Friday, May 18, 2018

A plea for civility

I put through a bunch of comments this morning on the posts about yesterday's developments with the Supreme and Appellate Courts. Comments I didn't particularly like.

Look, I get it: Politics ain't beanbag. And seats on the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts are filled, ultimately, by election. A political process. (Not that appointment isn't also be a political process -- it is -- and it would be even if were labeled 'merit' selection. But that's a story for a different day.)

But I keep bragging that I have smart readers. And I do.

I just wish some of them could be less snide. Less disrespectful. Less mean.

I let through a pension comment, too, this morning, that made an interesting point about some of the more-recently elected judges, judges in the less generous 'tier 2' pension -- but also took gratuitous swipes against several individual judges. Sometimes I wish I could edit comments before putting them through.

I know -- and I know this because people insist on telling me -- that the comments on the blog are what keep people coming back. (I had hoped that it was my crisp, personable prose, but alas).

This meanness in the comments I receive is, presumably, an unfortunate, if accurate, reflection of the mean-spirited age in which we live. But I don't have to like them, and I don't have to publish them.

And I understand it must be tempting to use the cloak of anonymity to attack and settle scores. But anonymity can also be used to educate, enlighten and inform -- e.g. the Federalist Papers -- I know no one studies history anymore, but didn't any of you see Hamilton?

There will be lots to talk about in the weeks and months to come as persons formulate and explore potential runs for the Appellate and Supreme Court vacancies. And I'd like to share as many points of view as I can. Help me do that by making your points a little less barbed, OK?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Justice Michael B. Hyman appointed to pending Neville vacancy; Judge Carl Anthony Walker appointed to the Appellate Court

The elevation of Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr. to the Illinois Supreme Court will create a vacancy on the Illinois Appellate Court.

The Supreme Court entered an order today filling that vacancy, transferring Justice Michael B. Hyman into that slot. Justice Hyman has been serving on the Appellate Court since 2013, but he has served in that post as a Circuit Court judge assigned to duty in the Appellate Court pursuant to Supreme Court appointment. (The Supreme Court appoints six Circuit Court judges to the Appellate Court, supplementing the 18 elected justices elected.) Justice Hyman was appointed to the Circuit Court in 2006; he was elected to a countywide vacancy in 2008.

Today's order stipulates, however, that Justice Hyman keeps his own pending Appellate Court caseload. Justice Neville's caseload will be assumed by Circuit Court Judge Carl Anthony Walker, who was today assigned to the Appellate Court by the Supreme Court. Judge Walker was elected to a 1st Subcircuit vacancy on the Circuit Court in 2006.

The order appointing Judge Walker is effective June 15 and continues, as is customary in these sorts of appointments, "until further order of the Court." Justice Hyman's appointment is effective June 15 as well, and terminates December 7, 2020.

Justice Charles E. Freeman announces retirement from Illinois Supreme Court

The Supreme Court's press release is here; the Order announcing the retirement -- and the appointment of Illinois Appellate Court Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr. to fill the vacancy -- is here.

Justice Freeman served as Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court from 1997-2000, thus becoming the first African-American to head a branch of Illinois government. First elected to the Supreme Court in 1990, Freeman is the fifth longest serving Illinois Supreme Court justice ever (27 years, six months).

Before his election to the Supreme Court, Freeman was a justice of the Illinois Appellate Court, winning election to that court in 1986. Before that, Freeman served as a Cook County Circuit Court judge, winning election to that court in 1976. In 1983, he was called upon to administer the oath of office to his longtime friend, and one-time office mate, Harold Washington.

Justice Freeman's successor, Justice Neville, was elected to the Appellate Court in 2012 after eight years' service on that court pursuant to Supreme Court appointment. The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Neville to the circuit bench in 1999; he was elected to that court in 2000.

Justice Freeman's retirement is effective Flag Day, June 14. Justice Neville's appointment begins June 15 and expires on December 7, 2020.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Campaign website launched, May 29 fundraiser set for Joel Chupack

A campaign website has now been launched for 12th Subcircuit Democratic nominee Joel Chupack. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog sidebar.

Chupack will face Republican nominee David Studenroth on the November ballot in that far north suburban subcircuit.

A partner in the Loop firm of Heinrich & Kramer, P.C., Chupack's campaign bio describes his practice as emphasizing real estate, probate and civil litigation matters.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1982, Chupack is a former President of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. He has also served as Chair of the Illinois State Bar Association Real Estate Law Section Council and as an ISBA Assembly member. Chupack was a finalist for associate judge in 2016.

Chupack's campaign bio notes that he has "quasi-judicial experience" as a commercial arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association. Over the past 20 years, Chupack has presided over 200 arbitrations, ranging in scope from less than $10,000 to over $20,000,000.

Chupack's supporters have organized a fundraiser for their candidate on Tuesday, May 29, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at aBetter Pour Wine Vault, 6400 W. Touhy Ave., Unit A, Niles.

The Host Committee for event includes Rep. Jonathan Carroll (57th); Hon. Ted Mason, Elk Grove Twp. Committeeman; Maine Twp. Committeeman and Sen. Laura Murphy (28th); Rep. Laura Fine (17th), candidate for State Senate, 9th Dist.; Bob Morgan, candidate for State Representative, 58th Dist., Hon. Elaine Nekritz (ret.); Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, candidate for State Representative, 17th Dist.; Sen. Julie Morrison (29th); Hon. James “Jamie” Shapiro (ret.), 8th Judicial Subcircuit Candidate; Lindsay Hugé, 8th Judicial Subcircuit Candidate; Hon. Dean T. Maragos, New Trier Twp. Committeeman; Hon. Tracy Katz Muhl, Northfield Twp. Committeeman; Hon. Mark Walker, Wheeling Twp. Committeeman and candidate for State Representative, 53rd Dist.; and Ann Gillespie, candidate for State Senate, 27th District.

Tickets for the event are $100 each, but sponsorships are available (Circuit - $250, Appellate - $500, Supreme - $1,000, Chief Justice - $2,500). For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, email Sarah at mailto:chupackforjudge@gmail.com. Tickets may also be ordered online at this link.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ireland's Chief Justice to speak at CBA luncheon this Friday

The Hon Mr. Justice Frank Clarke, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ireland will be the featured speaker Friday, May 18, at noon, at the CBA, at a luncheon sponsored by the CBA, the Illinois Commission on Professionalism, and the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago.

Tickets for the event are $65 each, or $520 for a table of eight, and may be obtained online or by contacting Tamra Drees, CBA Events Coordinator, at (312) 554-2057 or by email at tdrees@chicagobar.org.

Clarke was appointed the 12th Chief Justice of Ireland in July of 2017 by Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins. Born in Walkinstown, Dublin, Justice Clarke received his B.A. from University College Dublin in Mathematics and Economics.

The Irish Supreme Court's website notes that Clarke "was called to the Bar in 1973 and to the Inner Bar in 1985. He practiced mainly in the commercial and public law fields (including constitutional law) and was twice appointed by the Supreme Court as counsel to present argument on references of Bills to the Supreme Court by the President under Article 26 of the Constitution. He also acted as counsel to the Public Accounts Committee on its inquiry into the DIRT tax issue and was external counsel to the Commission to Inquiry into Child Abuse (Laffoy and Ryan Commissions)."

Before becoming a judge, Clarke "served for many years on the Bar Council including a term of two years (1993-1995) as its Chair. He also served as Chair of the Council of King's Inns from 1999 until 2004. He was a member of the Council of the International Bar Association from 1997 to 2004, serving as co-Chair of the Forum for Barristers and Advocates (the international representative body for the independent referral bars) from 1998 to 2002." He became a "judge of the High Court" in November 2004 and was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court in March 2012.

According to a July 26, 2017 article by Mary Minihan and Ruadhán Mac Cormaic in the Irish Times, Justice Clarke "is a socially liberal judge who is seen as one of the most influential figures on the Supreme Court."

The Irish Times article (from which the accompanying photo was obtained) notes that Clarke "was the first member of his family to go to university." According to Minihan and Mac Cormaic's article, "Mr Justice Clarke joined Fine Gael in the summer after leaving Drimnagh Castle CBS and began to canvass for Jim Mitchell in Dublin South West. Later he wrote speeches for Garret FitzGerald and was election agent for the former Fine Gael TD George Birmingham, who is now a judge on the Court of Appeal. He also ran unsuccessfully for the Seanad in the 1980s.... [Clarke] was head-hunted for the High Court in 2004 by the Fianna Fáil/PD coalition."

An article in the July 26, 2017 Irish Examiner quotes Paul McGarry SC, then Chairman of the Council of The Bar of Ireland, as saying that Clarke is "one of the brightest legal minds of his generation" and "a strong advocate and defender of the importance of judicial independence."

Clarke is also a horse racing fan. According to McGarry, as quoted in the Irish Examiner, "As a trained mathematician, [Clarke] approaches rulings with a wonderfully methodical manner and relishes nothing more than a case with a numerical conundrum. It’s no secret that this has also stood him in good stead in his personal passion – horse racing." A second July 26 article in the Irish Times, by Ruadhán Mac Cormaic, notes that Clarke "is a regular at race meetings and a Leinster rugby season-ticket holder."

Monday, May 14, 2018

Campaign website launched, May 23 fundraiser set for Judge Sam Betar

A campaign website has been launched for Judge Samuel J. Betar III. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence. A link has also been added to the blog sidebar.

Betar is the Democratic candidate for the O'Donnell vacancy in the far northwest suburban 13th Subcircuit. He will face Republican nominee Christine Svenson on the November ballot.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1983, Betar had served as an associate judge since 1998. The Illinois Supreme Court appointed him to the O'Donnell vacancy in July 2017. Betar's campaign bio notes that he is currently assigned to the Third Municipal District and the Domestic Violence Division. He presides over criminal domestic violence cases and misdemeanor jury calls. Betar is active in the Northwest Suburban Bar Association (NWSBA), and has served as co-chair of its Matrimonial Law Committee. In 2017, according to his campaign bio, Betar helped develop a program for attorneys to provide pro bono services to domestic violence victims who wish to file civil petitions for orders of protection against their abusers.

Judge Betar's supporters have organized a fundraiser for their candidate on Wednesday, May 23, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., at Emmett's Brewing Company, 110 N. Brockway, Palatine.

Tickets for the event are $100 each, but sponsorships are available (Silver - $200, Gold - $500, Platinum - $1,000). For more information, or to reserve tickets, email citizenstoelectjudgesambetar@gmail.com.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

May 31 fundraiser for Scott McKenna

Supporters of Scott McKenna's 15th Subcircuit candidacy are planning a fundraiser for their candidate at Rosebud Prime, One S. Dearborn, on Thursday, May 31, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are $100 each, but a sponsorship may be had for $300, or a premium sponsorship for $1,000.

Lori Vanderlaan and Best Vanderlaan & Harrington (where McKenna is presently a partner) are hosting the event. Also helping to sponsor the event are Hurley McKenna & Mertz, Winters Salzetta O’Brien & Richardson, Joe Power, Todd Smith, Tom Power, Joe Balesteri, Tom Siracusa, Sean Houlihan, John Scanlon, Clifford Law Office, Nakos & O’Connor, Chris Hurley, Mark & Lisa McKenna, Mike Mertz, Jim Best, Tim Cavanagh, John Palumbo, Mike Keating, Salvi Schostok & Pritchard, Romanucci & Blandin, George Jasinski, Dan McCarthy (Waterville Advisors), Terrence Hegarty & Assoc., Motherway & Napleton, Parente & Norem, Strellis & Field, Mike Rathsack, Maurice Dusky, Vrdolyak Law Group, Miroballi Durkin & Rudin, Perry Browder, Mark Hawkinson (Fast Market Options), Terrence & Kathryn McKenna, Mike Urbanski, John Kyle, Brian Sass, and Steve & Catherine Yee.

For more information, or to order tickets, email mckennaforjudge@gmail.com.

Not sure about compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Not a likely FWIW reader - even if he were real.
As you might expect, because For What It's Worth is published on the Internet, it is available around the Whole Wide World (which, I have recently learned, is not what "www" stands for).

Nevertheless, much as I'd like to imagine Horace Rumpole decompressing at Pomeroy's after a hard day jousting with the Mad Bull down at the Old Bailey, sipping a generous glass of Chateau Thames Embankment, and calling up FWIW on his smart phone... it seems very unlikely that this blog would have much appeal much beyond the borders of County Cook.

However, if Rumpole or anyone else in chambers at No. 2 Equity Court were to call up FWIW, it is my understanding that they'd get the exact same page you're looking at, but with this notice superimposed:
This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services, to personalize ads and to analyze traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies.
This blog is published by the Blogger service of Google, and Blogger slapped the above and foregoing notice on foreign incarnations of this blog without any exertion on my part. I dimly understand that this notice was added in order to comply with regulations imposed by the European Union.

I only recently figured out that the cookie notice is different, somehow, than the latest thing about which I'm getting frequent emails, viz., the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The one difference I can actually explain is that the cookie notice has been around for awhile now but GPDR is only going into effect this month.

Beyond that, although I have attempted to work through the jargon-laden verbiage of the 'explanatory' articles Google provides, I have had difficulty actually determining what, if anything, Google actually wants me to do in order to remain in the good graces of Brussels-based bureaucrats who have no interest whatsoever in the judicial aspirations of Cook County residents.

I have read that "GDPR introduces significant new obligations for the ecosystem," but I have no real understanding of what that means. I thought that 'ecosystem' referred to birds and bees and dirt and trees and other living things in a given area -- but I find that Dictionary.com offers an alternative definition of ecosystem as "any system or network of interconnecting and interacting parts, as in a business: The success of Apple’s ecosystem depends on hardware/software integration...."

I guess I am a content provider -- Google/Blogger wouldn't be able to collect any information about blog readers unless folks like me provide content -- and given how many millions of content providers exist, this probably makes me analogous to a bug hiding under a fallen leaf on the forest floor of the Google/Blogger ecosystem.

As near as I can tell, the following appears to be the key passage in the various materials I've gotten from Google about GDPR:
You are not required to seek consent for a user’s activity on Google’s sites (we obtain that ourselves when users visit our sites). We are asking only that you seek consent for your uses of our ads products on your properties. We already require that certain consents are obtained from your users in the EEA, and we are updating those requirements in line with the GDPR. We encourage you to link to this user-facing page explaining how Google manages data in its ads products. Doing so will meet the requirement of our EU User Consent Policy to give your users information about Google’s uses of their personal data.
Well, now I've linked. And I hope that's sufficient to keep me from getting stepped on.

Time will tell.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

What the heck happened to the candidate list in the sidebar?

The March primary is history. So it was time to archive the list of primary candidate websites (the websites can still be found, if you're looking, and if the sites themselves are still 'live,' at this Page Two post).

But there are still some sites left in the sidebar here.

These are the candidates facing contested elections in November.

To recap, in the 12th Subcircuit, Democrat Joel Chupack will face Republican David Studenroth. Studenroth's campaign website remains in the sidebar. Chupack did not have a website for the primary (he used this Facebook page). If he gets a website, I'll add it to the list.

There are three contests in the 13th Subcircuit. Republican Gary W. Seyring will now face Democrat (and former judge) Ketki "Kay" Steffen for the Crane vacancy. Democrat Shannon P. O'Malley (once known as Philip Spiwak) will face Daniel Patrick Fitzgerald for the Lawrence vacancy. Republican Christine Svenson will face Democrat Judge Samuel Betar III for the O'Donnell vacancy.

You'll note websites for Seyring, Steffen, Fitzgerald and Svenson in the abbreiviated sidebar. I don't know of any campaign websites for O'Malley or Betar yet -- but I'll add these as well if they come online.

Finally, in the 15th Subcircuit, one of the two vacancies on the November ballot will be contested: Democrat Scott McKenna will face Republican Karla Marie Fiaoni. McKenna's website remains in the shriveled sidebar; I don't yet have any website for Fiaoni.

All the other many vacancies on the November ballot will be uncontested.

Which is why voting in the primary is so important... but, then, we've talked about this before....

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Cook County Democratic Party to screen judges seeking retention?

That was the rumor -- and I was told there was some serious discontent in the ranks as a result.

And for good reason: The retention election is expressly made non-partisan by Article 6, Section 12 (d) of the 1970 Illinois Constitution (which provides in pertinent part, emphasis mine, "The names of Judges seeking retention shall be submitted to the electors, separately and without party designation, on the sole question whether each Judge shall be retained in office for another term").

But the rumor is not entirely correct.

Yes, the Democratic Party is going to be looking at the qualifications of judges seeking retention, according to Jacob Kaplan, the Executive Director of the Cook County Democratic Party. In an email to FWIW, Kaplan acknowledged that "several committeemen" had become "concerned with the fact that the Party has historically recommended a YES vote on ALL retention judges in its mailings and literature for the November election" -- even those few judges originally elected as Republicans -- even though, sometimes, not "ALL" judges might be worthy of retention.

The result, Kaplan said, was the adoption of a new bylaw by the Cook County Central Committee at a January 11 meeting. Newly added Section 5 of Article VI of the Bylaws now provides:
The Executive Committee of the Cook County Democratic Party shall have the authority to recommend to the Central Committee whether to withhold endorsement from any judge(s) on the retention ballot, upon good cause shown by any member(s) of the Central Committee. “Good cause” may include consideration of bar association, peer and other ratings and reviews; public proceedings before, or discipline and sanctions imposed by, the Judicial Inquiry Board or the Illinois Supreme Court; a vacancy in office as defined by the Illinois Election Code; and misconduct bringing the office of judge into disrepute. The Central Committee may adopt, in whole or in part, such recommendation not to support retention.
According to Kaplan, new Party Chair Toni Preckwinkle has begun formation of a retention committee, which "will likely be tasked with determining if there is 'good cause' to recommend a non-endorsement of any judges up for retention in the November election."

While no formal process is yet in place, any negative recommendations would have to be approved by the full Central Committee (all 80 ward and township committeemen), Kaplan said.

Personal Opinion Clearly Labeled as Such: Whether this initiative will inject an unwelcome partisanship into the retention process will depend on how it is implemented.

I don't know for certain that it will happen, not in light of her recent conviction, or in light of the Illinois Supreme Court's order of April 26 suspending her from the practice of law, but Jessica O'Brien could still be on this year's retention ballot. I am quite certain that some committeemen would be squeamish about supporting "ALL" retention candidates if she is among them.

If a criminal conviction is what is meant by "good cause," then I can understand what the Democratic Party is doing here.

On the other hand, "good cause," according to the text of the new bylaw, may also include "consideration of bar association, peer and other ratings and reviews." There is concern in many quarters that some bar groups have, at least sometimes, allowed political and ideological considerations to seep into the judicial candidate evaluation process. One does not need much imagination to see how this innocent-sounding reform could further politicize the bar rating process.

Still, maybe it's a tempest in a teapot: Who cares if the Democratic Party says "no" to 10 or 20 or even 30 retention judges? The Party's endorsement is no guarantee of election -- we've seen this often enough -- so why would a negative recommendation be the 'kiss of death' for a retention candidate? Second City Cop will urge a "no" vote on all retention judges at some point; it has in every recent election cycle. The Tribune always picks out a few as deserving a "no" vote, and bar groups seldom support "ALL" retention judges. And yet, for a couple of decades now, every single retention judge -- even one found not guilty of battery by reason of insanity -- has been retained in office.

Of course, it's easy for me to suggest that a Democratic Party retention committee poses no cause for alarm: My livelihood is not dependent on getting 60% + 1 of the vote this November. And I'd be the first to agree that I'd rather have the Party's support than otherwise.

But I would assume -- and I would expect -- that the Cook County Democratic Party would be wary of expending too much political capital trying to say "no" to too many retention hopefuls. It would not make a lot of sense for the Democratic Party to take a stand against a retention candidate unless the defects in that candidate were so obvious that the Party would be cheered even if the effort to defeat a candidate failed.

I've written in every election cycle that the default vote for all retention candidates is "yes." Voting no on a particular candidate requires a good reason. If that's the approach the Party takes with its retention committee, things should be fine. But we must remain vigilant to avoid the merest taint of partisan politics in the retention election. Politics should have no place in retention elections.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Caswell Crebs is not available: A Supreme Court story?

Gather round, FWIW readers, for another installment in our occasional series, How to Read the News.

A real newspaper, an endangered species to be sure, consists of at least three things: news, ads, and opinions.

(I would add that a real newspaper must also include a robust comics section, whatever those stuffed shirts in New York may say... but I will try not to digress.)

A newspaper's opinion content typically consists of two types, the newspaper's own opinions (editorials) and the opinions of columnists, not all of whom need always agree with the newspaper's editorial board. These are often found on the page opposite the page on which the newspaper's editorials are printed; thus the designation, 'op-ed.'

Usually, a newspaper's editorials will be linked to some articles that have appeared in the paper's news columns ('columns' here used in the sense of how words on a newspaper page are divided into columns, not 'columns' in the sense of some pundit spouting his or her opinions).

I realize the Millennials in the audience may be growing restless at this point. Some may be having trouble remembering what a newspaper looks like. I can refer you to what one of my wisenheimer kids said one day, picking a newspaper up off my couch: "Wow, Dad!" he said, as mockingly as possible, "Someone's taken the Internet and put it on paper for the convenience of old people! How clever!"

But traditionally -- historically -- a newspaper would print editorials based on some news stories it had already run: News stories about the indictment of Ald. Filch on various charges of malfeasance are followed by an editorial calling on Ald. Filch to resign.

But sometimes a newspaper will offer an opinion based on mere rumor.

Thus, a couple of weeks ago, fueled by rumors that Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman is thinking of retiring soon, the Chicago Tribune published an editorial, "Editorial: Intrigue on the Illinois Supreme Court." A few days later, the Champaign News-Gazette, picking up on the same rumor, and building on (and citing to) the Tribune editorial, followed with Editorial | End politics on state high court."

There are differences in the positions staked out by the two papers, but there is at least one area of common concern: If the Supreme Court appoints someone to Justice Freeman's seat, that person would have a 'leg up' on election to that seat in 2020. (The editorials also both question some of Justice Freeman's picks for other judicial vacancies -- the assumption being that the outgoing justice will be given the privilege of choosing his successor, as has happened before.)

Would a Freeman-designated successor have the inside track on holding the seat in 2020?

FWIW readers know that a whole lot of Supreme Court appointees don't find electoral success in races for vacancies on the Circuit or Appellate Courts. Supreme Court vacancies are as rare as hen's teeth -- so there's not a lot of sample size on which to make a meaningful projection.

But why should we expect any different? Put it this way... a prospective replacement who can not count on the active support of the Cook County Democratic Party... or of the 'establishment' (Tribune editorialists included)... will have a tough go in a crowded primary, regardless of 'incumbency.' And, no matter who might be appointed, it will likely be a crowded primary.

I don't know if Justice Freeman is stepping down soon or not. I've heard the same rumors that the Tribune and the News Gazette have heard -- but I didn't run them. Why not? Well, for one thing, I hear lots of rumors -- in the March primary, for example, there was certainly going to be one, and maybe even two, 9th Subcircuit vacancies, and a second vacancy in the 3rd Subcircuit besides... but these vacancies did not materialize. If I could figure out which rumors were true and which were false, I'd be able to predict the future. And if I could predict the future, I'd head over to the Rivers Casino. Just for one afternoon -- no sense being greedy.

But, whatever. Let's assume that Justice Freeman really is looking to step down soon so that a Supreme Court vacancy would need to be filled in 2020. I submit that this is what the newspapers want us to assume -- without their having to squander any credibility by reporting this rumor as news.

So, now that we know what the papers intend, what are we to make of the stories themselves?

The Tribune thinks a blue-ribbon committee should screen applicants for the position and that the Supreme Court should appoint a temporary replacement based on the committee's recommendation, without any tawdry political considerations.

Sometimes the Tribune can be so charmingly naive.

A committee is too often just a group of persons recruited to ratify a decision already made. While two of our three First District Supreme Court justices have screening committees for Circuit Court appointments, to judge by the comments I receive, FWIW readers are extraordinarily skeptical about them. And I'm being polite. Personally, I think that any process that brings to the attention of the appointing justices persons that might not otherwise be considered is worthwhile -- but, I admit, based on observation, there are very few true surprises that have to date emerged from existing screening committees.

So the News-Gazette's approach strikes me as more practical.

The Downstate paper suggests that the Court should appoint a temporary replacement who will not run in 2020.

Someone like Caswell Crebs.

Not actually Crebs, of course, inasmuch as he is not available on account of the fact that he died in 1988.

Now it may not be just the Millennials who are scratching their heads at this point. But let me explain.

Crebs hailed from Carmi, in White County, Illinois. He was elected a Circuit Judge in the far Downstate 2nd Circuit in 1945 and he retired in 1964.

But, in 1969, the Supreme Court called Crebs out of retirement to fill the 5th District vacancy created by the death of Justice Byron O. House. Crebs didn't run for the vacancy; the vacancy was subsequently filled by Justice Joseph H. Goldenhersh. Justice Crebs did such a good job of not running for that vacancy that, in 1975, when a Second District vacancy opened up, following the resignation of Justice Charles H. Davis, the Supreme Court invited Crebs back. He didn't run for that vacancy either (Justice Thomas H. Moran was elected to that vacancy).

Let me state the obvious: Nobody on the Supreme Court confides in me.

But I'd be shocked if every justice didn't have someone in mind for Justice Freeman's seat, should he choose to give it up. There might even be some agreement among a couple of them about who might be the best choice. And maybe that person might be acceptable to the political powers-that-be, and the unions, and the media, and the bar groups, and whoever else thinks they get to stick their oar in before the people get to choose. And if such a consensus candidate emerges, God bless him or her; that person will surely be appointed -- and then we'll see whether incumbency really does help a Supreme Court candidate.

But... if that consensus candidate does not emerge... maybe the Court might want to look at its history... and seek out a new Caswell Crebs. Someone who will not run in 2020.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Looking more at the 2018 Associate Judge finalists - part 3

Updated May 1, 2018

Concluding today, FWIW has been looking -- in alphabetical order -- at the 34 Cook County Associate Judge finalists. For Part 1, click here; for Part 2, scroll down or click here.

The immediate Past President of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, Curtis Bennett Ross is a family law practitioner, practicing from the Loop Law Offices of Curtis Bennett Ross, LLC. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1980, according to ARDC, Ross's firm website also notes that he is a Certified Public Accountant.

Judge Robin D. Shoffner was unsuccessful in her bid to hold the 8th Subcircuit seat she now holds pursuant to Supreme Court appointment. She also sought a 5th Subcircuit vacancy in 2016.

Before her first judicial appointment, in 2014, Shoffner was trial attorney for the Federal Civil Rights Division of the Corporation Counsel's Office. She also worked as Senior Litigation Counsel for Aon Risk Services, and with the law firm currently known as Albert, Whitehead, P.C. Shoffner is a former President of the Black Women Lawyers' Association and as a past board member of the Cook County Bar Association. She was licensed to practice law in Illinois in 1990.

Levander Smith Jr. is an attorney with the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services. He has been licensed in Illinois since 1993. A fairly recent transfer to the Chicago area, Smith previously applied for an associate judgeship in far Downstate St. Clair County in 2013 and 2015.

Trina Smith is an Attorney Supervisor with the Public Defender's Office. She has been licensed in Illinois since 1999.

Judge Patrick Thomas Stanton was appointed to the Circuit Court in late 2016. He was unsuccessful in his bid to hold that 3rd Subcircuit seat in the March primary.

Before his elevation to the bench, Stanton was a member of Dykema Gossett, serving as managing partner of the firm's Chicago office and head of Dykema's firm-wide Business Litigation practice group. Stanton has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1993. He began his legal career with Jones Day, leaving that position to become a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge George Marovich. After completing his clerkship, Stanton joined the firm of Schwartz Cooper, rising to partner in that firm and serving on its executive committee. He joined Dykema in 2008.

Lisa M. Taylor practices with Schwartz Gilligan Ltd. She has been licensed in Illinois since 2001. She previously worked for Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP.

Daniel Alexander Trevino is a partner with Hinshaw Culbertson. A former President of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, Trevino's current practice focuses on products liability transportation litigation. He has been with Hinshaw since 1999, the year he received his license to practice law in Illinois.

Trevino appeared before Democratic Party slatemakers last year, seeking endorsement for a countywide vacancy, but he was not a candidate in the March 2018 primary.

Lynn Karyl Weaver-Boyle is a partner in the Chicago office of Grotefeld Hoffmann Schleiter Gordon & Ochoa, LLP.

Weaver-Boyle began her career as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, where she tried 50 felony cases. Her practice now focuses on large loss property subrogation, construction defects and product liability matters. She has been licensed in Illinois since 1990. Weaver-Boyle also sought the Democratic Party's endorsement this past year for a countywide vacancy, but did not run when an endorsement was not forthcoming.

James Adolph Wright is Of Counsel to the firm of Chico & Nunes, P.C. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1989, Wright has also served as Chief of Staff for the Chicago Board of Education, as Inspector General for the Illinois Toll Highway Authority, and as the Executive Inspector General ("EIG") for the Agencies, Board and Commissions under the Illinois Governor, (the Office of the Executive Inspector General, or "OEIG"). Wright obtained a CPA in 1981 and also holds an MBA.

William Yu is counsel in the Chicago office of Ulmer & Berne LLP. He focuses his practice on class action litigation, products liability, construction, transportation, and professional liability. He was previously a Partner with Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP and Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP. Licensed in Illinois since 1996, Yu began his career in the Municipal Prosecution Division of the City of Chicago’s Corporation Counsel.

Yu is a past President of the Asian American Bar Association of Chicago. He has also served on the inaugural Executive Committee of the Alliance of Minority Bar Associations and is on the Advisory Board of the Korean American Bar Association of Chicago.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Looking more at the 2018 Associate Judge finalists - part 2

Updated April 30, 2018

Fourteen down, 20 to go. FWIW is looking---in alphabetical order---at the persons who have made the 2018 'Short List' for Cook County Associate Judge. Scroll down, or click here for part 1.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Myron Franklin Mackoff to an 8th Subcircuit vacancy in late 2016. He could not that seat in the March primary.

Mackoff, the son of longtime Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Mackoff, has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1994. Following his graduation from Northwestern University School of Law, Mackoff worked for several years in the Illinois Attorney General's Environmental Law Division. In 2002, Mackoff left the AG's office to join Hubert, Fowler, & Quinn, later known as the Hubert Law Group. After Donald Hubert's death, in 2006, Mackoff was chosen to wind down the affairs of the firm. Mackoff and Travis Richardson, now also a Circuit Court judge, became law partners in 2007.

Celestia Laurene Mays is a former President of the Cook County Bar Association. Licensed in Illinois since 1990, Mays practices law as Celestia L. Mays, P.C., with an office in Chicago's Loop.

Mays filed for a 5th Subcircuit vacancy in the 2016 primary, but withdrew from the race.

Judge Stephanie Kathryn Miller was appointed to a 6th Subcircuit vacancy in January 2017. She did not hold the seat in the March primary.

Miller was licensed to practice law in Illinois in 1999. An Assistant State's Attorney at the time of her appointment to the bench, Miller has also worked as an Assistant Public Guardian. A member of the Board of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago and co-founder of the National LGBT Prosecutor’s Association, Miller has also served as the treasurer of the National Hispanic Prosecutor’s Association, and the LGBT committee chair for the Hispanic Lawyers’ Association of Illinois.

After 19 years as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, Lisette Catherine Mojica recently joined the City of Chicago Law Department, where she now serves as a deputy supervisor and the City Prosecutor. Mojica supervises over 30 attorneys in the Legal Information & Prosecutions Division, which includes traffic prosecutions at the Daley Center, City ordinance violations at five municipal branch courts, administrative notices of violation prosecutions at the Department of Administrative Hearings, and Freedom of Information Act litigation in Chancery Court. She is active in HLAI, the PRBA, and regularly participates in Women Everywhere through the WBAI.

Tisa Lynne Morris has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1991. A former Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, Morris was Chief Administrator of the Chicago Police Department's Office of Professional Standards from 2004 to 2007.

After leaving OPS, Morris returned to the State's Attorney's Office, rising to Chief of the Juvenile Justice Bureau at the time of her departure earlier this year. Morris now is a sole practitioner.

Margaret Mary Ogarek has been with the State's Attorney's Office since receiving her law license in 1999. She currently serves as a Wing Supervisor in the SAO's Felony Trial Division. From 2011 until earlier this year Ogarek was Deputy Supervisor in the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Division.

Ogarek has served on the boards of several groups including the Coalition to Improve Prosecution of Criminal Sexual Assault and the National Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (Legal Committee Co-Chair, FBI Working Group).

Diane Marie Pezanoski is a Deputy Corporation Counsel with the City of Chicago in the Law - Aviation, Environmental, Regulatory and Contracts Workgroup. She has been licensed in Illinois since 1985.

Leo Steven Rakowski is a partner with K & R Family Legal Services, LLP in Northbrook. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1990, Rakowski is a former President of the Advocates Society and serves as a director of the Polish American Association.

Rakowski has also volunteered as an attorney and director of the Amicus Poloniae Legal Clinic, receiving its 2008 Distinguished Service Award. He has also served as general counsel and volunteer with Chicagoland Golden Gloves Charity.

Judge Travis Richardson was appointed to the Circuit Court in February 2017, soon after the appointment of his one-time law partner, Myron Mackoff.

Richardson was a candidate for 2nd Subcircuit vacancies in both 2016 and 2018, garnering the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune in both races. Richardson also served as a Hearing Examiner for the Chicago Board of Elections between 2010 and 2012. He has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1997.

Lori Michele Rosen is a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. She has been licensed in Illinois since 1996.

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Part 3 of this look at the persons on the Short List will follow as soon as possible. This post will be updated as necessary.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Rhonda Crawford found dead


The Tribune is now reporting the death of one-time judicial primary winner Rhonda Crawford.

Instead of presiding over trials, Crawford was about to stand trial on an official misconduct charge: After winning her 2016 primary election, but before actually being elected, Crawford donned a robe and presided over at least a few traffic cases in a Markham courtroom. Once this news got out, Crawford was fired from her job as a law clerk, suspended from the practice of law, and barred from taking judicial office, even though she was running unopposed. (The real judge who allowed Ms. Crawford to pretend to be a judge was subsequently retired by order of the Illinois Courts Commission.)

FWIW has heard from multiple sources that Ms. Crawford took her own life.

If true (and I have no reason to doubt my sources), this is a terrible, and unnecessary, end to a sad, sordid saga.

It's just a job.

It's a good job. Nice salary. Top-flight benefits. Above-average working conditions.

And more: It can provide at least a chance to do some tangible good in a terrible world.

It's a job that so many FWIW readers desperately want; it's a job that I have coveted for a quarter of a century.

But it's still just a job.

It's not worth dying for.

Even for one who came so close, but who fumbled it all away.

We'll be back to regular programming here soon. But, for now, I pray for Ms. Crawford's friends and family and for the peaceful repose of her soul.

I am so sorry.

Updated to add this statement from the office of Chief Judge Timothy Evans: "Chief Judge Evans is saddened to hear of Ms. Crawford’s passing and offers his condolences to her family and friends during this difficult time."

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For more reading: Guest Post: Recognizing, understanding, and referring a colleague in need

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Looking more at the 2018 Associate Judge finalists - part 1

Updated May 1, 2018

If history is any guide, I'll have to update this post as more information becomes available -- and that will be my plan, as time permits.

Starting today, in alphabetical order, FWIW takes a look at the 34 persons on this year's Associate Judge "Short List."

Amee Elizabeth Alonso is a sole practitioner with offices in Chicago's Loop. She was licensed in Illinois in 1994. Alonso was briefly a candidate for a countywide vacancy in the March primary; she withdrew from the race before the end of 2017. Her husband is U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Luis Alonso.

Marina E. Ammendola was appointed to the Circuit Court by the Illinois Supreme Court in February 2017. She was an unsuccessful candidate for a 14th Subcircuit vacancy in the March primary.

A former school teacher, Ammendola has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1989. Ammendola made the Chicago newspapers at the turn of the century when she represented Ald. Ed Burke and his wife, now-Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, in the "Baby T" custody case. Before setting up her own practice in 2001, Ammendola worked for Patricia C. Bobb & Associates.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Charles Stanley Beach to the Circuit Court in September 2017. He was unsuccessful candidate for a 6th Subcircuit vacancy in the March primary.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1996, Beach operated his own practice, Charles S. Beach, P.C., from 1999 until his appointment. A six-time Chair of the Chicago Bar Association Traffic Law Committee, Beach is the author of "Traffic Court Practice and Procedure," written for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education.

Lloyd James Brooks (pictured at right) is a founding partner of the Matteson-based Consumer Legal Group. He has been licensed in Illinois since 2000.

While Brooks focuses his practice mortgage foreclosure defense, having taken a number of such cases up on appeal, he also engages in other consumer protection litigation, real estate and insurance coverage matters. Brooks is also a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter.

Joel David Buikema (pictured at left) has been licensed in Illinois since 1997. He joined the Sandrick Law Firm in South Holland after 15 years as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, including service in that office's Real Estate Taxation Division.

Jeffrey George Chrones (pictured at right) is a shareholder in Johnson & Bell, where he serves as outside counsel to Pace Suburban Bus Service and otherwise focuses his practice on transportation, toxic tort, employment and product liability.

A former Cook County ASA and Illinois Assistant Attorney General, Chrones has been licensed in Illinois since 1993.

Judge Gerald Vernon Patrick Cleary III currently sits by appointment to a 10th Subcircuit vacancy. He was an unsuccessful candidate for this vacancy in the March primary.

Cleary has served as a Cook County Circuit Court judge since 2015, when he was appointed to a countywide vacancy. He withdrew his candidacy for that vacancy before the 2016 primary. Cleary sought a 10th Subcircuit vacancy in 2008 and a countywide vacancy in 2012.

At the time of his first bench appointment, Cleary was a partner with Pappas, Davidson, O'Connor & Fildes, P.C. Before joining Pappas, Davidson, Cleary was a partner at SmithAmundsen. From 1990 to 1997, Cleary was associated with Querrey & Harrow. He has been licensed in Illinois since 1989.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge John S. Fotopoulos to a countywide vacancy in August 2017. Although he was a candidate for a 15th Subcircuit vacancy in the 2014 primary, Fotopoulos did not file for any vacancy in the March 2018 primary.

A sole practitioner with offices in Orland Park at the time of his appointment, Fotopoulos has been licensed in Illinois since 2000.

Jean Golden is a partner with Cassiday Schade, where she co-chairs the firm's Insurance Practice Group.

Licensed in Illinois since 1977, Golden has authored or co-authored a number of articles, including chapters in IICLE, Commercial and Professional Liability Insurance (2008, 2010, 2014) and Illinois Insurance Law (2009, 2012, 2015).

Sanju Oommen Green is one of only two finalists this year who was also a finalist for the 2016 associate judge selection. In one of those glass half empty/ glass half full conundrums, Green was also a finalist for the 2014 associate judge selection.

Green is an Assistant State's Attorney, serving as a first chair prosecutor at 26th Street. Licensed in Illinois since 2000, she is a Past President of the Asian American Bar Association. According to the AABA website, Green was also a founding member of the Chicago Chapter of the National Asian Pacific Islander Prosecutors Bar Association, serving as secretary on its national board.

James Edward Hanlon, Jr. is currently the Chief of the Special Litigation Division in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1984, Hanlon was at one time an equity partner in two Big Law firms, Howrey, LLP (in the Global Litigation Group) and what is now called Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. He sought 12th Subcircuit vacancies in 2014 and 2016. He is married to Circuit Court Judge Kay M. Hanlon.

Michael James Hogan, Jr. is a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. He has been licensed in Illinois since 1999. I believe he is the son of former Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hogan.

Nathalina Antionette Hudson is an Assistant U.S. Attorney. She has been licensed in Illinois since 2001.

Joan Marie G. Kubalanza is currently a partner with Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard and Smith, LLP, specializing in insurance law and insurance coverage matters.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1984, Kubalanza was briefly an associate judge in the late 1990s. She was recalled to service as an associate judge by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2008, serving in this capacity through (I believe) 2012. Kubalanza was a candidate for a 15th Subcircuit vacancy in 2010 and for a countywide vacancy in 2012.

No lunch plans today? Vanguard Awards Luncheon starts at 11:30 at the Standard Club

Individuals who are leading the way to promote strength, professionalism and diversity across Chicago’s legal community will be recognized at the Chicago Bar Association’s 2018 Vanguard Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at the Standard Club in Chicago.

The event will honor 15 lawyers, judges or institutions that have made the law and the legal profession more accessible to and reflective of the community-at-large. Former Judge Maryam Ahmad, of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, will be the CBA’s 2018 Vanguard honoree.

Additional Vanguard honorees include Judge Samuel Belar III of the Arab American Bar Association of Illinois; Dorothy Capers of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago; Rep. Kelly Cassidy of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago; Veda Dmitrovich, of the Serbian Bar Association; Raja Gaddipati (posthumously) of the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago, and Judge Shelvin Louise Marie Hall of the Cook County Bar Association.

The remaining recipients include Alejandro Menchaca of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois; Dennis Mondero of the Filipino American Lawyers Association; Marta Almodovar of the Office of Accessibility & Education Outreach; Pedro Soler, of the Puerto Rican Bar Association; Judge Shelley Sutker-Dermer of the Decalogue Society; Judge Neera Walsh of the South Asian Bar Association of Chicago; Judge Diane P. Wood of the Women’s Bar Association, and Gary Zhao of the Chinese American Bar Association of Greater Chicago.

A reception for the Vanguard honorees begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Standard Club, 321 S. Plymouth Court, followed by the luncheon in the Grand Ballroom. Space was still available yesterday; persons interested in attending should call the CBA at (312) 554-2057. Tickets are $70 each.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Short list long on familiar names

It wasn't eight; it was nine. The 'unofficial' list I saw this morning was off by one.

Nine currently-serving judges are on the 'short list' just released by Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans. One, John S. Fotopoulos, did not run in the March primary. The other eight, Marina E. Ammendola, Charles "Charlie" Beach, Gerald Cleary, Myron "Mike" Mackoff, Stephanie Miller, Travis Richardson, Robin Shoffner, and Patrick Stanton, all came up short in their election bids.

On the other hand, that means that seven other current judges who were not on the primary ballot or who lost their primary elections, are not on the list.

One finalist, Sanju Oommen Green, was also a finalist in 2014 and 2016. Another, Joan Marie G. Kubalanza, was briefly an associate judge in the late 1990s. She was recalled to service as an associate judge by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2008, serving in this capacity through (I believe) 2012. Kubalanza was a candidate for a 15th Subcircuit vacancy in 2010 and for a countywide vacancy in 2012.

More about the current finalists will be forthcoming. But, for now, here is the list.
  • Amee Elizabeth Alonso
  • Marina E. Ammendola
  • Charles Stanley Beach
  • Lloyd James Brooks
  • Joel David Buikema
  • Jeffery George Chrones
  • Gerald Vernon Patrick Cleary III
  • John S. Fotopoulos
  • Jean Mary Golden
  • Sanju Oommen Green
  • James Edward Hanlon Jr.
  • Michael James Hogan Jr.
  • Nathalina A. Hudson
  • Joan Marie G. Kubalanza
  • Myron Franklin Mackoff
  • Celestia Laurene Mays
  • Stephanie Kathryn Miller
  • Lisette Catherine Mojica
  • Tisa Lynne Morris
  • Margaret Mary Ogarek
  • Diane Marie Pezanoski
  • Leo Steven Rakowski
  • Travis Richardson
  • Lori Michele Rosen
  • Curtis Bennett Ross
  • Robin Denise Shoffner
  • Levander Smith Jr.
  • Trina Smith
  • Patrick Thomas Stanton
  • Lisa M. Taylor
  • Daniel Alexander Trevino
  • Lynn Karyl Weaver-Boyle
  • James Adolph Wright
  • William Yu
Seventeen new associate judges will be elected from this list of 34 finalists.

Probably.

Unless there are one or more write-in winners.

According to the Chief Judge's press release today, of the 272 original applicants, 24 withdrew from the process before interviews. The Circuit Court's Nominating Committee interviewed 248 applicants, and post-interview withdrawals decreased the number to 232 applicants. Each of the 34 finalists holds ratings of Recommended, Qualified, or better from both the Chicago Bar Association and each of the 11 Alliance bar groups.

U.S. District Court announces Magistrate Judge vacancy

The Northern District of Illinois has announced an opening for a new Chicago-based Magistrate Judge.

The deadline for applications is 4:30 p.m. on May 18.

Applications can be accessed via this page on the Northern District's website.

To be eligible to serve as a Magistrate Judge an applicant must
  • be, and have been for at least five years, a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of a State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands of the United States, and have been engaged in the active practice of law for a period of at least five years;
  • be competent to perform all of the duties of the office; be of good moral character; be emotionally stable and mature; be committed to equal justice under the law; be in good health; be patient and courteous; and be capable of deliberation and decisiveness;
  • be less than seventy years of age; and
  • not be related to a judge of the district court.
A Merit Selection Panel composed of attorneys and other members of the community will review all applications and recommend to the judges of the Court a list of the persons whom it considers best qualified.

The Court will make the appointment following a Federal Bureau of Investigation full-field investigation and Internal Revenue Service tax check of the person selected to fill the position. An affirmative action effort will be made to give consideration to all qualified candidates, including women and members of minority groups.

All applications will be kept confidential, except as necessary for the Merit Selection Panel to perform its duties, and all applications will be examined only by members of the Merit Selection Panel and the district judges of the District Court.

BREAKING: Rumored AJ short list includes eight current sitting judges

Let's start with the facts as we know them right now: The 2018 Associate Judge short list has not yet been officially released.

Anxious FWIW readers may have seen a number of comments posted this morning suggesting that the short list came out last night.

It almost certainly did.

But the short list has not yet been officially released.

Unofficially, I have seen a partial list of names this morning that includes eight current Cook County Circuit Court judges sitting pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court appointment. I'm sitting on the list for now because it appears to be incomplete and because I can't verify all the names on it.

I'll update during the day as more information becomes available. It is my understanding that the AJ finalists are to meet later this morning; the official list will most likely be released after that meeting has concluded.

Road trip! IJF and IBF to jointly host May 15 reception in Springfield

The Illinois Judges Foundation and the Illinois Bar Foundation are co-hosting a Legal Luminary Reception on May 15, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., at the Illinois State Library, 300 S. 2nd Street, Springfield.

The proceeds from this joint event will benefit the educational, scholarship, legal aid, and lawyer assistance programs funded by the Illinois Judges Foundation and the Illinois Bar Foundation. The "Legal Luminaries" to be honored at this event are former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Philip J. Rarick, Circuit Court Judge Carole K. Bellows, and Springfield attorney Harvey B. Stephens.


Tickets for the event are $50 each and may be purchased through the IBF website or by calling (312) 726-6072. A block of hotel rooms has been reserved at the President Abraham Lincoln Springfield Hotel for $125 per night. The pricing will be available until April 24 or until the group block is sold out, whichever comes first. Reservations can be made through via the IBF website page linked above.

Guided tours of the Illinois Supreme Court will be conducted on May 15, but places are limited. Tours are set for 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. Arrangements must be made through the IBF website.

This joint reception is being held on the occasion of the Illinois bicentennial. The IJF and IBF Joint Bicentennial Reception Committee includes Perry J. Browder, Hon. John L. Hauptman (Ret.), Hon. Martin J. Mengarelli, Donald R. Tracy, Lauren Tuckey Murray, and Hon. Debra B. Walker.

Judge John C. Griffin appointed to the Illinois Appellate Court

In an order entered yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge John C. Griffin to the Appellate Court vacancy created by the pending resignation of Justice John B. Simon.

The appointment is effective May 2, and will terminate on December 7, 2020.

Judge Griffin was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1976. He was in private practice for 31 years, primarily handling real estate, zoning and development-related matters, until March 2008, when he was appointed to the Circuit Court bench by the Illinois Supreme Court. Griffin won election to a 15th Subcircuit vacancy in 2010. The Chicago Council of Lawyers bestowed a 'Well Qualified' rating on Judge Griffin when he sought retention in 2016.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

CBA announces Law Week events

The Chicago Bar Association has announced three events to coincide with the American Bar Association's celebration of Law Day on May 1.

Call-a-Lawyer Program. The CBA's Law Week observances begin on Saturday, April 28, from 9:00 a.m. to noon, when lawyers with the CBA's Call-a-Lawyer Program will be available to take calls and offer brief legal advice at (312) 554-2001.

Citizens can call in and briefly explain their situation to an attorney who will then work to suggest self-help strategies or provide advice to help resolve their issues. If callers need further legal services, or have questions beyond the scope of the attorney’s practice area, they will be advised to contact the CBA Lawyer Referral Service for a referral to an attorney in the appropriate area of law.

The CBA’s Lawyer Referral Service has more than 200 prescreened, qualified lawyers experienced in almost every area of law that offer their services to the public. When contacting the LRS---also at (312) 554-2001---during normal business hours Monday through Friday, callers can be referred to attorneys practicing in numerous areas of law including:
  • Domestic Relations, including divorce, custody, support and other family law matters);
  • Personal Injury (including auto accidents, slip and falls, products liability, wrongful death, malpractice and other types of injury cases;
  • Estate Planning, including will and trust drafting, probate and will contest;
  • Real Estate, including buying or selling real estate, foreclosure defense and landlord/tenant issues; and
  • Employment Law, including wrongful termination, harassment and discrimination.
Additionally, the CBA offers an after-hours On-Call service which provides callers access to attorneys in three different areas of law at any time after normal business hours. Citizens can reach a lawyer 24/7 for help with criminal defense, personal injury and family law matters by calling (312) 554-2001.

Meet the Judges Reception and Liberty Bell Award Presentation. The CBA Young Lawyers Section will host a "meet and greet" with judges from the Federal Court, the Illinois Appellate Court, and the Circuit Court of Cook County on Thursday, May 3, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., at the CBA.

The event is free for CBA members, but registration is required. Click here to reach the event registration page on the CBA website.

The YLS will present its Liberty Bell Award at the May 3 reception. The award is made to a non-lawyer who works within the legal system to advocate for the disadvantaged and help increase access to the justice system for citizens who need it most. Nominations for the award remain open until April 20. For more information about the award, or to nominate a deserving non-lawyer, click here.

Law Day Public Celebration. The CBA will conclude its celebration of Law Week by hosting a public celebration of Law Day on Friday, May 4, at noon in the Daley Center Plaza. The CBA's Barristers Big Band will provide musical entertainment, offering selections from the Big Band Era. Prominent members of the Chicago legal community will provide personal reflections at the ceremony.

The theme of this years CBA's Law Week programs is "Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom."

CBA President Judge Thomas R. Mulroy said this year’s theme is a good reminder that our system can only work if there is access to justice for all, regardless of income.

"We must all work to ensure access to justice and to freedom for the judiciary. The separation of powers and the checks and balances in the American system of justice has never been more important so as to preserve liberty and justice for everyone," said Mulroy. "The Chicago Bar Association is proud to be leading this conversation with an exciting week of events for legal professionals and the public."

Court adjourned: Harry Anderson passes away


Harry Anderson, who played Judge Harold T. Stone on TV's Night Court from 1984 to 1992, has passed away.

I will be playing a lot of Mel Tormé records today.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Guest Post: Recognizing, understanding, and referring a colleague in need


Chelsy A. Castro, JD, MA, MSW, LCSW, is Director of Outreach and Clinical Programming for the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program. She joined the LAP staff in 2014.

As lawyers, we are a vulnerable population. Recent studies have confirmed that the overwhelming stress that is commonplace in our legal profession disproportionately results in attorneys suffering levels of depression, anxiety, addiction, and other serious issues at rates much higher than those seen in the general population.1 Statistics collected by the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program, a not-for-profit providing free and confidential support for all Illinois lawyers, judges, and law students in the areas of stress, anxiety, overall well-being, burnout prevention, grief, process addictions, and substances abuse, among other concerns, show that the nationwide issues identified by these studies are also very present here in the state of Illinois. Many outside the profession are surprised to learn that, while we are problem solvers and we do have influence, we are also a vulnerable population suffering at alarming rates.

So why are attorneys a vulnerable population? Our consistently demanding careers are a key factor, but it goes deeper than that. As attorneys, we typically face three categories of stressors: 1) Life Stressors; 2) Organizational Stressors; and 3) Individual Stressors.

Life Stressors

Life Stressors are those factors that come along with being human. Just because we are lawyers does not mean we get to avoid issues with our partners; problems with our children; health concerns; and/or financial hurdles. Rather, we have to cope with all those often inevitable stressors in the context of our already very stressful careers.

Organizational Stressors

The Organizational Stressors are those factors that are unique to the practice of law. For many attorneys, legal practice can be characterized as one of high pressure, but little credit. We are often the workhorses for our firms or agencies. That is OK, but it can be a big stressor for those accustomed to praise in exchange for effort and/or sacrifice, as we are conditioned to expect throughout our schooling.

We are also functioning in what is usually a zero-sum game. Our legal system is adversarial in nature, usually resulting in one side loosing while the other wins. Even in a contract negotiation with that "meeting of the minds," rarely does everyone walk away from the table with everything they wanted. We all logically understand this, but we struggle to accept that, statistically, we must loose sometimes, resulting in psychological stress.

We also have client expectations to contend with. Have you ever had a client who was OK with receiving work next week and that it be "good enough?" It is highly unlikely that this describes anyone's typical caseload, and for a good reason. As attorneys we are dealing with very important issues for other people; we often have their livelihoods, family's wellbeing, or even their lives in our hands. There is a lot on the line, causing an enormous amount of pressure to get it right.

Finally, there is our legal culture’s definition of success. Culturally, we base a lot of our self-worth on external validating factors, things that are external to who we are as people. The most common ones are: what law school you graduated from, your class ranking, what journal you wrote for, who you work for, who your clients are, what your title is, and what you get paid. There is nothing wrong with success or these factors, but, if our self-worth is primarily defined by these, we stand to suffer a great deal when one of them goes awry, often by no fault of our own.

Individual Stressors

Individual Stressors are those factors that we both see in ourselves and share with many attorneys. Pessimism is a widely shared personality trait in lawyers which is simultaneously beneficial and harmful. Pessimism can actually make you a very good law student and later an excellent attorney because it helps you keep a look out for all of the potential problems. In fact, it’s one of the first things they teach you in law school – only it's called issue spotting! Whereas pessimism can be very useful in the form of issue spotting in the context of our legal profession, it can be detrimental in our personal lives, making us bad partners, bad parents, bad friends, and bad to ourselves. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to pessimism, often focusing on the losses or negatives, rather than identifying strengths and opportunities.

In addition to being pessimists, we are also often perfectionists. Many will argue that perfectionism drives attorneys to be better and work harder, but how many of us are actually perfect? (If you have identified yourself as perfect, please do contact us. We should have a chat.) We logically know we are not perfect, but somehow we continue to expect ourselves to be, often beating ourselves up psychologically whenever we fail to measure up to this unattainable goal. Moreover, perfectionism is often a double edged sword. Yes, it can drive you to do better (likely causing suffering along the way due to unrealistic expectations), but it can also keep you from attempting things because you are fearful of not being perfect at them. When was the last time perfectionism held you back?

What to look out for: Substance Abuse

The inherent role of stress both in human nature and the legal profession requires that attorneys develop coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, as recent studies and IL LAP statistics both reveal, substance abuse is often used as a coping mechanism for this stress. In a culture in which substance use (often alcohol) is acceptable in both professional and social contexts, it can be challenging to know when such use becomes a problem. Alcohol consumption is not the problem. Rather, the problem arises when alcohol and/or other substances are used as coping mechanisms. So what signs should tip you off that you or a colleague might be relying on a substance as an unhealthy coping mechanism?

Keep a look out for:
  • Increase in tolerance
  • Pattern of consumption
  • Decrease in inhibition
  • Not being able to stop after one or two drinks
  • Wanting a substance to relax vs Needing a substance to relax
To help you remember, you can follow the MAP, a mnemonic device developed by IL LAP (Pacione & Belleau, ABA Solo Practice Journal, May 2015).

M: Mood or attitudinal disturbances
A: Appearance or physical changes
P: Productivity and quality of work

If you notice a big shift in a person's mood, appearance or productivity, take that as a sign that the individual is potentially relying on a substance as a coping mechanism.

As both recent studies and IL LAP statistics reveal, substance abuse among attorneys is often accompanied by issues such as anxiety and depression, two of the most common mental health issues identified among attorneys.

What to look out for: Anxiety

Symptoms:
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained trembling
  • Increased worry
  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems
  • Perfectionism
  • Unexplained pains
  • Decrease in productivity
  • Rumination
In the office:
  • "I can’t cope."
  • Increased arguing
  • Increased sick days taken
  • Work tasks taking longer to complete
  • Increased fear of potential consequences
  • Missed deadlines
  • Office door closed more frequently
What to look out for: Depression

Symptoms:
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, and/or making decisions
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Thoughts, plans, and/or attempts of suicide
In the office:
  • "I just don’t feel right."
  • Obvious changes in mood
  • Inability to enjoy things
  • Work tasks taking longer to complete
  • Noticeable rework
  • Absenteeism, tardiness, withdrawal
  • Indifference – apathy to self and/or others
What to do: Referring a friend to LAP

What do you do if you notice some of these symptoms in a colleague? You have options. Some would argue that you should not do anything because "it's none of your business," or because you might face repercussions from that individual. That is an option, but it is one that is more likely to result in hurting that individual and, potentially, causing harm to his or her clients and/or employer. It is not the responsible choice. That’s why LAP exists.

Through LAP you have a few choices: 1) You can tell your colleague about LAP and its cost-free and confidential services, encouraging him or her to contact us; 2) You can express your concern to your colleague and then call LAP with him; or 3) You can call LAP without your colleague and express your concern to a LAP clinician, with the option to remain anonymous. This last option eliminates the concern of repercussions.

What happens after a referral?

Once initial contact is made with LAP, the individual will meet with a LAP clinician for an assessment. Assessments last approximately 30-45 minutes and take place in person at one of LAP's four offices (accommodations can be made for individuals who cannot travel to an office). During the assessment, the individual and the clinician will discuss the individual's personal, medical, and family history, what precipitated the meeting, and his or her current goals. The meeting will conclude with an action plan for the individual's treatment. That plan might include one or more of the following: short-term individual counseling at LAP; a referral to a long-term therapist; attendance at one of LAP's weekly support groups; a pairing with one of LAP's trained Peer Support Volunteers; a referral to a higher level of care; or other. Regardless of the options or combination thereof, the individual will receive continued confidential support from LAP at no cost and for as long as necessary.

For more information, visit the LAP website at www.illinoislap.org, or contact the Chicago LAP office at 20 South Clark St, Suite 450, call to visit any of our office state-wide (312) 726-6607. You may also send a 100% confidential email to gethelp@illinoislap.org. The only wrong thing to do is to do nothing. LAP is here to help.

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1 Buchanan, Bree et. al. The Path to Lawyer Well-Being Practical Recommendations for Positive Change. The Report of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being. American Bar Association, https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/images/abanews/ThePathToLawyerWellBeingReportRevFINAL.pdf.