Friday, September 26, 2008

Judges seeking retention link up with website

In previous posts I've mentioned that there are very few contested judicial elections in Cook County this year.

But that doesn't mean there won't be a lot of judges on the ballot.

Indeed, in addition to the uncontested races, Cook County voters will find that there are 68 judges seeking retention to either the Circuit Court of Cook County or the First District of the Illinois Appellate Court.

Every six years full circuit judges in Illinois must seek the voters' permission to remain in office. It is a "yes" or "no" proposition. Judges who fail to receive a 60% "yes" vote lose their positions.

Generally -- usually -- most judges who seek retention are in fact retained. But the most widely respected judges, the ones most universally acclaimed for their legal acumen and temperament, the ones who exhibit the deepest scholarship and sharpest intellect -- in a typical year, even these paragons will receive only around an 85% "yes" vote.

Solomon would do no better than about 85%.

What this means is that, in each election cycle, there is a hard core group of people voting "no" on the retention of every single judge. In a high turnout election, with a volatile electorate -- well, it's understandable that the judges get nervous.

Frankly, if the naysayers ever got their way, chaos would result: While the Supreme Court can fill vacancies, the newspapers and civic groups might howl in protest if judges booted off the bench were put back on by the Court. The loss of continuity and institutional knowledge would be considerable. And, truth to tell, the very least of the judges seeking retention has in fact been doing the job for at least six years. Every new judge has to be trained.

So the judges up for retention have, in recent years, banded together and have allowed a committee to be formed on their behalf. The purpose of the Committee -- this year called the Committee for Retention of Judges in Cook County, 2008 -- is to seek a "yes" vote from every voter for every judge. Money is raised for this purpose and ads will be bought and mailings conducted.

Full disclosure: I have contributed to the Committee this year.

And, this time out, the retention judges even have a website on which you will find individual biographies for each of the judges seeking retention.

Cook County judges seeking retention this year are:

Gerald C. Bender
Andrew Berman
Margaret A. Brennan
Eileen M. Brewer
Janet Adams Brosnahan
James R. Brown
Anthony L. Burrell
Diane Gordon Cannon
Evelyn B. Clay
Mary Ellen Coghlan
Sharon Johnson Coleman
Clayton J. Crane
John T. Doody, Jr.
Lynn Marie Egan
Richard J. Elrod
Candace Jean Fabri
Peter A. Felice
Thomas E. Flanagan
James Patrick Flannery
John J. Fleming
Rodolfo "Rudy" Garcia*
James J. Gavin
Robert E. Gordon*
Vanessa A. Hopkins
Rickey Jones
Themis N. Karnezis*
Kathleen G. Kennedy
Kerry M. Kennedy
William G. Lacy
Marjorie C. Laws
Casandra Lewis
Thomas J. Lipscomb
Noreen Valerie Love
Michele Francene Lowrance
Patricia Martin
Mary Anne Mason
Veronica B. Mathein
Carol Pearce McCarthy
Barbara A. McDonald
Sheila McGinnis
Dennis Michael McGuire
Kathleen Marie McGury
Barbara M Meyer
Mary A. Mulhern
Lewis Michael Nixon
William T. O'Brien
Lawrence O'Gara
Sandra Otaka
Sebastian Thomas Patti
Edward N. Pietrucha
Edmund Ponce de Leon
James L. Rhodes
Barbara Ann Riley
James G. Riley
Cheryl "Hillard" Starks
David P. Sterba
Jane Louise Stuart
Laura Marie Sullivan
Donald Joseph Suriano
Shelley Lynn Sutker-Dermer
Michael P. Toomin
Sandra Tristano
Valarie E. Turner
Raul Vega
Kenneth J. Wadas
Shelli D. Williams-Hayes
Gregory Joseph Wojkowski
Frank G. Zelezenski

Judges marked with an asterisk (*) by their name are sitting by appointment on the Illinois Appellate Court. In addition, Justices Michael J. Gallagher and Margaret Stanton McBride are seeking retention on the Illinois Appellate Court.

Prior to the November 4 election the various bar associations will weigh in with their views as to the qualifications of each of the judges seeking retention. The newspapers have traditionally expressed opinions on this as well. The overwhelming majority -- virtually all, if not all -- of the jurists seeking retention will be endorsed by the bar groups and newspapers.

1 comment:

Albert Klumpp said...

The judges have nothing to worry about. In fact, because of the almost certain high Chicago turnout of Obama supporters, I believe that approval rates may well break the all-time Cook County record of 80.5% (median, 1972). Casual voters, and minorities, are relatively more likely to cast all-yes votes on retention slates. In addition, the elimination of straight-party voting and the shift away from punch cards have also given indirect boosts to approval rates. I would be VERY surprised if any judge is seriously threatened in this election.