Monday, October 29, 2012

In Cook County, Illinois Civil Justice League endorses Theis, five retention candidates

The Illinois Civil Justice League announced in its newsletter today that it has endorsed Democrat Mary Jane Theis for the Illinois Supreme Court in Cook County's First Judicial District. Justice Theis is a candidate for the Fitzgerald vacancy on the Supreme Court; she was appointed to that vacancy when Justice Thomas Fitzgerald stepped down. Her Republican opponent is Cook County Circuit Court Judge James G. Riley.

The ICJL also endorsed five of the many Cook County Circuit Court judges seeking retention. The five judges highlighted by the ICJL are Moshe Jacobius, Martin Agran, Stuart Palmer, Garritt E. Howard, and E. Kenneth Wright, Jr.

A complete list of the ICJL's endorsements, both in Cook County and Downstate, can be accessed by clicking this link.

Lisa Ann Marino debt retirement fundraiser November 1

Lisa Ann Marino emerged victorious in March over three other candidates to win the Democratic nomination for the Urso vacancy in the 11th Judicial Subcircuit. Although she faces no opposition in November, she does have a campaign debt to retire.

Accordingly, per email received, Marino has scheduled a debt retirement fundraiser for Thursday, November 1 at Biaggio's 7309 W. Lawrence Avenue in Harwood Heights, from 5:30 to 8:30pm.

For further information about the event, or to make reservations, email LisaMarinoforJudge@gmail.com.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Daniel J. Kubasiak appointed to Egan vacancy

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Chicago attorney Daniel J. Kubasiak to the Cook County Circuit Court vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge James D. Egan. Kubasiak's appointment is effective November 30 and runs to December 1, 2014.

A 1981 graduate of Loyola University School of Law, Kubasiak served as the First Deputy Comptroller and First Assistant Budget Director of the City of Chicago from 1974-1981. He was Chief Administrative Officer for the Chicago City Council Committee on Finance from 1983 to 1987 and counsel for the Illinois State Treasurer from 1987 to 1994. Kubasiak was a founding partner of Kubasiak, Fylstra, Thorpe & Rotunno, P.C., the firm where he was practicing at the time of his appointment.

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NB: Yes, Judge Egan, the judge whose vacancy will be filled by Mr. Kubasiak's appointment, is on the November retention ballot, but only due to a paperwork snafu. Because he had planned to retire, Judge Egan did not participate in any of the bar associations' screening processes.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Can any of the retention judges really lose?

A lot of cynics will insist that all the judges on this year's Cook County retention ballot are "bulletproof" -- completely assured of safely navigating the forthcoming election. The cynics insist that, no matter how qualified -- or unqualified -- all judges on the ballot are assured of victory.

The judges seeking retention know better.

It is true that no Cook County Circuit Court Judge has lost a retention bid since 1990 -- but, in 1990, six judges were put out of work (seven lost their retention bids, but one of these was simultaneously elected to the Appellate Court).

After being singled out by columnist Mike Royko and the Fraternal Order of Police, Judge Lawrence Passarella was defeated in a retention bid in 1986.

John S. Boyle was Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County when he was defeated for retention in 1978.

It can happen.

There are people who go into the polls bound and determined to vote "no" on every judge's bid for another term; no judge gets a 100% "yes" vote -- an 80% "yes" vote is about the most that a judge can hope for.

The widely read police blog, Second City Cop, recently put up a post urging a "no" vote on every judge's retention bid this November.

The Chicago Bar Association and the many bar associations that comprise the Alliance of Bar Associations have recommended a "yes" vote on most judges.

In the final analysis, it is up to the voters -- such as those of you who happen on this page -- to determine whether any judicial candidate is worthy of your vote.

If you're looking for information about which judges are worthy of your vote, scroll down this page or consult the following links:
Updated and corrected, with a tip of the hat to Dr. Albert Klumpp for calling my attention to my error.

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.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Comparing bar evaluations on certain retention candidates

Updated 11/2/12

Updated and bumped up to reflect recommendations made by the Chicago Tribune.

There were seven Cook County Circuit Court judges singled out by the Chicago Council of Lawyers as "not qualified" for retention on the November ballot. Several of the judges cited by the Council were also rated "not recommended" or "not qualified" by some or all of the other evaluating bar groups. There were also three retention candidates rated "not recommended" by the Chicago Bar Association that were rated "qualified" by the Council.

Voters may want to compare all available information on each of these individuals before deciding whether to vote for or against their retention. We'll start with the Council's list.

Kathy M. Flanagan

The Chicago Council of Lawyers states:
Kathy Flanagan – Not Qualified
Prior to becoming a judge, Kathy Flanagan was in private practice. Judge Flanagan was elected to the Circuit Court in 1988. She was initially assigned to the Domestic Relations Division as a trial judge. Judge Flanagan currently sits in the Law Division on a motion call.

With regard to fairness and legal ability, Judge Flanagan is generally considered intelligent, with a good grasp of the law, and appropriate diligence. Respondents believe her to be very engaged in the courtroom, giving full attention to the details. With regard to rulings, she is described as “consistent, predictable and follows the law.” Many interviewees characterize her as “very fair” and “always prepared.”

However, a substantial number of respondents had a negative impression of Judge Flanagan’s judicial temperament. She was called “hostile,” “imperious,” “rude” and “discourteous.” She was frequently described as impatient or inflexible. A number of attorneys believe these qualities negatively affected her ability to manage her courtroom efficiently. However, even some respondents who were highly critical of her temper noted that she is “bright” and “truly cares” about the outcomes in her courtroom.

Responses indicate that Judge Flanagan is clearly diligent and capable on the bench. She is prepared for court, punctual and engaged in the proceedings with a reputation for intelligence and general fairness. However, responses show that Judge Flanagan displays inappropriate temper and has created a courtroom atmosphere that is readily described as hostile or unpleasant. In 2006 the Council found Judge Flanagan Not Qualified for retention for these same reasons. There reportedly has been no significant improvement. The Council finds her Not Qualified for retention.
The Chicago Bar Association states:
KATHY M. FLANAGAN -- QUALIFIED
Judge Kathy M. Flanagan is “Qualified” for retention as a Circuit Court Judge. Judge Flanagan was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1979 and has served as a judge since 1988. Judge Flanagan served in the Domestic Relations Division until 1993 and is currently supervising judge of the Law Division’s motion call. Judge Flanagan runs an efficient courtroom and is respected by the lawyers who appear before her. Questions regarding Judge Flanagan’s temperament were raised by some lawyers and the judge is working to address these concerns.
The Illinois State Bar Association states:
Hon. Kathy M. Flanagan - Qualified
Hon. Kathy M. Flanagan is currently the Supervising Judge within the Motion Section of the Law Division. She was elected to the Circuit Court in 1988, where she was initially assigned to the Domestic Relations Division. Judge Flanagan was retained for six-year terms in 1994, 2000, and 2006.

The Committee evaluation revealed that Judge Flanagan is considered tough but fair, works hard, and fully understands the law. For the 2012 General Election, the Illinois State Bar Association determined Hon. Kathy M. Flanagan is qualified for retention as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
The Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Illinois State Bar Association participate in the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening. Although the screening process is handled collaboratively, each member group evaluates sitting judges and judicial candidates independently, and is free to arrive at its own conclusions. In Judge Flanagan's case, all of the other Alliance groups, that is, the Alliance are the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area (AABA), Black Women’s Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago (BWLA), Cook County Bar Association (CCBA), Decalogue Society of Lawyers (DSL), Hellenic Bar Association (HBA), Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois (HLAI), Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago (LAGBAC), Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois (PRBA), and Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (WBAI), recommend a "yes" vote to retain Judge Flanagan.

Further information about Judge Flanagan is available on the 2012 Cook County Judges Retention Website and from the Chicago Tribune.

Cynthia Brim

The Chicago Council of Lawyers states:
Cynthia Brim – Not Qualified
Prior to becoming a judge, Cynthia Brim was an Assistant Illinois Attorney General. Judge Brim was elected to the Circuit Court in 1994 and initially assigned to the First Municipal District. Judge Brim is presently assigned to the Fifth Municipal District but has been suspended from duty since March 12, 2012. Judge Brim was arrested on March 10, 2012 on misdemeanor charges related to an altercation with a Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy at the Daley Center.

Most respondents indicated a lack of confidence in her legal abilities. Even though the judge hears generally non-complex matters, her rulings are often described as unpredictable and delayed. Respondents indicate that they regularly file motions for substitution of judge, despite the cost and inconvenience to their clients.

Additionally, there are many complaints that Judge Brim is late to take the bench. Attorneys report repeated continuances because court starts late and because the call is handled inefficiently. Attorneys feel that Judge Brim is particularly rude and unaccommodating of counsel who are on call in multiple courtrooms. Many attorneys described her as “consistently late” and there is some concern that her case management delays resolution of cases.

The consistently negative reports about Judge Brim’s judicial performance and her arrest at the courthouse at the Daley Center in downtown Chicago raise serious questions about whether she can remain effective on the bench. The Council finds her Not Qualified for retention.
The Illinois State Bar Association states:
Hon. Cynthia Brim – Not Qualified
Hon. Cynthia Brim was elected to the Circuit Court of Cook County in 1994. She was retained for six-year terms in 2000 and 2006. She was in the 6th Municipal District presiding over Misdemeanor, Traffic Civil, Paternity, Child Support, Custody, Visitation, Domestic Violence, Bond hearings, and Ordinance Violation cases. Other previous judicial assignments include the Domestic Relations Division, the 1st Municipal District, and the 5th Municipal District. Hon. Cynthia Brim has currently been removed from all judicial duties by Special Order No. 2012-14 of the Executive Committee of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

The Committee evaluation questioned Judge Brim’s legal knowledge and ability. For the 2012 General Election, the Illinois State Bar Association determined Hon. Cynthia Brim is not qualified for retention as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
The Chicago Bar Association states:
CYNTHIA BRIM -- NOT RECOMMENDED
The candidate declined to participate in the Judicial Evaluation Committee (JEC) screening process and, therefore, according to The Chicago Bar Association’s governing resolution for the JEC, is automatically found NOT RECOMMENDED.
All of the other Alliance Bar Associations, with the exceptions of the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago and Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, recommend a "no" vote on Judge Brim. The AABA did not evaluate Judge Brim; the HLAI recommends a "yes" vote.

The order removing Judge Brim from active judicial service because of the pending charges can be accessed via this press release on the Cook County Circuit Court website. In an October 14 Chicago Sun-Times article, Lisa Donovan writes:
On March 9, Brim turned up at the downtown Chicago Daley Center courthouse — miles from the south suburban courthouse where she worked. She allegedly threw a set of keys and shoved a sheriff’s deputy before officers handcuffed her and took her to a basement holding cell.

She was charged with misdemeanor battery before being released. The next week, a panel of Cook County supervising judges suspended her indefinitely.

Court records obtained by the Sun-Times reveal she was examined by a court-appointed psychiatrist who believes she’s “presently mentally fit with medication” but opined she was “legally insane” at the time of the reported skirmish with the sheriff’s officer.

Brim has declined to talk with the Sun-Times on the record about the charges she’s facing or comment about reports that she had been behaving erratically the day before her arrest while ruling on traffic cases in the Markham courthouse.
The next hearing date in Judge Brim's case is November 7, the day following the election.

The Chicago Tribune has recommended a "no" vote on Judge Brim's retention bid.

Christopher Donnelly

The Chicago Council of Lawyers states:
Judge Christopher Donnelly – Not Qualified
Prior to becoming a judge, Christopher Donnelly spent one year in private practice before working as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney. Judge Donnelly was elected to the Circuit Court in 1994. He served in the Juvenile Justice Division prior to being transferred to the Sixth Municipal District in Markham, where he currently sits.

Most attorneys agree that Judge Donnelly has the aptitude to understand the law and apply it. Attorneys reported that Judge Donnelly is “a smart man,” intelligent,” and has “an excellent grasp of what’s going on in his courtroom.” Regarding his courtroom management, interviewees repeatedly praised his efficiency, describing him as running a tight ship and being capable of moving the call along. His judicial diligence and preparedness were not generally questioned.

While many attorneys complimented his intelligence and legal aptitude, a substantial number raised concerns about Judge Donnelly’s temperament and his professionalism. Interview respondents roundly criticized his tone and demeanor while on the bench. Some respondents referred to him as a “bully,” stating that “he goes out of his way to demean people unnecessarily,” he is “mean spirited” and “sometimes can just explode over the insignificant,” and that he “is unprofessional, rude and disrespectful.”

Many respondents had negative responses about Judge Donnelly’s judicial fairness, with most attorneys reporting that he has an unabashedly pro-prosecution perspective. Another attorney suggested that Judge Donnelly’s experience as a former prosecutor weighs heavily on his current role as a judge. One interviewee who summed up many concerns in moderate terms hoped that the evaluation process would inspire the Judge to consider the impression his demeanor makes. The Council finds him Not Qualified for retention.
The Illinois State Bar Association states:
Hon. Christopher Donnelly – Not Qualified
Hon. Christopher Donnelly is currently assigned to the 6th Municipal District, hearing traffic and misdemeanor cases. Prior to serving the 6th Municipal District, Judge Donnelly was assigned to the Juvenile Justice Division. In 1994, he was elected to the Circuit Court of Cook County. Judge Donnelly was retained for six-year terms in 2000 and 2006.

Judge Donnelly’s litigation and professional experience along with his legal knowledge and ability are considered adequate. The Committee evaluation, however, revealed that there are concerns regarding his poor judicial temperament. In addition, Judge Donnelly failed to fully participate in the evaluation process by not completing the evaluation materials and refusing to answer questions posed during his interview. Therefore, in accordance with its guidelines for judicial candidates, for the 2012 General Election the Illinois State Bar Association determined Hon. Christopher Donnelly is not qualified for retention as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County for failure to complete the evaluation process.
The Chicago Bar Association states:
CHRISTOPHER DONNELLY -- QUALIFIED
Judge Christopher J. Donnelly is “Qualified” for retention as a Circuit Court Judge. Judge Donnelly was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1985 and has served as a judge since 1994. Judge Donnelly is currently assigned to the Sixth Municipal District. Judge Donnelly is experienced, dedicated, thoughtful, and well versed in both civil and criminal law. Judge Donnelly is diligent and compassionate about helping explain the law to the litigants who appear before him.
Some Alliance members agreed with the Council and the ISBA and recommend a "no" vote on Judge Donnelly. These groups are the Cook County Bar Association, the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, the Woman's Bar Association of Illinois, and the HLAI. Alliance members recommending a "yes" vote on Judge Donnelly are the Black Women's Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago, the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, the Hellenic Bar Association, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, and the AABA.

Judge Donnelly responded to the Tribune questionnaire. The Tribune has recommended a "no" vote on Judge Donnelly's retention bid.

Joyce M. Murphy Gorman

The Chicago Council of Lawyers states
Judge Joyce M. Murphy Gorman – Not Qualified
Prior to becoming a judge, Joyce M. Murphy Gorman worked with the Office of the Presiding Judge of the Sixth Municipal District in Markham for four years. Judge Murphy Gorman then worked as a sole practitioner for one year immediately before being elected to the bench. Judge Murphy Gorman was elected to the Circuit Court in 2000. She was initially assigned to the First Municipal District’s Traffic Court. In 2002, Judge Murphy Gorman was assigned to the Civil Trial Section, non-jury call where she presently presides.

Judge Murphy Gorman was described by most respondents as knowledgeable about the law. Attorneys say she takes the time to understand the issues and respondents reported that she keeps current on developments in the law relevant to the cases heard in her courtroom. There were several respondents who praised her for using her courtroom mediators effectively. The judge is described as punctual and prepared for court and she issues her rulings in a prompt, timely manner. She is considered fair and independent.

Judge Murphy Gorman’s courtroom management skills were given generally favorable marks. Several interviewees stated that she always started her call on time and did not “dilly dally.” Others mentioned how she worked to accommodate attorneys with multiple cases in order to keep the call moving.

Many interviewees stated that Judge Murphy Gorman was diligent. Most attorneys believed she was “always engaged” and “interested in doing a good job.” She also “allowed each side to make their case.” Judge Murphy Gorman was also repeatedly praised for her handling of pro se litigants. Respondents said that she explains things well to pro se litigants “while remaining even-handed.”

However, many respondents believed that Judge Murphy Gorman needs to improve her judicial temperament. Comments included: “could be calmer;” “she can be short with people;” “she lets lawyers get under her skin;” “she is short and testy with people in her courtroom.” The Council found Judge Murphy Gorman Not Qualified for retention in 2006 due primarily to reported problems with her temperament. We continue to hear these complaints. On balance, the Council finds her Not Qualified for retention.
The Illinois State Bar Association states:
Hon. Joyce M. Murphy Gorman – Qualified
Hon. Joyce Murphy Gorman is currently assigned to the 1st Municipal District, Civil Non-jury Trial Call. Judge Murphy Gorman was elected to serve as a judge in 2000, and she was retained for a six-year term in 2006.

Judge Murphy Gorman is described as being knowledgeable about the law and always prepared. For the 2012 General Election, the Illinois State Bar Association determined Hon. Joyce Murphy Gorman is qualified for retention as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
The Chicago Bar Association states:
JOYCE MARIE MURPHY GORMAN -- QUALIFIED
Judge Joyce M. Murphy Gorman is “Qualified” for retention as a Circuit Court Judge. Judge Gorman was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1995 and has served as a judge since 2000. Judge Gorman is currently assigned to the First Municipal District and presides over a high-volume civil injury call. Judge Gorman knows the law and has a fine judicial demeanor and temperament.
Among the Alliance bar groups, only the Decalogue Society of Lawyers recommends a "no" vote on Judge Murphy Gorman; the other nine members of the Alliance (including the ISBA, quoted above) recommend a "yes" vote. Further information about Judge Murphy Gorman is available on the 2012 Cook County Retention Judges Website. Judge Murphy Gorman also responded to the Tribune questionnaire.

Pamela Hill-Veal

Judge Hill-Veal chose not to participate in screening by any of the bar associations and was therefore found not qualified or not recommended by every single one. The CBA and each of the Alliance of Bar Association members recommends a "no" vote on Judge Hill-Veal.

For the record, the Chicago Council of Lawyers states:
Judge Pamela Hill-Veal – Not Recommended
Judge Hill-Veal failed to submit materials for evaluation. The Council finds her Not Recommended for the Circuit Court.
The Illinois State Bar Association states:
Hon. Pamela E. Hill-Veal – Not Qualified
Hon. Pamela E. Hill-Veal is currently assigned in the 1st Municipal District within the Civil Trial Section. She was appointed to the Circuit Court of Cook County in 2004 and elected in 2006.

Judge Hill-Veal did not submit documentation for evaluation for the 2012 General Election. Therefore, in accordance with its guidelines regarding judicial candidates, for the 2012 General Election the Illinois State Bar Association determined that Hon. Pamela E. Hill-Veal is not qualified for retention as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County for failure to complete the evaluation process.
The Chicago Bar Association states:
PAMELA E. HILL-VEAL -- NOT RECOMMENDED
The candidate declined to participate in the Judicial Evaluation Committee (JEC) screening process and, therefore, according to The Chicago Bar Association’s governing resolution for the JEC, is automatically found NOT RECOMMENDED.
Further information about Judge Hill-Veal is available on the 2012 Cook County Retention Judges Website. The Chicago Tribune has recommended a "no" vote on Judge Hill-Veal's retention bid.

Gloria Chevere

The Chicago Council of Lawyers states:
Judge Gloria Chevere – Not Qualified
Prior to becoming a judge, Gloria Chevere was a partner at the general practice firm of Ogden & Chevere. From 1987 to 1991, Judge Chevere was Senior Executive Deputy Director for the Chicago Transit Authority. Then from 1991 until 2006, she was a prosecutor and hearing officer for the Secretary of State, as well as a hearing officer for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. She was elected to the Circuit Court in 2006, and was assigned to the First Municipal District.

In May 2010, Fox Chicago News in conjunction with the Better Government Association, investigated whether Cook County Judges were leaving work early. The article mentioned Judge Chevere as a judge who often left the courthouse early. Judge Chevere was reassigned shortly after the story was made public.

Judge Chevere generally received good scores from most attorneys for being able to “move her call.” One respondent stated that he had “seen hundreds in her courtroom” and that Judge Chevere was “still able to keep on top of things.” Many interviewees also believed they were treated fairly in her courtroom.

Her legal ability is generally considered adequate for her call and attorneys believe she runs her courtroom efficiently. However, she is reported to be sometimes "dismissive and rude" on the bench. She reportedly is often unprepared -- many respondents believe she has not read pleadings sufficiently before ruling. She has the reputation of unilaterally cancelling her 2:30 pm call, saying that it is not necessary. There were many negative comments about her performance as a judge, primarily related to temperament and diligence.

Several respondents believe the judge unnecessarily issues arrests warrants for defendants who are late to court, which wastes resources. About half of the respondents also complained that her rulings are erratic, which some attributed to her being too often unprepared. The Council finds her Not Qualified for retention.
The Illinois State Bar Association states:
Hon. Gloria Chevere - Not Qualified
Hon. Gloria Chevere is currently assigned as a “swing judge” in various branches within the 1st Municipal District. She ran unopposed for a vacancy in the 6th Subcircuit in 2006 and was assigned to hear misdemeanor and felony ordinance offenses.

The Committee evaluation raised concerns over Judge Chevere’s diligence, legal knowledge and ability. For the 2012 General Election, the Illinois State Bar Association determined Hon. Gloria Chevere is not qualified for retention as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
The Chicago Bar Association states:
GLORIA CHEVERE -- NOT RECOMMENDED
Judge Gloria Chevere is “Not Recommended” for retention as a Circuit Court Judge. Judge Chevere was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1981. The candidate was elected in 2006 and is assigned to various First Municipal Felony courtrooms. Reports from attorneys describe the candidate as punctual with adequate legal knowledge and that she runs an efficient courtroom. Nevertheless, the candidate is found not recommended due to her unwillingness to conform to attendance policies established for all judges. This comes after she was the subject of a highly publicized news report about leaving her courtroom assignment early.
With one exception, all of the other Alliance bar groups also recommend a "no" vote on Judge Chevere. The Puerto Rican Bar Association, however, recommends a "yes" vote for this candidate.

The Chicago Tribune recommends a "no" vote on Judge Chevere's retention bid. The IVI-IPO has recommended a "yes" vote for Judge Chevere.

One other judge received unanimously negative reviews from both the Chicago Bar Association and every Alliance bar group, namely, Judge James Egan. According to to the ISBA's Joyce Williams, who coordinates judicial evaluations for the Alliance, Judge Egan advised the group some time ago that he would be retiring in December and, accordingly, he was not scheduled for interviews. Unfortunately, because of a paperwork snafu, Judge Egan did not get his name removed from the retention ballot in time.

FWIW has been informed that Judge Egan has accelerated his retirement plans and has already left office; in fact, the Illinois Supreme Court has already named Egan's successor. Judge Egan's name, however, will still be on the November retention ballot.

There were also three candidates rated "not recommended" by the Chicago Bar Association that were not mentioned by the Chicago Council of Lawyers. We'll look at these candidates next.

Rodney Hughes Brooks

The Chicago Bar Association states:
RODNEY HUGHES BROOKS -- NOT RECOMMENDED
Judge Rodney Hughes Brooks is “Not Recommended” for retention as a Circuit Court Judge. Judge Brooks was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1980 and has served as a judge since 1994. Judge Brooks has a pleasant demeanor, but does not possess the requisite knowledge of the law and judicial ability to effectively manage a court call. Judge Brooks has made no attempt to improve his knowledge of the law and judicial ability and should not be retained.
The Chicago Council of Lawyers states:
Judge Rodney Brooks – Qualified
Prior to becoming a judge, Rodney Brooks worked as a solo practitioner maintaining a diverse general practice. Judge Brooks was elected to the Circuit Court in 1994 and assigned to the First Municipal District Traffic Center. In 1996, he was transferred to the Juvenile Justice Division, where he is presently assigned as a floater or coverage judge.

Judge Brooks received high marks from attorneys on both sides of the aisle. His legal ability and knowledge of the law is considered one of his most obvious strengths. Attorneys commented that he “reads statutes literally and follows them” to the letter of the law, that he is “extremely well versed in the law” and does research when he is uncertain about a particular issue. Judge Brooks garnered praise for his courtroom management, with respondents noting that he does a “great job moving through his cases” and the call is “very smooth” in his courtroom. Our research shows that he is prepared for court.

As a trial judge in the past, the Council heard negative reports about Judge Brooks’ temperament and ability to control a courtroom. As a floater judge with a more limited call in this evaluation, the reports have been more positive. On balance, the Council finds him Qualified for retention.
The Illinois State Bar Association states:
Hon. Rodney Hughes Brooks - Qualified
Hon. Rodney Hughes Brooks is currently assigned to the Juvenile Justice Division. He was a “floater” judge within the Division until he was recently assigned to a permanent calendar. In 1994, he was elected to the Circuit Court of Cook County and was initially assigned to the 1st Municipal District Traffic Court. He was transferred to his current Division in 1996. Judge Brooks was retained for six-year terms in 2000 and 2006.

Judge Brooks is procedurally oriented and very diligent. He is punctual and has good judicial temperament. For the 2012 General Election, the Illinois State Bar Association determined Hon. Rodney Hughes Brooks is qualified for retention as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Every one of the Alliance bar groups joins with the Council and the ISBA in recommending a "yes" vote for Judge Hughes. Further information about Judge Brooks is available on the 2012 Cook County Judges Retention Website. Judge Brooks responded to the Tribune questionnaire; however, the Tribune has recommended a "no" vote on Judge Brooks.

Loretta Eadie-Daniels

The Chicago Bar Association states:
LORETTA EADIE-DANIELS -- NOT RECOMMENDED
Judge Loretta Eadie-Daniels is “Not Recommended” for retention as a Circuit Court Judge. Judge Eadie-Daniels was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1977 and served in the legal departments of the Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Housing Authority. In addition, Judge Eadie-Daniels served as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney from 1989-2000 before her election to the Circuit Court in 2000. Judge Eadie-Daniels is currently assigned to the Sixth Municipal District in Markham. Judge Eadie-Daniels’ “Not Recommended” finding is the result of continuing concerns about the judge’s temperament and knowledge of the law.
The Chicago Council of Lawyers states:
Judge Loretta Eadie-Daniels – Qualified
Prior to becoming a judge, Loretta Eadie-Daniels was an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney and, before that, an attorney for the Chicago Transit Authority. Judge Eadie-Daniels was elected to the Circuit Court in 2000 and was assigned to a misdemeanor call in the Sixth Municipal District. She remains in the Sixth District, but now handles traffic and ordinance violations. Attorneys report that Judge Eadie-Daniels takes her responsibility toward pro se litigants seriously, although some attorneys believe this slows down her call. She is generally described as having a good temperament. While some attorneys report that she could do a better job of managing her courtroom, she is well regarded by most attorneys in her current assignment. The Council finds her Qualified for retention.
The Illinois State Bar Association states:
Hon. Loretta Eadie-Daniels - Qualified
Hon. Loretta Eadie-Daniels is currently assigned to the 6th Municipal District. She has been assigned to the 6th Municipal District since she was elected to the Circuit Court of Cook County in 2000. Judge Eadie-Daniels was retained for a six-year term in 2006. Judge Eadie-Daniels is considered to have adequate legal knowledge and ability and is considered impartial with sufficient experience. For the 2012 General Election, the Illinois State Bar Association determined Hon. Loretta Eadie-Daniel is qualified for retention as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Every one of the Alliance bar groups lines up with the Council and ISBA in recommending a "yes" vote on Judge Eadie-Daniels.

Lisa Ruble Murphy

The Chicago Bar Association states:
LISA RUBLE MURPHY -- NOT RECOMMENDED
Judge Lisa Ruble Murphy is “Not Recommended” for retention as a Circuit Court Judge. Judge Murphy was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1984 and has served as a judge since 1994. Judge Murphy has been in the Domestic Relations Division since 1995. Judge Murphy has been an Individual Calendar Domestic Relations Judge since 1997. The judge is experienced and knowledgeable in the field of domestic relations. Concerns about diligence, work ethic, and considerable delays in issuing written decisions resulted in a “Not Recommended” finding.
The Chicago Council of Lawyers states:
Judge Lisa Ruble Murphy – Qualified
Prior to becoming a judge, Lisa Ruble Murphy was Deputy Chief Administration Officer for the Chicago City Council’s Committee on Finance. Judge Ruble Murphy was elected to the Circuit Court in 1994. Judge Ruble Murphy was initially assigned to the First Municipal District of the Cook County Circuit Court. In January 1995, she was assigned to the Domestic Relations Division, where she currently serves.

Many respondents praised Judge Ruble Murphy as a judge, but a significant number of respondents report concerns about her performance. For instance, while lawyers reported that Judge Ruble Murphy gives a fair trial, there were complaints that she sometimes pushes too hard to discourage parties from going to trial, even where the parties have clear and irreconcilable difficulties. Some of the attorneys interviewed also reported that she is often late in starting her call. However, Judge Ruble Murphy is considered to be a smart, solid jurist. On balance, the Council finds her Qualified for retention.
The Illinois State Bar Association states:
Hon. Lisa Ruble Murphy – Qualified
Hon. Lisa Ruble Murphy was elected to the Circuit Court of Cook County in 1994. Her current assignment is as an independent calendar judge in the Domestic Relations Division. She presides over pre- and post- decree domestic relations cases. Judge Ruble Murphy was retained for six-year terms in 2000 and 2006.

Judge Ruble Murphy prefers to have cases settled instead of being litigated. There were some concerns raised about the difficulty of scheduling contested matters in a timely fashion. She is considered to be well versed in the law and is praised for her judicial temperament. For the 2012 General Election, the Illinois State Bar Association determined Hon. Lisa Ruble Murphy is qualified for retention as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
The Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago recommends a "no" vote on Judge Ruble Murphy; all of the other Alliance bar groups, however, recommend a "yes" vote for this judge.

Judge Ruble Murphy responded to the Tribune questionnaire. The Tribune recommends a "no" vote on Judge Ruble Murphy's retention bid. The IVI-IPO has recommended a "yes" vote in favor of Judge Ruble Murphy.

Tribune urges "no" vote on six retention judges

In an editorial today the Chicago Tribune urges voters to say "no" to six judges seeking retention in office this November.

The Tribune singles out Cynthia Brim, Gloria Chevere, Rodney Hughes Brooks, Christopher Donnelly, Pamela Hill-Veal, and Lisa Ruble Murphy.

The links in the preceding sentence will take you to responses submitted by those candidates to the Tribune's questionnaire. Candidates' names that are not linked apparently did not respond to the Tribune questionnaire.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Welcome Cook County Early Voters!

For some reason, many of you will vote as soon as early voting starts on October 22 or shortly thereafter.

I hate to be the one to break it to you -- but, even though you've already done your civic duty, you'll still have to deal with the attack ads and the phone calls right on through November 6.

You've presumably arrived on this page because you want to make choices that you think are appropriate in judicial elections. Hopefully, therefore, you also voted in the Democratic primary -- not because For What It's Worth has entered the partisan fray but, rather, for the simple reason that most of the Cook County judicial races were decided there.

Yes, I know, the Republican primary also decided who would win one seat in the 13th Judicial Subcircuit -- but the point remains: All of the open Appellate Court and countywide Circuit Court seats were decided in the primary. So were most of the subcircuit vacancies. There is a partisan contest for Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, for one 12th Subcircuit vacancy, and for both vacancies in the 4th Judicial Subcircuit.

That's it.

On the other hand, there are 57 Circuit Court Judges and one Appellate Court Justice on the retention ballot this year. You are asked to vote Yes or No on the question of whether each of these persons should be retained in office. Any judge who fails to get a 60% (plus 1) favorable vote would be looking for work come the first Monday in December.

Most judges -- the vast majority in Cook County, certainly -- merit retention. In any given election cycle, however, there will be some who are controversial, some who have received generally bad marks from the evaluating bar associations or who have bypassed the evaluation process altogether. For What It's Worth makes no recommendations or endorsements. I will, however, shortly put up a post where voters can compare what the different bar associations have said about candidates who have been rejected by one or more of the major bar groups.

In addition to the posts I've already put and the posts I'll be putting up here in the coming days, there are other resources for the voter looking to study up on judges.

Suburban Cook County voters can obtain a sample ballot via this page on the website of Cook County Clerk David Orr. Some of the candidates' names on your sample ballot will be hyperlinked. Clicking on these links will take you to statements provided by the candidates or their campaigns. Circuit Court Judges seeking retention who have submitted statements are Moshe Jacobius, Stuart E. Palmer, Ronald F. Bartkowicz, E. Kenneth Wright, Jr., Lee Preston, James M. Varga, Marcia Maras, Carl Anthony Walker Mike McHale, Diane M. Shelley. Justice James Fitzgerald Smith, who is seeking retention on the Appellate Court, also has a candidate statement on the Cook County Clerk's website.

Voters in the City of Chicago don't get hyperlinked candidate statements on their sample ballots, but Chicago voters can get a sample ballot on the website of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

Some Cook County judges seeking retention have also answered questionnaires posed by the Illinois Civil Justice League. Questionnaire responses received by the ICJL from all Illinois judicial candidates are available through the IllinoisJudges.net website. Cook County judges seeking retention who have answered the ICJL questionnaire are Martin S. Agran, Ellen L. Flannigan, Moshe Jacobius, Lee Preston, Thomas David Roti, and Carl Anthony Walker. Justice James Fitzgerald Smith also submitted a response to the ICJL Questionnaire.

All of the judges seeking retention are listed on the 2012 Cook County Judges Retention Website. Many of the judges (and Justice Smith) also have statements on this site as well.

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Related Posts on For What It's Worth:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A few words about "judicial temperament"

Voters attempting to evaluate Cook County judicial retention candidates or candidates in the few contested judicial elections on the ballot in Cook County this fall will encounter all sorts of references to "judicial temperament."

The Chicago Bar Association says that "judicial temperament" is one of the eight criteria it considers when reviewing the merits of a judge seeking retention or a judicial candidate seeking election (for the record, the eight categories are "integrity, legal knowledge, legal ability, professional experience, judicial temperament, diligence, punctuality and health factors").

The Chicago Council of Lawyers likewise considers "judicial temperament" as one of the 12 factors it considers in regards to judicial candidates (the CCL's 12 categories being "fairness, including sensitivity to diversity and bias; legal knowledge and skills (competence); integrity; experience; diligence; impartiality; judicial temperament; respect for the rule of law; independence from political and institutional influences; professional conduct; character; and community service").

But what is judicial temperament and how important is it to determining a person's ability to serve (or continue to serve) as a judge?

For What It's Worth endorses no candidates and makes no recommendations about candidates. But I've been around, practicing in courts around this state for over 30 years.

I can tell you that a temperate judge treats all persons in front of the bench with respect and courtesy and that a temperate judge expects and usually receives courtesy and civil behavior from those who appear in his or her court.

Nobody likes being bullied. And, sadly, a judge with a poor temperament is often a bully, pushing people around simply because he or she can, embarrassing lawyers in front of their clients, and in general not treating the people who appear in court with the respect and civility which one might expect.

On the other hand, I've appeared in front of judges who had awful temperament... and were good judges... and I've appeared in front of judges who were the distilled essence of excellent judicial temperament... and were terrible judges.

No, I'm not naming names. But one judge comes to mind -- and this was a long time ago and not in Cook County -- who was grouchy, irascible, sour, and even downright mean to those appearing in front of him. To everyone who appeared before him. In that county, at that time, some judges treated Cook County lawyers with disdain, openly favoring the members of the local bar. Not this judge. He didn't seem to like anyone.

Now, don't get me wrong: I didn't enjoy my visits to this man's courtroom. But, temperament aside, I thought him a pretty good judge: From what I could observe, his rulings were based on the law, sound, and understandable -- even when they went against me. I could live with that.

It beats the heck out of the alternative.

Again, years ago, there was a judge who was good temperament personified. I appeared on a regular basis in front of this judge and was always treated civilly and with respect. And I often left that courtroom coming thisclose to losing my temper. (There were a number of incidents in this courtroom where other lawyers actually did lose their tempers.) The problem was that, while this judge was a decent, nice, caring person, this judge was also indecisive, inconsistent and unpredictable.

No, the law is not an exact science. One can never predict with absolute certainty that this motion will be granted or that another motion will be denied. Lawyers can not ethically guarantee results in any case. But some things in some cases are pretty predictable. Judges are guided by statutes and the common law, as set out in the reported cases. In many instances, therefore, when judges follow the law, the results should be fairly predictable.

Clients hire lawyers because of the lawyer's perceived expertise and skill. A lawyer who tells a client she has a great case -- and then loses -- will likely not get more business from that client. But how do we know what is a 'good case' or a 'close case" or a 'great case' or a 'tough case'? We know the law (or we've looked it up) and we evaluate how a court or jury should respond to the facts and the governing law. I do a lot of insurance coverage work. Much of my career has been spent evaluating how a court should rule in particular circumstances and recommending client actions based on those evaluations. When I think my client has a close case, I say so, and the client decides how, or whether, to proceed. But when I evaluate a case as a strong one, one in which the statutes and cases predict victory, I expect to win.

From my perspective, therefore, if a judge doesn't follow the law and rules unpredictably, especially when I believe (in the best exercise of my professional judgment) that I have a strong case, I don't care how nice the judge may be, or how good his or her temperament is: Legal knowledge, ability, skills and respect for the law and precedent trumps temperament, in my opinion, every time.

Given my druthers, of course, I'd take both.

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Programming note: Round-up posts on contested Cook County judicial elections and on the retention election will be forthcoming in the next several days.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why Illinois write-in votes only sometimes count

Even casual observers of the election scene understand, on some level, that it takes quite a bit of effort -- and paper! -- to qualify for the ballot in Illinois.

But perhaps very few realize that, in Illinois, even write-in candidates have to file papers in order to have their votes counted.

The operative Illinois Statutes are §§17-16.1 and 18-9.1 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/17-16.1 and 10 ILCS 5/18-9.1). You may think your neighbor Bob would make a better state representative than anything the Democrats or Republicans have on offer this year, but unless Bob has filed a notarized declaration of intent with the appropriate election authority "not later than 61 days prior to the election," your vote for Bob won't count.

On the other hand, recent news accounts (here, for example, or here) have quoted Anthony W. Williams, a write-in candidate for Congress in the south suburban 2nd Congressional District (where Jesse Jackson, Jr. is the incumbent). Rev. Williams has filed a declaration of candidacy, and votes for him will be counted.

Election attorney James Scanlon confirmed that at least one purpose of the write-in laws is to stop public records from being cluttered with votes for Donald Duck and the like. In response to an email inquiry from FWIW about how write-in votes are counted, Scanlon advised, "At the end of election day and the close of the polls, the judges will remove the paper optical scan ballots from the ballot box. The optical scanner is designed to detect whether there is a marking on the line reserved for write-in candidates and to deposit those ballots into a separate bin in the front of the ballot box. Judges of election are instructed to remove these ballots and review them for valid write-in votes. The judges then record the results of the valid write-in votes on a certification form, which is returned to the Board. Any votes recorded on a touchscreen are automatically tallied and shown on the total tape generated after the polls close."

A number of individuals have qualified as write-ins in Illinois for President and Vice-President of the United States. Among these are Jill Reed and Tom Cary, the candidates of the Twelve Vision Party, which promotes "The Prime Law, the three-thousand-year-old-secret" (which presumably be revealed should Reed and Cary win); Jerry White and Phyllis Scherrer, the candidates of the Trotsky-ite Socialist Equity Party; Virgil Goode and Jim Clymer, the candidates of the Constitution Party, which wants to dramatically restrict immigration and even deny citizenship to children of foreign nationals born on American soil; and Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson, the candidate of the Justice Party, which bills itself as "a grassroots, broad-based, real political alternative to the corporate-controlled Democratic and Republican parties."

Others qualifying for write-in votes for President (or Vice-President) in Illinois are:
  • Paul Chehade (Steve McAllister);
  • Stephen Durham (Christina Lopez) ;
  • Tom Hoefling (Jonathan D. Ellis);
  • Richard Duncan;
  • Michael W. Hawkins;
  • Nelson Lee Keyton, Jr.;
  • Dennis Knill;
  • Barbara A. Prokopich;
  • Cecil James Roth;
  • Beverly Simmons-Miller;
  • James T. Struck;
  • Mary Ann Tomkins Segal; and
  • Roy Wayne Tyree.
No individuals filed timely declarations as write-in candidates for any Cook County judicial office.

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Information about presidential candidates obtained from September 4 and September 25 articles on Mental Floss.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

CBA holds seminar for persons interested in becoming judges

Early voting for the 2012 election does not begin until October 22 but, on September 27, 2012, it was the 2014 election that was on the minds of attendees at a Chicago Bar Association continuing legal education seminar, "Do You Want to Become a Circuit Court Judge?"

The distinguished panel that spoke at this event event is shown above. From left to right are Edward Austin, immediate past Chair of the CBA Judicial Evaluation Committee; Associate Judge Mathias W. Delort, a former election law attorney, who is about to take office as a Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court; attorney Daniel P. Madden, who serves as Cook County Clerk David Orr's designee on the Cook County Officers Electoral Board; Presiding Judge William D. Maddux of the Law Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County; and Associate Judge Thomas R. Mulroy, who also served as moderator of the program.

Judge Maddux spoke about the qualities a judge should have, starting with Socrates' recipe for a good judge: "Four things belong to a judge: to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly, and to decide impartially." Judge Maddux explained how these principles are enshrined in Illinois' Code of Judicial Conduct.

In his remarks, Judge Maddux suggested that, of all the qualities identified by Socrates, impartiality is the most important and difficult. The craft of judging, Maddux said, is not visible; the judge's craft lies in the ability to separate from his or her biases, prejudices and preconceptions.

Mr. Madden focused on the practical aspects of running for judge, the forms that must be completed, the deadlines that must be met, and the consequences of failing to do all that must be done properly. As Cook County Clerk David Orr's designee on the Cook County Officers Electoral Board, Madden sits in judgment when objections are raised to a candidate's nominating petitions.

Madden explained some of the general rules governing judicial candidates, how a circuit court candidate can file for only one countywide and one subcircuit vacancy; when a candidate must choose which race to run in; how, under Goodman v. Ward, a subcircuit candidate must be a resident of the of the subcircuit at the time he or she files for that office. Madden mentioned that a person may be elected, but if he or she had not been entirely forthcoming about being a resident of the subcircuit, he or she can be removed from office when the true facts of residence surface.

Madden went into detail about what must be contained in a candidate's nominating petitions and what must be filed with a candidate's nominating petitions (a notarized statement of candidacy, a receipt for the candidate's Statement of Economic Interest, and a loyalty oath -- although this last 'requirement' has been ruled invalid by Communist Party of Illinois v. Ogilvie, 357 F. Supp. 105 (N.D.Ill. 1972). And Madden pointed out that the actual Statement of Economic Interest is filed with the Secretary of State; it is only the receipt that is filed with the nominating papers. Filing the Statement with the election authority instead can be fatal to a person's candidacy. See, Kellogg v. Cook County Officers Electoral Board, 347 Ill.App.3d 666, 807 N.E.2d 1161 (1st Dist. 2004).

Judge Delort also spoke on the practical aspects of running for judicial office, but his focus was on the political aspects. Delort said, the last Republican elected to judicial office in Cook County in a contested countywide election was Reginald Holzer -- in 1966. (The last Republican elected judge countywide was Charles Travis in 1996, but he was unopposed after the Democratic candidate withdrew.)

Delort explained the organization of the Cook County Democratic Party, the system of ward and township committeepersons, the import of making one's 2014 aspirations known to the Cook County Democratic Party offices by mid-summer of 2013. He explained that the Party's Candidate Outreach & Recruitment Committee, chaired by Cook County Board President (and 4th Ward Committeeperson) Toni Preckwinkle, will thereafter schedule brief interviews of persons who make their interest known. The full Central Committee will meet in October, and approximately half of the ward and township committeemen will sit on the committee that screens judges. Candidates will be invited to address this committee for brief presentations. Persons not already known to a significant number of committeepersons will most likely not be slated.

Judge Delort also addressed the special ethical considerations that apply to judicial candidates: Though not judges, judicial candidates are bound by the Canons of Judicial Ethics. That precludes the candidate's direct involvement in fundraising -- counter-intuitive things, like not signing thank you notes to donors, for example. Judge Delort used his own recent successful primary campaign as an example, describing how his campaign established a system so that donations could be vetted to prevent any appearance of impropriety.

Edward Austin spoke about the CBA judicial evaluation process. The CBA's forms are available online (click here), Austin noted. The judicial evaluation process is a searching inquiry into the totality of a candidate's career. The forms are lengthy and detailed and, when they are completed, a committee of nearly 200 volunteers, roughly divided in half between investigators and hearing panel members, goes to work.

The investigators go first, contacting references listed. The CBA form (and the Alliance forms for that matter) require a candidate to disclose adversaries in recent matters. Most people (presumably) are civil toward their friends and neighbors, but how do they treat those who are adverse? The committee expects that there will be disgruntled persons in anyone's past, but by contacting as many people as possible -- and following up with disclosed contacts by asking these for additional people who might have information about the candidate -- the investigators can develop as accurate an assessment of the candidate's reputation as possible.

The investigators' findings are presented to a hearing panel; this is where the candidate is invited in. Austin stressed that this is not intended as an adversarial or confrontational process. In fact, Austin said, the CBA does not want candidates to be 'surprised' by anything that is disclosed at a hearing. If the investigation has disclosed some particular area that the panel will want the candidate to address (a particular case, for example, or some financial issue) the panel chair will typically contact the candidate in advance to give the candidate a 'heads up.' The hearing panel will typically consist of between 12 to 18 members of the Judicial Evaluation Committee. All participants agree to keep matters disclosed at the hearing confidential. The panel makes a recommendation about the candidate after the hearing and the CBA rating will issue soon thereafter. The candidate is always the first to find out about the rating, Austin said.

Judge Mulroy wrapped up the program with a presentation about becoming an associate judge. The associate judge selection process is an election, too, he said, but the electors are the full circuit judges. Seeking an associate judgeship can be a good fallback plan for a person who unsuccessfully runs for judicial office. There are 146 associate judges in Cook County, Mulroy noted, and, while this was not always the case in the past, associate judges now can look forward to possible posting to the most challenging and demanding assignments.

Get to know the judges, Mulroy said. Become acquainted with your own and other committeepersons. Be active in your community. Know your subcircuit. Keep track of vacancies. Prepare for slating. Prepare for the evaluation process. If a person is interested in running for judge, form a committee to help raise money.

Mulroy acknowledged that politicians sometimes attempt to assert influence in the associate judge selection process. But, he said, the judges who vote are more interested in what a candidate's skills and abilities are. The committeeman who can help an associate judge candidate is one who can address those concerns.

One suggestion made, to varying extents, by each of the speakers was this: Seek out good counsel, knowledgeable in the arcane art and science of election law. (I am not an election lawyer.) When the leaves start to fall again next autumn, and the next round of candidates begin to circulate petitions, it will be far too late to start thinking about a run in 2014. As Judge Mulroy said, persons interested in a career on the bench should "begin preparing for this career change now."