Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Kachmarik in, Fiaoni out of their respective judicial races

The objections to Kelly Maloney Kachmarik's nominating petitions were withdrawn yesterday, meaning Kachmarik's name has been cleared to appear on the March primary ballot in the race for the countywide Veal vacancy. The other two candidates for that vacancy are Judge Andrea Michele Buford and James Patrick Crawley.

Meanwhile, in the far south suburban 15th Subcircuit, the winner of the Democratic primary for the Doody vacancy no longer needs to be concerned about Republican opposition in November 2014: The only declared Republican candidate for that vacancy, Karla Marie Fiaoni, formally withdrew her candidacy late yesterday, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Three candidates remain in the Democratic primary in this race, Judge Diana Embil, John S. Fotopoulos, and Patrick Kevin Coughlin.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Thomas M. Cushing interviewed on NTNM



Ninth Subcircuit judicial candidate Thomas M. Cushing (Preston vacancy) was a guest at a recent taping of Avy Meyers' North Town News Magazine and his interview has now been posted online.

Cushing's interview will air between January 9 and 13 on CAN-TV in Chicago and on various cable systems in the suburbs. Check your local listings for air times. Meanwhile, with the permission of NTNM host and moderator Avy Meyers and his entire technical crew Sonny Hersh, you can watch the interview here.

January 10 fundraiser for Judge Sharon Oden Johnson


Supporters of Judge Sharon Oden Johnson's bid for the Illinois Appellate Court are holding a fundraiser for their candidate on Friday, January 10 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Chicago South Loop Hotel, 11 W. 26th Street.

Tickets for the event are $25 apiece, but sponsorships are available ($100 - Friend, $250 - Patron, $500 - Sponsor, $2,000 - Host). To get more information about the event, or to order tickets, email info@johnson4justice.com or call (312) 508-2164. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Anjana Hansen fundraiser set for January 6

Supporters of 9th Subcircuit judicial candidate Anjana Hansen (Meyer vacancy) are planning a fundraiser for their candidate on Monday, January 6, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. at the offices of Shefsky & Froelich (soon to be the Chicago outpost of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP), 111 E. Wacker Drive, Suite 2800.

Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and former Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine are the official hosts for the event. Tickets are priced at $75 each, but sponsorships are available ($100 - Supporter, $150 - Sponsor, $200 - Host). For more information about the event, or to order tickets, email hansenforjudge2014@gmail.com.

Kristal Rivers fundraiser set for January 14


Supporters of countywide judicial candidate Kristal Rivers (Connors vacancy) have scheduled a fundraiser for their candidate on Tuesday, January 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Gino's East South Loop location, 521 S. Dearborn Street.

Tickets for the event are $75 apiece, but sponsorships are available (for $150 or $500). For more information, or to order tickets, email HP@Rivers4Judge.org or see this page on the candidate's campaign website.

Judge James L. Kaplan interviewed on NTNM



Judge James L. Kaplan, candidate for the Jordan vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit, was a guest at a recent taping of Avy Meyers' North Town News Magazine and his interview has now been posted online.

Judge Kaplan's interview will air between January 9 and 13 on CAN-TV in Chicago and on various cable systems in the suburbs. Check your local listings for air times. Meanwhile, with the permission of NTNM host and moderator Avy Meyers and his entire technical crew Sonny Hersh, you can watch the interview here.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Programming Note: There have been several judicial candidates interviewed on NTNM recently, and these interviews will begin airing soon. I will be posting all of these in the near future.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Another Cook County judicial vacancy becomes unopposed

According to the Illinois State Board of Elections website, Assistant State's Attorney Sarah W. Cunningham has withdrawn from the race for the countywide Egan vacancy, leaving Judge Daniel J. Kubasiak (the judge appointed to this vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court and subsequently slated by the Cook County Democratic Party) as the sole candidate for this vacancy.

Four candidates filed for this vacancy originally. Joanne F. Rosado filed for the Egan vacancy and the "A" vacancy in the 11th Subcircuit, withdrawing from this race and choosing to pursue the race in the 11th Subcircuit. Richard J. Ryan also filed and withdrew from this race.

Assured now of the Democratic nomination, Judge Kubasiak (like all countywide judicial candidates) faces no Republican opposition in November 2014.

Also withdrawing from their judicial races recently are Pat Flanagan, who had filed for the Doody vacancy in the 15th Subcircuit, and Richard George Karwaczka, who had filed as a Republican for the Iosco vacancy in the 13th Subcircuit.

Two Republicans remain in the race for Iosco vacancy, John Curry and Gary W. Seyring. A Democrat has filed in this race as well, Caroline Kennedy-Elkins, but her right to run as a Democrat is being challenged before the Cook County Board of Elections on the grounds that she allegedly signed a petition for Karwaczka. This may seem harmless enough, and possibly may even appear to be a civil and neighborly thing to do, but the objector's allegation is that a person wishing to run as the candidate of a particular party is no longer a "qualified primary elector" of that party under §7-10 of the Illinois Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/7-10, if he or she signs a nominating petition for a candidate running in the other party's primary.

Section 7-10 provides, "A 'qualified primary elector' of a party may not sign petitions for or be a candidate in the primary of more than one party."

I do not presume to predict an outcome in this case or even whether the Cook County Electoral Board will even reach the merits of this objection. I can report, however, that the issue is being briefed and there is high-powered legal talent on both sides in this case, Adam W. Lasker for the objector and Thomas A. Jaconetty for the candidate.

Flanagan's withdrawal from the race for the Doody vacancy in the 15th Subcircuit leaves three candidates remaining in the race for the Democratic nomination, Judge Diana Embil, Patrick Kevin Coughlin, and John S. Fotopoulos. A Republican candidate, Karla Marie Fiaoni, also filed for this vacancy, but an objection was filed to her candidacy. At the initial status hearing before the Electoral Board on December 17, Fiaoni's attorney Adam W. Lasker advised that Fiaoni planned to withdraw from the race. This has not yet happened, however.

Friday, December 20, 2013

John S. Fotopoulos campaign website goes online

John S. Fotopoulos
A campaign website has now been established for John S. Fotopoulos, candidate for the 15th Subcircuit Doody vacancy on the Cook County Circuit Court Judge. That's a link to the candidate's website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Fotopoulos' website touts his Orland Park-based law practice in which he handles "plaintiff's personal injury, workers compensation claims, and criminal defense" matters. Fotopoulos also represented Judge Jim Ryan in the Appellate Court in Ryan's suit against Channel 32, the local Fox affiliate. The case, Ryan v. Fox TV Stations, Inc., 2012 IL App (1st) 120005, is noteworthy because it is one of the first cases to interpret the Illinois Citizen Participation Act (our anti-SLAPP statute), 735 ILCS 110/1, et seq.

Licensed in Illinois since 2000, Fotopoulos worked for Continental Bank as a regulatory analyst and then with Stone Container Corporation as a financial analyst before and during law school, according to his campaign website.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Two judicial candidates withdraw

Late yesterday afternoon H. Yvonne Coleman folded her bid for the countywide Neville vacancy, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Coleman had been one of five candidates in that race; all of them but William B. Raines face petition challenges.

The ISBE also reports that Michael O'Malley, who had filed for the "A" vacancy in the 10th Subcircuit, withdrew his candidacy yesterday as well. O'Malley also faced a petition challenge in that race, which is now a head-to-head race between Judge Anthony C. Kyriakopoulos and Katherine A. O'Dell. (Linda J. Pauel withdrew from this race on December 9.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Judge Thomas J. Carroll files for the Lowrance vacancy

The special judicial filing period opened today (it runs through December 23) and petitions are now being accepted for one additional Cook County vacancy, the vacancy of the Hon. Michele Lowrance.

Judge Thomas J. Carroll filed his petitions for the Lowrance vacancy when the Illinois State Board of Elections opened for business this morning. Carroll's campaign sent FWIW this picture of the stack of petitions to be filed, said stack containing, according to Carroll's campaign, 14,991 voter signatures.

Judge Carroll was appointed to the countywide Felton vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court but was not endorsed for any vacancy when the Cook County Democratic Central Committee met this summer. Carroll was, however, named the first alternate selection, effectively 'pre-endorsed' for the first countywide vacancy that might open up after the slating meeting.

The Lowrance vacancy recently met that description.

Richard J. Ryan withdraws from race for Egan vacancy

Late Friday afternoon Richard J. Ryan filed papers with the Illinois State Board of Elections withdrawing from the race for the Egan vacancy on the Cook County Circuit Court.

Following the withdrawal of Joanne F. Rosado from this race (she's running for the 11th Subcircuit "A" vacancy instead), the race to fill the Egan vacancy shapes up as a head-to-head contest between Judge Daniel J. Kubasiak (the judge appointed to this vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court and subsequently slated by the Cook County Democratic Party) and Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Cunningham.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Just a little bit about the pending challenges to judicial petitions

Status hearings on the 42 challenges filed against candidates for the Cook County Circuit Court and the First District Appellate Court begin Tuesday afternoon.

Perhaps after those initial hearings we may have a better idea how many of these challenges are substantial and how many are, well, less so.

I had hoped to independently analyze the various complaints and perhaps develop my own sense of which complaints might pose the greatest threats to budding judicial campaigns. This year, as in the past, Cook County Clerk David Orr has posted copies of all of the Complaints filed against judicial candidates (and others), accessible via the Electoral Board page of his website. Objections had to be filed by last Monday, and by Tuesday evening, the Complaints were already being linked on the County Clerk's website. Courtney Greve of Mr. Orr's office was kind enough to let me know which ones got posted first so I could start looking right away.

But there was, and is, a small problem: Only the Complaints themselves are posted. Most are fairly... generic. Even the ones that seem to be more fact-specific refer to appendices submitted with the Complaints, but which are not included in the portion of the documents posted. One reason for not including these are pretty obvious: The names and addresses of individual petition signers (or alleged petition signers) do not have to be spread across the Ether. If privacy considerations were ignored, there would still be storage (file size) issues.

Unfortunately, just as the devil is in the details, the merits (or lack of merit) of any individual challenge may be revealed only by consideration of the specific lists (lists of signers not registered, lists of signers residing out of district, etc.) -- and then, perhaps, only after comparison of the challenged sheets with the official county registration records.

We'll start finding out how things stand next week.

Fundraiser for Justice Harris January 14 at the Standard Club

Supporters of Justice Shelly A. Harris are planning a Tuesday, January 14 fundraiser for their candidate, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Standard Club, 320 S. Plymouth Court.

The suggested donation for the event is $125 per person. For more information about the event, or to order tickets, call Julie Moratto at (312) 640-0500 or email rsvp@harrisforjustice.com.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gary Seyring campaign website up and running

A campaign website is up and running for Schaumburg attorney and 13th Subcircuit Republican judicial candidate Gary W. Seyring. That's a link to Seyring's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar. (Seyring also has a Facebook campaign page; the image accompanying this post was obtained there.)

Seyring has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1978. Seyring's campaign website notes that he is a CPA as well as an attorney. According to the website, Seyring has had a varied practice, handling contract, estate and personal injury litigation matters as well as representing clients in residential real estate, estate planning, and business formation matters. He has served as an arbitrator in the Cook County court-annexed mandatory arbitration program and as a construction arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.

Seyring has been involved in the local Jaycees and YMCA, as well as the Schaumburg Athletic Association. His interest in youth soccer has led him to serve on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Youth Soccer Association.

Ballot lottery in Cook County judicial races -- winners and losers?

The Illinois State Board of Elections has conducted its lottery for the top (and, in some cases, the bottom) ballot positions for the March 2014 primary.

The lottery for the top ballot position is held because all the persons who shivered in the cold before the doors opened at the ISBE on the first day of filing are deemed to have filed at the same time: 8:00 a.m. on November 25. Were it otherwise, the line might start forming days ahead of time, as lines do for the release of certain kinds of cellphones or gaming systems.

The stakes in the ballot lottery may seem small in comparison to Friday's $400 million Mega Millions Lottery, but you might get an argument this morning from the judicial candidates who won the coveted top ballot position or the almost-as-coveted bottom ballot position.

According to experts who study these things, the top ballot position confers a decided advantage on the candidate so favored, particularly in crowded races farther down the ballot, like races for judicial vacancies, which traditionally do not draw much interest from the media. There is an advantage to being last in a crowded field as well, albeit not quite as great as winning the top ballot position.

Justice Shelly A. Harris won the lottery for first position in the race for the Gordon vacancy on the Appellate Court. He'll be listed ahead of Judges Susan Kennedy Sullivan and Freddrenna M. Lyle. Nichole C. Patton holds the bottom position in this race.

Brendan A. O'Brien will be first in the field of three vying for the countywide Connors vacancy on the Cook County Circuit Court. Slated candidate Kristal Rivers is sandwiched between O'Brien and Judge Peter J. Vilkelis.

Carolyn Joan Gallagher drew the top spot in the race for the Neville vacancy. Slated candidate William B. Raines is listed second, ahead of Patricia Spratt, Mary Alice Melchor, and H. Yvonne Coleman. Melchor and Coleman filed toward the close of business on December 2, the last day for filing, and a separate drawing was held to determine that Coleman would have the bottom line. But this lineup could change: With the exception of Raines, every candidate in this race faces a challenge to their nominating petitions.

Stephen J. Feldman won the top spot over slated candidate Diana Rosario in the lottery for the Reyes vacancy. Gregory R. La Papa and Maureen O'Donoghue Hannon have also filed in this race (Feldman and La Papa face petition challenges).

Judge Andrea Michele Buford, the slated candidate, won the top ballot spot in the lottery for the Veal vacancy. James Patrick Crawley will be second on the ballot and Kelly Maloney Kachmarik third (Kachmarik also faces a petition challenge).

In the crowded race for the Billik vacancy in the 4th Subcircuit, all five candidates were in the lottery. Brian Joseph Stephenson came out on top, followed by John J. Mahoney, James J. Ryan, Judge Daniel Lawrence Peters, and Maureen Masterson Pulia.

Judge Michael Francis Otto fared better in the lottery for the top spot for the Preston vacancy in the 9th Subcircuit, finishing ahead of Abbey Fishman Romanek and Michael Alan Strom. The other two candidates in this race, Brian Alexander and Thomas M. Cushing, were in a lottery for the last ballot position. Cushing got the bottom line.

Gina A. Crumble got the top spot in the drawing for the 11th Subcircuit "A" vacancy. All four candidates were in the lottery field. Finishing behind Crumble were, in order, Joanne F. Rosado, Scott Michael Kozicki, and Judge Pamela McLean Meyerson. (Crumble and Meyerson face petition challenges.)

Four of the five Democrats filing for the Jordan vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit were in the lottery for the top ballot position. Samuel Bae came out on top, followed by Ralph Eugene Meczyk, James Edward Hanlon, Jr., and Judge James L. Kaplan. Judge Allan W. Masters filed on December 2 for this vacancy, taking the bottom ballot position by default. (Bae, Kaplan and Masters face petition challenges.)

In the three candidate Republican field for the Iosco vacancy in the 13th Subcircuit (there is a two-person contest in the 12th Subcircuit) John Curry came out on top, followed by Richard George Karwaczka and Gary W. Seyring. (Karwaczka faces a petition challenge.)

In the four candidate race for the Doody vacancy in the 15th Subcircuit, Patrick Kevin Coughlin won the lottery for the top ballot position. Pat Flanagan finished second and John S. Fotopoulous third. Judge Diana Embil filed late on December 2 in order to get the bottom line on the ballot in this race. (Flanagan and Embil face petition challenges.)

In the five-way contest for the 15th Subcircuit Sterba vacancy, Michael B. Barrett won the lottery for the top ballot position over (in order) Sondra Denmark and Judge Chris Lawler. Mary Beth Duffy (who faces a petition challenge) and Robbin Perkins battled it out for the last spot; this went to Perkins.

Maritza Martinez fundraiser set for January 15

Maritza Martinez is unopposed in her bid for the countywide Burke vacancy on the Cook County Circuit Court, so it's not likely that she will be running up that many large campaign expenses in the foreseeable future.

But her campaign incurred significant expenses getting to this point and her supporters are planning a January 15 fundraiser at Ed Debevic's, 640 N. Wells St., from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., to help defray those expenses.

Tickets for the event are $150 each. Sponsorships are available (Patron - $300, Supporter - $500, Sponsor - $1,000). Appetizers will be served; there will be a cash bar. For more information about the event, or to order tickets, contact the Law Office of Victor J. Cacciatore, 527 South Wells Street, Suite 800.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Embil, Flanagan face objections in 15th Subcircuit race

Four Democrats have filed for the Doody vacancy in the 15th Subcircuit, Patrick Kevin Coughlin, John S. Fotopolous, Pat Flanagan and Judge Diana Embil. Flanagan and Embil face objections to their nominating petitions; the other two do not. (An objection has also been filed to the nominating papers of Karla Marie Fiaoni, the only Republican to file file for this vacancy.)

Only Mary Beth Duffy's nominating papers face a challenge in the race for the Sterba vacancy in the 15th Subcircuit. The other four candidates in that race are Michael B. Barrett, Sondra Denmark, Judge Chris Lawler, and Robbin Perkins.

In the 10th Subcircuit, newcomer Michael O'Malley faces an objection to his nominating papers to run for the "A" vacancy. After Linda Pauel's withdrawal yesterday, the other two candidates in that race are Judge Anthony C. Kyriakopoulos and Katherine A. O'Dell.

Richard George Karwaczka, one of the three Republicans who filed for the Iosco vacancy in the 13th Subcircuit also faces a challenge to his nominating petitions. The other two candidates filing in that race are Gary W. Seyring and John Curry. (The sole Democrat to file for the Iosco vacancy, Caroline M. Kennedy-Elkins, also faces a challenge to her nominating petitions.)

There are no challenges in the 3rd Subcircuit

Lauren Brougham Glennon faces Terrence J. McGuire in the race for the Donnelly vacancy in the 3rd Subcircuit. Neither candidate faces an objection to their nominating petitions.

In the 9th Subcircuit, where there are three races, there is but one objection left pending after Carolyn Joan Gallagher withdrew her bid for the Meyer vacancy there.

Newly appointed Judge Jerry A. Esrig's nominating papers have been challenged in his bid to hold onto the Goldberg vacancy. The other two candidates in that race are Nathan Benjamin Myers and Megan Elizabeth Goldish.

The three remaining candidates for the 9th Subcircuit Meyer vacancy, Anjana Hansen, Thomas Peter Kougias, and Monica A. Forte, do not face any objections. Neither do any of the five candidates for the 9th Subcircuit Preston vacancy. The five candidates there are Abbey Fishman Romanek, Judge Michael Francis Otto, Michael Alan Strom, Brian Alexander, and Thomas M. Cushing.

Only one of the five candidates for the Billik vacancy in the 4th Subcircuit, James J. Ryan, faces an objection to his nominating papers. The other four candidates in that race are Maureen Masterson Pulia, Judge Daniel Lawrence Peters, John J. Mahoney, and Brian Joseph Stephenson.

Only one of the candidates has been challenged in the race for the 4th Subcircuit Mulhern race as well. On the other hand, there are only two candidates in that race, Martin D. Reggi (to whose papers an objection has been raised) and John Michael Allegretti.

Robert D. Kuzas faces no objection in his bid to get on the ballot in the Democratic primary for the 7th Subcircuit Hardy-Campbell vacancy, but his sole challenger, Mable Taylor, does.

Advertisement: CBS Radio advertising is more than just ads on the radio


CBS Radio is looking for judicial candidates to advertise on its six Chicago-area radio stations this campaign season, but on-air ads are only the beginning of what CBS Radio has to offer your judicial campaign.

There was a time when radio was something one heard on the alarm clock, or in the car, but voters also listen to radio these days on their computers and smart phones. CBS Radio can provide on-air ads, but also ads that air during on-line streaming, banner ads on station websites, and even emails that can be narrowly targeted to probable primary voters and likely campaign donors, countywide or in your subcircuit. CBS “Radio” can even point persons searching for information about judicial candidates directly to your campaign websites.

If you’d like to learn more about how CBS Radio can help your campaign, see the Candidate Marketing page on the CBS Local website or call Ron Murphy at (312) 297-7722. (You can also email Ron at ron.murphy@cbsradio.com.)

In some races, an objection has been filed against everyone

There are two candidates for the O'Neal vacancy in the 2nd Subcircuit, Nyshana K. Sumner and Steven G. Watkins. But objections have been filed to the nominating papers they both filed.

This is also the case in the race for the Taylor vacancy in the 7th Subcircuit, where all three candidates, Owens J. Shelby, Judy Rice, and Marianne Jackson, have all drawn objections to their nominating papers.

Three of the five Democrats who filed for the Jordan vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit, and one of the two Republicans, also drew objections. On the Republican side, James Paul Pieczonka's papers were not challenged, but James I. Marcus faces a challenge. On the Democratic side, Samuel Bae, Judge James L. Kaplan, and Judge Allan W. Masters have each had objections filed to their nominating papers. James Edward Hanlon, Jr. and Ralph Eugene Meczyk are the other two candidates in the Democratic primary for that vacancy.

Two of the four candidates, all Democrats, in the 11th Subcircuit, are also facing objections to their nominating papers this morning, Gina A. Crumble and Judge Pamela McLean Meyerson. The other two candidates in that race are Scott Michael Kozicki and Joanne F. Rosado.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Objections in countywide races

An objection was filed to the nominating petitions of Linda L. Mastandrea, the only person to file against Judge Cynthia Y. Cobbs in the race for the McDonald vacancy.

Five candidates filed for the Neville vacancy; only the slated candidate, William B. Raines, is not facing an objection this evening. Four separate objections, in fact, were filed to the nominating petitions of H. Yvonne Coleman in this race. Two objections were filed today to the petitions filed by Mary Alice Melchior and Patricia S. Spratt. Only one objection was filed to the petitions submitted by Carolyn Joan Gallagher in this race.

Diana Rosario, the slated candidate, and Maureen O'Donoghue Hannon do not face any objections in their bid for the Reyes vacancy, but Gregory R. LaPapa drew two separate objections. An objection was also filed to the papers submitted by Stephen J. Feldman.

Kelly Maloney Kachmarik faces an objection in her bid for the Veal vacancy. The other two candidates in that race, Judge Andrea Michele Buford and James Patrick Crawley, do not face challenges.

No other countywide judicial candidates are facing challenges.

Two First District Appellate Court hopefuls draw objections to their nominating petitions

Objections have been filed to the nominating petitions of Nichole C. Patton, who filed for the Gordon vacancy on the First District of the Illinois Appellate Court and to the petitions filed by Judge Sharon Oden Johnson, a candidate for the Steele vacancy.

There are three other candidates for the Gordon vacancy, Judge Freddrenna M. Lyle, Appellate Court Justice Shelly A. Harris, and Judge Susan Kennedy Sullivan.

Appellate Justice John B. Simon is the only other candidate for the Steele vacancy.

Many judicial candidates facing objections to nominating petitions

New objections are still being posted on the Illinois State Board of Elections website at this hour. Today was the deadline for filing objections to candidates' nominating petitions.

This seems to be a banner year for objections.

Even two otherwise unopposed candidates have drawn objections this year: No one filed to run against Karla Marie Fiaoni for the Republican nomination for the Doody vacancy in the 15th Subcircuit but, late this afternoon, two separate objections were filed to her nominating petitions. At the other end of the county, no one filed to run against Caroline M. Kennedy-Elkins in the Democratic Primary for the Iosco vacancy in the 13th Subcircuit -- but an objection was also filed this afternoon to her candidacy.

A few words about objections: Although candidates are sometimes knocked off the ballot because of challenges, many objections fail. The mere filing of an objection does not automatically mean that the candidate has failed to procure enough valid signatures or meet any of the other many requirements to obtain a spot on the ballot.

Carolyn Gallagher withdraws from 9th Subcircuit race

Carolyn Joan Gallagher, who had filed for both the countywide Neville and the 9th Subcircuit Meyer vacancies, withdrew from the 9th Subcircuit race late this afternoon, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Today was the deadline for Gallagher to choose the race she would pursue.

Challenges had been filed to Gallagher's petitions in both races.

Linda J. Pauel withdraws from 10th Subcircuit race

Linda J. Pauel has today folded her campaign for the "A" vacancy in the 10th Judicial Subcircuit, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections website.

Pauel had been in a four-person race for that vacancy but, despite significant support, was not slated by the Democratic Committeemen in the 10th Subcircuit at their slating meeting last Friday. (Pauel was the committee's alternate selection, according to 40th Ward Ald. and Committeeman Pat O'Connor, meaning that if a second vacancy were to open up, Pauel would have the committeemen's endorsement for that second race. However, the cutoff for vacancies to be included in the special judicial filing period -- which will run from December 16-23 -- was December 2.)

Judge Anthony C. Kyriakopoulos is the Democratic Party's endorsed candidate in that race. Katherine A. O'Dell and Michael O'Malley have also filed in the Democratic primary for this vacancy. There is no Republican candidate.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Judge Tom Carroll to receive award from South Suburban Bar Association

Judge Thomas J. Carroll will receive the Distinguished Jurist of the Year Award from the South Suburban Bar Association on December 13, the Carroll campaign has announced.

Carroll was recently slated by the Cook County Democratic Party for the newly opened countywide Lowrance vacancy. The campaign is in the process of collecting signatures for the special judicial filing period that opens December 16. A campaign website is still in development, according to the Carroll campaign. When a site is set up, FWIW will add the link.

Judging WGN's final installment of Judging the Judges


On Thursday night’s final installment of WGN’s Judging the Judges series, Mark Suppelsa charged that the Illinois Supreme Court is itself violating the law regarding judicial appointments.

As a non-specialist in matters legislative and judicial, I tend to rely on a booklet written by David Miller entitled 1970 Illinois Constitution - Annotated for Legislators (4th Ed. 2005), for guidance and direction in understanding the judicial article and the authorities interpreting same.

Section 12 of Article 6 was the constitutional provision that I thought implicated by Mr. Suppelsa’s report last Thursday evening. The pertinent language of §12(c) provides:
A vacancy occurring in the office of Supreme, Appellate or Circuit Judge shall be filled as the General Assembly may provide by law. In the absence of a law, vacancies may be filled by appointment by the Supreme Court.

Miller writes (emphasis mine), "Subsection 12(c) provides that vacancies occurring during the terms of judges are to be filled as provided by law (at present there is none); or if not, by appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court."

Suppelsa did not cite any specific law that he thought the Supreme Court was violating, but the Medill Watchdog summary of Thursday’s report cites to §2(d) of the Judicial Vacancies Act, 705 ILCS 40/2(d).

First added to §2 of the Judicial Vacancies Act by P.A. 90-342 in 1997, §2(d) initially provided, in relevant part, “A person appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of circuit judge shall be, at the time of appointment, a resident of the subcircuit from which the person whose vacancy is being filled was elected if the vacancy occurred in Cook County.”

Later, in 2003, when the Legislature carved other judicial circuits into subcircuits, P.A. 93-541 substituted “a circuit divided into subcircuits” for Cook County.

Granted, §2(d) is not a law providing a separate method for filling vacancies other than Supreme Court appointment. This may explain Miller's commentary. But §2(d) surely purports to impose a limitation on the Court regarding the filling of judicial vacancies. So why would the Supreme Court not see §2(d) as imposing a limitation (by residence) on the filling of subcircuit vacancies by appointment?

It has occurred to me that the Court might see §2(d) as an impermissible restriction on the Supreme Court’s appointment power. I know the Court has zealously guarded its prerogatives in the past. See, for example, People v. Jackson, 69 Ill.2d 252, 256, 371 N.E.2d 602 (1977): "Although the Constitution of 1970 does not define judicial power, it is an exclusive grant of all such power to the courts. [Citations.] If the power is judicial in character, the legislature is expressly prohibited from exercising it" (invalidating a provision of Code of Criminal Procedure that conflicted with a Supreme Court Rule). Arguably, if the Court has the power to fill judicial vacancies under the Constitution, the Legislature is not privileged to impose conditions or restrictions on that power.

I don't pretend or presume to know if this is the thinking of the Supreme Court, but as with the law requiring subcircuit judges to live forever in the subcircuits from which they were elected, the mere fact that the Legislature passes a law does not necessarily mean that the law passes constitutional muster.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Dems slate Kyriakopoulos in 10th Subcircuit

Judge Anthony C. Kyriakopoulos
Judge Anthony C. "Tony" Kyriakopoulos has been slated by the 10th Subcircuit Democratic Committeemen as their candidate for the "A" vacancy there, 40th Ward Ald. and Committeeman Pat O'Connor confirmed to FWIW today.

The slating committee met yesterday morning at Smakosz Restaurant on Lawrence Avenue. I was permitted to attend the candidate presentations -- and required to skedaddle when the committeemen began their deliberations.

In addition to Kyriakopoulos, Linda J. Pauel and Katherine A. O'Dell made presentations to the committeemen as well.

In his presentation, Kyriakopoulos stressed that he has accumulated nearly four years of judicial experience already, having first been appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court in early 2010. (Kyriakopoulos filed for the 2012 primary, but withdrew in deference to former 38th Ward Ald. Thomas R. Allen, who was appointed by the Supreme Court to a countywide vacancy in late 2010 but who sought, and received, slating in the 10th Subcircuit instead. The Supreme Court subsequently appointed Kyriakopoulos to a different 10th Subcircuit vacancy.

The presentations Friday were substantively different from those made by judicial hopefuls at the countywide slating session this past August.

On Friday, the candidates talked more about their legal backgrounds and experience than about their political credentials. The committeemen asked more questions about jury trials and bar ratings than about the candidates' work on prior campaigns. Each of the candidates in attendance had strong presentations to make and substantive answers for questions posed.

There is a fourth candidate who filed for the "A" vacancy, but this candidate, Michael O'Malley, did not appear for the slating session. Forty-fifth Ward Ald. and Committeeman John Arena, who served as Chair of the 10th Subcircuit Slating Committee, stated that efforts were made to invite O'Malley to appear.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

WGN / Medill Watchdog investigating where judges live: What are the applicable residency requirements?

I'm providing links to Part Two of WGN's "Judging the Judges" series, "It Matters Where Judges Live," and Part Three of that series, "Knock, knock, your honor, are you illegally living here?"

I'm also providing links to the corresponding posts on the Medill Watchdog site ("Moving out: Subcircuit judges relocate, foiling geographic diversity" and "Questions of residence: Records raise questions about residences of some subcircuit judges").

Mr. Suppelsa and his fellow investigators are raising questions about whether certain judges are complying with the law.

Let's look a little more closely at the applicable laws.

Article 6, Section 11 of the 1970 Illinois Constitution states:
No person shall be eligible to be a Judge or Associate Judge unless he is a United States citizen, a licensed attorney-at-law of this State, and a resident of the unit which selects him. No change in the boundaries of a unit shall affect the tenure in office of a Judge or Associate Judge incumbent at the time of such change.
Article 6, Section 12 states, in pertinent part (from §12(a)):
A person eligible for the office of Judge may cause his name to appear on the ballot as a candidate for Judge at the primary and at the general or judicial elections by submitting petitions. The General Assembly shall prescribe by law the requirements for petitions.
In Goodman v. Ward, 241 Ill.2d 398, 412, 948 N.E.2d 580 (2011)the Illinois Supreme Court explained that a person wishing to run for judge must first be "eligible" for that office before that person can get his or her name on the ballot. The Goodman court went on to state (Id. at 412-13):
Giving sections 11 and 12 their plain and ordinary meaning, it is therefore clear that under our Constitution, candidates for the office of circuit, appellate or supreme court judge must be residents of the unit from which they seek election before they may cause their names to appear on the ballot for the primary election. See Maddux v. Blagojevich, 233 Ill. 2d 508, 514 n.3, 911 N.E.2d 979, 331 Ill. Dec. 749 (2009). If they are not residents, they are simply ineligible to run. If they attempt to run when they do not meet the constitutionally mandated residency requirement and manage to win the election, they will be subject to removal from office by the Illinois Courts Commission. In re Golniewicz, 4 Ill. Cts. Com. 9, 39-40 (2004).
So, there's no argument, really, that one must be a resident of a subcircuit in order to run for judge from that subcircuit.

Who is a resident? How is a candidate's residency determined?

Well, the Illinois Supreme Court recently had occasion to address that issue in Maksym v. Board of Election Commissioners of the City of Chicago, 242 Ill.2d 303, 950 N.E.2d 1051 (2011). This is the decision that permitted Rahm Emmanuel to run for Mayor of the City of Chicago.

In Maksym, the Supreme Court stated (242 Ill.2d at 326), "[I]n assessing whether the candidate has established residency, the two required elements are: (1) physical presence, and (2) an intent to remain in that place as a permanent home. Once residency is established, the test is no longer physical presence but rather abandonment, the presumption is that residency continues, and the burden of proof is on the contesting party to show that residency has been abandoned. Both the establishment and abandonment of a residence is largely a question of intent, and while intent is shown primarily from a candidate's acts, a candidate is absolutely competent to testify as to his intention, though such testimony is not necessarily conclusive."

Both the establishment of a new residence and the abandonment of a prior residence may be of some import to the Judicial Inquiry Board and, ultimately, to the Illinois Courts Commission should there be any official investigation of the charges leveled by WGN against certain of the judges it has named. (Presumably, one could not establish a new residence -- say, within the boundaries of a particular subcircuit -- without also abandoning the prior residence.)

It seems clear that -- if the allegations of the WGN and Medill Watchdog investigators are well-founded -- some of the judges named may have some potentially serious problems.

But WGN and Medill Watchdog did not stop at naming judges who may have misrepresented their true residence when seeking judicial office. They also name several judges who moved from the subcircuits from which they were elected.

Some moved before they were retained in office (i.e., during their initial six year term); others moved after.

That distinction may be very important.

Mr. Suppelsa did mention that the Illinois Attorney General issued an opinion in 2006 (No. 06-005) stating that subcircuit judges could move from the subcircuit after being retained in office. That's because judges are not retained in office by only the voters in their subcircuit; instead, they must face a countywide yes or no vote. The Legislature did not intend that subcircuit judges would be permitted to move after their first retention election, but the Attorney General concluded that, after facing all of Cook County's voters in a retention election, the "unit" electing the judge was different than it was originally and the newly retained judge would be free to relocate anywhere within that new, larger unit (in our case, anywhere within Cook County).

I can state with some certainty what the Legislature intended because I know that what is now numbered as §2f(e) of the Circuit Courts Act, 705 ILCS 35/2f(e), originally enacted 20+ years ago, when the Cook County subcircuits were first set up, provides expressly, "A resident judge elected from a subcircuit shall continue to reside in that subcircuit as long as he or she holds that office." Indeed, after the Attorney General issued Op. No. 05-006, the Legislature added another sentence to §2f(e): "A resident judge elected from a subcircuit after January 1, 2008, must retain residency as a registered voter in the subcircuit to run for retention from the circuit at large thereafter."

But just because the Legislature passes a law does not mean that the law passes constitutional muster. There is a potential problem with whether §2f(e) is constitutional.

The problem is that, in Thies v. State Board of Elections, 124 Ill.2d 317, 529 N.E.2d 565 (1988), the Illinois Supreme Court stated that the Legislature is without power to impose requirements for judicial office greater than those imposed by the Illinois Constitution. In that case, the Legislature had created a judgeship for Champaign County, insisting that anyone running for that position be a resident of Champaign County, but requiring also that the judge would be elected by all the voters in the Sixth Circuit -- which included counties other than Champaign. In other words, a duly licensed attorney residing in the unit from which the judge was to be elected was ineligible under the statute unless he or she lived in Champaign County. This, the Supreme Court said, the Legislature could not do.

In her 2005 opinion, the Attorney General determined that the reasoning of the Thies court would likely apply in the case of a judge moving from a subcircuit after being retained in office; after a judge is retained by the entire county, the unit selecting that judge has changed.

As for a judge who may have truthfully resided within the subcircuit at the time he or she was elected, but who moved from the subcircuit before being retained, the question arises whether that move would render the judge ineligible to continue in office because such a judge would then no longer be, in the words of the Illinois Constitution, "a resident of the unit which selects him."

The Illinois Courts Commission has yet to consider a case involving a judge who moved from a subcircuit following election from that subcircuit. The Golniewicz case concerned the judge's misrepresentation of his true residence at the time he first ran (making him ineligible in the first place). The Goodman case in the Illinois Supreme Court removed a would-be judicial candidate from the ballot before the election took place. WGN and Medill Watchdog may have identified some possible problems for certain judges. However, for other judges named so far, unless there are other misrepresentations that put them on the wrong side of the Cannons of Judicial Ethics, their relocation (at least following retention in office) may not have been what the Legislature wanted, but may be permitted by the law.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Time for a non-partisan judicial primary

I sought permission to reprint Allen Adomite's commentary from this morning's ICJL Newsletter because I wanted FWIW readers to see that voters all over the state forfeit their right to elect judges if they skip the local majority party primary.

A lot of people may be tempted to take Republican primary ballots this year because the Republican gubernatorial primary is so hotly contested.

But Cook County voters who make that choice will forfeit their right to have any say in who will be elected to the Cook County Circuit Court or the First District of the Illinois Appellate Court.

There are no Republicans running countywide in Cook County. As Mr. Adomite points out, there are no Democrats running in many Downstate counties.

Accordingly, most judicial elections all over this state will be determined in the primaries. Most voters don't bother with primaries. When November rolls around, these voters will head to the polls and find out that nearly all judicial candidates are unopposed.

This effective disenfranchisement of so many voters across the state unfairly undermines confidence in the judiciary. Seriously, how good can a system of electing judges be if so many voters are automatically shut out of the election process?

I know what the Tribune and many (but not all) of the bar associations would prescribe as a remedy: End elections altogether and select judges on "merit."

In most states that have merit selection systems, the governor is the ultimate appointing authority. Given our history with governors here in Illinois, this may seem like a bad idea.

But don't worry about it: No matter how much its partisans may desire it, merit selection is not going to be adopted in this state any time soon. It is not a politically viable concept.

However, making the judicial primary process wholly nonpartisan might be one reform that could attract enough support from the movers and shakers in this state to become law.

Here's how it would work: All persons filing for judicial vacancies would be listed on the Democratic primary ballot and on the Republican primary ballot and on any non-partisan ballot that might be prepared.

A candidate who receives a majority of votes in the primary would be spared any opposition in the general election; otherwise the top two finishers in the primary would face each other in a November runoff.

If this sounds suspiciously like the way we now conduct our "nonpartisan" aldermanic and mayoral elections in Chicago, the similarity is entirely intentional.

The world did not stop revolving on its axis when aldermen stopped running as Democrats. The Democratic Party did not wither and die in Chicago because "nonpartisan" elections were instituted. Presumably, the Democratic Party in Cook County (and the Republican Party downstate) would both survive the switch to nonpartisan judicial elections.

If it makes sense to elect aldermen on an officially non-partisan basis, surely it makes much more sense to elect judges that same way. After all, aldermen are, and are supposed to be, partisan political creatures; no judge should ever be nearly as partisan.

Of course, there will be some who grouse that most voters will still have no say in the election of judges because, in a typical year, most voters will bypass primaries -- and most judicial elections may still be resolved at the primary stage.

I can not disagree.

But everyone should vote in the primary. And, while discharging that civic duty, the voter's selection of the minority party ballot in any county should not deprive that voter of having a say in the selection of judges who are (and should be) essentially non-partisan.

What do you think?

Today's ICJL commentary on the limited choices available to voters in judicial elections all over Illinois

With the permission of Allen Adomite and Ed Murnane of the Illinois Civil Justice League, I am reposting a commentary that appeared in this morning's ICJL Newletter. I asked for permission to reprint this editorial because I want to comment on it in another post. Stay tuned.

While Pension 'Reform' Enjoys Spotlight,
Illinois Judicial Election System Remains Flawed

The initial round of candidate filings for 2014 Illinois judicial elections demonstrates that a small minority of Illinois voters will choose the next round of state court judges.

Filing finished up Monday for the 54 open seats and November voters will only get choices in eight of the contests. That fact stands because of the partisan nature of Illinois’ judicial elections that drives the choices to just one side of the partisan primaries.

And, even then (and especially as WGN Chicago pointed out yesterday), many of the races are dominated by the influence of the Cook County Democratic Party, leaving voters with little influence on the third branch of Illinois government.

Case in point for 2014: Based on 2010 turnout estimates, only 17 percent of Illinois general election voters will get a chance to choose between two candidates in an open race for judge in November 2014. There will be no choice on the judicial ballot for five of every six general election voters in Illinois.

The “lucky” voters will exist only in Macon, Madison, Putnam, Rock Island, St. Clair and Vermilion counties, as well as limited subcircuit areas in Will (2 of 5 subcircuits) and Cook (3 of 12 subcircuits) counties.

Even worse, more judicial candidates (11) won their races automatically by being unopposed after the December 2 filing deadline, than will win a contested race in the general election next November.

The rest of the candidates will compete in contested partisan elections, where the voter pool is limited and the turnout is dismal.
In 13 countywide judgeships in Cook County, not a single Republican filed for candidacy.
In downstate counties that lean Republican, not a single Democrat filed for seats up in Wayne, Douglas, Menard, Stark and DuPage counties. In 30 of 54 possible seats, primary voters from only one party will pick the next lawyer to put on the judicial robes.

And, as if to add insult to injury, seven more judges missed the retirement deadline to place their seats on the list to file in the “regular” filing period that ended on Monday.
Five of those seven seats weren’t listed by the State Board of Elections as vacancies until staff from the ICJL called the Board of Elections Tuesday afternoon and asked for an updated list.
Potential candidates in those five seats have only 13 days from today to collect petition signatures to file on the first day of the “special” filing period and only twenty days before the opportunity to file is completely over.

Their lack of planning and untimely decision-making now gives potentially-interested lawyers only three weeks to react.

This is simply unacceptable.

The 2014 judicial election cycle perfectly demonstrates why reforms to the way Illinoisans elect their judges are greatly needed, and the Illinois Civil Justice League has strong ideas for reform that will present voters with greater choices and bring greater attention to better qualified candidates.


-- Allen Adomite
Vice President
Illinois Civil Justice League

If you'd like to subscribe to the ICJL Newsletter, you can subscribe by entering your email address on the ICJL home page.

Ten candidates for two vacancies in 15th Subcircuit


Doody Vacancy

Karla Marie Fiaoni
Karla Marie Fiaoni, a former Chief of Police in Chicago Heights, is unopposed in the Republican primary for this vacancy. Fiaoni currently maintains a law office in Homewood; she has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1989.

Fiaoni ran as a Democrat for a Lipinski vacancy in the 15th Subcircuit in the 2010 primary.

Four Democrats have filed for this vacancy as well.

John S. Fotopoulos
Three are in the lottery for the top ballot position, Patrick Kevin Coughlin, John S. Fotopoulos, and Pat Flanagan.

Coughlin is Deputy Chief of the Narcotic Prosecution Bureau at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, overseeing (according to his campaign website) 47 ASAs within the Narcotic Bureau. He has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1996.

Fotopoulos has a law office in Orland Park. He has been licensed as an attorney since 2000. I could not find any campaign website for Fotopoulos. His campaign does have a Facebook page; the accompanying image is taken from that site.

Licensed in Illinois since 1999, Flanagan is employed by the firm of Brittain & Ketcham, P.C. Flanagan ran for a countywide vacancy in 2004 and for a 15th Subcircuit vacancy in 2010.

Guaranteed the last spot on the ballot in this vacancy is Judge Diana Embil. Embil filed just before the close of the filing period Monday. People who study these things insist that, if one can't be guaranteed the top line on a crowded ballot, the bottom line is almost as good. Had she filed on the first day of filing when her opponents did, Judge Embil would have had no better than a 1 in 4 chance of securing the top ballot line. By waiting until the end of the filing period, Embil had a 1 in 1 chance of obtaining the almost-as-coveted bottom ballot position.

Judge Embil was appointed to this vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court earlier this year. She has also reportedly been slated for this vacancy by local Democratic committeemen.

Sterba Vacancy

There are five Democrats and no Republicans in the hunt for this vacancy. Three are in the lottery for the top ballot line; the other two filed late enough that they are in the lottery for the last ballot position.

Michael B. Barrett is reportedly the slated candidate for this vacancy; Judge Chris Lawler holds this seat currently pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court appointment.

Also qualifying for the top ballot position lottery is Sondra Denmark.

Two other candidates filed late Monday, Robbin Perkins and Mary Beth Duffy, both filing late enough to qualify for a lottery for the last ballot position.

Robbin Perkins
I was unable to find a campaign website for Robbin Perkins, but she does have a campaign Facebook page (which is where I grabbed this image).

According to that Facebook page, Perkins is employed as Chief Deputy General Counsel for Human Resources in the office of Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown. She has also served as a part-time administrative law judge in the Village of Matteson. She has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1996.

Assistant State's Attorney Mary Beth Duffy ran in the 15th Subcircuit in 2008 and 2010. Duffy also ran countywide in 2004 and 2006. She has been licensed in Illinois since 1992.

Joanne Rosado withdraws from race for Egan vacancy

Way back in 2009 Cook County judicial candidates could file for as many judicial vacancies as they wanted; back then, one enterprising candidate filed for each and every countywide vacancy and three 15th Subcircuit vacancies. Once the papers were all filed candidates could evaluate (and sometimes negotiate) which races to abandon.

The law was changed after the 2010 primary to eliminate this practice in Circuit Court races. A candidate could circulate petitions for as many vacancies as he or she chose, but only one set of petitions could be filed.

There was one exception to this new rule: A candidate could still file for a countywide judicial vacancy and a subcircuit vacancy.

This year, two candidates did just that. Joanne F. Rosado filed for the countywide Egan vacancy and also in the 11th Subcircuit. Carolyn Joan Gallagher filed for the countywide Neville vacancy and also for the Meyer vacancy in the 9th Subcircuit.

Yesterday, Rosado advised the Illinois State Board of Elections that she was withdrawing from the countywide race.

Gallagher will have to make an election about which vacancy she will seek by December 9.

December 9 is also the last day for filing objections to candidate petitions now on file (there is, you will recall, one more Cook County vacancy for which filing has not yet even opened). As of this writing, no objections have yet been filed to any judicial candidate's petitions. This situation will surely change.

Rosado's withdrawal from the race for the Egan vacancy leaves Judge Daniel J. Kuasiak with two challengers, Sarah W. Cunningham and Richard J. Ryan.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Linda Mastandrea files for McDonald vacancy, campaign website found

She won 15 gold medals and five silver medals representing the United States at two Paralympic Games, three World Championships, the Pan American Games and the Stoke-Mandeville Wheelchair Games. Now Linda L. Mastandrea is looking to win election to the Cook County Circuit Court. She filed petitions late Monday for the countywide McDonald vacancy.

That's a link to the candidate's campaign website in the preceding paragraph; a link has been added to the blog Sidebar.

Mastandrea was born with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy and did not begin her athletic career until her college days at the University of Illinois. As the medal count suggests, she soon made up for lost time, becoming the first female Paralympian inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.

Mastandrea has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1995. Her campaign website emphasizes her service as a hearing officer for the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Department of Human Services, and the Illinois Tollway Authority. A recently published page on the Chicago-Kent Law School's website salutes Mastandrea as one of 125 Kent "alumni of distinction." That article notes that Mastandrea built a practice in disability law and civil rights law and, along the way, has taught Disability Law and lectured nationwide on the Americans with Disabilities Act and other disability laws. She is also the author of a 2006, Sports and the Physically Challenged: An Encyclopedia of People, Events and Organizations.

WGN/ Medill Watchdog investigation Day One: Well qualified judges are not being elected from the Subcircuits? Really?

I can't repost Mark Suppelsa's report from last night's Channel 9 newscast, but I can provide this link. (See also, the Medill Watchdog summary of last night's segment.)

The text of the WGN piece (at the first link) quotes former U.S. Attorney Anton R. Valukas, now Chairman of Jenner & Block, as saying the problem with the Cook County judiciary is weak judges created by the subcircuit system. Valukas thinks subcircuits are "terrible."

WGN's report mentions two 2012 subcircuit races, one a 3rd Subcircuit race in which politicians muscled aside all possible opposition, including the judge serving in that vacancy pursuant to Supreme Court appointment, clearing the way for the scion of a well-connected family to run unopposed. This candidate did not bother to submit to bar association screening and was, accordingly, rated unanimously unqualified or not recommended by all evaluating bar groups. The other was a 7th Subcircuit race (one of four in that subcircuit in 2012) where a well-qualified, highly regarded judge, sitting pursuant to Supreme Court appointment, was narrowly defeated (by only 371 votes), losing to a female City of Chicago hearing officer with only 10 or 11 years' legal experience -- and who did not submit her credentials to any of the bar groups for evaluation either. (An abysmal turnout in the 2012 primary, particularly in the 7th Subcircuit, clearly seems to have played a role in this upset.)

We will save for another day a philosophical discussion of whether positive bar group evaluations are the gold standard for predicting good performance in judicial office. Accepting that as a given, there were two -- count 'em -- two winners in 2012, out of 23 contests, where the winners refused to submit to bar screening.

Of the 21 other winners, two more had significant problems with the two most influential bar associations. Another 7th Subcircuit candidate was rated not qualified by both the CBA and the CCL -- but positively by eight of the other 10 Alliance bar groups, including the ISBA. In the one 2nd Subcircuit race, a candidate rated qualified or recommended by every bar group lost his race to a candidate deemed not qualified by the CBA and CCL -- but rated positively by eight of the other 10 Alliance bar associations.

The one race for a 10th Subcircuit vacancy, like the somewhat infamous 3rd Subcircuit race, involved a political figure whose presence in the race caused all other candidates, including the judge appointed to that vacancy, to bail out. But this political figure did submit his credentials to the bar groups and was found qualified or recommended by both the CBA and CCL and all of the other Alliance bar associations.

In fact, of the 23 subcircuit contests in 2012, aside from the two highlighted by WGN, all of the judges elected had support from the majority of bar associations conducting evaluations, and 19 of those 21 were rated qualified or recommended by the vast majority of all the evaluating bar groups. There were a number of races in which voters faced difficult choices between or among a number of well qualified candidates.

That's actually a pretty good result for bottom-of-the-ballot races that are almost completely ignored by major media outlets. (Don't take my word for it -- check my figures if you wish.)

Have there been some "weak" judges elected since the subcircuits were created in 1992? You betcha there have. But is that the fault of the subcircuit system, or is that a predictable result of the fact that those races have taken place largely out of public view?

Better, I say, to call attention to these important races than to unfairly dismiss the entire process as "terrible." This is the process we have; we are not going to change systems anytime soon because there is absolutely no political consensus about what might be better. Yes, many (but not all) of the bar associations and the silk-stocking (or do you say white shoe?) law firms want "merit selection"... but given our state's history, do we really want the governor -- or any other political officeholder -- making long-term judicial appointments?

If WGN concludes this week's series by saying it will spotlight judicial races going forward, interviewing candidates in close races, looking into their backgrounds and their bases of support, I for one will stand up and cheer.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Flurry of last minute filings bulk up all 9th Subcircuit races

Most of the 9th Subcircuit candidates, those that filed today and those who filed last week, are familiar to FWIW readers.

In the race for the Goldberg vacancy, there are now three candidates. Looking to unseat newly appointed Judge Jerry A. Esrig, are Nathan Benjamin Myers and Megan Goldish. Myers hasn't been mentioned here previously.

Meyers has been an Illinois attorney since 1985. He maintains a law office in Rogers Park. He has previously run for 49th Ward Alderman and Committeeman.

There are now four candidates for the Meyer vacancy. Only Anjana Hansen filed last week. Filing today, however, were Thomas Peter Kougias, Carolyn Joan Gallagher, and Monica A. Forte.

Kougias has not been mentioned here in connection with the 9th Subcircuit openings. Licensed as an Illinois attorney since 1988, Kougias maintains a law office at Lincoln and Peterson in Chicago. I have so far been unable for find any Kougias campaign website.

Monica A. Forte
Monica A. Forte was mentioned here as one of the many candidates who presented her credentials to 9th Subcircuit committeemen for consideration. Forte is employed by the Chicago firm of Crowley & Lamb, P.C. and has been licensed in Illinois since 1994. I have so far been unable to find any campaign website for Forte either.

Carolyn Joan Gallagher has a campaign website (linked above). She may or may not be planning to stay in this race: She also filed for the countywide Neville vacancy.

There are now five candidates for the Preston vacancy.

In addition to Abbey Fishman Romanek, Judge Michael Francis Otto, and Michael Alan Strom, Brian Alexander and Thomas M. Cushing have now also filed for this vacancy.

Brian Alexander
Brian Alexander was in the group that appeared before the 9th Subcircuit Committeemen. That's a link to Alexander's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar. Licensed in Illinois since 1976, Alexander is a principal in the Chicago firm of Alexander | Grossman.

Several Cook County judicial races will be uncontested

The Illinois State Board of Elections is closed for the day and the regular judicial filing period is at an end.

It's time to congratulate David Ellis, who is unopposed in his bid for the Murphy vacancy on the Illinois Appellate Court. No one filed to oppose Ellis in the Democratic Primary and no Republican filed for this vacancy(or any other countywide vacancy). Barring something unforeseen (and unlikely) Ellis will join the Appellate Court on December 1, 2014.

Congratulations are also due to Maritza Martinez, Patricia O'Brien Sheahan, and Judge Caroline Kate Moreland, all of whom are unopposed in their countywide judicial races.

Caroline Kennedy-Elkins is unopposed in the Democratic Primary race for the Iosco vacancy in the 13th Subcircuit; three Republican candidates are vying for the right to oppose her in November 2014.

Karla Marie Fiaoni is unopposed in the Republican Primary for the Doody vacancy in the 15th Subcircuit. Four Democrats are seeking the Democratic nomination for that vacancy.

Pamela McLean Meyerson fundraiser set for December 30

Supporters of 11th Subcircuit candidate Pamela McLean Meyerson are planning a December 30 fundraiser for their candidate at FitzGerald's Nightclub, 6615 W. Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Three bands are scheduled to perform at the event, Golden at 7:00 p.m. (performing at "the intersection of jazz, soul and rock"), Scraps of Brass at 8:00 p.m. (a "horn-packed punch of r&b, soul and rock"), and The Replays ("a local roots band" covering decades of rock tunes) at 9:00 p.m.

Tickets are $30 apiece ($10 for students or for those who are struggling) but sponsorships are available (for $100, $250, or $500) and are available at the door. For additional information, see this page of the candidate's website.

Judge Meyerson is running to keep the 11th Subcircuit seat to which she was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The start of the first last day of judicial filing draws some new candidates

Judge Allan W. Masters filed this morning for the Jordan vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit, becoming the fifth candidate in that Democratic primary race (a Republican has also filed for that seat).

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Masters to the Preston vacancy in the 9th Subcircuit this past June.

This is Judge Masters' second tour of judicial duty. He also served as a judge in the early 2000's, being recalled to judicial service in 2002. Judge Masters' current appointment is not a recall appointment.

(If WGN or the Medill Watchdog folks are looking in, it is not all that unusual for the Illinois Supreme Court to appoint a judge to a vacancy in a subcircuit where he or she is not eligible to run. It does not happen all the time -- more often, in fact, the court will appoint someone who lives in a subcircuit who then makes a bid to hold that seat on the primary -- but it does happen.)

Criminal defense attorney Robert D. Kuzas filed this morning for the Hardy-Campbell vacancy in the 7th Circuit. He is the first candidate to file for this newly opened vacancy. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1989, Kuzas maintains an office in downtown Chicago.

Oak Lawn attorney Richard J. Ryan also filed this morning for the countywide Egan vacancy. Ryan has been licensed in Illinois since 1994.

There will be more judicial filings as this first last day of judicial filing progresses. This is only the first last day of judicial filing since there is at least one additional Cook County vacancy that is posted for the special judicial filing period beginning December 16. Any additional Cook County vacancies would have to be posted as of today in order to meet the deadline for that special filing period.

WGN investigation to hit some judges where they live?


WGN-TV News is heavily promoting an investigation it conducted with the Medill Watchdog group. The results of its investigation will air, starting tonight, with a report by Mark Suppelsa on the 9:00 News.

The teases are, in classic TV style, long on innuendo and short on specifics: In a state where judges are elected, is it really a surprise that many would-be judges will occasionally consort with known political figures in order to attain the bench? It is a fact, of course, that some judicial candidates are elected, and some sitting judges are retained, on political credentials and considerations alone, despite uniformly negative bar association evaluations. These instances might be reduced, or even entirely prevented if more media outlets paid attention to judicial candidates and campaigns. FWIW readers are able to compare and contrast judicial candidates' bar ratings, watch their interviews, and learn of the candidates' various endorsements and, so, make informed decisions when voting for judge. But, historically, the Chicago newspapers provide virtually no coverage of judicial elections (the Chicago Sun-Times didn't even bother to make endorsements in 2012), and the TV stations even less.

However, WGN viewers should not expect a confession of fault and a promise to devote more resources to covering judicial elections in future.

If you listen to Mr. Suppelsa's linked promotion, you will hear that tonight's investigation may reveal that some judges have been elected from subcircuits where they do not live. In one of his few specific references, Mr. Suppelsa mentions judges owning houses outside a subcircuit but claiming to live with their parents inside the subcircuit boundaries. The tease on the Medill Watchdog site also refers to "several subcircuit judges serving from subcircuits where they may not even live."

But for the use of the plural, I might have thought that WGN and Medill were just now discovering In re Golniewicz, 4 Ill. Cts. Com. 9 (2004), in which the Illinois Courts Commission removed a judge from the bench for, inter alia falsely claiming, at the time he ran for judicial office and thereafter, to live with his parents in the 10th Subcircuit, when in fact he lived in Riverside.

Judge Golniewicz was removed from office in 2004.

Nine years ago.

Not exactly late-breaking news.

The Illinois Supreme Court had occasion to cite the Golniewicz case in the more recent case of Goodman v. Ward, 241 Ill.2d 398, 948 N.E.2d 580 (2011). Goodman concerned the removal of a judicial candidate from the primary ballot because he was not a resident of the subcircuit in which he sought election at the time he filed for the vacancy. (FWIW reported on the Goodman decision the day the opinion was released.)

In Goodman, the Illinois Supreme Court stated (241 Ill.2d at 412-413):
Giving sections 11 and 12 [of Article VI of the 1970 Illinois Constitution] their plain and ordinary meaning, it is therefore clear that under our Constitution, candidates for the office of circuit, appellate or supreme court judge must be residents of the unit from which they seek election before they may cause their names to appear on the ballot for the primary election. See Maddux v. Blagojevich, 233 Ill. 2d 508, 514 n.3, 911 N.E.2d 979, 331 Ill. Dec. 749 (2009). If they are not residents, they are simply ineligible to run. If they attempt to run when they do not meet the constitutionally mandated residency requirement and manage to win the election, they will be subject to removal from office by the Illinois Courts Commission. In re Golniewicz, 4 Ill. Cts. Com. 9, 39-40 (2004).
Goodman came down in 2011.

Also not late-breaking news.

In light of these clear precedents, it is difficult to believe that anyone would still try and game election to the bench by lying about their true residence. Of course, this cuts both ways: If WGN really has identified multiple judges who have misrepresented their residency, and thus their right to serve in judicial office, some new vacancies may soon be posted. Hopefully, FWIW readers who view tonight's report will find in this post some context and background with which to evaluate the charges that WGN and Medill seem about to make.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A new Cook County judicial vacancy opens

All of us will celebrate Thanksgiving this week, and many of us will celebrate Hanukkah, but the family and friends of Judge Thomas J. Carroll are presumably celebrating the end of Passover.

Passed over at slating time by the Democratic Party, Carroll, who was appointed to the countywide Felton vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court, was given the tenuous consolation prize of being the Party's first alternate just in case a new vacancy might occur after the slating meeting.

Sometimes it happens -- sometimes it does not.

None opened before the end of the regular filing period (earlier this month). But the vacancy of Judge Michele F. Lowrance has now been posted by the Illinois State Board of Elections for the special judicial filing period which runs this year from December 16 to 23. Judge Carroll (and, presumably, two or three others) will have to scramble to get nominating petitions ready. Judge Carroll will have the advantage of help from the Democratic Party in this endeavor.

Only new judicial vacancies posted between now and Monday, December 2 are included in this special filing period. Any vacancies occurring after that date will be filled in the 2016 election.

How many Cook County judicial candidates have filed since Monday?

As of 8:37 a.m. Wednesday morning, the answer is none.

But stay tuned. More filings are definitely in the works.

Kristal Rivers fundraiser set for Tuesday, December 3

Supporters of countywide judicial candidate Kristal Rivers will host a "casual gathering of friends and colleagues" to raise funds for her campaign on Tuesday, December 3, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the 4th floor conference room at 33 North Dearborn.

Tickets for the event are $75 apiece (the bronze level), but sponsorships are available (Silver - $150, Gold - $500). Persons interested in attending are asked to respond by December 1. For more information about the event, or to purchase tickets, see the events page on the candidate's website or email mb@rivers4judge.org.

The Host Committee for the event includes State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-40), Anthony Andrews, Alvin Boutte, Patty Howse, Maze Jackson, Michelle Johnson, Kristopher Levy, Caretta Seay, and Brendan Shiller.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

James Patrick Crawley interviewed on NTNM



Chicago attorney James Patrick Crawley, candidate for the countywide Veal vacancy, was a guest at a recent taping of Avy Meyers' North Town News Magazine and his interview has now been posted online.

With the permission of NTNM host and moderator Avy Meyers and his entire technical crew Sonny Hersh, you can watch that interview here.

What if they scheduled a judicial election... and nobody filed?

The question is probably of academic interest only.

Still... two last minute subcircuit vacancies opened up, one each in the 4th and 7th Subcircuits, just before the cutoff for the regular filing period (there is a special judicial filing period upcoming for any judicial vacancies that open between November 11 and December 2).

When filing began yesterday, Martin D. Reggi had petitions ready to file for the Mulhern vacancy in the 4th Subcircuit.

But no one has filed -- yet -- for the new Hardy-Campbell vacancy in the 7th Subcircuit.

Perhaps a reader can pass word about who may be passing petitions for this vacancy?

One contest so far in two Appellate Court races

Judge Sharon Oden Johnson and petitions
For yesterday's post about the more crowded field in the Gordon vacancy, click here.

Author and attorney David Ellis could not have written a better scenario for his first day as a candidate for the Murphy vacancy on the Illinois Appellate Court: After the first day of filing, Ellis had no challengers.

Appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the Murphy vacancy, Justice John B. Simon was slated for the Steele vacancy by the Cook County Democratic Party. Judge Sharon Oden Johnson has filed to oppose Simon's bid to remain on the Appellate Court. (The accompanying picture of Judge Johnson was taken from Facebook and edited to fit the space available.)

Judge Kaplan draws four challengers in 12th Subcircuit

Updated to add Meczyk campaign website

When the dust settled from the opening stampede yesterday at the Illinois State Board of Elections, Judge James L. Kaplan, who was appointed to the Jordan vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit by the Illinois Supreme Court, had drawn four challengers to his bid to hold that seat.

Three filed, like Kaplan, for the Democratic nomination. FWIW readers knew that challenges would be forthcoming from James Edward Hanlon, Jr. and Samuel Bae (see, here and here). Judge Kaplan's third challenger in the Democratic primary is Chicago criminal defense attorney Ralph Meczyk. That's a link to his campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has been added to the blog Sidebar. Meczyk has been licensed in Illinois since 1977.

The fourth challenger, James Paul Pierczonka, filed as a Republican, as he did when seeking a 12th Subcircuit vacancy in 2012.

Judicial candidates: So you want to be on TV?

So... new judicial candidates: You've returned from Springfield in one piece and the feeling is slowly coming back to your fingers and toes. Your papers are on file, awaiting the scrutiny of prying eyes looking to knock you off the ballot. But you feel good about it because your election lawyer tells you you're in good shape. Probably.

Anyway, the die is cast, the Rubicon is crossed and you've already plowed into the evaluation forms provided by both the Alliance and the CBA. (You have done that, right? Good.)

Now what?

You've seen videos on this site from other candidates being interviewed on Avy Meyers' weekly North Town News Magazine, but you've never met Avy. You don't have "people" who can line up an interview.

It's OK.

You can still be on the show. What you have to do is contact Avy Meyers and schedule an interview.

But you have to do it soon.

Avy mentioned recently that, in past election cycles, he has been inundated with requests from judicial candidates -- after early voting starts. And people wind up disappointed. He wants to avoid that this time.

Avy will shoot a couple of episodes in a single afternoon; it may take three or four weeks following a taping for an interview to air. You do the math. Then send Avy an email.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In case you haven't noticed, I post all the NTNM judicial candidate interviews here. (I put up one Sunday, and another yesterday; I'll put up a third later today.)

When I do my Organizing the Data posts, just before the election, I will link to these interviews so prospective voters can see you 'in action.' (Rummage through the Archives for examples.)

NTNM airs on CAN-TV in Chicago and on cable systems in several north and northwest suburbs. In addition to Evanston, NTNM is seen on cable systems in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Des Plaines, Glenview, Golf, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Northbrook, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood, Wheeling, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnwood, Maine Township (unincorporated Des Plaines), Mission Hills (Country Club Properties), Morton Grove, Niles, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette.

Because I will post the interviews here, if you're running in a subcircuit outside these areas, you may wish to speak with Avy about an appearance anyway.

I will also post, and link to, any Issue Forum programs on which judicial candidates appear. Contact Tony Joyce at tonyjoyce@mail.com if you'd like to schedule an appearance on that program.

There have been other cable access producers from whom I've heard in past election cycles and I'll be looking forward to working with any of these again. Any cable access providers who are interested in covering Cook County judicial races in their area and have candidate interviews they are willing to share should not hesitate to contact me (click here). We'll set something up.