Thursday, November 25, 2021

Some last minute advice for those dreading the Holiday get together

Dr. Fauci says it's OK for families to gather at someone's home for Thanksgiving. Actually, he said it's OK if all eligible persons are fully vaxxed and boostered (there's a new verb for you) and maybe if there's a window open (well, the oven's on, isn't it, so that's not too much a stretch) and if no one inhales too deeply. Something like that.

But we're Americans -- we're vague on details -- so once Dr. Fauci said OK all hesistation was thrown to the winds and, across this great land of ours, vast hordes of relatives, some of whom have had no contact with one another for 20 months, have begun converging. Vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.

And you, Dear Reader, are panicking: We are told that Thanksgiving dinners are supposed to be like this --

-- but we all know that the actual events can go from awkward to angry in a heartbeat. Especially if dinner is delayed past halftime of the Dallas game. In vino veritas? Well, sometimes, too much vino can unleash some unfortunate pent-up sentiments.

And that was before Covid.

In My Fair Lady Professor Higgins advises Eliza Doolittle (going to her first Ascot races) to stick to two subjects, the weather and everybody's health.

But even that list is too long for 2021. Someone will inquire about another's health... and the subject of masks and vaccinations will invariably surface... and the conversation may veer from awkward to angry to explosive. Frozen turkey in the deep fryer explosive. COVID!

Maybe sports can be substituted as a safe conversation topic.

The Beloved Bears are playing Detroit in a little while. And, in Chicago, at least, there is a common affection, among the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, for the Beloved. Unless your family has one of those Packer fans. Many do. Some from contrariness. Some because the Bears basically sucked when they were growing up.

The Packers aren't playing today -- it's true -- but someone may mention Aaron Rodgers -- who had COVID! And maybe has Covid toe.

And, all of a sudden, we're back in the deep fryer.

At this moment, you're feeling nostalgic for the days when it was only politics that marred holiday gatherings. Or for the aunt who insisted on tousling your hair and pinching your cheeks when you were over 30.

But it's OK. These awkward holiday dinners are a great opportunity for you and yours to remember that what you share with your family is more important than any of these unimportant things that divide us. And make gatherings awkward sometimes. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Just don't talk about COVID!

Friday, November 19, 2021

Cook County budget amendments provide funding for 24/7 Domestic Violence court, pay raises for jurors and private attorneys representing indigent litigants

A press release issued by the Chief Judge's Office yesterday afternoon:

The Circuit Court of County will fund a plan that will more than double pay for jurors, improve and expand services for survivors of domestic violence, and increase pay to private attorneys representing indigent persons, according to Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans.

The new programs will cost the court $2.82 million for 2022, under amendments to the court’s budget passed unanimously by the Cook County Board of Commissioners today. The court will pay for the improvements through delays in filling vacancies of court personnel, reducing the contract budget for the Juvenile Division, and increasing the contribution of fee collections from special-purpose funds.

The amendments provide funding both to address the immediate needs of Domestic Violence Court operations and to establish 24 hour/7 days a week operations for Domestic Violence. Fees for jury service to both petit and grand jurors increase from $14.50 per day to $30 per day, and the related transportation stipend increases from $2.70 per day to $5 per day, effective June 1, 2022. Finally, the rates of compensation for the legal representation of indigent litigants will also increase, effective June 1, 2022.

“These changes are of crucial importance to the administration of justice in Cook County,” said Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans. “While it has required sacrifices from our office, we believe these sacrifices are needed to improve services for those who come before the court, either as jurors, complaining witnesses, or as defendants.”

Judge Evans noted that juror pay has not changed for decades, despite increased costs of transportation, parking, and other goods and services. “We need to respect the time and effort it takes to serve on a jury, which is such a critical part of our justice system under the U.S. Constitution,” Judge Evans said.

In October, Judge Evans formed a committee to review the practices and procedures governing the hearing of domestic violence matters throughout the court, and to review the organization and efficiency of Domestic Violence Division operations at all courthouses where domestic violence matters are heard. The committee, chaired by Domestic Relations Division Presiding Judge Grace G. Dickler, includes judges in the Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence and Child Protection Divisions, advocates for domestic violence victims, and representatives of the private bar, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, the Clerk of the Circuit Court, and the Cook County Board.

The funding will pay for additional personnel and equipment, including 40 laptop computers, to boost current operations and allow for 24/7 access to emergency orders of protection for domestic violence survivors.

“The court recognizes that petitioners in Domestic Violence cases are often undergoing tremendous stress and may face physical danger, and that they cannot wait for regular business hours to obtain emergency protective orders,” Judge Evans said. “The establishment of these new procedures, funded in our 2022 budget, is intended to make judges available 24/7 to rule on these critical matters. I would like to thank the board commissioners, advocates and other county officials for working with the court to develop these improvements.”

The additional funding for private attorneys representing indigent clients recognizes the important work done by these attorneys, and brings their pay more in line with pay for similar work in other jurisdictions. Pay is going up from $75 per hour to $112.50 per hour for in-court proceedings and from $50 to $75 for out-of-court preparation, effective for services provided on or after June 1, 2022.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

DSF announces award winners for upcoming Unity Gala; tickets now on sale

The Diversity Scholarship Foundation's annual Unity Gala will be online again this year.

The event is set for Tuesday, November 30, starting at 5:00 p.m. Tickets for the event are priced from $150.

The DSF has announced winners of several awards to be conferred at the Unity Gala.

Illinois House Speaker Emmanuel "Chris" Welch will receive the organization's Unity Award. State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (17th) will receive the Hon. Laura Liu Access to Justice Award. The following individuals will be recognized as Advocates for Diversity:

  • Erica N. Byrd, Senior Attorney, Valentine Austriaco & Bueschel,

  • Hon. Megan Goldish, Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County,

  • Antonio M. Romanucci, Founding Partner, Romanucci Blandin Law,

  • Jennifer L. Rosato-Perea, Dean and Professor of Law, DePaul College of Law,

  • Marvet Sweis Drnovsek, Founder, MSD Injury Lawyers, and

  • Adam M. Zebelian, Associate, Schiller DuCanto & Fleck.

In addition, the DSF will bestow scholarships on 21 students attending area law schools.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available on this page of the DSF website; more information may be obtained by emailing

Advocates offer free CLE tonight

The Advocates Society, the Association of Polish-American Attorneys, is holding its November general meeting online this evening -- a virtual cocktail at 6:30, the Advocates regular meeting at 7:00, but, after this business has been concluded, the Advocates are offering a one-hour free CLE program entitled, "Practice Management: How to Take Time Off for the Holidays."

That seems timely.

The presenter will be Melanie Leonard, the founder and CEO of Streamlined Legal.

To sign up for the program, you must send your full name and ARDC nunber to the Advocates' CLE coordinator, Eryk Wachnik at before the program.

I'm a little wary of putting Zoom meeting details out on the Intertubes where anyone might find them and potentially misuse them, but I assume Mr. Wachnik will be able to provide you with the requisite links if you email him soon. I'll update if necessary.

Chief Justice and Illinois Mental Health Task Force to Host Mental Health Summit Report Release Web Event and Issue a Call to Action

That's a long headline, but it's the one used by the Supreme Court press office in this news release issued Monday:

The prevalence of mental illness and co-occurring disorders is greatly impacting our nation, each of our states, and our communities, and has a disproportionate effect on our courts and justice system. As part of that National Initiative, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators hosted a Midwest Regional Summit in October 2019 in Deadwood, South Dakota. Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke and Illinois State Court Administrator Marcia Meis assembled and led an Illinois delegation at the Summit.

Upon returning to Illinois, the delegation met monthly and formed the Illinois Supreme Court’s Mental Health Task Force and began planning an Illinois Mental Health Summit. The Summit series, Improving the Court and Community Response to Persons with Mental Illness and Co-Occurring Disorders through Compassion and Hope, convened by Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke, was held virtually over six sessions taking place from September-December 2020. As a final product the summit series, through financial support of the State Justice Institute, the National Center for State Courts drafted and issued the attached 2020 Illinois Mental Health Summit Report.

The Illinois Supreme Court and National Center for State Courts are hosting a Report Release Web Event: A Call to Action on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, from 12:15 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. to present an overview of national initiatives, report findings, and Illinois Mental Health Task Force next steps.

Registration info is available at:

Ultimately, the results of the Regional Mapping Workshops will inform a statewide vision of what a behavioral health continuum of care with multiple diversion pathways should look like in Illinois and lead to development of a plan and pilot projects to improve court and community responses to mental health and co-occurring disorders. After completion of the Resource Mapping Workshops, we hope that each community and region will sustain efforts through ongoing Councils or leveraging efforts through collaboration with established coordinating councils, task forces, and coalitions.

“The release of the Summit Report and the recent hire of a Statewide Behavioral Health Administrator to facilitate the Task Force equips the Supreme Court with a road map and resource to continue leading change at the intersection of behavioral health and justice. My Supreme Court colleagues and I thank everyone involved in the summit series and heeding this call to action” said Hon. Chief Justice Anne M. Burke.

For further information regarding the Illinois Mental Health Task Force, please visit Illinois Mental Health Task Force ( or contact Scott Block, Statewide Behavioral Health Administrator, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts at

Saturday, November 13, 2021

And how are you celebrating World Kindness Day?

I would have missed this entirely but for a reader who kindly tipped me off that today, November 13, is World Kindness Day.

You know World Kindness Day is a real thing, because it has its own Wikipedia page (linked above) and because CNN has a story about it.

I hope it becomes an even bigger thing because, well, the world (and all of us in it) could use a lot more kindness. However you celebrate, celebrate responsibly.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

New countywide vacancy opens with retirement of Judge Margaret A. Brennan

Judge Margaret A. Brennan has retired from the Cook County bench, opening a new countywide vacancy in time for the 2022 primary.

According to this press release, Judge Brennan has joined ADR Systems as a member of its panel of senior mediators and arbitrators.

First elected to the Circuit bench in 2002, Brennan was retained in 2008, 2014, and 2020.

The most recent Who Sits Where post has been updated accordingly.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Cardenas to kick off campaign for Board of Review on Veterans Day

Posted at the request of a friend of this site....

You may well ask, what relevance does this event have for the prospective Cook County judicial candidate? (Some FWIW readers get a tad miffed if I stray beyond the narrow confines of judicial elections.)

The answer to said question, truthfully, is not a whole heck of a lot. Ald. George Cardenas is also the Committeeperson of Chicago's 12th Ward and, presumably, it never hurts to try and catch the eye of any committeeperson (one down, you may think to yourself, but 79 to go). And, of course, the committeeperson making his or her own grab for a higher rung on the cursus honorum is less likely than most to be fascinated by your judicial ambitions. Or to even pretend to be.

Ald. Cardenas is not even on the countywide slating committee (though he is on the judicial retention committee).

So the benefits for the judicial wannabe are tangential... at best. Perhaps you'll meet someone. Perhaps someone will see you and remember your face. There's always an opportunity for a social media post of some kind. If you can get someone to pose with you.

But did you notice the price? If the above announcement may be believed, the event Thursday evening, starting at 6:00 p.m., at Radius, 640 West Cermak, is... dare I say it... free. Quoting now from the blurb itself: The event promises "[c]omplimentary food & drinks from outstanding local chefs."

You will not find many political events in this price range.

It's true -- and almost certain -- that you, the hopeful candidate, will be largely ignored, and perhaps completely ignored unless you happen to meet someone you know socially. That's just the nature of campaigning. But there are plenty of events where you can pay a pretty penny for admission -- and be equally ignored. So this may be worth considering. If you have the time.

Registration is required. Click here to reach the Eventbrite link.

Monday, November 08, 2021

Advocates Society accepting applications for law school scholarships until November 15

While, presumably, for most FWIW readers, law school is but a happy (or unhappy... maybe even largely suppressed) memory, readers may know of students who might be interested....

The Advocates Society, the Association of Polish-American Attorneys, is accepting applications for its annual scholarships to students attending law school in Illinois. The deadline for applications is November 15, 2021.

All the details, and a financial aid application, may be found at this page of the Advocates website. In general, however, full-time students enrolled at fully accredited U.S. colleges or universities are eligible to apply. Here are some of the other basic requirements and criteria announced by the Advocates:

  1. Seniors at the undergraduate level may apply if they have been accepted at an accredited law school (students deferring acceptance will forfeit any scholarship, but may reapply at a later date);

  2. Graduate students pursuing a juris doctorate degree may also apply;

  3. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen of Polish heritage or documented legal alien of Polish heritage or affinity;

  4. Applicants must be in good academic standing and document financial need;

  5. Applicants cannot be a member, family member, substantial contributor or a family member of a substantial contributor of the Polish-American Advocates Scholarship Foundation;

  6. Applicants must be a resident of the Chicago Metro area for at least 4 years prior to application (proof required); and

  7. Applicants must be able to attend an interview in late November VIA ZOOM and an Awards Presentation Ceremony in mid-December of 2021.

Friday, November 05, 2021

New date announced for 2021 Diversity Scholarship Fund Unity Gala

The Diversity Scholarship Foundation had been aiming for an in-person Unity Gala this year; the date and location of DSF's planned in-person Unity Gala has been on its website for some time.

But DSF has determined that it is best to go the virtual route for another year, and the forthcoming annual Unity Gala has been moved from a hotel ballroom to a screen near you and the date has been changed, as per the announcement above, to November 30.

This year's award winners have not yet been announced, but early tickets are available for $150 each. A bronze sponsorship (for $1,500) is also available. Tickets and the bronze-level sponsorship opportunity are available by clicking here. Inquiries about other sponsorship opportunities should be directed to

Another fundraiser that may be of interest to Cook County Judicial hopefuls

If you read the newspapers, what's left of 'em, or watch television news, you probably think first and foremost of Don Harmon, pictured here, as State Senate President Don Harmon.

But what matters so much more to the aspiring Cook County judicial candidate is another of Mr. Harmon's titles, namely, Chair of the Circuit Court Committee of the Cook County Democratic Party.

And the Chair of the Circuit Court Committee is having a fundraiser, Wednesday, November 10, starting at 7:30 p.m., at FitzGerald's, 6615 W. Roosevelt Road, in Berwyn. Tickets are $100 each and, of course, sponsorships are available (Front Row Seat - $300, Backstage Pass - $500, Talent Scout - $1,000, All Access Pass - $2,500, or I'm With the Band - $5,000). Two admission tickets come with each sponsorship. To purchase tickets, click on this ActBlue weblink.

Mind you, showing up for a fundraiser (even if you actually pay for your ticket -- even if you in fact kick in for a sponsorship) will not get anybody slated. It may help get you noticed, bringing you to the attention of persons who might... someday... maybe... if (and only if) it suits their purposes... assist your ambitions. So, please, don't spend the mortgage money or the grocery money on a quixotic trip to Berwyn (or anywhere else). But I note this fundraiser for the potential benefit of the unconnected judicial wannabes who may have the discretionary income, and spare time, to indulge in such activities and who (being unconnected) would not otherwise hear of this event.

And one other thing, from the FitzGerald's website:

If you go, bring your vax card.

A different "Road to the Robe" on November 18

If I were the artsy type, I'd spout a little Robert Frost here. You know....

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth....

Except -- if you're thinking of running for judicial office -- there is no one road. There are many. And you have to find your way down as many of them as you can. This is so even if your local Democratic committeeperson (and BFF) has promised you on a stack of Bibles yea high that you are a lock-cinch-certainty to be slated. Because slating alone does not guarantee victory. You have to build your own winning coalition (although, admittedly, it'd be really great if your BFF can actually deliver that slating-building-block for you) and, believe you me, as long as you do get slated (they do get a tad miffed if you try and win without their support), the Democratic Party of Cook County will be all for your branching out.

Moreover, Mr. or Ms. Lawyer-Who-Wants-to-be-Judge, when you do research, do you stop when you find the first case that seems to apply to your situation? Of course not. You keep looking, checking out the alternatives, never knowing what may prove the most persuasive.

Therefore, you may be interested to learn that the Office of Alumni Relations & Development of the Law School formerly known as John Marshall is holding its own online Road to the Robe event on Thursday, November 18, starting at 5:00 p.m.

The program will consist of two panel discussions, the first moderated by Appellate Court Justice (and 1982 JMLS alum) Jesse Reyes, entitled "Journey To The Robe," and the second, starting at 6:00 p.m., entitled "Navigating the Process," moderated by James Nally (a 1984 JMLS alum), Legal Counsel to the County Clerk (and, before he moved to the Clerk's Office, an experienced election attorney). To register for the program, click on this Eventbrite link.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Upcoming Cook County Democratic fundraisers that may be of interest to local judicial candidates

I did a list like this last month. I felt a little guilty about it at the time; you can read my self-serving rationalization for printing the list if you follow the link in the preceding sentence.

I assumed someone had sent me the list by accident; I never expected to see another one. After all, I'm just a nobody that nobody sent.

But, lo and behold, tucked in among all the urgent and ultra-urgent Virginia election emails clogging my email in the last several days (I knew they were redrawing boundaries, but I didn't realize they were redrawing them so dramatically*) was another email providing a list of Illinois House Democratic fundraisers at which Cook County judicial candidates, or at least those Cook County judicial candidates with sufficient discretionary income, might go to see and be seen. For that reason, I've purged the list of non-Cook County reps -- probably not a sufficient ROI for attending collar county or Downstate events. Herewith, then, the edited list:

Representative La Shawn K Ford Virtual Fundraiser
Tuesday, November 9 | 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Individual Ticket: $150
Sponsorships: $500 | $1,500 | $2,500 | $5,000
Make checks payable to:
Citizens to Elect La Shawn K Ford
912 S Mayfield
Chicago, IL 60644
RSVP to Bernie at
Zoom link will be emailed upon RSVP

Representative Lakesia Collins Karaoke Birthday Fundraiser Wednesday, November 10 | 5:30pm - 8:00pm
Carpenter's Union Hall, 12 E. Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611
Community Ticket: $25 | General Ticket: $50
Sponsorships: $500 | $1,000 | $2,500 | $5,000 Purchase a ticket online at:
Make checks payable to:
Friends of Lakesia 1501 N. Clybourn Ave, Unit D Chicago, IL 60610

Fundraiser In Support of Leader Marcus C. Evans, Jr. Thursday, November 11 | 5:30pm - 8:30pm
Gladys' Restaurant, 1225 E 87th St, Chicago, IL 60619
Ticket: $33
Sponsorships: $250 | $500 | $1,500
Purchase a ticket online at:
Make checks payable to:
Citizens for Marcus C Evans, Jr., P.O. Box 641514
Chicago, IL 60664

Holiday Reception Hosted by The Ironworkers District Council of Chicago & Vicinity in Support of Leaders Manley, L. Hernandez, Evans, Hoffman and Reps. Greenwood, Ortiz, Collins, Vella, and B. Hernandez**
Thursday, December 9 | 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Moe's Cantina River North, Cava Room, 155 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654
Ticket: $500
Sponsorships: $1,000 | $2,500 | $5,000
Make checks payable to:
  • Friends of Natalie Manley, 1927 Timbers Edge Circle, Joliet, IL 60431
  • Citizens for Elizabeth Hernandez, P.O. Box 50777, Cicero, IL 60804
  • Citizens for Marcus C Evans, Jr., P.O. Box 641514, Chicago, IL 60664
  • Committee to Elect Jay C Hoffman, P.O. Box 23738, Belleville, IL 62223
  • Friends of Latoya N Greenwood, 5111 W Main St, Belleville, IL 62226
  • Friends of Aaron Ortiz, P.O. Box 32213, Chicago, IL 60632
  • Friends of Lakesia, 1501 N. Clybourn Ave, Unit D, Chicago, IL 60610
  • Friends of Dave Vella, 3235 Windsong Ct, Rockford, IL 61114
  • Friends for Barbara Hernandez, P.O. Box 7263, Aurora, IL 60507
RSVP to Andrew at
* Our beloved State of Illinois was once arguably part of Virginia -- at least that's what the Virginians claimed -- until the passage of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

** Lots of non-Cook County beneficiaries specified for this event, obviously, but if you can't figure out who is where, perhaps your discretionary income might be better spent on geography lessons.

Navarro named acting presiding judge of the Pretrial Division

An announcement from the Office of the Chief Judge:

As of Monday, November 1, the Hon. David Navarro is the new acting presiding judge of the Pretrial Division, according to Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans.

Judge Navarro, who had previously served as supervising judge of the division, was first appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court in May 2017 and was elected in November 2018.

“Judge Navarro has shown tremendous dedication and skill in his years in the Pretrial Division, including as a supervising judge, and I am confident that he will succeed in this new leadership role,” said Judge Evans.

Before his appointment to the judiciary, Judge Navarro had been chief of the Public Integrity Bureau at the Illinois Attorney General’s office. He also has served as an assistant state’s attorney for Cook County. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law, and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago.

“I am humbled by the appointment and will do my best to serve the citizens of Cook County,” Judge Navarro said.

Judge Navarro is on the board of directors of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois and the Illinois Latino Judges Association. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the Loyola University School of Law, where he teaches trial practice.

The Pretrial Division conducts the initial proceedings in various criminal cases, and is in session every day of the year, including weekends and court holidays. Judge Navarro replaces former Pretrial Division Presiding Judge John P. Kirby, who has moved to the Law Division.

The Hon. Mary C. Marubio has been named the new supervising judge of the Pretrial Division. Both Judge Navarro and Judge Marubio have been in the Pretrial Division since it was established in September 2017.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

41st Ward sets November 16 endorsement session

The 41st Ward Democrats are planning an endorsement session on Tuesday, November 16, at a location to be determined.

To be determined? you ask. Well, the session will be open to all 41st Ward residents who are also paying members -- the membership fee is, not conincedentally, $41 (here's the PayPal link if you need it) -- and I'm reasonably certain that, as soon as the membership money is received, interested persons can find out the location of the endorsement session.

Endorsements will be made for Statewide offices, and Countywide offices, and Cook County Commissioner, and MWRD Commissioner, and for the House and Senate Districts that carve up the ward.

But read the fine print: There will be a separate endorsement session for all judicial candidates.

For more information, email 41st Ward Committeeman Joe Cook at

In other news from the 41st Ward Democrats, tomorrow, November 3, is the deadline to order lawn signs or t-shirts supporting the Road Home Program at Rush Medical Center. For more information about the 41st Ward Democrats fundraising campaign, click here.

Nov. 4 Joint Dinner honoring Judge Sybil Thomas

The Cook County Bar Association, in conjunction with the Illinois Judicial Conference, the Black Women Lawyers' Association, and the Black Men Lawyers' Association, is hosting a dinner in honor of Cook County Associate Judge Sybil C. Thomas this Wednesday evening at the Park Supper Club, 65 E. Garfield Blvd.

According to Ticket Falcon, this event is already sold out.

Illinois Bar Foundation to host True Crime Authors' Q & A this Thursday evening

The Illiois Bar Foundation will present a virtual program featuring true crime authors Gary V. Johnson and Jeffrey Dean Doty this Thursday evening, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. IBF Board Member Richard L. Turner will moderate the question and answer session on Zoom.

Tickets for the Zoom event only are $25 each. Tickets including either Gary Johnson's book, "Luck is a Talent," or Jeffry Doty's book, "A Convenient Man" (based on the Maria Rudolph case out of Sycamore, Illinois) are $40 each. An event ticket and a copy of both these books may be obtained for $50. For tickets click here.

Sponsorships are still availble as well and may be obtained at the same webpage (Bronze - $250, Silver - $500, Gold - $1,000). Proceeds from this fundraiser will benefit the Access to Justice and Lawyers Care programs of the Illinois Bar Foundation.

Monday, November 01, 2021

Still thinking about running for judge? The Democratic Party is still looking for you

The Cook County Democratic Party had one of these in March. They're doing it again, this Wednesday, November 3, from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m., via Zoom

I refer to the Party's "Road to the Robe" presentation.

This will be an "abbreviated" session for those who were unavailable to attend the March presentation.

Admission is free, but registration is required. Register online or call (312) 263-0575.

Friday, October 29, 2021

No new subcircuit map for 2022

In the end, the Powers-That-Be couldn't figure out where to draw the new lines.

So there won't be any new lines, not until next year, and that will be too late for the forthcoming judicial primary.

The General Assembly adjourned yesterday after passing a controversial new Congressional map -- but without redrawing subcircuit boundaries.

New subcircuit boundaries were supposed to happen: P.A. 101-477 added a new subsection a-5 to §2f of the Circuit Courts Act, 705 ILCS 35/2f(a-5), which provided that, in 2021, "the General Assembly shall redraw the boundaries of the subcircuits to reflect the results of the 2020 federal decennial census." Instead, however, tucked away at p. 77 of a 96-page "amendment" to SB0536 (which changed a proposal dealing with use of political committee funds into an election omnibus bill), was just a one-digit change to §2f(a-5) of the Circuit Courts Act: 2021 became 2022.

The horse-trading will presumably continue, somewhere far offstage. Meanwhile, though, the 2022 election will apparently proceed without change to the subcircuit boundaries that have been used since 1992.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Advocates Society's Annual Judges Night next Tuesday

This virtual event is not just a social hour. While there will be informal networking between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. next Tuesday, October 26, the Advocates Society will present an "interactive discussion" with Wisconsin Judge Richard Ginkowski, the host of the ABA Gavel Talks Podcast, entitled, "It's No Joke: Respect for Lawyers and Judges Here and Abroad."

"Even when the jokes stopped," event organizers say, "Polish-American lawyers still feel the effects of decades of discrimination." Participants will be invited to share their experiences. The program will also look at "the crisis of the Polish government’s nonstop assault on a free and independent judiciary."

A $25 suggested donation is requested for registrants, although judges will be admitted on a complimentary basis. For more information about the event, or to register, start at this page of the Advocates website.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Skokie Veterans Treatment Court to hold first post-Pandemic in-person graduation tomorrow

An announcement from the Chief Judge's Office....

The Skokie Veterans Treatment Court, a problem-solving court in the Circuit Court of Cook County, will have its first in-person graduation ceremony since the start of the coronavirus pandemic on Friday. The ceremony will be held at 2:15 p.m. on October 22 in room 201 of the Second Municipal District Courthouse.

Problem-solving courts, also known as specialty or therapeutic courts, seek to help low-level criminal defendants suffering from an underlying mental health, social or substance abuse problem keep from becoming repeat offenders. Problem-solving courts achieve this goal by providing treatment and intensive supervision. The Cook County Circuit Court has a countywide network of problem-solving courts that includes Drug Treatment Courts, Mental Health Treatment Courts, and Veterans Treatment Courts.

Cook County problem-solving courts are designed primarily to assist people who have committed non-violent felony crimes.

The first Cook County Veterans Treatment Court was established in 2009 at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse, and since then, Veterans Courts have been established at all the Circuit Court’s suburban locations.

The Hon. Michael Hood, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, presides over the Skokie Veterans Treatment Court. He said Friday’s ceremony will include four new graduates. Also invited are graduates who had previously attended ceremonies on Zoom.

Judge Hood noted that Veterans Treatment Court accepts participants who suffer from both addiction and mental health issues, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The program takes two years, and provides treatment primarily administered through the Veterans Administration. Participants who successfully complete the program will have their charges dismissed and expunged.

“It’s true rehabilitation,” said Judge Hood, who has run the Skokie Veterans Treatment Court for seven years. “There’s an issue, a mental health or addiction issue, which we address so we can take them out of the cycle of criminal justice. The point is to take them back, make them whole.”

Graduates at the ceremony will be presented with handmade quilts from the Quilts of Valor Foundation.

On posting vacancies -- and not -- and how you, Dear Reader, can help

I've just updated, again, the Who Sits Where post that I put up only the day before yesterday.

Today's addition is the 15th Subcircuit vacancy of Judge Chris Lawler, pictured at right.

The picture is taken from the announcement that ADR Systems made on August 31 about Judge Lawler joining the ADR panel of neutrals. I certainly missed that one.

I can't say I wasn't warned: I've received several anonymous tips during the last several weeks about the Lawler vacancy. But I ignored these, for reasons I shall explain momentarily. This morning I saw an inquiry on an ISBA listserv from a practitioner trying to find out who was hearing the now-retired Judge Lawler's cases on his former motion call. That got me looking.

Why didn't I look sooner? Well, my comment queue is chock-full of rumors about judges retiring -- not just Judge Lawler. For any judge you care to name I probably have at least one anonymous comment about that judge retiring. Often these rumors are embellished with intimations that Judge X is succumbing to some loathsome disease. Or about to be indicted. Or both.

Some of the anonymous persons who submit comments here are very creative.

But not very nice.

I don't print those sorts of comments.

Not everyone who supplies anonymous tips here has an axe to grind. Many, I'm sure, are trying to be helpful. But, without something more to go on than 'Judge Y has retired' I can't necessarily tell who is trying to be helpful and who has some sort of problem.

In the case of Judge Lawler, someone might have told me about his move to ADR. That would have given the comment, anonymity notwithstanding, credibility. And, of course, I could easily verify the information provided... if only it had been provided.

The motto of the old City News Bureau was, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." In the age of the 24/7 news cycle, such caution is apparently quaint. But I'd rather be incomplete than inaccurate. (I will now brace myself for the inevitable anonymous comments that say that I am both. *Sigh*)

But the rest of you, Dear Readers, can help improve this site. I know how few people are going to put their name behind anything -- but if you have an anonymous tip you wish to share, any corroboration you can include will allow me to investigate, on my own, and maybe even get your information out to the world, as you wished it to be, in a more timely fashion. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Trying to avoid the Observer Effect... or... did you get that in writing?

Although Schrödinger’s Cat is only marginally related to any discussion of the
Observer Effect, on the Internet, any observation of kittens pulls in extra eyeballs.

In physics, the Observer Effect is defined as the disturbance of an observed system by the act of observation itself.

In psychology, the Observer Effect, also called the Hawthorne Effect, refers to how persons being observed tend to change their behavior because they are being observed. In other words, the playground bully was a perfect angel when Sister was watching -- but watch out when Sister turned her back!

The political system is ordinarily closed to and, indeed, hostile to, observation. (We don't want nobody nobody sent.) To the extent that they may sometimes make observations of the political system in operation, journalists (including lawyers who function as journalists, or try to) may well cause those observed to alter their behavior.

On a macro level, this is undoubtedly a good thing. As Thomas Jefferson said, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." Despite his many hypocrisies, the man could turn a phrase. Even when he contradicted himself. (Also Jefferson: "Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.")

Whatever. I take it as an article of faith that 'sunshine is the best disinfectant.' (The exact Brandeis quote is, "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.") I sincerely hope that, in some small way, because I have brought attention to the process, this site has contributed to the improvement of the local judiciary.

But, on a micro level, on the individual level, I worry. For over 25 years I wanted to be a judge. I can empathize, very sincerely, with those many lawyers who also wish to be judges, and, necessarily, therefore, also with those who aspire to a temporary appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court. I reserve the right to like some people who are chosen better than others, or even not at all, but, whether I know them or not, whether I've ever heard of them before or not, I can relate to their ambition. So, in general, I don't want something I do or say here to undermine any specific individual aspirant.

But... sometimes news happens. It would be fair game, by any journalistic standard, to report it. But I also know how the Observer Effect can work in politics (and anybody who tells you judicial appointments aren't political is selling you hokum): The premature disclosure of a likely appointment may make said likely appointment extremely unlikely.

So when I heard about a person appearing before the Democratic Party's Pre-Slate Making meeting last week and informing the Party worthies that said person was about to be appointed to one of the vacancies recently posted by Justice Theis, that was fair game. I could have reported that immediately; I didn't need to wait for the anonymous comments to stack up in my comment queue (three, as of this morning) with the same information.

But I didn't do that. Not right away. Instead, armed with the tools acquired in Journalism 101 (whatever the course was actually called at Loyola some 45 years ago) I reached out to the Supreme Court's press officer and sought confirmation concerning the appointment and whether an announcement of the appointment in question was imminent. Maybe I'd even ferret out word about the second appointee.

Alas. Word came back, and promptly, too, that no announcement is imminent regarding the two Theis vacancies.

So I've continued to sit on the story. Even though all sorts of people seem to know about it already. And that public knowledge may or may not trigger the Observer Effect.

Mind you, if I were a Supreme Court Justice and I had indicated to a person prior to the pre-slating meeting that he or she was likely to get my nod for a particular appointment, I would probably have encouraged that person to add his or her name to the list of persons presenting credentials. So word would get out, but I would not be offended. Or, if I wanted to hold off on the announcement for my own purposes, I might have called Jacob Kaplan myself and explained the situation, advising that my person would be adding his or her name to those scheduled to appear but that I didn't want my prospective appointee to mention it. In which case I might be a tad miffed if said prospective appointee spilled the beans and possibly motivated, then, to look elsewhere.

If the Observer Effect submarines anyone here, I have a clear conscience. But, good heavens, what a crazy process we have.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Who Sits Where: Pre-Slating is over and now things really get interesting

Updated November 10, 2021
Updated October 21, 2021
Updated October 20, 2021

Herewith, an updated Who Sits Where. My list is no doubt incomplete. But I only include vacancies I can verify. I will update this list as necessary or appropriate.

However incomplete my list may be, it is so far still better than the "Judicial Vacancies" page of the new Supreme Court website: It shows no vacancies at all, not even the two posted recently by Justice Theis (presumably because applications for those vacancies are now closed, because those vacancies were posted during the application period).

Where a vacancy has been filled by an interim Supreme Court appointment, I have provided the identity of the appointee. If history is any guide, there will be several more vacancies opening up in the months to come.

As always, all errors of omission or commission in this list are mine alone and I am grateful for additions and corrections provided.

Appellate Court Vacancy

Vacancy of the Hon. Shelvin Louise Marie Hall -- Robert E. Gordon

Countywide Circuit Court Vacancies

Vacancy of the Hon. Margaret A. Brennan -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Diane Gordon Cannon -- Sanjay T. Tailor
Vacancy of the Hon. Michael B. Hyman -- Tracie R. Porter
Vacancy of the Hon. Pamela M. Leeming -- Rena Marie Van Tine
Vacancy of the Hon. Daniel Lynch -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Kathleen M. McGury -- Ruth I. Gudino
Vacancy of the Hon. Joan M. O'Brien -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Sharon M. Sullivan -- Unfilled

Subcircuit Vacancies

1st Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Sharon O. Johnson -- John Wellington Wilson

4th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Patrick T. Rogers -- Unfilled

5th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Jackie Marie Portman-Brown -- David L. Kelly

6th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Mauricio Araujo -- Unfilled

7th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Patricia Martin -- Unfilled

8th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Robert E. Gordon -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Thomas J. Lipscomb -- Unfilled

9th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Jeanne Cleveland Bernstein -- Unfilled

11th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Dennis M. McGuire -- Unfilled

14th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. James R. Brown -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Raymond L. Jagielski -- Unfilled

15th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Chris Lawler -- Unfilled

Monday, October 18, 2021

Did the City of Chicago bargain with unions other than the FOP over vaccination mandate?

I'm not taking sides here. But I am looking for context. And what I have read and seen suggests questions that, insofar as I can tell, have not been answsered by the public reporting to date.

Let's start with what I think we can all agree on:

Within a short time after COVID-19 vaccines became widely available, the push began for mandatory vaccinations.

Some public unions have been reported to be in favor of mandates. Some have been reported as not being in favor of mandates.

That's about as much as I think is entirely undisputed.

(Let me also make this full disclosure, so there's no doubt about where I'm coming from: I am as vaccinated as I can be at the present time. When the Moderna booster shot becomes available, and when I am permitted so to do, I will rush out and get that third shot.)

Now, then. Take a deep breath and let's look together at some prior reporting on the issue.

In August, the Chicago Public Schools announced that all employees, including all teachers, would have to be vaccinated by October 15. An article by Maia Spoto, on Chalkbeat Chicago, last updated August 13, entitled, "Chicago says teachers must get vaccinated by Oct. 15 or be ineligible for work," states that the Chicago Teachers Union "welcomed the mandate urged the district to commit to additional safety and recovery measures before schools reopen, such as strengthening and expanding the school vaccination program."

The Chalkbeat Chicago story provided a summary of the then-ongoing negotiations with the CTU over conditions for reopening the schools. It also contained this paragraph about the response of national teachers' unions to vaccination mandates generally:

The leaders of the country’s two national teachers unions have also voiced support for vaccine mandates. The National Education Association’s president called the requirements an “appropriate, responsible, and necessary step” on Thursday, while the American Federation of Teachers’ president personally backed mandates earlier this week. The official position of the AFT, of which the Chicago Teachers Union is an affiliate, is that unions and districts should collaborate on requirements before they are decided.

In September, after President Biden announced a vaccine mandate for federal employees, Ballotpedia ran an article, by Jerrick Adams, entitled "Public-sector union responses to COVID-19 vaccine mandates," providing a roundup of how various public sector unions around the country responded to the President's directive in particular and how other vaccine mandates had been received in several states.

This is a fairly lengthy article, and I urge the skeptical reader to read it in its entirety. But, to summarize, most public sector unions, even those welcoming a mandate, expected to bargain over any implementation. Thus, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler is quoted as saying on September 10 that, while the organization 'commends' President Biden for his actions, "Workers and unions should have a voice in shaping these policies."

American Federation of Government Employees President Everett Kelley was quoted as saying that, while the union has strongly supported vaccination efforts, "we have said that [vaccine mandates] should be negotiated with our bargaining units where appropriate. * * * We expect to bargain over this change prior to implementation, and we urge everyone who is able to get vaccinated as soon as they can do so."

It also turns out the Chicago FOP is not the only law enforcement union that does not welcome vaccine mandates. Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association President Larry Cosme is quoted in Adams's article as saying, "The Biden-Harris Administration’s action to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all federal employees is ill conceived. … This executive order villainizes employees for reasonable concerns and hesitancies and inserts the federal government into individual medical decisions. People should not be made to feel uncomfortable for making a reasonable medical choice."

The state-by-state roundup was similar (Illinois was not included). This paragraph of the California roundup caught my eye in particular:

Some [California] unions, including SEIU Local 1000, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and Cal Fire Local 2881, filed complaints following the mandate. SEIU Local 1000 sent a cease and desist letter to the California Department of Human Resources that said, "This is a change in the terms and working conditions of our represented employees and requires meeting and conferring with the union prior to implementing the change." Tim Edwards, president of Cal Fire Local 2881, said, "We oppose mandating vaccinations and believe the state has a contractual obligation to meet and confer with labor over any possible impacts to the employees."

A September 23 article on Government Executive, by Courtney Bublé, entitled "Will Federal Employee Unions Challenge Biden’s Vaccine Mandate in Court?" answered the question in the headline largely in the negative -- but indicated that unions, even those favoring the mandate, expected to bargain over its implementation, even if the scope of bargaining was limited.

An August article on the website of the Society for Human Resource Management entitled, "Must Employers Bargain with Unions over Mandatory Vaccines?" explained why, in general, unions, even those welcoming vaccine mandates, might nevertheless insist on the right to bargain over their implementation.

Just this past weekend, ABC-7 published a post entitled, "IL Governor JB Pritzker delays COVID vaccine deadline for some state workers." The printed article states, in pertinent part:

Pritzker's administration has reached agreements with several unions representing state workers. But negotiations continue with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 and Teamsters Local 700. AFSCME, which represents some 15,000 state workers affected by the requirement, objected to what it called "rigid mandates."

* * * * * *

Under the agreements reached so far, workers who don't comply with the mandate will face "progressive disciplinary measures" that could result in termination. The agreements provide an alternative COVID-19 testing option only for people with an approved religious or medical objection.

There is no question that it is easier to negotiate with someone who is inclined to agree with you on the subject of the negotiation. One need not be a labor lawyer to know that. It would obviously be far easier for the Mayor to negotiate the implementation of a vaccine mandate with a union that supports vaccination than with one that does not. But it sure seems like our elected officials, probably including the Mayor but certainly including the Governor, have been negotiating implementation of the vaccine mandates with at least some public employee unions.

Another takeaway from all these articles is that, at some point, if negotiations fail, the unilateral implementation of a vaccine mandate may well be upheld, the language of the union contract notwithstanding. However, negotations may have to be given the opportunity to succeed before unilateral action can be taken. (That's not a prediction of likely judicial outcomes based on case by case research, just a conclusion reached after reading published accounts on the subject.)

So the questions I'd be asking my reporters to follow up on, were I the editor of a newspaper with the resources to investigate answers, are as follows:

  1. Did the City of Chicago bargain the implementation of the vaccine mandate with its unions other than the FOP?

  2. If so, what did the other unions agree to?

  3. Were these terms, or similar terms, offered to the FOP?

  4. If not, why not?

Answers to these questions might be helpful in understanding the merits, if any, of the parties' respective positions.

Friday, October 15, 2021

LAP funding changes, mission remains the same

On September 21, 2021, the Illinois Supreme Court adopted Rule 43 and amended Rules 751 and 756, effective January 1, 2022. These were adopted as a result of the repeal of the Lawyers’ Assistance Program Act, which was repealed in order to streamline the process of Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program (LAP) funding. New Rule 43 affirmed the official description, role as provider, fee, and reporting for LAP. LAP’s annual report filed to the Supreme Court will detail the progress of the program, services provided, the number of eligible recipients who received services, the effectiveness of its activities, and any significant problem areas that developed and how they were resolved. The amendments to Rule 751 and 756 streamline the funding of LAP so that LAP is funded directly from the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission which is the body that collects LAP fees included in attorney registration fees.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, LAP has seen an increase in mental health issues, substance use, and financial stressors for judges, lawyers, and law students. Studies showed even before the pandemic that the legal profession had substantially higher rates of mental health and substance use issues than the general population. This has only increased with the pandemic due to increased isolation and less access to supportive services. To address these issues, LAP created HIPAA compliant telehealth services to provide equal access throughout the state to LAP clinicians, and have expanded outreach, assessments, weekly support groups, and consults to legal agencies and firms who need assistance in managing workforce problems.

All services at LAP are free and confidential with immunity under Supreme Court Rule 1.6, allowing more legal professionals to reach out without fear and stigma. LAP and its resources are proactive in minimizing risk and creating a population of legal professionals who can recover and have robust and healthy legal careers and lives. Due to increased outreach, annual volunteer trainings, presentations, CLEs, and the creation of more LAP Locals throughout the state, we have increased self-referral rates from 39% to 71% in less than four years.

As a result of these changes within the legal profession due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Supreme Court approved an increase in funding to LAP from $10 per attorney to $20 per attorney beginning on July 1, 2021. These additional funds will be distributed to LAP directly by the ARDC to continue to provide services to legal professionals throughout the state.

“LAP is grateful for the increased support that the Supreme Court has demonstrated to LAP during these challenging times,” said Dr. Diana Uchiyama, Executive Director of LAP. “This increased partnership will benefit all judges, lawyers and law students in the State of Illinois - now and into the future.”

LAP has been helping judges, Lawyers, and law students since 1980. LAP has a three-fold mission: to protect the interests of clients and others from harm caused by impaired judges and attorneys; to help impaired judges, attorneys, law students, and their families get assistance for alcohol dependency, drug addiction, mental health problems, and or other addictive behaviors in recovery; and to educate the legal community about addiction and mental health.

If you or someone you know needs support with mental health or wellbeing, contact LAP at or by calling (312) 726-6607.

Portillo's fundraiser next Thursday for Chicago Police Memorial Foundation

Anyone buying lunch or dinner at six Portillo's locations on Thursday, October 21, can benefit the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation by showing this flyer before ordering, on paper or on their phone.

Specifically, the CPMF will receive 20% of the proceeds for food orders placed, using the above flyer, between 11:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on the 21st. Not all Portillo's restaurants are participating; the participating locations are in Oak Lawn, Summit, Harwood Heights, Skokie, and in Chicago at 520 W. Taylor St. and 3343 W. Addison St.

In September 2021, the CPMF provided $103,700 in assistance including:

  • $5,000 in Non-Line of Duty Death Assistance,
  • $11,200 in Officers in Need of Assistance,
  • $2,000 in Disability Assistance,
  • $8,500 in Education Assistance, and
  • $75,800 in Gold Star Families Memorial & Park Maintenance.

In addition, the CPMF provided assistance to Gold Star Families, Chicago Police Survivors, and Widows of CPD Officers killed in the line of duty. The toal assistance given so far in 2021 comes to $769,700.

IVI-IPO to have virtual awards dinner next Friday

The Independent Voters of Illinois - Independent Precinct Organization will hold its 77th Independents Day Dinner on Friday, October 22, at 7:00 p.m.

We remain stuck in COVID time, so the event will be virtual, but the IVI-IPO will confer real awards at the event as follows:

  • Legal Eagle Award
    Brian I Hays, Ernesto R. Palomo, Irina Dashevsky, Hugh S. Balsam (Locke Lord LLP)

    Michael L. Shakman, Edward W. Feldman, Mary Eileen Wells (Miller Shakman Levine & Feldman LLP)
  • Leon Despres Award
    Alderwoman Maria Hadden

  • Barbara Merrill-Rudy Lozano Labor Award
    Martese Chism, National Nurses United

  • Harold Washington Award
    Dan Swinney, Manufacturing Renaissance

  • Kit Pfau Voting Rights Award
    CHANGE Illinois

  • Saul Mendelson Social Justice Award
    Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education

  • Barack Obama Young Leadership Award
    Grace Pai, Asian Americans Advancing Justice

  • Labor Lifetime Achievement Award
    Karen Lewis and Chicago Teachers Union

The IVI-IPO will also celebrate the life and legacy of Timuel Black, a "stalwart legacy supporter" of the IVI-IPO, who passed away this week at the age of 102.

Tickets for this virtual event are $35 each for members, $50 for non-members. Sponsorships are also available:

  • Bronze Sponsor - $250
    Includes your name and company, title, or office sought on IVI-IPO website from October 22, 2021 through November 30, 2021; rolling credits at event; and three event tickets.

  • Silver Sponsor - $500
    Includes your name and company, title, or office sought on IVI-IPO website from October 22, 2021 through December 22, 2021; rolling credits at event; and five event tickets.

  • Gold Sponsor - $1,000
    Includes recognition with your name and company, title, or office sought on IVI-IPO website from October 22, 2021 through March 31 2021; video at event; and rolling credits at event; and 10 event tickets.

Tickets and sponsorships can be obtained by clicking here. For more information about the event, or sponsorships at the event, email

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Upcoming Cook County Democratic fundraisers that may be of interest to judicial candidates

I feel a little guilty running this list, like I might be contributing in some way to the delinquency of a judicial candidate or something. If I were in the BGA, I'm afraid I might be drummed out.

On the other hand, the unconnected candidate doesn't always hear about these opportunities to see and be seen. And if the unconnected candidate's spouse is willing to tolerate the diversion of money from their retirement funds, or their childrens' college funds, who am I to deny the unconnected candidate the opportunity to throw away money on the off chance that said unconnected candidate might forge some meaningful connection that may, somehow, some way, ultimately redound to his or her benefit?

So without further hand-wringing, herewith the list (events outside of Cook County have been filtered out of this list):

Campaign Kick Off Fundraiser in Support of Representative Cyril Nichols
Friday, October 22 | 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Black Fire Brigade, 8404 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL
Tickets: $150
Sponsorships: $500 | $1,000 | $2,500
Make checks payable to:
Friends of Cyril Nichols, P.O. Box 528189, Chicago, IL 60652
RSVP to Bernie at

Latinx House Caucus Members Dia de los Muertos Celebration
Tuesday, November 2 | 5:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Moe's Cantina River North, Cava Room, 155 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654
Individual Ticket: $100
Sponsorships: $250 | $500 | $1,500 | $2,500
Make checks payable to:
Community for Dee, P.O. Box 1571, Bolingbrook, IL 60440
Friends for Eva-Dina Delgado, 2441 N St. Louis, Chicago, IL 60647
Friends of Edgar Gonzalez, Jr., 4140 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60632
Friends for Barbara Hernandez, P.O. Box 7263, Aurora, IL 60507
Friends of Aaron Ortiz, P.O. Box 32213, Chicago, IL 60632
United for Delia, P.O. Box 478317, Chicago, IL 60647
Friends of Jaime M. Andrade, P.O. Box 18380, Chicago, IL 60618

Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz and the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Halloween MASK-erade Fundraiser
Thursday, November 4 | 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Carpenters Union Hall, 12 E Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611
Individual Ticket: $250
Sponsorships: $1,000 | $2,500 | $5,000
Make checks payable to:
Friends for Jennifer, P.O. Box 3042, Glenview, IL 60025
RSVP to Bernie at

Representative La Shawn K Ford Virtual Fundraiser
Tuesday, November 9 | 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Individual Ticket: $150
Sponsorships: $500 | $1,500 | $2,500 | $5,000
Make checks payable to:
Citizens to Elect La Shawn K Ford, 912 S Mayfield, Chicago, IL 60644
RSVP to Bernie at
Zoom link will be emailed upon RSVP

Representative Lakesia Collins Karaoke Birthday Fundraiser
Wednesday, November 10 | 5:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Carpenters Union Hall, 12 E. Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611
Community Ticket: $25 | General Ticket: $50
Sponsorships: $500 | $1,000 | $2,500 | $5,000
Purchase a ticket online at:
Make checks payable to:
Friends of Lakesia, 1501 N. Clybourn Ave, Unit D, Chicago, IL 60610

Fundraiser In Support of Leader Marcus C. Evans, Jr.
Thursday, November 11 | 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Gladys' Restaurant, 1225 E 87th St, Chicago, IL 60619
Ticket: $33
Sponsorships: $250 | $500 | $1,500
Purchase a ticket online at:
Make checks payable to:
Citizens for Marcus C Evans, Jr., P.O. Box 641514, Chicago, IL 60664

39 Circuit Court hopefuls signed up to present credentials at pre-slating

Updated to add Cook County Associate Judge Thomas More Donnelly to the list of persons seeking slating for the Circuit Court

You may have noted, in this morning's Politico Illinois Playbook that some 80 candidates had signed up to present their credentials at the Cook County Democratic Party's Pre-Slating meeting today and tomorrow.

There's lots of folks interested in being the next Secretary of State, of course, and there's always a gaggle of candidates hoping to be chosen for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District -- but more than half of the 80 worthies who were set for interviews today and tomorrow are seeking judicial office: 39 Circuit Court hopefuls and four Appellate Court candidates.

The four Appellate Court hopefuls were:

The 39 Circuit Court hopefuls were:

  • Dan Balanoff,
  • Araceli De La Cruz,
  • Marcia O'Brien Conway,
  • James Murphy,
  • Rocell Cyrus,
  • Ashonta Rice,
  • Natalie Howse,
  • Debjani Desai,
  • Yolanda Sayre,
  • James Gleffe,
  • Jenetia Marshall,
  • Rena Marie Van Tine,
  • Kevin Ochalla,
  • Elizabeth Ryan,
  • Sanjay Tailor,
  • Tracie Porter,
  • Ruth Gudino,
  • Melanie Patrick Neely,
  • Russ Hartigan,
  • Pamela Saidon,
  • Tiffany Brooks,
  • Bradley Trowbridge,
  • Meridth Hammer,
  • John Hourihane,
  • Steven McKenzie,
  • Audrey Cosgrove,
  • Dawn Gonzalez,
  • Thomas Nowinski,
  • Jennifer Callahan,
  • Peter McNamara,
  • Lisa Taylor,
  • Lori Roeper,
  • Michael Weaver,
  • Torrick Ward,
  • Howard Brookins,
  • Nicholas Kantas,
  • Deidre Baumann,
  • Diana Lopez, and
  • Thomas More Donnelly.

The links in certain names above are to prior FWIW articles about their 2022 candidacies. Ald. Brookins made his campaign announcement yesterday on Injustice Watch.

FWIW readers will recognize several names on these lists from prior campaigns. But there are some noteworthy names on the Circuit Court list that were not candidates in recent years. Chief among these is Thomas Nowinski, who was the fifth alternate "slated" by the Party in 2018 and who was the first alternate in 2020. Alternates are effectively pre-slated by the Party for vacancies that may or may not open up after the Party's slating meeting. Sometimes a vacancy or two does open up; three actually did in 2018. But there were none in 2020.

Also on the 2020 alternate list, and on the list of hopefuls presenting credentials this week, were Yolanda Sayre and Ashonta Rice.

Tracie R. Porter, whose appointment to the bench was just announced was set to appear for pre-slating today. Three of the recent finalists in this year's associate judge selection process were scheduled to present to the Party Pre-Slating meeting; one was just sworn in as an associate judge.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Tracie R. Porter appointed to countywide Hyman vacancy

Updated October 14 to add link to Supreme Court press release

Tracie R. Porter, a Chicago attorney practicing as Tracie R. Porter, P.C., has been appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the countywide vacancy created by last year's election of Michael B. Hyman to the Illinois Appellate Court.

The appointment is effective November 12 and terminates on December 5, 2022.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1994, according to ARDC, Porter has also been serving as President and Chairman of the Board of the Alexander Family Foundation, Inc., an Illinois Not-for-Profit corporation. Porter's LinkedIn profile notes that she has taught in several law schools, including an eight-year stint at Western State College of Law in Irvine, California and shorter stints at Southern Illinois University School of Law and IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. Her firm bio notes that, in addition to her undergraduate and law degrees (from Cornell College and Drake University, respectively), Porter "studied fashion design at the former Art Institute of North Hollywood, CA." She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

The Supreme Court issued a press release concerning the appointment on October 14, 2021.

Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement -- October 28 presentation at the Illinois Holocaust Museum

The Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, the Alliance of Illinois Judges, and the Jewish Judges Association of Illinois are co-sponsoring a presentation at the Illinois Holocaust Museum on Thursday, October 28, starting at 4:00 p.m., entitled "Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement."

The event is offered in connection with a special exhibit at the Holocaust Museum that will run from October 17 through May 8, 2022, and will include a 1.0 credit CLE presentation, starting at 6:00 p.m., by John D'Emilio, a retired Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. D'Emilio recently served as President of the Board of the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives in Chicago. His newest book, Queer Legacies: Stories from Chicago’s LGBTQ Archives, was published in 2020 by the University of Chicago Press.

The presentation will be offered both in person and virtually.

Tickets are $10 apiece for LAGBAC members, $40 for non-members. AIJ and JJA members will be admitted free. Registration is available at this page of the LAGBAC website.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Volunteers sought to tutor Englewood youth

Lawyers Lend-A-Hand is seeking volunteers to tutor students from Englewood. The children are in grades K through 5.

Tutoring will take place on Tuesdays at the Chicago Bar Association from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Children are transported to and from the CBA by school bus. All participants are required to wear masks during tutoring. All volunteers must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Tutoring will focus on reading and writing skills but, program organizers note, "many of our students also are craving a connection with a caring adult during these chaotic times."

For more information about tutoring opportunities, or to sign up for a training session, email LLAH Executive Director Kathryn McCabe at

LLAH was created by the Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Foundation "in dedication to the lasting memory and generosity" of the late Abraham Lincoln Marovitz, a long-serving federal judge. While LLAH is now a separate 501(c)(3) organization, the LLAH website notes that "the CBA has continued its leadership role in Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth, consistent with the CBA’s historic commitment to community service."

October 21 fundraiser set for Lisa Taylor campaign

Supporters of Lisa Taylor's 2022 judicial bid are planning a Campaign Kickoff Fundraiser for Thursday, October 21, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Half Sour Chicago, 755 S. Clark St.

Tickets for this event are $100 each, but sponsorships are available (Supporter - $250, Sponsor - $500, Host - $1,000). For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, contact Garry Zak at (773) 551-5318 or email

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Did Confederate die-hards start the Great Chicago Fire? New book suggests they did

Currier & Ives lithograph obtained from the Chicago Historical Society

Tomorrow marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Chicago Fire. Although it is an event so important in our civic history that it merits one of the four stars on the Chicago flag, it is also shrouded in myth and mystery.

And maybe this is so for a very good, and hitherto unsuspected, reason: To paraphrase Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, perhaps we can't handle the truth.

That's a conclusion you may come to if you read a new book by Robert P. Hillmann, The Great Chicago Fire: The Southern Rationale.

Full disclosure: I've known Bob Hillmann since we were both history majors at Loyola University in the 1970s and I can vouch for his assertion, in the book, that it was many years in the making.

A goodly portion of the book is devoted to an utter demolition of a number of popular understandings of the fire. Mrs. O'Leary, and her cow, and Peg Leg Sullivan are all exonerated. What is compelling in Hillmann's step-by-step, moment-by-moment account, drawn from original sources, is the conclusion that there was no one Chicago Fire; there were many. And windblown embers or flying, flaming timbers did not kindle these many fires, or certainly not all of them: The immediate eyewitness testimony suggests that many buildings caught fire from within -- and in a pattern that had nothing to do with documented wind patterns.

And, yes, we all know that the Water Tower did not burn... but the nearby Water-Works (which should have supplied water to fight the fires) did. And it was supposed to have been fireproof.

Once you realize that there were not one, but many Chicago Fires that erupted on the evening of October 8, 1871, a number of uncomfortable questions arise.

To ease into this... back when I was representing insurance companies in fire cases I learned that multiple points of origin are indicative of arson. As it is with suspicious residential fires, so it is with burning cities. But... if all of these fires... or even if only some of these files... were set, who were the arsonists? And if the facts, then as now, pointed to arson, why did the authorities gloss over these facts, spreading malarkey about cows and hurricanes instead?

Hillmann's book suggests some new, intriguing, and very unsettling answers.

We all think of the Civil War ending when Lee met Grant at Appamattox Court House in April 1865. That's the way it was taught in school. But Joe Johnston was still in the field when Lee surrendered, as was Kirby Smith. The Juneteenth holiday commemorates the Federal reoccupation of Galveston, Texas (a full two months after Lee handed over his sword). The Rebellion did not end neatly or suddenly; it sputtered out here and there and (based on personal observations during a 2015 driving trip through the South) in some places maybe not at all.

And at least two types of Reconstruction followed. Andrew Johnson's personal Reconstruction policy allowed all the Rebel leaders to remain at large (even Jefferson Davis spent no more than a couple of years in custody). Though the "Radical" Republicans could and did overturn his equally lenient political settlement, requiring, if only for a brief time, the Southern States to allow Black votes and accept Black elected officials, the persons most implacably opposed to Congressional Reconstruction were free to work -- and work together -- to undermine it.

And, as Hillmann's book makes clear, the political and military leaders of the failed Rebellion had more tools at their disposal than sympathetic Democratic politicians and editors in the North. The Confederates had developed an extensive secret service during the war years, operating out of Canada, and arson was a favorite tactic for their covert operators. And Southern arsonists used a particular type of incendiary, referred to as "Greek fire," after the legendary superweapon of the Byzantines. The similarities in properties between these documented Confederate incendiary devices and incendiary devices discovered in Chicago after the Great Fire provides some important circumstantial evidence for Hillmann's hypothesis of Southern involvement.

And that's not the only evidence Hillmann offers -- but you may want to read about it yourself. Among the questions you may ask: What was P.G.T. Beauregard hoping to give President Grant on that train? An olive branch? Or a threat? Both?

We can never know for sure whether the Great Chicago Fire was really a die-hard Confederate werewolf operation. It's an explanation that fits a lot of the facts -- although not all of them, certainly. There were two other massive fires in the Midwest at the same time, one in Peshtigo, Wisconson, and the Great Michigan Fire. By some measures, both of these other fires were worse than the Chicago Fire. But the Southern Rationale checks a good many boxes. Hopefully Hillmann's new book will spark (if I can use that word here) further academic inquiry.

What we do know for sure is that the political will to support Reconstruction began to fade well before the disputed presidential election of 1876. Did the vulnerability of northern cities to organized bands of die-hard Rebel arsonists contribute to that erosion of political will? The abandonment of Reconstruction lead to 90 years of Southern White Supremacist domination in Congress and 90 years before the Reconstruction Amendments acquired any meaningful statutory teeth. The surrender of the promise of Reconstruction, for mere partisan advantage, is a matter of national embareassment, which continues to damage the nation today. If part of the explanation for the failure of the political will to support meaningful Reconstruction was capitulation to terrorist threats---if we shifted the blame for the Fire to poor Mrs. O'Leary's cow to preserve a fragile peace, at the expense of the nation's Black population---our national shame is even greater.

But, as my mother used to say, tell the truth and shame the Devil. The way forward requires looking back honestly. And accurately. And it may require looking South.