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.

Continuing to look at the 2016 judicial primary results

As you will note from the post below, the 2018 primary season is already underway -- can you believe it?

Here at FWIW, we're still sifting through the ashes and embers of the 2016 campaign, looking for clues and trends and lessons that might be helpful in future campaigns... oh, wait, we've started the 2018 campaign season here, too, aren't we?

It was a tough election for a lot of sitting judges, slated candidates, and male candidates generally.

In contested countywide judicial races, six candidates already sitting as judges pursuant to appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court, all slated by the Democratic Party, three male and three female, tried to hold their seats. Only four did, including each of the female candidates. The Democratic Party carried only four of the eight candidates it slated in countywide judicial races. Still, it did better than the Tribune. In the eight contested countywide judicial races, only three candidates backed by the Tribune were successful.

And it was arguably worse for men, slated candidates, and appointed judges in contested races in the Subcircuits.

In the 1st Subcircuit, both of the judges, both slated by the Democratic Party, one male and one female, were rejected by the voters. Judge Maryam Ahmad was defeated by Jesse Outlaw; Judge Anthony E. Simpkins was defeated by Rhonda Crawford. Crawford did not participate in the bar screening process; Outlaw did not participate in the CBA screening process, but was rated qualified, recommended or better by each of the Alliance bar groups.

Simpkins and Ahmad were both endorsed by the Tribune.

In the 2nd Subcircuit, slated candidate Travis Richardson, who had strong bar ratings and the Tribune endorsement lost to D. Renee Jackson, a candidate who did not participate in the bar screening process. Actually, Richardson finished fourth, the only male candidate in a field of four.

The two contested races in the 5th Subcircuit departed from the New-Year-of-the-Woman script: Associate Judge Leonard Murray beat Jameika Mangum. Murray had the Tribune's support, but so did appointed Judge Robin D. Shoffner -- and she lost to Daryl Jones.

Judge Anna Loftus beat the slated candidate in the one contested 6th Subcircuit vacancy; she did have the Tribune's backing.

The Tribune backed Judge Patricia S. Spratt, who won her contested 7th Subcircuit race over a crowded field that included the Democratic Party's slated candidate, Jennifer Ballard.

Judge Jerry Esrig was slated and endorsed by the Tribune and faced only one challenger, another male. He won his 9th Subcircuit race.

Judge Eve Reilly was not slated initially, but she wound up slated when the originally-slated candidate withdrew. She did not enjoy the Tribune's endorsement in her 10th Subcircuit race, but she finished first in her four candidate race. There were two men running against her and one woman. Judge Reilly's nearest competitor was the other female candidate.

Judge Marc Martin faced one male challenger and one female in his 11th Subcircuit race. He enjoyed the advantages of incumbency, the Tribune's endorsement, and the backing of the Democratic Party. He finished second to Catherine Ann Schneider.

Two of the three slated Democrats running in the 12th Subcircuit won their contested primary races. James E. Hanlon, Jr. had only one male opponent. The other successful slated Democrat, Janet Cronin Mahoney, also had just one male opponent. Both Hanlon and Mahoney were endorsed by the Tribune.

But the Democratic Party's slated candidate in the race for the 12th Subcircuit Kazmierski, Jr. vacancy, Louis G. Apostol, had two female opponents, and one male. Associate Judge Marguerite Anne Quinn grabbed nearly 45% of the vote in that race; Jennifer Bae finished second with nearly 31%. Quinn had the Tribune endorsement.

There were two contested Republican primary judicial races, one in the 12th Subcircuit, one in the 12th and one in the 13th Subcircuit. Steven Kozicki won his race in the 12th Subcircuit, while Kevin O'Donnell won in the 13th. Kozicki did have the backing of the Tribune. O'Donnell had neither the Tribune nor Republican Party slating.

If you're keeping score at home, just as in the countywide races, only four of the judges appointed to their seats by the Illinois Supreme Court successfully navigated the electoral process. But in the subcircuits, it was only four of eight; countywide, it was four of six. (Primary winners Leonard Murray and Marguerite Anne Quinn don't count; they are associate judges and would have remained in office whether they won or lost in this year's Circuit Court election.)

Six of the eight Supreme-Court-appointed judges running in contested subcircuit races were slated (if Shoffner counts as slated, which I think she does, though I never had official confirmation). Of the six slated, only two, Esrig and Reilly, won. And Reilly was not the Democratic Party's first choice; the party's originally slated candidate withdrew. The two sitting judges who ran without the official backing of the Democratic Party, Loftus and Spratt, both won, and both are female.

The Democratic Party got its candidates elected in only five of the 13 contested subcircuit vacancies (again, assuming that Shoffner and Murray were slated in the 5th). The Democratic Party won one of two contests in the 5th Subcircuit, the races in the 9th and 10th Subcircuits, and two of the three contested races in the 12th. Both the 12th Subcircuit winners -- all four of the 12th Subcircuit winners, actually, will face Republican opponents in November, so their election can not, at this stage, be assumed.

The Tribune actually did better than the Democratic Party in the subcircuits: Eight candidates endorsed by the newspaper won their respective subcircuit primary races, including one of the two Republicans receiving the Tribune's nod. That means the winner of the newspaper's endorsement also won in seven of the 13 contested Democratic primary races.

Is there a single explanation for the results this election year? All of the observers I've talked with have emphasized the strong turnout this year. The total turnout numbers are truly staggering. In Cook County, almost 1.2 million voters took Democratic ballots this year (1,197,073), while another 314,537 voters took Republican ballots. (There's a major dropoff in terms of voter participation as one moves down the ballot; you will see figures in an upcoming post that suggests that the median number of votes cast this year in the countywide judicial races -- all in the Democratic primary, you'll remember -- was 836,222.)

By comparison, the total number of Democratic ballots taken in Cook County in 2014 was only 285,728 (169,922 Republican ballots).

Of course, 2014 was not a presidential year. In the most recent presidential election year, 2012, voters took 440,873 Democratic ballots in Cook County, while 200,750 voters took Republican ballots. But President Obama faced no opposition in 2012.

The 2008 primary provides a better comparison; that was the last time the presidential circus pulled into town without the outcome in both parties being already decided. And, no surprise, turnout was darn near as high in 2008 as in March of this year: 1,086,984 Democratic voters and 179,464 Republican voters took ballots in Cook County eight years ago.

But, in 2008, the Democratic Party carried six of its nine slated candidates to victory in contested countywide primaries, as opposed to only four of eight this year. And, in 2008, as in 2016, several appointed judges had trouble holding their seats in contested subcircuit elections.

But, as the old saying goes, all politics is local. In Cook County, politics is so local, it's often personal. The overall picture is not changed by looking at some of these individual stories, but perhaps the strength of the trends can be explained, at least in part, by examination of some of the stories involving individual campaigns. More on some of these in my next post.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

LAGBAC presents April 8 seminar for aspiring judicial candidates

The Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago is presenting a free seminar on Friday, April 8, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, 222 North LaSalle Street for persons interested in serving in judicial office.

The CBA and Alliance judicial evaluation processes will be explained, sitting judges "will address the various paths to the bench in Cook County," and two federal judges and representatives from the offices of Senators Durbin and Kirk will discuss how appointments to the federal bench get made.

Speakers will include:
  • Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis;
  • Appellate Court Justice Jesse Reyes;
  • Circuit Court Judges John H. Ehrlich and Colleen F. Sheehan;
  • Associate Judge Linda Pauel;
  • U.S. District Court Judge Sara L. Ellis;
  • Magistrate Judge Mary Rowland;
  • Joyce Williams of the ISBA (and the Alliance Administrator);
  • Susan Horn, Co-Chair of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers JEC and Co-Chair of the Alliance Executive Committee;
  • Jeff Finke, former General Chair of the CBA JEC;
  • Dan Swanson, Senior Counsel, Office of Sen. Dick Durbin;
  • Peter V. Baugher, Chair of the Sen. Mark Kirk's Judicial Advisory Board;
  • Justin Mulaire, EEOC trial attorney; and
  • Susana Darwin, Co-Chair, LAGBAC JEC.
The seminar is not only free, but offers 3.0 Professional Responsibility CLE Credits. But seating is limited and registration is required. Interested persons need to RSVP as soon as possible to The seminar is sponsored by the Hinshaw LGBT Affinity Network and ISBA Mutual.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Guest post: Voter turnout and judicial elections -- lessons learned from 2016

by Sean Tenner

Cook County voters are to be congratulated for their vastly increased voter turnout in the March 15th Primary Election. Cook County Democratic Primary turnout rocketed from an anemic 277,988 in 2014 to 1,145,069 in 2016. Credit also goes to state legislators, and advocacy groups such as Chicago Votes, who successfully pushed to dramatically expand voter registration and early voting options in Illinois. Illinois may have its challenges, but to our state’s credit we continue to make voting more accessible while other states move ominously in the opposite direction.

This high voter turnout – driven by intense interest in races for President and State’s Attorney - had significant impact on judicial races.

As in 2008 when a comparable 1,087,642 Cook County Democrats cast ballots, gender voting trumped, even more than usual, all other judicial voting factors including institutional/party support and bar ratings. In low turnout elections like 2012 and 2014, the few voters who turned out were certainly more engaged politically and more cognizant of local elected official and Democratic party organization endorsements – endorsements which typically (though not universally) go to candidates with high bar ratings.

When turnout surges, as it did in 2008 and 2016, newly energized voters who have strong opinions on races like President and State’s Attorney often face a quandary in judicial races. With practically zero media coverage of judicial campaigns, these voters face a large array of choices and unfamiliar names in the judicial section of the ballot. Many revert to ethnic and gender-based voting patterns in judicial races; few will know who their local Democratic Committeeman or Alderman supports for Judge.

In 2008 and 2016, estimates show that nearly 60% of the Democratic Primary electorate was female. While it seems intuitive that women are more likely to vote for female judicial candidates, many progressive men in Democratic primaries will also vote for women or ethnic minorities in a belief that both groups deserve more representation in government and on the bench. Anecdotally, while I have heard dozens of Democratic men over the years tell me they automatically vote for female candidates for judge for these reasons, I have never heard anyone - of either gender - tell me that they automatically vote for male candidates for judge in Democratic Primaries.

In 2016, four male countywide judicial candidates with strong bar ratings slated by the Cook County Democratic Party lost their elections – a much larger number than expected. Two of these slated male candidates lost to women with Irish surnames, one lost to a Latina and one lost to an Irish surnamed male candidate in a one-on-one race.
Two late-breaking vacancies in the north suburban 12th subcircuit left judicial candidates with very little time to communicate with voters; these races thus present a useful barometer on judicial voting behavior. In the Kazmierski vacancy, won by Marguerite Quinn, the two female candidates accounted for 75.54% of the vote, while the slated male candidate won only 11.95% of the vote. In the Mathein vacancy, my client Janet Cronin Mahoney won 78.8% of the vote against a male candidate who had the advantage of having the same name as the vacancy.

In the south and west sides of the county, multiple male candidates with strong bar ratings who were slated by the Democratic Committeemen in their own subcircuits lost to female candidates who spent very little on voter contact and did not participate in the bar evaluation process.

Of course, there are highly qualified candidates of both genders who win or lose elections based on factors other than their qualifications. Ballot position and a unique name (such as the new Democratic nominee for 1st subcircuit Judge, Jesse Outlaw) certainly help – as does the quality of the campaign. But judicial election results from the past several election cycles show that as turnout goes up, candidates must work even harder to overcome a natural predisposition of the primary electorate towards gender or ethnic-based voting behavior.

Sean Tenner is a political consultant specializing in judicial campaigns and President of KNI Communications ( Tenner has an enviable record of success in the judicial campaigns he's quarterbacked. While not all of his clients won their races in the recent primary, Tenner did run campaigns for Judge Eve Marie Reilly (the candidate who wasn't slated in the 10th Subcircuit... and then was), 9th Subcircuit Judge Jerry Esrig, 6th Subcircuit Judge Anna Loftus (who was also not slated), and 12th Subcircuit candidate Janet Mahoney.

Another 12th Subcircuit client of Tenner's, Judge Carrie Hamilton, faced no primary opponent -- but will face a contested election in November, as will Tenner client Judge Ketki "Kay" Steffen. Tenner can be reached at or (312) 576-8822.

Starting to look at the judicial primary results

I was going to get to this sooner... but then the AJ short list came out and bumped this off the top of the pile.

Doesn't it seem like the March primary was six months ago? Such is the frenetic pace of the modern world. Nevertheless, the votes were counted only 17 days ago. My calendar says it's still March, if barely.

It's easy enough to say what happened in the judicial races. To begin with, in contested, countywide Democratic primary races, slated candidates won only four of eight races.  The slated winners were:
  • Judge Rossana P. Fernandez (Elrod vacancy);
  • Judge Alison C. Conlon (Hogan vacancy);
  • Judge Aleksandra Gillespie (Howlett, Jr. vacancy); and
  • Judge Daniel P. Duffy (Ruscitti Grussel vacancy).
The four candidates who successfully challenged the slate were:
  • Carolyn J. Gallagher (Johnson vacancy) , first in a field of five candidates, three of whom were men, including the party's slated candidate, Sean S. Chaudhuri;
  • Mary Kathleen McHugh (Karnezis vacancy), besting two male candidates, including the slated candidate Judge Devlin J. Schoop;
  • Susana L. Ortiz (Palmer vacancy), beating one male candidate (the Democratic Party's slated candidate, Pat Heneghan) and one female candidate; and
  • Patrick J. Powers (Walsh vacancy), defeating slated candidate Judge Fredrick H. Bates in a one-on-one contest.
Six judges serving pursuant to Supreme Court appointment had to face the voters in contested countywide primaries; four of the six prevailed. Was 2016 another Year of the Woman?  Six of the contested primary winners are female.  Of the two male winners, only Judge Duffy prevailed in a field in which there was a female candidate.  Is this an Irish-surname Renaissance?   Conlon, Duffy, Gallagher, McHugh, Powers, arguably Gillespie (the Scots have a claim on this surname as well)... as for the outliers, Judge Fernandez bested a male candidate with a Polish surname -- but Susana Ortiz beat Pat Heneghan.  Heneghan may not be the most common Irish name, but it's hard to mistake its origins, right?

Turnout was huge for this year's primary, particularly as opposed to the dismal turnout in 2014.  High turnout has a tendency to dilute the value of party slating.  Voters "with Hilary" or "Feeling the Bern" may not have spent a lot of time looking at the judicial races before coming out to support their candidate.  Were the slated countywide judicial candidates victims, in some sense, of the high turnout?

Was union support a major factor here?  Six of the eight contested countywide primary winners had the backing of the Chicago Federation of Labor, including all four of the slated primary winners.  Carolyn Gallagher and Mary Kathleen McHugh also had the CFL endorsement and won -- but Heneghan and Judge Bates did not prevail despite the CFL's nod.

I have lots of questions, but (and this is why I'll never make it on CNN or MSNBC) no assurance that I have all the answers. I did reach out to a number of people after the primary who have, I belive, valuable perspectives on the outcomes. I've heard back from some already; I expect to hear from more before long.

But to start matters rolling, I will put up a guest post by judicial election consultant Sean Tenner. Look for that post later today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

CBA AJ ratings explained -- and a commercial

In a comment to one of my posts about the current crop of Associate Judge finalists, an alert reader pointed out that one of these, Judge Marc Martin, was rated "Highly Qualified" by the CBA for the recent primary -- but I had written that the CBA had not rated any finalist "Highly Qualified."

Well... come to think of it, two other AJ finalists, Tom Cushing and Pat Heneghan, had also been rated "Highly Qualified" for the primary.

Was there a typo? I reached out to Pat Milhizer, Director of Communications for Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans' office -- and he assured me that, no, this was the information with which his office had been provided -- so I followed up with Therese Kurth, who coordinates judicial evaluation matters for the CBA.

If you've followed the comments, you already knew the answer, but Kurth provided me with chapter and verse: Sec. 26.1 of the Resolution governing the CBA Judicial Evaluation Committee:
As to each candidate for an office other than Associate Judge or for retention, the question shall be whether the candidate shall be found "HIGHLY QUALIFIED", "QUALIFIED," or "NOT RECOMMENDED." As to each candidate for the office of Associate Judge or for retention to any office, the question shall be whether the candidate shall be found “QUALIFIED” or “NOT RECOMMENDED”.
There was no mistake.

Carmel M. Cosgrave
Carmel M. Cosgrave, a partner at Smith Amundsen and the current Chair of the CBA JEC, explained that, because of the large number of judicial candidates, the CBA has had to try and find ways to streamline the evaluation process. An 'up or down' rating for AJ candidates is one of these. Of course, Cosgrave added, sometimes candidates who apply both for Associate Judge and plan a primary run, wind up with two evaluations, one for each process.

I mentioned that I'd recently seen an email from the CBA, looking for new recruits for the Investigation Division of the JEC. (Here's that commercial I promised: You, Dear Reader, can apply for membership on the JEC by downloading this form and returning it by April 8 to Therese Kurth at or by fax to (312) 554-2054.)

I asked Cosgrave, is the CBA JEC hurting for members? One hears rumors, I told her. Not so, Cosgrave assured me. In fact, in the last two to three years, as the economy has improved, there's been a resurgence of interest in serving on the JEC, Cosgrave said. However, there are more candidates than ever, she added, and many candidates are coming forward who have not previously been investigated, meaning there are many more new investigations for the JEC to conduct. And, of course, retention season is almost upon us. However, many hands make light work.

Also, Cosgrave stressed, the CBA JEC is striving for diversification, looking not only for more variety in terms of ethnicity or gender but also experience. It would be helpful for more experienced lawyers to come forward, Cosgrave said, because so many JEC volunteers tend to be younger.

Applicants for the CBA JEC can some day run for judge -- and many JEC members have -- but persons serving on the JEC can not simultaneously seek judicial office. Section 17.5 of the JEC Resolution provides:
The Committee will automatically find without further investigation or hearing, a candidate "NOT RECOMMENDED" for a judicial office in a primary or general election if that candidate has participated in the evaluation of other judicial candidates for that same primary or general election.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Introducing the 26 Associate Judge finalists - Part II

Updated and expanded once more 3/29/16
Updated and expanded yet again 3/24/16
Updated and expanded 3/22/16

In Part I, FWIW looked at those 2016 Cook County Associate Judge finalists who were either candidates in the recent primary or had been finalists in the 2014 associate judge selection process. This post looks at the remaining finalists.

Sophia Jane Atcherson has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois, and working as an Assistant Public Defender in Cook County, since 1997. She currently serves as Chief of the Legal Resources Division at the Public Defender's office, handling appeals and post-conviction cases. Most of her time in that office, however, was spent in the Felony Trial Division, becoming an attorney supervisor there in 2012. Atcherson is a member of the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases, and a member of the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Character and Fitness. She has also served as an adjunct professor at John Marshall Law School, according to her LinkedIn page.

Jeffry S. Blumenthal is a partner in the Loop law firm of Slutzky & Blumenthal, a firm which, according to its website, has a "practice almost exclusively devoted to Cook County real estate tax collection and enforcement litigation." Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1979, Blumenthal has also taught legal writing and legal research at John Marshall Law School. According to his firm website, Blumenthal is a co-author, with David R. Gray, Jr., of Chapters 10 and 11 of the IICLE Real Estate Taxation handbook, published in 2008.

George Louis Canellis, Jr. is an Assistant Cook County State's Attorney and has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1996. According to his LinkedIn page, Canellis serves as Supervisor of Felony Review.

Vincenzo Chimera is an Illinois Assistant Attorney General and has been licensed in Illinois since 1984. According to his LinkedIn page, Chimera currently serves as Deputy Chief of Criminal Enforcement at Illinois Attorney General's Office. Chimera also serves as a board member of The Port Ministries, according to his LinkedIn page.

Joel Louis Chupack is a partner in the Loop firm of Heinrich & Kramer, P.C., focusing his practice in the area of real estate litigation. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1982, Chupack is a former President of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. He has also served as Chair of the Illinois State Bar Association Real Estate Law Section Council and as an ISBA Assembly member.

Mark Vincent Ferrante is a solo practitioner with offices in the Loop. According to a biography appended to his firm website, Ferrante has operated his own firm since 1991. He began his legal career in 1983 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago. Ferrante was a candidate for a 6th Subcircuit vacancy in the 2012 primary. In 2005, according to his firm website, Ferrante received an "Excellence in Pro Bono and Public Interest Service Award" from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for his work as trial bar appointed counsel for the plaintiff in a lawsuit involving a stabbing incident at Cook County Jail.

Mohammed Mujahid Ghouse owns and operates the Ghouse Law Office in Bridgeview, focusing in criminal law, real estate law, and corporate transactional law. He has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1998. Ghouse served as an Assistant State's Attorney from 1998 to 2004, ultimately working in the Felony Trial Division in Bridgeview. He has been an adjunct professor at Moraine Valley Community College, teaching criminal procedure and substantive criminal law.

Robert Wade Johnson is, according to ARDC, the principal of Robert Johnson, P.C., with an office in Chicago's Loop. He has been licensed in Illinois since 1994.

Mary Catherine Marubio is an Administrative Law Judge for Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Since May 2014, Marubio has also served as the agency's Ethics Officer. She joined the agency as Chief of Business Prosecutions - Statewide Enforcement in early 2012, serving as Acting Chief of Health Related Prosecutions - Statewide Enforcement, prior to assuming her present duties as an ALJ in early 2014. She has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1997. Before joining IDFPR, Marubio had her own law practice, serving, among other things, as General Counsel for the Columbian Consulate in 12 Midwestern states. Marubio is active in a number of bar associations, including current service as the Co-Chair of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois Administrative Law Committee. Marubio has also been active as a board member or advisory board member of the ACLU of Illinois.

Lisette C. Mojica is a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney assigned, according to ARDC, to the Juvenile Justice Bureau. She has been licensed in Illinois since 1997.

David Ricardo Navarro is currently Chief of the Public Integrity Bureau in the Illinois Attorney General's Office, handling allegations of statewide corruption. He worked as an Assistant Cook County States Attorney from 1994 to 2009, serving at one point as supervisor of the Professional Standards Unit, investigating police corruption and excessive force allegations. He was appointed as a Special Assistant United States Attorney to work on a corruption investigation involving the Chicago Police Department Special Operations Section. Navarro has been licensed in Illinois since 1993, according to ARDC.

Marian Emily Perkins operates the Law Office of Marian E. Perkins, P.C., in Chicago's Loop. She has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1987. A past president of the Cook County Bar Association, Perkins is also a longtime member of the Criminal Justice faculty at Chicago State University, currently serving as Chairperson of the department. According to her LinkedIn page, Perkins began her legal career in the office of the Illinois State Appellate Defender; she also worked for several years as an Assistant Cook County State's Attorney.

Gregory Gerard Plesha has maintains a law office on South Western Avenue in the Beverly neighborhood since 2002. Since 2004, Plesha has also served as a hearing officer for the Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings and, since 1996, as a hearing officer for the Village of Merrionette Park. From 2003-2011, Plesha was also a hearing officer for the Illinois Toll Highway Authority. He was an Assistant State's Attorney from 1986 to 1993. Plesha worked for Johnson & Bell, Ltd. in 1993-94. A member of the adjunct faculty at South Suburban Community College since 1993, Plesha has been licensed as an attorney since 1986.

Marita Clare Sullivan has served as litigation counsel for the ARDC since 2000. Before that, Sullivan was Assistant to the Director of the Helen Brach Foundation, assisting with the administration of the charitable foundation's grant program. She began her career as an Assistant Attorney General, serving for 12 years in the General Division, before moving to Civil Appeals shortly before the end of her tenure there. Sullivan has been licensed in Illinois since 1984.

Jeanne Marie Wrenn is a Senior Director, General Counsel and Ethics Counsel for the National Safety Council. According to her LinkedIn page, Wrenn (now officially listed as Jeanne Wrenn Ritchie, per ARDC) previously served as Ethics and EEO Officer for PACE. She has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2003, beginning her career in the office of the Cook County State's Attorney. After service there in the Traffic and Narcotics Divisions, Wrenn was assigned to the Legislative Unit, acting as a legislative liaison to the Illinois General Assembly, rising to Supervisor from December 2008 until she joined PACE.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Introducing the 26 Associate Judge finalists - Part I

Four Circuit Court judges, sitting pursuant to Supreme Court appointment, are among the 26 Cook County associate judge finalists announced yesterday. These are Maryam Ahmad, Jean Margaret Cocozza, Marc William Martin, and Anthony E. Simpkins.

Ahmad and Simpkins were defeated in their bids to hold the 1st Subcircuit Brim and Hopkins vacancies to which they'd been appointed; Martin was defeated in his bid to hold the 11th Subcircuit seat to which he'd been appointed. Cocozza was not a candidate in this year's primary. Cocozza has served in the judiciary since 2013; she is currently serving in an appointment to the countywide Love vacancy.

Two other finalists, Thomas Maloney Cushing and Patrick Joseph Heneghan, were candidates in the 2016 primary. Cushing lost his race against Judge Aleksandra "Alex" Gillespie for the countywide Howlett, Jr. vacancy. Cushing was not the slated candidate. Heneghan, however, was slated by the Cook County Democratic Party in his race for the late-opening, countywide Palmer vacancy, but lost to Susana L. Ortiz.

A number of the finalists have been finalists before. Julie Bess Aimen, Geraldine Ann D'Souza, Tiffany Mary Ferguson, Sanju Oommen Green, and Edward Nicholas Robles were all finalists in the 2014 associate judge selection process. (On the 2014 list, Green was referred to as Sanju David Oommen.)

Julie Aimen is a solo practitioner with an office in the Loop. Licensed in Illinios since 1984, Aimen, according to her firm website, is a past president of the Illinois Attorneys for Criminal Justice, a former member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and a former member of the Board of Governors of the Chicago Council of Lawyers.

Geraldine Ann D'Souza
Geraldine D'Souza has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1992. She has served as an Cook County Assistant State's Attorney for 22 years, currently serving as a first chair prosecutor at 26th Street. D'Souza worked as an ASA in Kankakee County before that. She is the daughter of Indian and Chilean immigrants, and is fluent in Spanish.

Tiffany Mary Ferguson
According to her LinkedIn page, Tiffany Ferguson is the President of T.M. Ferguson & Co., a new firm launched at the beginning of 2016. On LinkedIn, Ferguson describes herself as a "[h]ands-on, strategic legal analyst with 20 years experience as a litigator and trial attorney concentrating in the representation of management in labor and employment litigation with broad experience in commercial litigation and fraud-related investigations." Before setting up T.M. Ferguson & Co., Ferguson worked for Quintairos, Prieto, Wood, & Boyer, P.A., and Pugh, Jones & Johnson, P.C. She is also a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. According to ARDC, Ferguson has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1996.

Sanju Oommen Green is an Assistant State's Attorney, serving as a first chair prosecutor at 26th Street. Licensed in Illinois since 2000, Green is the Immediate Past President of the Asian American Bar Association. According to the AABA website, Green is a "founding member of the Chicago Chapter of the National Asian Pacific Islander Prosecutors Bar Association and also served as secretary on its national board." She has also volunteered for Cabrini Connections.

Edward Nicholas Robles has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1988. According to his LinkedIn page, Robles is Deputy General Counsel- Litigation for the Chicago Housing Authority.

More on the rest of the finalists in the next post.

Friday, March 18, 2016

There are 26 finalists for 13 Cook County Associate Judge vacancies

Updated 3/19/16

Herewith the "short list."
  • Maryam Ahmad
  • Julie Bess Aimen
  • Sophia Jane Atcherson
  • Jeffrey S. Blumenthal
  • George Louis Canellis Jr.
  • Vincenzo Chimera
  • Joel Louis Chupack
  • Jean Margaret Cocozza
  • Thomas Maloney Cushing
  • Geraldine Ann D’Souza
  • Tiffany Mary Ferguson
  • Mark Vincent Ferrante
  • Mohammed Mujahid Ghouse
  • Sanju Oommen Green
  • Patrick Joseph Heneghan
  • Robert Wade Johnson
  • Marc William Martin
  • Mary Catherine Marubio
  • Lisette Catherine Mojica
  • David Ricardo Navarro
  • Marian Emily Perkins
  • Gregory Gerard Plesha
  • Edward Nicholas Robles
  • Anthony E. Simpkins
  • Marita Clare Sullivan
  • Jeanne Marie Wrenn
In a press release accompanying the announcement of the finalists, Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans said that the Nominating Committee of the Circuit Court of Cook County employed a comprehensive approach in the selection process that considered multiple aspects such as legal excellence, a variety of legal experience in the public and private sectors, and diversity of race, ethnicity, and gender.

A total of 283 attorneys submitted applications for these positions, although 30 withdrew from the process. The Nominating Committee interviewed 255 candidates (two candidates withdrew after they were interviewed). The Nominating Committee consisted of:
  • Honorable Timothy C. Evans, Chief Judge
  • Honorable Mary Ellen Coghlan, Presiding Judge, Probate Division
  • Honorable Sophia H. Hall, Administrative Presiding Judge, Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Resource Section
  • Honorable Moshe Jacobius, Presiding Judge, Chancery Division
  • Honorable Raymond L. Jagielski, Presiding Judge, Fifth Municipal District
  • Honorable Marjorie C. Laws, Presiding Judge, Sixth Municipal District
  • Honorable William O. Maki, Presiding Judge, Third Municipal District
  • Honorable Shelley Sutker-Dermer, Presiding Judge, Second Municipal District
  • Honorable E. Kenneth Wright, Jr., Presiding Judge, First Municipal District
Every finalist was rated qualified, recommended or better by both the Chicago Bar Association and each of the 11 bar associations that together comprise the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening with two exceptions. The Puerto Rican Bar Association did not have the opportunity to interview Joel Louis Chupack and the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois did not have an opportunity to interview Jean Marie Cocozza.

No finalist received a "Highly Qualified" rating from the CBA, but seven finalists were rated "Well Qualified" by the Chicago Council of Lawyers, Julie Bess Amien, Vincenzo Chimera, Thomas Maloney Cushing, Tiffany Mary Ferguson, Mark Vincent Ferrante, Sanju Oommen Green, and Patrick Joseph Heneghan. Three finalists were rated "Highly Qualified" by the Illinois State Bar Association, Bess, Heneghan, and Mary Catherine Marubio.

Marian Emily Perkins was the only finalist rated "Highly Recommended" by the Cook County Bar Association. Nine finalists were deemed "Highly Recommended" by the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, Cushing, Ferrante, Green, Heneghan, Marubio, Lisette C. Mojica, David Ricardo Navarro, Gregory Gerard Plesha, and Marita Clare Sullivan.

The HLAI found Maryam Ahmad, Ferrante, and Heneghan "Highly Qualified." The PRBA found Ahmad, Chimera, Ferrante, Heneghan, Navarro, and Robert Wade Johnson to be "Highly Recommended." Five finalists were found "Highly Recommended by the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, Marc William Martin, Green, Marubio, Mojica, and Navarro.

Several Alliance members do not award any rating higher than "Qualified" or "Recommended."

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Associate judge short list should be out tomorrow

Multiple sources have confirmed to FWIW that the Cook County associate judge finalists have been notified. As per Supreme Court Rule 39(b)(3), there will be two finalists for every vacancy.

Supreme Court Rule 39(b)(4)(i) provides, "In judicial circuits having a population of more than 500,000, the chief judge shall notify the Director of the names of those candidates selected by the nominating committee and request that the Director initiate the balloting process. Within 14 days after the chief judge’s notification, the Director shall place the name of each candidate on a ballot in alphabetical order. The ballot shall also contain blank spaces equal in number to the number of vacancies to be filled, in which spaces may be written the name of any qualified applicant whose name does not appear on the ballot as a candidate." Rule 39(b)(5) provides that the full circuit judges eligible to vote must return their ballots within 14 days. The new class of associate judges will be named in roughly a month.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Judge Eileen O'Neill Burke to get headstart on her Appellate Court career

In an order entered today, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Circuit Court Judge Eileen O'Neill Burke to the Epstein vacancy on the Illinois Appellate Court. The appointment is effective March 31 and will terminate on December 5, 2016 -- the day that Judge Burke will be sworn in as the winner of the election to the Epstein vacancy.

Judge Burke won the Democratic Party's nomination for this vacancy yesterday (she was unopposed). Since no Republican filed for the vacancy, she will unopposed in the November general election as well.

Judge Stuart Palmer had been serving in this vacancy pursuant to a prior Supreme Court appointment. Judge Palmer recently retired; the vacancy created by that retirement was among those also on the ballot yesterday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Less than 1,000 votes separate Schneider and Martin in tight 11th Subcircuit race

Judge Marc Martin is trailing Catherine Ann Schneider by 917 votes in the race for the 11th Subcircuit Kelly vacancy with just a few precincts still outstanding (one in the suburbs and two in the City). Schneider has 22,758 votes, Martin 21,841. Marin narrowly carried the City portion of the 11th Subcircuit, but Schneider has a roughly 1,900 vote advantage in the suburbs.

Judge Murray promoted, Judge Shoffner defeated in 5th Subcircuit

Associate Judge Leonard Murray won the Democratic nomination for the Eadie-Daniels vacancy in the 5th Subcircuit. With only four of 213 precincts yet to report, Judge Murray holds a nearly 4,700 vote lead over Jameika Mangum.

Judge Robin Denise Shoffner was appointed to the Williams vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court, but she has lost her bid to retain that seat tonight. With only four precincts yet to report, Daryl Jones has a better than 8,400 vote lead.

Jones was apparently serving as a member of the Chicago Bar Association's Judicial Evaluation Committee at "the beginning of the election year"; he was therefore automatically rated Not Recommended by the CBA. (The CBA is presumably concerned that confidence in the group's evaluations might be shaken if someone actively serving on the evaluation committee were to receive a positive evaluation for judicial office.) Jones was also found Not Qualified by the ISBA -- but he was rated Qualified or Recommended by all of the other Alliance bar groups.

There was a third 5th Subcircuit race on the ballot. Judge Freddrenna M. Lyle was unopposed in this race.

Because no Republicans filed for any of these vacancies, the winners of these races will be unopposed in November.

Both appointed judges defeated in 1st Subcircuit

Jesse Outlaw has apparently ousted Judge Maryam Ahmad in the race for the Brim vacancy in the 1st Subcircuit. With 42 of 45 suburban precincts reporting, and 222 of 226 Chicago precincts counted, Outlaw has 35,566 votes, Ahmad 32,605. Both Ahmad and Outlaw had positive bar ratings. Outlaw did not participate in the CBA screening process and was automatically rated Not Recommended by that group, but he had positive ratings from every one of the Alliance bar groups. Ahmad had positive ratings from every bar group, including a Highly Qualified rating from the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois and a Highly Recommended rating from the Puerto Rican Bar Association.

There were three candidates vying for the 1st Subcircuit Hopkins vacancy. Judge Anthony E. Simpkins will finish second behind Rhonda Crawford, who holds a better than 9,000 vote margin over Simpkins in the City and a nearly 3,000 vote margin in the suburbs. Both Simpkins and the third candidate in this race, Lisa A. Copland, received favorable bar ratings in this race. (Copland did not participate in the CBA's screening, and was rated Not Qualified by the ISBA -- but was rated Qualified or Recommended by everyone else; Simpkins had unanimously positive ratings.)

Crawford did not submit her credentials for screening by any of the bar associations.

D. Renee Jackson apparent winner in 2nd Subcircuit race

D. Renee Jackson did not submit her credentials for scrutiny by either the Chicago Bar Association or the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening.

She was automatically rated not recommended by every one of those bar groups.

But Jackson has apparently prevailed over three other candidates in the race for the Savage vacancy in the 2nd Subcircuit, all of whom had positive bar ratings.

With only three of 137 City precincts still outstanding and only five of 131 suburban precincts still to report, Jackson has 25,275 votes, 9,000 more than Chelsey R. Robinson, who has 16,150 votes. Celeste K. Jones is running third in this race, with 15,658 votes.

Mahoney, Quinn, and Hanlon win contested Democratic primaries in the 12th Subcircuit; Kozicki, O'Donnell apparent winners in contested Republican primaries

James Edward Hanlon, Jr. has defeated former Judge Allan W. Masters for the Democratic nomination for the "A" vacancy in the far north suburban 12th Subcircuit. In the November general election Hanlon will face Steven A. Kozicki, who bested Alex Kaplan for the Republican nomination.

Janet Cronin Mahoney easily won the Democratic nomination for the Mathein vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit. The Republican candidate for this vacancy, James Leonard Allegretti, was unopposed.

Hanlon and Mahoney were both slated by local Democratic committeemen for these vacancies.

The Democratic Party's slated candidate for the Kazmierski, Jr. vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit, Louis George Apostol, did not fare as well. Associate Judge Marguerite Anne Quinn was the clear winner in this four-person race. Judge Quinn will face Republican candidate Thomas William Flannigan for this vacancy; Flannigan had no opposition in the Republican primary.

There is a fourth vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit as well, but Judge Carrie Hamilton faced no opposition in the Democratic primary and David Studenroth was likewise unopposed in the Republican primary.

There was a Republican primary contest in the far northwest suburban 13th Subcircuit. With nearly 97% of the votes counted there, Kevin O'Donnell has apparently defeated Gary W. Seyring by around 3,500 votes, 18,347 to 14,788. O'Donnell will face the unopposed winner of the Democratic primary, Judge Ketki "Kay" Steffen, in November.

Powers' lead persists in race for countywide Walsh vacancy

With almost 93% of the City votes counted, Patrick Joseph Powers holds a slim lead over Judge Fredrick H. Bates, 220,226 to 213,778. But the margin is greater in the suburbs, where Powers' lead is around 39,000 votes, 175,354 to 137,729.

Powers was named on palm cards in at least two City wards today instead of Bates, though Bates was the officially slated candidate.

Judge Jerry Esrig holding strong lead in 9th Subcircuit; Judge Marc Martin trailing in the 11th

With a greater than 11,000 vote suburban margin, Judge Jerry Esrig seems to have won his race against Thomas Peter Kougias in the race for the Berman vacancy in the 9th Subcircuit. Esrig also has a 2,500 vote lead over Kougias in the City portion of the 9th Subcircuit.

But another appointed judge, Judge Marc Martin, is trailing Catherine Ann Schneider by almost 700 votes in the race for the Kelly vacancy in the 11th Subcircuit. With just over 95% of the City votes counted and nearly 90% of the suburban votes tallied, Martin has 20,278 votes, while Schneider has 20,976. James DiChristofano was also a candidate for this vacancy.

A cliffhanger shaping up in the 7th Subcircuit?

Jennifer Ballard was slated by the local Democratic committeemen for the Rivkin-Carothers vacancy in the 7th Subcircuit. Ballard is a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson, but she is young -- graduating from law school only eight years ago, in 2008. Because of her comparatively few years in practice, despite her professional successes so far, Ballard was unlikely to receive favorable ratings from any evaluating bar associations -- and she did not participate in the evaluation process.

Judge Patricia "Pat" S. Spratt was appointed to the Rivkin-Carothers vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court, and she has strong bar evaluations.

Assistant Public Defender Rosa Silva is one of four other candidates who sought this vacancy. Silva has over 5,000 votes in the suburban precincts of the 7th Subcircuit, with 94.4% of the suburban votes tallied, more than either Spratt or Ballard, but when the City votes are added in, Ballard and Spratt are pacing the field, and are engaged in a fairly close race.

At this point, Judge Spratt is leading with 14,485 votes to Ballard's 13,064.