This is a post I reprint (and revise) every now and again. It seems so early, but the 2018 cycle is clearly underway. If this cycle is like every other recent one, there are some new readers joining us these days, including prospective judicial candidates and their supporters. These new readers may have questions about this blog. (A lot of this stuff is already addressed in the blog Sidebar, but it may not hurt to spell it out here, too.) Also, this seems like a good opportunity to restate some of the groundrules for regular visitors.
This is a non-partisan blog. FWIW readers are often passionately partisan, and the current political situation seems likely to inspire more outspoken engagement than ever, at least in recent memory. However, I want to cover all candidates running for judge in Cook County. Because Democratic candidates have historically enjoyed such tremendous success in this county, to the point where Republicans do not bother to contest many races, most of the posts here will be about candidates in the Democratic primary. But I will gladly cover---and have covered---Republican candidates, too. If a candidate has a website, and I can find it, or someone sends me the link, I will link to it and, when we have enough accumulated, post another link in the blog Sidebar.
This blog does not make endorsements. Over the years I've been doing this, I always seem to know at least some of the candidates, whether I've had cases with or against them, or because we've met through bar functions, or because we've met through this blog. I will mention significant connections, but I don't think the public cares how many candidates I've met, and I am certain the public does not care who I intend to vote for. On the other hand, while I won't make individual endorsements, I have been a lawyer for 37 years and I have fairly well-developed opinions about what I want for my clients when I appear in court. I reserve the right to talk about that -- in general terms -- in future posts.
Just because I know a candidate, or some of their supporters, does not mean I will provide more or better exposure for them here. Certainly not on purpose. Readers will undoubtedly see more 'stuff' about some candidates than others, but that is only because some candidates make more of an effort to ask me to publicize events. I have a day job. So I don't see everything that every candidate puts up on their own websites or Facebook pages. Also, some of the stuff I do get (and because I've been doing this awhile I'm on a lot of email blast lists) are for events that the candidate may or may not want to publicize. A good (and frequent) example is a fundraiser in a private home. I won't put anyone's home address out in the Internet for all to see unless I'm asked to. The best way for candidates to get me to publicize their events is to email me an invite at email@example.com -- with a request for me to run a post about the event.
Every election cycle, some candidates will complain that I haven't 'reported' their bar ratings -- and I don't, generally, unless there's something I think newsworthy about them. However, I will report everyone's bar ratings all at once -- when the bar groups (the CBA and the Alliance) release their ratings to the public.
I've made an editorial decision to try and present all candidates in the most positive light that I can, especially in my first post about a campaign. But not all candidates are created equal: Some are older, some are younger, some have tons of relevant experience, other have very limited experience. Some may even have run afoul of the disciplinary authorities. When the bar association evaluations come out, later in the election cycle, some candidates will have entirely favorable ratings, but others will not. Bar associations can and do differ over the merits of particular candidates. All of this is fair game for FWIW. But I'm not going to go out of my way to slam anyone.
In past election cycles I have given candidates the opportunity to make their own case (click here to bring up posts written by judicial candidates in prior campaigns). I plan to do this again; expect an announcement around the first of the year.
I believe the best candidates will distinguish themselves when as much information as possible about every candidate is presented for the voters' consideration. In addition to bar evaluations, I will advise of newspaper endorsements (if they're made) or community group or union endorsements (when I can verify them). I'll re-post video interviews when I can. All of this stuff will be collected in Organizing the Data posts (explained more, below) as the primary date comes closer.
Judicial candidates and committees do not pay for posts appearing on this blog. Every year, someone asks. Later on, you may see candidate ads in the spaces I set aside for Google ads on this page, but I do not book those ads. I personally do not accept candidate ads. I will accept ads from persons or companies looking to offer products or services to judicial candidates; see the blog Sidebar for additional information.
In this very early stage of the election cycle, judicial election posts on FWIW are read primarily by candidates, their supporters, and persons who are thinking about running for judge in the future. A lot of judges tell me that they visit here regularly; so do persons affiliated with the various bar association judicial evaluation committees. As the primary date draws close, this site will be increasingly visited by voters looking for information. The information that candidates and their supporters have provided, post by post, will be collected and 'packaged' for the voters. Candidates may want to look at past Organizing the Data posts to get a feel for the kind of information has been collected and posted. I'm always looking to enhance the functionality of this site and I reserve the right to make any improvements within my abilities.)
FWIW covers Cook County judicial elections because the newspapers and other media outlets provide so little coverage. Having run for judge twice myself (in 1994 and 1996) I appreciate just how little opportunity judicial candidates have to get their credentials before the public. I've already stated my editorial bias in favor of trying to present candidates in the best possible light, at least in my initial post about any given campaign. However, I reserve the right to fact-check information provided, to add information I've discovered on my own, to combine or even ignore duplicative releases. In short, I reserve the right to edit and to report within the limits of my abilities and resources.
Comments on this blog are 'moderated.' This means I read any comment that anyone cares to leave and decide whether or not it will get posted. A lot of readers tell me that they enjoy the comments here -- but they don't see all the droppings left by the trolls in my inbox. Frankly, it's depressing -- and I think it's getting worse over time. I suppose the proliferation of trolls is yet another symptom of our current hyperpartisan political climate.
I believe in the First Amendment. But this is my blog, not Bughouse Square, and if you think I'm clinging irrationally to Victorian sensibilities, that's just too bad. I reserve my right to 'flush' any comment, including the toxic gunk left by the trolls.
Commenters: Be civil. If you must be partisan or mean, be clever. Or funny. Or creative. Or else go away. I'd really appreciate it you would leave a name, but I've come to realize I'm probably the only person dumb enough to put my name out here. Maybe (as some commenters have done) you could pick, and use, a nom de plume.
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