Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Unlucky 13: Judicial Performance Commission says 13 judges on the retention ballot need "performance improvement plans"

For this election cycle, the Judicial Performance Commission of Cook County has chosen not to "recommend or not recommend judges for retention."

However, the JPC has completed its report on all of the Cook County Circuit Court judges seeking retention this fall and has released its findings in a report that can be accessed through the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice website or directly via this link (PDF Report).

In its report, the JPC has identified 13 judges who, in the opinion of the JPC, need "performance improvement plans." Per the introduction to the JPC report (emphasis in original),
For judges with difficulties on the bench, the Commission’s report includes a judicial performance improvement plan which recommends actions such as peer mentoring, court watching, anger management courses, and continuing education. For judges demonstrating substantial difficulties on the bench, the Commission’s report includes a judicial performance improvement plan, and indicates that significant difficulties on the bench may impede his or her effectiveness as a jurist.
The 13 judges cited by the JPC as needing improvement plans are
  • Cynthia Brim
  • Gloria Chevere
  • Christopher Donnelly
  • Loretta Eadie-Daniels
  • Kathy M. Flanagan
  • Catherine Haberkorn
  • Orville E. Hambright, Jr.
  • Pamela Hill-Veal
  • Robert Lopez Cepero
  • Joyce Marie Murphy Gorman
  • Lee Preston
  • Lisa Ruble-Murphy, and
  • James M. Varga.
A more complete explanation of the methodology and procedures employed by the JPC is found in its full report. However, in summary, the 2012 Judicial Performance Commission consisted of  comprised of 18 lawyers and nonlawyers "who have donated their time and expertise to serve on the Commission." The Commission's "evaluations are based upon research conducted by the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice." Excerpting now from the report:
[The Commission members] serve as a board of directors, overseeing and governing the operations, but not influencing the research results. The Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice provides an independent research team of paid staff, interns and volunteers to collect and present data to the Commission for use in evaluating the judges. Chicago Appleseed, with the cooperation of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County and the Clerk of the Circuit Court, developed a list of lawyers who have appeared before the judicial retention candidates within the preceding three years. This list also included Cook County Assistant State’s Attorneys and Public Defenders who have been assigned to the courtrooms of the judges being evaluated. These lawyers received a web-based survey. Chicago Appleseed also conducted confidential interviews with a sampling of these attorneys, as well as interviews with supervising judges. Court-watching and research into local news media rounds out the data collection. Chicago Appleseed also conducted additional interviews with attorneys having extensive experience before the judges.

Responses from a minimum of 30 and as many as 80 phone interviews and surveys from Clerk data, plus additional interviews, per judge were collected. Chicago Appleseed staff prepared a summary for each judge and presented the research to the Commission members. From those reports, the Commissioners determined the content of each evaluation. Each judge received a draft version of his or her evaluation and was offered the opportunity to appeal the evaluation in person or in writing. After the appeals process, staff finalized the evaluations, and the reports on each judge were reviewed and approved by members of the JPC.
The members of this year's JPC were:
  • Leonard Schrager, Chair,
  • Sergio Acosta,
  • Jeannine Cordero,
  • Jan Czarnik,
  • Stephen Daniels,
  • Susana Darwin,
  • Ricky Granderson,
  • Michelle K. Jordan,
  • Jonathan D. King,
  • Steven Krasner,
  • James H. Lewis,
  • Terry Pastika,
  • Travis Richardson,
  • Ada Skyles,
  • Randolph N. Stone,
  • Carolyn Wilson-Hurey,
  • Whitney Woodward, and
  • Frances Zemans.


Anonymous said...

As a current law student, I've sat in on some trials of a few of these judges listed. From my experience, it is the LAWYERS who need, "peer mentoring, court watching, anger management courses, and continuing education." Most of these lawyers have NO idea what they're doing. if I were the judge I too would get angry with them for wasting so much of my time coming unprepared and generally lost in the courtroom procedure process.

Anonymous said...

for a few*