a practice in Naperville. He has been licensed in Illinois since 1987.

Only one candidate has so far filed for each of the remaining countywide vacancies, Rosa Maria Silva (Egan vacancy), Thomas F. McGuire (Dunford vacancy), Cecilia Anne Horan (Hartigan vacancy, and Jack Hagerty Rooney vacancy. (All links here to campaign websites except for McGuire; his is to a Facebook campaign page.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Contests shaping up in 6th Subcircuit -- or are they shaking up?

Corrections made after posting on November 29

An outsider like me can't help but wonder whether the sudden withdrawal of Cong. Luis Gutiérrez from the 4th District Congressional race might have major ripple effects in 6th Subcircuit judicial races.

Let's start with what we know.

Longtime Assistant State's Attorney David C. Herrera (pictured at left) (who recently left that office and now works for the Luisi Legal Group) filed for the Chevere vacancy, setting up a contest with Judge Kent Delgado, who is seeking to hold the seat to which he was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court. (The links are to the candidates' websites; Herrera's is newly found, and just added to the blog Sidebar.)

In the race for the Cooke vacancy, newly appointed Judge Charles "Charlie" Beach filed to hold this seat. Edward J. Underhill (pictured at right) also filed for this vacancy. (Here, too, the links are to the candidates' websites; Underhill's is newly found and also just added to the blog Sidebar.)

Assistant Public Defender Linda Perez (pictured at left) filed for the Lopez-Cepero vacancy, setting up a contest with Judge Stephanie K. Miller, who holds this seat pursuant to appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court. (Again, the links are to the candidates' websites; Perez's is newly found and added to the blog Sidebar.)

We also know that the Democratic Committeemen in the 6th Subcircuit voted to endorse Delgado, Underhill, and Miller. Then the Cook County Democratic Party declared those endorsements void.

In addition, we know that, once the collective endorsement was withdrawn, the individual candidates began maneuvering for individual endorsements. Judge Delgado, for example, picked up endorsements from 33rd Ward Committeeman Aaron Goldstein, 32nd Ward Ald. and Committeeman Scott Waguespack, 2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins, Secretary of State Jesse White, and 37th Ward Ald. and Committeeman Emma Mitts.

Some of those in a position to make meaningful endorsements are busy right now, eyeing their chances to replace Cong. Gutiérrez. First Ward Ald. and Committeeman Proco Joe Moreno and 35th Ward Ald. and Committeeman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa have both been mentioned as possible candidates. There will likely be others. Cong. Gutiérrez, for his part, has endorsed County Commissioner Chuy García as his replacement... but will this endorsement be sufficient to head off likely challengers? Congressional seats don't open up every day.

Just a week ago it seemed that the main action in the 6th Subcircuit would be between those supporting Herrera, Beach, and Perez and those supporting Delgado, Underhill, and Miller. (Nothing is ever quite black and white: 33rd Ward Committeeman Goldstein, who has since announced a campaign for Attorney General, has advised FWIW that the 33rd Ward Democrats are supporting Delgado, Miller, and Beach; the 47th Ward Organization has endorsed these three as well). But the point is this: Next week will last week's allies find themselves on opposite sides in the battle to replace Cong. Gutiérrez? How will any new alignments impact these judicial races?

Four file for countywide Flanagan vacancy

Four #CookCountyJudicial candidates for the countywide Flanagan vacancy are lottery-eligible. Judge Preston Jones, Jr. holds this seat pursuant to appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court. Jones was slated for this vacancy by the Cook County Democratic Party only a few weeks before that September 2017 appointment. Prior to his appointment, Jones served as an Assistant Public Defender. He joined that office in 1994, when he received his Illinois law license. He had been a member of the Homicide Task Force in that office since 2004.

Just the other day I heard the Public Defender's Office touted as the current cradle of Cook County judges -- in the way that Miami of Ohio has been, for so many years, a cradle of football coaches. In the course of my professional lifetime, the judicial cradle has shifted. If the needle now points to the PD's office, it used to point more to the Attorney General's Office or the State's Attorney's Office.

And who knows where the needle may move next?

Keely Patricia Hillison, a partner at Parrillo Weiss LLC, also filed Monday for the Flanagan vacancy. That's a link to the campaign Facebook page in the preceding sentence; I could find no campaign website. Hillison has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1985.

Will Parrillo be the next (or another) cradle of Cook County judges? Another Parrillo partner, Mary Kathleen McHugh, was elected to the bench in 2016....

Also filing for the Flanagan vacancy on Monday was Ioana Salajanu, a partner with Rock, Fusco & Connelly, LLC. Salajanu is seeking to become the first Romanian-American elected to the bench in Illinois. Salajanu (pictured at right) has been licensed in Illinois since 2000.

The fourth candidate to file Monday for the Flanagan vacancy was Amanda Moira Pillsbury. According to ARDC, Pillsbury, who works as an Assistant State's Attorney, has been licensed to practice in Illinois since 2004. I could find neither a campaign website nor even a Facebook page for Pillsbury, but Russ Stewart reported in this October 11, 2017 column that Pillsbury was part of a 'state's attorneys' slate' and that she would be filing for the Flanagan vacancy.

Because each of these four candidates were counted as being 'in line' when the doors opened Monday morning at the Illinois State Board of Elections, these candidates are eligible for the ballot lottery to determine who will have the top ballot position in this race. Anyone filing for this vacancy now would be no more than fifth on the list (unless one or more candidates withdraws or is successfully challenged).

"Wolfpack and Ramblers for Wrenn" event set for December 5

For all of you outside agitators out there, or for any other newcomers to Chicago, the references in the headline of this post are to St. Ignatius College Prep and Loyola University, respectively.

In any event, supporters of Jeanne Wrenn's 8th Subcircuit bid are planning the above-named fundraiser for their candidate on Tuesday, December 5, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Theater on the Lake, 2401 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. The listed hosts for the event are Edward Austin, Colleen Daley, Jack Hartman, Timothy Hogan, Jeff Kent, Fred Krol, Robert Milan, Jane Neufeld, Mike Noonan, Harry Rossi, Peter Wall, Brian Cleary, John R. Daley, Hon. Michael Hogan (ret.), Megan Hughes, Katie Kelly, John LaMantia, Colleen Rock Mueller, Austin Nicholl, Dan Pikarski, Meaghan Schneider, Brian T. Wrenn, Anne Conway, Steve Fitzgerald, Michael Hogan Jr., Tim Kennedy, Dan Kotin, Ryan McQueeny, Tom Needham, Susan Nicholl, Tom Pikarski, Patrick Schultz, and John Wrenn.

Tickets for the event are $100 each (although "graduates of the last decade" will be admitted for $70) and sponsorships are available ($250 - Supporter, Host - $500, Co-Chair - $1,000). For more information, or to reserve tickets, email james@lasallestrategies.com.

December 3 fundraiser for Judge Gerald Cleary

Supporters of Judge Gerald Cleary's bid to hold the Suriano vacancy in the 10th Subcircuit have planned a fundraiser for their candidate for this coming Sunday, December 3, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., at Vaughn's Pub & Grill, 5485 N. Northwest Highway, Chicago. Listed hosts for the event are Hon. Robert J. Quinn (Ret.), Hon. Dan J. Sullivan (Ret.), Glen Admunsen, Kevin Conway, Mary Kons, Joe McInerney, John O'Connor, Matt Pappas, Larry Schechtman, Larry Smith, and Todd Smith.

Tickets for the fundraiser are $50 apiece ($90 per couple), but sponsorships are available ($250 - Supporter, $500 - Host, $1,000 - Platinum Sponsor). For more information, or to reserve tickets, email james@lasallestrategies.com.

Fundraiser for Judge Robert Harris on December 12

Supporters of Judge Robert F. Harris's bid to hold the Washington, II vacancy in the 5th Subcircuit have organized a reception in honor of their candidate on Tuesday, December 12, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Chicago office of McDermott, Will & Emery, 444 W. Lake Street, 40th floor. Jeff Gargano, Nancy Lagousakos, Dawn Keller, and Howard Berk are the listed hosts.

No minimum donation has been specified for this event (although "all contributions will be welcome"), but reservations are required. Email info@craticshaffer.com for more information, or to reserve a place at this function.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Harris to the Washington, II vacancy just this past September. As of this morning's posting, Judge Harris has yet to file his nominating petitions for this vacancy. The only candidate in this race so far is Shay Tyrone Allen.

It's judge vs. judge vs. ex-judge for the 8th Subcircuit Fabri vacancy

Well, judge vs. judge vs. ex-judge -- and Feldman. Stephen J. Feldman is the only one of the four lottery-eligible candidates filing for the 8th Subcircuit Fabri vacancy who has never served as a judge. But he has been a hearing officer: Feldman's campaign website stresses his experience as a hearing officer for the Secretary of State's Office, presiding over 1,000 contested hearings. Since 2011, according to the campaign website, Feldman has also served as an adjunct professor at his alma mater, the John Marshall Law School, teaching trial advocacy. Feldman's Facebook campaign page says that he is a lifelong resident of the Gold Coast, attending the Ogden School and graduating from the Francis W. Parker School. He has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2001. He ran countywide in 2014.

The ex-judge is James "Jamie" Shapiro. The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Shapiro to an 8th Subcircuit vacancy in 2007. After falling short in the 2008 primary, despite strong ratings from bar evaluators, Shapiro was recalled to judicial service by the Illinois Supreme Court. He served until the end of November 2012, making another run for an 8th Subcircuit vacancy in the 2012 primary.

Shapiro has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1985. According to his campaign bio, Shapiro began his legal career with the firm now known as Hinshaw & Culbertson, moving to D'Ancona & Pflaum for a year before serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1989 to 1995. He became a mediator and arbitrator with Resolute Systems LLC after leaving the bench, and has also helmed his own law firm or partnered with others in a number of firms.

Shapiro was President of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers in 2007-08; he served as a Director of the Alliance of Illinois Judges from 2010 to 2015.

One of the two incumbent judges are Robin Denise Shoffner, who holds this vacancy pursuant to appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court. She previously served by appointment in a 5th Subcircuit vacancy.

Shoffner's campaign bio stresses her pre-judicial service as a trial attorney for the Federal Civil Rights Division of the Corporation Counsel's Office, as Senior Litigation Counsel for Aon Risk Services, and with the law firm currently known as Albert, Whitehead, P.C. It also notes Shoffner's service as President of the Black Women Lawyers' Association and as a past board member of the Cook County Bar Association. Shoffner was licensed to practice law in Illinois in 1990.

According to her campaign bio, Shoffner is an active member of Holy Angels Catholic Church, serving on the Finance Committee and the HIV/AIDS Ministry. Shoffner lives in the South Loop community with her daughter, who attends the South Loop Elementary School. Shoffner was endorsed for the Fabri vacancy by 8th Subcircuit committeemen this past August.

The other incumbent judge is Elizabeth Anne Karkula. (That's a link to her campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.) The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Karkula to the countywide Rooney vacancy in January 2016, but the Cook County Democratic Party slatemakers declined to endorse her candidacy this past August (she was selected as fourth alternate -- but only three vacancies opened up).

Karkula has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1987. Her campaign website notes that, in addition to extensive pro bono work, Karkula served as general counsel to IBEW Local 134 before ascending to the bench.

Because each of these candidates was counted as being 'in line' when the doors opened Monday morning at the Illinois State Board of Elections, all four are eligible for the ballot lottery to determine who will have the first ballot position.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Three file for Scully, Jr. vacancy in 15th Subcircuit

Three candidates filed yesterday for the Scully, Jr. vacancy in the south suburban 15th Subcircuit. Judge Diana L. Embil currently holds this seat pursuant to Supreme Court appointment. She was not of the three candidates who filed yesterday.

Assistant State's Attorney Rivanda Doss Beal did file for this vacancy yesterday. Beal may be be familiar to FWIW regulars. Her campaign website is linked in the blog Sidebar. Beal has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1994, according to ARDC. Her campaign website portrays Beal as a career prosecutor who has tried numerous misdemeanor and felony cases. Beal currently serves as a supervisor in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office at Branch 42 on the North Side of Chicago.

Michael B. Barrett, who also filed for this vacancy yesterday, may likewise be familiar to longtime FWIW readers. He finished just 15 votes behind Judge Chris Lawler in a 2014 primary cliffhanger. A partner in the Palos Heights firm of Barrett & Sramek, Barrett does not yet appear to have a campaign website up and running. The accompanying photo is from the 2014 campaign. He has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1991.

A third candidate filing for this vacancy yesterday was Ashonta Rice-Akiwowo. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2005, Rice-Akiwowo practices in Flossmoor with the Akiwowo Law Group, P.C. A campaign website appears to be under construction, but there is a campaign Facebook page.

Because each of these candidates was counted as being 'in line' when the doors opened yesterday at the Illinois State Board of Elections, all three are eligible for the ballot lottery to determine who will have the first ballot position.

Rhonda Sallee fundraiser set for Friday evening

Supporters of 5th Subcircuit candidate Rhonda Sallee are planning an "Official Campaign Launch & Fundraiser" for their candidate this Friday, December 1, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., in the Old Eagle Room of the Polo Inn, 3322 S. Morgan St. Cong. Danny K. Davis will be the "Special Guest Congressman" at the event; music will be provided by Beautiful Sol.

Tickets for the event are $75 apiece, but sponsorships are available (Kilobyte Donor - $75 to $500, Megabyte Donor - $501 to $1,000, Gigabyte Donor - $1,001 to $5,000, and Terabyte Donor > $5,001). For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, email Rhondaforjudge@gmail.com.

Sallee filed yesterday for the Banks vacancy in the 5th Subcircuit. Judge H. Yvonne Coleman presently holds this seat pursuant to Supreme Court appointment. Gino Betts has also filed for this vacancy.

Lindsay Hugé fundraiser set for December 6

Supporters of 8th Subcircuit candidate Lindsay Hugé are planning a "Help Knock Out Injustice" fundraiser for their candidate on Wednesday, December 6, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Burke's Public House, 5401 N. Broadway. Former WBC lightweight champion (and Chicago resident) David Díaz will be the special guest at the event, which will be hosted by 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman, 47th Ward Committeeman Paul Rosenfeld, and Trisha Rich.

Tickets for the event are $75 each, but sponsorships are available ($125 - middleweight, $250 - heavyweight). For more information, or to reserve tickets, email james@lasallestrategies.com.

Hugé filed yesterday for the Liu vacancy in the 8th Subcircuit, a vacancy currently occupied by Judge Michael A. Forti, who has also filed in this race.

Four file for Suriano vacancy in 10th Subcircuit

Judge Gerald Cleary has filed to hold this seat, a seat to which he was appointed in late 2016.

But Cleary was passed over by Democratic slatemakers in the 10th Subcircuit in favor of Colleen Reardon Daly this past August. Daly is also a candidate in this race.

Also filing for this vacancy yesterday were Noreen Connolly and Jill Rose Quinn. (A link to Quinn's website has been added to the blog Sidebar along with those of the other candidates in this race.)

Jill Rose Quinn
Quinn has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1983, according to ARDC. She practices from an office on North Elston Avenue, just west of Cicero (business website link). According to her campaign bio, Quinn is one of the "few transgender legal professionals in Chicago." The bio notes that "[b]eing transgender has taught Jill firsthand what it is like to be marginalized and the vital importance of treating all people with fairness, decency and compassion."

A fourth Republican candidate surfaces

Only one #CookCountyJudicial candidate filed papers yesterday after the 8:00 a.m. rush.

That lone candidate was Republican Daniel Patrick Fitzgerald, who was nevertheless the first candidate to file for the Lawrence vacancy in the 13th Subcircuit. (That's a link to the candidate's website in the preceding sentence, if you didn't know already; a link has been added to the blog Sidebar as well.)

According to ARDC, Fitzgerald has been licensed in Illinois since 1991. He currently serves as a Senior Counsel for Walgreens, according to his campaign bio, a corporate position which is not on the usual path to the judiciary. However, Fitzgerald's campaign bio also notes that he began his legal career clerking for a Cook County Chancery judge, moving next to the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

After six years as an AAG, Fitzgerald became Chief Legal Counsel for the Office of the Inspector General and Chief of the Bureau of Administrative Litigation in the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. "In this capacity," the campaign bio notes, "Fitzgerald provided legal advice to the Inspector General’s office on healthcare regulatory and compliance matters" and "participated in civil prosecutions and litigation enforcement actions against Medicaid providers, working with the US Attorney’s Office and the Illinois Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to root out Medicaid fraud and abuse."

The campaign bio also notes that Fitzgerald has been an elected Trustee of Barrington Township since 2009. In 2014 Fitzgerald was elected Republican Committeeman for Barrington Township. He also serves on the University of Illinois College of Business Alumni Association Board of Directors, according to the campaign bio.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Gwyn E. Ward Brown files to run against Judge Saltouros in the 10th Subcircuit

Assistant Public Defender Gwyn E. Ward Brown filed this morning to run against Judge Stephanie Saltouros in the race for the O'Neill Burke vacancy in the 10th Subcircuit. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1991, according to ARDC, Ward Brown has no campaign website at present, but does have this Facebook campaign page.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Saltouros to the O'Neill Burke vacancy in September 2016. Tenth Subcircuit committeemen slated Saltouros for this vacancy this past August.

Peter Michael Gonzalez sworn in as Circuit Court judge

Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman swears
Gonzalez in as family members look on.

I hadn't quite gotten around to doing a post about the Supreme Court's appointment of Peter Michael Gonzalez to the countywide Egan vacancy. I'd meant to. In my defense, I will point out the announcement was only made a week ago -- and I had day-job stuff to do -- and it was Thanksgiving. I can find an excuse or two for almost any of my many omissions.

But Mike and his wife, Dawn, were kind enough to invite me to the swearing-in ceremony anyway. And since today's ceremony came only seven days after the announcement, news of the appointment is not entirely stale.

Gonzalez did not file this morning for the Egan vacancy; Rosa Maria Silva is so far the only candidate for that vacancy. Instead, Gonzalez filed for the countywide McGinnis vacancy, the vacancy for which he was slated this past August by the Cook County Democratic Party.

New Judge Gonzalez, his wife Dawn, and their sons
Speaking on Gozalez's behalf at the installation today were State Sen. Don Harmon, former Appellate Court Justice Marvin Leavitt, U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso, and Circuit Court Judge Rossana Fernandez. Judge Mary Colleen Roberts served as emcee. Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke and her husband, Ald. Ed Burke, were among the many dignitaries in attendance.

Licensed as attorney in Illinois since 1994, according to ARDC, Gonzalez most recently practiced from an office on 51st Street in Chicago's Gage Park Community. Gonzalez began his legal career as an Assistant Public Defender, spending eight years in that office before setting up his own practice. Gonzalez was an Administrative Law Judge with the Illinois Department of Employment Security from 2003 to 2012.

Seventy nine candidates file in time to qualify for ballot lottery

Not all will need it.

The Illinois State Board of Elections has begun posting candidate filings that, according to the computer at least, took place after 8:00 a.m. this morning. Eighty sets of petitions were filed for 36 countywide or Cook County subcircuit races but one candidate, Kathryn Maloney Vahey, filed both for the countywide Brewer vacancy and the 4th Subcircuit Riley vacancy.

Only three Republicans have filed so far, all seeking either the Crane or O'Donnell vacancies in the 13th Subcircuit; no one was in line to file papers for the 13th Subcircuit Lawrence vacancy when the ISBE opened its doors this morning.

No one was in line to file for the Garcia vacancy in the 14th Subcircuit either.

Among the slated countywide candidates, only Rosa Maria Silva (Egan vacancy), Thomas F. McGuire (Dunford vacancy), Cecilia Anne Horan (Hartigan vacancy), and Jack Hagerty (Rooney vacancy) are guaranteed top ballot positions; the rest drew lottery-eligible opponents.

Forti fundraiser set for December 5

Supporters of Judge Michael A. Forti's 8th Subcircuit election bid are hosting a fundraiser for their candidate on Tuesday, December 5, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Moe's Cantina, 155 W. Kinzie St. Tickets for the event are $125 each, but sponsorships are available (Friend - $250, Supporter - $500, Host Committee - $1,000). Three Chicago aldermen, Edward Burke, Brendan Reilly, and Tom Tunney, are the listed co-hosts for the fundraiser. For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, email Matt at Info@JudgeForti.com or call (708) 512-4930.

It's Opening Day....

This morning, everything is new again. Nobody has lost. Nobody has been challenged. There are all sorts of new candidates to hear from. And I'll be looking at the postings on the ISBE website today, just as many of you will be, to see who is lottery-eligible and in which #CookCountyJudicial races. (Is it OK to use a hashtag in a blog post?)

But to begin with, here are a couple of pictures, snagged from Facebook posts....

First, from Jerry Barrido... the line outside the State Board of Elections.

Everyone in line when the doors opened has a shot at the top ballot position in their race; they are lottery-eligible.

If you were listening to Newsradio 780 this morning, you wouldn't have understood that. The reporter knew that top ballot position was often determined by lottery but he thought people waited in line all night merely for "luck."

No. The long wait is the price of admission to the lottery. If candidate Smith was the only person in line looking to file for the Jones vacancy when the doors opened in Springfield at the Illinois State Board of Elections, Smith would automatically be awarded the coveted top line. Candidate White, seeking to file for the same vacancy, but who stopped for gas in Bloomington, and didn't make it until 8:15 -- long before the line outside was fully inside -- still must settle for second on the ballot.

Judges Myron "Mike" Mackoff and Travis Richardson, former law partners, are shown here posing in line with their nominating petitions. Many candidates will bring their own papers in -- as Mackoff and Richardson appear to have done here -- but others will hire persons to wait in line for them. In years past I have seen candidates swoop in, just before the doors open, relieving their surrogates -- and reaping any publicity that may be had from being photographed by the news media dispatched to see the filing parade begin. (The ones I saw, years ago, were statewide candidates. I wouldn't expect judicial candidates to have a budget item for line sitters.)

According to Facebook, Kathryn Maloney Vahey got to Springfield early and got her family out to see some of the Lincoln sites. I approve.

I never took the family with me when I went to file my papers in 1994 and 1996 -- but we did see the Lincoln sites one year as a family. We even made a side trip to Vandalia to see the really old State Capitol (oldest surviving, anyway). Lincoln sat there long enough to vote to move the capital to Springfield. In the photo, the Vahey family is outside Lincoln's home in Springfield. I never understood how the home could be air conditioned without some loss of authenticity; on the other hand, in August, in Springfield, air conditioning is a very important component of a pleasant tourist experience....

More later as the filings get sorted out at the ISBE....

Thursday, November 16, 2017

What do you call a shill who polls a little too well?

After the first Monday in December 2018, such a person might be addressed as "Your Honor."

It's a weak joke, perhaps.

But I get comments with distressing regularity about this candidate, or that one, being a "shill." Most of these get flushed.

But what is a shill, you ask?

A shill is a person who files for election to a particular office at the behest of another candidate, a pseudo-candidate with no serious intention of campaigning and with every intention of withdrawing if asked to by the person who put him or her up to it.

In judicial elections, females with Irish surnames are frequently accused of being shills, circulating and filing in a race with the goal of keeping 'serious' candidates -- many of whom also seem to be females with Irish surnames, by the way -- from choosing to run for that vacancy. (I'll leave it to you, dear reader, to decide if this seems just a teensy bit inconsistent.)

Is there anything illegal about being a shill?

I couldn't find anything that prohibits it in the course of my research. But I don't pretend to be an expert. So I reached out to a prominent election lawyer and asked him the question. The election lawyer, who asked not to be named, said that he also knows of no legal prohibition against recruiting a shill or filing as a shill.

So... are there really a lot of shill candidates in judicial elections?

My election lawyer contact said he doesn't think there are a lot of shill candidates in judicial races; there may not be any at all.

That was my perception, too.

Sure, some candidates work 24/7 at campaigning and fundraising and go everywhere and see everyone... and some candidates get their name on the ballot and hope for lightning to strike. In 1996 I was one of those looking-for-lighting candidates. I finished dead last in my race. On the other hand, in 1994, I campaigned as hard as I could and raised money and spent more and went everywhere that would let me in and stood outside a lot of other places besides... and I still finished dead last.

I wasn't a shill on either occasion. I was merely an inexperienced and ineffective candidate.

No one bothered trying to 'steer' me toward this race, or away from that one, either time I ran. I wasn't important enough to be of concern to anyone.

However, in the run-up to the opening filing date, on November 27, it is just possible that some current candidates have been contacted with offers of help with petitions... or campaign contributions... or endorsements... or some other good and valuable considerations... but only if the candidate chooses to run for the Smith vacancy... not the Jones vacancy. I don't say this has happened, only that it might have.

A novice candidate, or a naive one, might even be flattered by offers of help, even offers with strings a mile long. But beware. Candidates, if someone offers you free advice, and that someone is not your spouse or significant other, that someone might be working for someone else. My advice, candidates, is trust in the Lord alone -- and watch everyone else like a hawk. Candidates should be wary even of persons they hire. If the doctrine of caveat emptor has fallen into disrepute in other areas, it is alive and well in the non-beanbag world of Cook County politics. I don't suggest you reject all offers of help or refrain from hiring help where you can. Just don't place your future entirely in anyone else's hands. Stay vigilant.

Of course, the maxim be careful what you wish for can also come into play: Some political sharpies, working surreptitiously on behalf of judicial candidate Zyzwcyz, for example, might 'steer' first-time candidate Mary Margaret McGillicuddy and two other women with Irish surnames and limited political savvy into the race Zyzwcyz expects to make. The goal is to have the fair colleens split the votes that are traditionally cast for women with Irish surnames, creating a clearer path for a Zyzwycz victory. But what if Mary Margaret's campaign catches fire? What if the other women drop out? (And, for the record, the names Mary Margaret McGillicuddy and Zyzwycz were chosen because they do not appear on the Master Roll of Illinois attorneys. I checked.)

Trying to 'steer' or plant candidates can be fraught with peril in any race, for any office: I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories -- but if you had told me, two years ago, that some Democratic Party sharpies had, through however many intermediaries, flattered or otherwise 'steered' a certain megalomaniacal Manhattan multi-millionaire into making another run for the White House, with the aim of wreaking havoc in the national Republican party and making the eventual Republican nominee (who couldn't possibly be the aforementioned multi-millionaire) that much more vulnerable to the inevitable Democratic candidate, well, I'd have believed you. In fact, even after the various Russian revelations, sometimes I still think this is the only explanation that truly fits the facts. I can imagine these nameless, faceless persons (well, I can't put names to them), agonizing like Zero Mostel, as Max Bialystock, "Where did I go right?"

Anyway, candidates, even though you probably won't see it here in the comments, some of you are sure to be called shills in the days to come. Don't take it personally.