Tuesday, September 20, 2016

WGN investigating... what, exactly?

While many of us were watching the Bears getting picked apart by the Eagles, WGN-TV aired the latest installment of its long-dormant Judging the Judges series, Trouble in the courtroom. The link will take you to the WGN Investigates site and the text of last night's piece; the video link of last night's presentation was working at the time this post was published.

The ostensible subject of the piece was the Turner-Crawford business, I guess, with an emphasis on Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans's role in hiring Crawford as a law clerk and assigning Judge Turner to the courtroom where Crawford would, for a little while, pretend to be a judge and dispose of some traffic cases on Judge Turner's call.

I'm going to indulge in a little speculation here, clearly labeled as such, and suggest that Judge Evans's responsibilities for both Turner and Crawford are more of the captain-of-the-ship variety as opposed to his having any extensive involvement in the placement of either. And while Crawford was, technically, in the employ of the Chief Judge's office, I'd guess that, before this incident, Judge Evans likely had little or no contact with Crawford whatsoever. She was presumably not, as the MBAs like to say, a 'direct report.' (It would be interesting, though, to know what Ms. Crawford was supposed to be doing and for whom. I'm pretty sure her job was not to follow Judge Turner around the courthouse.)

An attorney by the name of Dan Konicek was brought in to note that the fact that former law clerk Crawford is running unopposed for the bench this November is "not a good situation. It just isn't." (WGN did not mention, and may not have been aware of, Judge Maryam Ahmad's recent write-in effort.)

Why was Mr. Konicek the only attorney quoted in the piece? Who knows? Mr. Konicek is a well-known civil trial attorney, and an ITLA board member (although that wasn't mentioned either), but his principal office is in Geneva according to his own firm website and the ARDC. Speculating again here, but I doubt Mr. Konicek has logged a lot of time in the Markham Courthouse where the Turner-Crawford business took place. Konicek's appearance may just mean he was known to the series producer and answered the call when it came. But did other, more local, worthies take a pass on the chance to make similar statements?

Judge Evans has already been reelected as Chief Judge; WGN's report did note that. So... what was WGN's point?

WGN did mention its role in the recent JIB prosecution of Judge Beatriz Santiago, even quoting Judge Santiago's attorney as saying that she accepts her censure and is "ready to go forward and work hard to be a good judge."

In taking its bow, WGN observed that ARDC and JIB investigations are "secret." And slow. So... is last night's piece the opening salvo in a battle to make these sorts of investigations more "transparent"? (I believe that's the current buzzword.) The piece did make the point that, while it will probably come too late to change the outcome of the November election, investigations are probably ongoing into Ms. Crawford's conduct.

Maybe it's the word "investigates" that arouses unnecessary speculation and concern. Maybe all WGN is trying to do is educate, to give its viewers at least a rudimentary understanding of how our courts work. That would be a laudable objective. I suppose we'll just have to wait for WGN's next installment and see what develops.


Anonymous said...

In the future, real journalism schools will show a clip of this WGN report as a true and accurate example of a "non-story".

Anonymous said...

SMH. That WGN report was a joke. It was designed for those unfamiliar with the court process to leave a question mark in the public's mind that said nothing and revealed nothing.

Anonymous said...

Nice file footage of photos of the ceremonial court room 400 at 26 and California. why those photos were used for the modern Markham court rooms is consistent with the Fluff piece by WGN's producer.. there was no news, no new story, just a rehash of last week's crazy story with Judge Turner and candidate Crawford as well as some newsworthy comments by attorney Who? Wow..
At least WGN's morning show is comedic, and interesting, unlike this Fluff piece.

Anonymous said...

Nothing gives me more glee than watching Judging the Judges. Admittedly, however, the most recent installments have been somewhat of a bore. There is nothing to investigate regarding Chief Judge Evans, and let's face it, there is really nothing more to say about Judge Santiago executing an owner occupancy affidavit for a property she may or may not live in to save half point of interest. Even pull up you pants or go to jail has jumped the shark.

So, until the Turner-Crawford matter is address in 2018 or maybe 2019; I would like to offer a suggestion to Mark Suppelsa or John Kass or Dan Mihalopoulos. Let's start a new investigative series. Let's call it "Someone Must be Smoking Mary Jane". The focus of this investigation should be Supreme Court Cook County Judicial appointments and whether or not they are actually made in accordance with the stated processes and assurances of fairness and transparency made to the public by the Justices. Let's investigate how the Justices judicial selection committees actually work. Are the Justices who sit at the very top of the largest consolidated Court system in the nation ethical and honest in making appointments? Or is it just Cook County political patronage at the highest level covered by a blue ribbon smoke screen?

How do former law clerks, primary losers, former judges, judicial selection committee members, politically connected lawyers (or their ex-wives or ex-husbands), friends and family, and golf buddies keep landing appointment after appointment? Let's investigate this. Fair and transparent?

And by the way, where is the Press Release regarding the Saltouros appointment? I am eager to read about the outstanding efforts made by the Theis Judicial Selection Committee in recommending Saltouros. Dropping out of a primary as a slated candidate in favor of a sitting Judge can not be relevant to judicial suitability, could it? Someone Must be Smoking Mary Jane.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely priceless. Without question this Blog is the most entertaining source of information and discussion about the Courts. I trust that Mr. Leyhane will alert us all as to the premier airing of Someone Must be Smoking Mary Jane. With all due respect to Justice's Charles Freeman, Anne Burke, and of course, Mary Jane Theis; I certainly do not want to miss it.

Anonymous said...

Whenever visiting certain higher floors of 160 N. LaSalle Street my subconscious is stirred and I am reminded of High School. Could never determine why. But now I know. It is that familiar smell I use to know so well. But like my hairline, now only a distant memory. Thank you Anon 11:52 for taking me back. I have not heard "smoking Mary Jane" for many years and wholeheartedly endorse its use to describe the Judicial Appointment Process of the Cook County Supreme Court Justices.

Anonymous said...

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She's my main thing.
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And when I'm feeling low,
She comes as no surprise.
Turns me on with her love.
Takes me to paradise, do you love me Mary Jane
Do ya? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya?

For all the squares out there courtesy of Black Lady Who Reads and Petty Jesus who called Rick James in Mary Jane Heaven.