Monday, August 19, 2019

Cook County Democrats slate eight of 10 appointed judges for Circuit Court vacancies

There are currently 13 countywide vacancies on the Cook County Circuit Court.

The Illinois Supreme Court has filled 10 of these vacancies with interim appointees (meaning that the appointees serve until the first Monday in December 2020, when these vacancies will be filled with persons elected to these posts).

Last week at its slating meeting, the Cook County Democratic Party agreed to endorse eight of the 10 sitting countywide appointees for the vacancies they currently fill.

To be specific, the Party endorsed Judges Kerry Maloney Laytin, James T. Derico, Jr., Celestia L. Mays, Sheree D. Henry, Levander Smith, Jr., Teresa Molina, Lloyd James Brooks, and Lynn Weaver Boyle.

But Laura Ayala-Gonzalez, pictured at left, the Deputy Supervisor of the Felony Review Unit at Cook County State's Attorney's Office, was slated for the Ford vacancy. Judge Thomas M. Cushing now holds that vacancy by appointment, but he did not appear before the Democratic Party's slatemakers.

And Jill Rose Quinn was slated for the Kevin M. Sheehan vacancy over Judge Marina E. Ammendola, who did ask for the Party's endorsement. FWIW readers may remember that Quinn sought a 10th Subcircuit vacancy in 2018. As near as I can tell, Quinn is the first transgender candidate ever endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party for countywide office.

Loop attorney Christ Stacey was slated for Mason vacancy; Araceli De La Cruz, pictured at right, the General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer of Acero Schools, was slated for the Roti vacancy; and Maura McMahon Zeller was slated for the Colleen F. Sheehan vacancy. That's a link to Zeller's campaign website in the preceding sentence; it has been added to the website list in the blog Sidebar.

Cook County Dems slate 10 alternates for Circuit Court

The casual reader may think this an odd choice for a post, even here.

After all, alternate choices, by definition, if they wait as the Party is asking them to wait, will not even appear on the ballot unless a vacancy occurs. If vacancies do open, the alternates are automatically slated (pre-slated?) in the order of their selection, from one to ten.

There are 13 countywide vacancies already; there may be a few more. A couple, perhaps.

But not 10.

Why accept slating as an alternate for a vacancy that will never open?

The gentleman on the left is Thomas E. Nowinski, a one-time Assistant State's Attorney who is currently Labor Counsel in the Office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2004, he is the son of retired Judge Thomas E. Nowinski.

He was also the Democratic Party's fifth alternate in the 2018 election cycle.

Only three slots opened up after the slating meeting in 2017 -- but those first three 2018 pre-slated alternates, Rosa Maria Silva, Tom S. Sianis, and Thomas F. McGuire, are all sitting judges today.

So, by accepting the unlikely alternate spot in 2018, Mr. Nowinski is in position now to have the Party's promised support the moment another vacancy occurs. And he's got a campaign website and campaign Facebook page already in place awaiting the fulfillment of that contingency.

So... the Cook County Democratic Party would presumably hold Nowinski up as an example of what can happen where a prospective candidate remains patient. His story is incentive for the nine behind him not to run against a Party candidate.

And there's a cautionary tale in this historical review: Alternates 1, 2, and 3 from 2018 are all judges today. Alternate 5 is in line to be slated when as and if another countywide vacancy occurs.

What happened to Alternate 4? Well, the fourth alternate in 2018 was a sitting judge, with an appointment that would have expired if she didn't find a way to stay on the bench. So she tried her hand a subcircuit race... and got knocked off the ballot. She was among the many presenters last week at the slating meeting. But she wasn't slated. And she is not an alternate either.

After Nowinski, the Party's slated alternates are, in order, former Judge Travis Richardson, Cristin McDonald Duffy, Eric Sauceda, Yolanda Sayre, Frank Andreou (a 12th Subcircuit candidate in 2016), Joseph Chico (who made a 1st Subcircuit run in 2010), Diane Marie Pezanoski (a finalist for Associate Judge in 2018), Amanda Pillsbury (who ran countywide in 2018), and Ashonta Rice (who was a candidate for a 15th Subcircuit vacancy in 2018).

And who did the Party actually slate for the 13 countywide vacancies already in existence? I'll get to that in my next post.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Appellate Court candidates present credentials to Cook County Democratic Party slatemakers

The competitive race for the Illinois Supreme Court vacancy has taken a whole lot of attention away from the two First District Appellate Court vacancies to be filled in 2020.

That's a shame.

Because as important as the Illinois Supreme Court is, and as rare as openings on that court are, the Appellate Court is far more important, light years more important, as a practical matter, in any given case, civil or criminal.

Every case can be reviewed in the Appellate Court. Every final judgment in a civil case is reviewable as of right pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 301. But in civil cases, in any given term, the Supreme Court will consider perhaps one in a hundred cases where review is sought from decisions of the Appellate Court. I don't know the precise figures for criminal cases, but I understand them to be similar.

There are a few cases that can be appealed directly to the Supreme Court, and there are a few actions that can be initiated in the Supreme Court, but these are as rare as hen's teeth -- or openings on the Supreme Court.

So the Appellate Court is important. In the overwhelming majority of cases, it is the practical court of last resort.

But, consistent with the way this election season is shaping up, the Supreme Court hopefuls' presentations to the Cook County Democratic Party Committeemen yesterday at the IBEW consumed all the scheduled time for the Appellate Court candidates to present their credentials and then some.

Scheduled to start at 11:00, the Appellate Court hopefuls did not begin their presentations until 12:30.

Associate Judge William S. Boyd was first up. Currently sitting in Domestic Relations, Boyd was a candidate for the Appellate Court once before, in the 2012 primary, garnering strong ratings and endorsements from the Tribune and the Chicago Federation of Labor in that effort. But he was not endorsed by the Party in that race.

Boyd's presentation to the committee focused on his many civic and charitable activities, and several Committeemen promptly rose to provide confirmation and affirmation of these endeavors for their peers.

None of the Appellate Court candidates have ratings from the Alliance yet; most indicated their interviews are set for September. However, the Chicago Bar Association has completed its ratings of Appellate Court candidates. As far as I know, the CBA has not released these publicly. This is consistent with the practice of all bar groups -- both CBA and Alliance members alike -- of holding the public release of their ratings until shortly before the primary when all ratings for all candidates are complete. The bar groups believe that this maximizes the impact of their ratings.

However, candidates are free to disclose their ratings publicly once they are received. So all the candidates could and did tell the Committeemen how the CBA had rated them. Judge Boyd told the group that the CBA had found him Qualified.

He also told the Committee that he would not run against the party if he were slated as an alternate. Boyd was the Party's fourth alternate for an Appellate Court vacancy in 2014.

Judge Carolyn Gallagher was next up. First elected to the Cook County Circuit Court in 2016, with support from the CFL but without Democratic Party slating, Judge Gallagher now sits in Probate. Gallagher reported that she has received a Highly Qualified rating from the CBA. In her 2016 race, Gallagher's extensive appellate practice experience was noted by the bar groups that issued written findings.

One committeeman challenged Judge Gallagher for sending a three-page letter via email to every committeeman detailing what he characterized as a dispute between Gallagher and a political consultant. Neither this committeeman nor Judge Gallagher named the consultant, but the committeman questioned whether this letter reflected well on Judge Gallagher's judicial temperament.

Gallagher had two responses. First, she said she was advised to send this letter by committeemen with whom she had consulted (and this was confirmed by one or more committeemen). Second, she characterized the matter not as a 'dispute' but as an attack on her integrity and reputation, suggesting that she could not let these allegations go unrebutted.

I am reluctant to report this uncomfortable exchange because I know nothing of the particulars. I've not seen the letter in question and I don't know who the consultant is or what charges he or she has leveled. However (and this is why I am mentioning it), I can confirm that Judge Gallagher is a frequent target of venomous comments left on this blog. A lot of negative comments are received here, and disposed of without seeing the light of day, about a great many judges. Judges (whose job it is to make decisions) will necessarily disappoint some people. But the comments about Judge Gallagher, launched from the safety of anonymity, are more frequent and often more vicious than the norm. Somebody out there really does not like Judge Gallagher.

Justice John C. Griffin was next. Appointed to the Appellate Court 15 months ago by the Illinois Supreme Court, Griffin was quick to advise the Committee that he was the only candidate for the Appellate Court who would be out of a job if he does not win his seat. He reported to the Committee that he has been found Highly Qualified for this race by the CBA.

Committeemen responding to Griffin's presentation noted the strong support that he has received from labor groups and south suburban committeemen in particular also noted Griffin's community involvement and visibility.

Former Circuit Court Judge Russell Hartigan followed Griffin. FWIW reported Hartigan's interest in returning to the bench earlier this year, but his website, at the time, did not specify that he was looking to run for the Appellate Court (as you can see, it does now).

Hartigan was appointed to the Circuit Court in 2010 and elected in 2012, with Party support. He stressed his Party credentials before the Committeemen yesterday, including prior service as Berwyn Township Committeeman and President of Lyons Township Democratic Organization. He reminded committeemen that he had previously sought elevation to the Appellate Court, in the 2014 primary cycle, but stepped aside at the Party's request in favor of now-Jusitice David Ellis. He explained that he left the bench because of family health issues.

Hartigan told the Committee that he was rated Highly Qualified for this race by the CBA and that he would be willing to seek slating as an alternate.

Appellate Court Justice Michael B. Hyman was the next to present his credentials. He explained to the Committee that he is a Circuit Court judge who had been assigned to the Appellate Court. (Six of the First District Appellate Court's sitting justices are Circuit Court judges serving by assignment.) However, when Justice Neville was appointed to the Supreme Court, Justice Hyman, as the most senior of the assigned judges, was moved into the Neville vacancy. To remain on the Appellate Court he must be elected in his own right; otherwise, his assignment will terminate and he will be returned to the Circuit Court.

Appointed to the Circuit Court on the recommendation of the late Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann G. McMorrow, Hyman was elected to the Circuit bench in 2008 (with Party support) and retained in 2014. He reminded the Committeemen that he had been nominated for the Party's 2008 endorsement by the late Appellate Court R. Eugene Pincham. He holds a Highly Qualified rating from the CBA.

A number of committeemen from across the county were quick to speak on Justice Hyman's behalf. Ald. and Committeeman David Moore (17th) said he could not remember getting so many phone calls, from so many different persons, in every community, lobbying on Hyman's behalf.

Circuit Court Judge Sandra Ramos spoke next. First elected to the Circuit Court bench in 2010, as the Democratic Party's endorsed candidate, Ramos was, until recently, a candidate for the Supreme Court. Presently assigned to the Law Division, Judge Ramos had to present out of order because she was needed back at the Daley Center to preside over a trial.

FWIW recently had a chance to speak with someone senior in Ramos's campaign about why Ramos made the decision to switch her focus from the Supreme Court vacancy to the Appellate Court. According to the campaign official, both public and private factors figured in the decision. By getting out of the Supreme Court race, she avoided causing a split among Hispanic elected officials and community leaders over whether to support her or Justice Jesse Reyes. But, besides that, Judge Ramos's father passed away earlier this year (her mother has been gone a couple of years) and Ramos has additional responsibilities wrapping up her father's affairs.

Before the Committee, Ramos added still one more factor: The paucity of Hispanics elected to the appellate bench. As a number of committeemen said, in response to her presentation, a Party that embraces diversity needs to find ways to bring more Hispanics into reviewing court positions.

Ramos has been rated Qualified by the CBA.

The last to present was Circuit Court Judge Sharon Johnson. Currently sitting as a Domestic Relations judge in Markham, Judge Johnson was first elected to the court in 2010. She ran for election to the Appellate Court in 2014 -- and some of the committeemen questioned her about that race, in which she ran against the Party's candidate.

She received some bad advice back then, Johnson said, but she learned from that experience. She was asking for support now and was willing to accept slating as an alternate.

Johnson's presentation to the group stressed her leadership credentials since joining the judiciary. A former Chair of the Illinois Judicial Council, Johnson has also served as a mentor to other judges. A number of committeemen praised her community involvement as well.

Bloggers and other non-essential personnel were ejected from the room at this point so the committeemen could discuss their choices in executive session.

In the end, Justices Hyman and Griffin were recommended for slating. Judge Boyd was recommended as the first alternate. Sandra Ramos was chosen as a second alternate and Sharon Johnson as a third.

The Party's Appellate Court Committee was chaired by New Trier Township Committeeman Dean Maragos. Ald. and Committeeman Pat Dowell (3rd) was Vice-Chair.

It is my understanding that these recommendations must be accepted by the Cook County Central Committee (all 50 ward and township committeemen) and that this vote will occur later today.

Readers may wonder what slating as an alternate may mean.

It means that -- if the candidate does not file against a slated candidate in the meantime -- should an additional vacancy open up, the first alternate will automatically become the Party's endorsed candidate. If a second vacancy opens up, the second alternate will become the Party's candidate -- and so forth. Late vacancies do sometimes occur, even on the Appellate Court.

But there are no guarantees.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Justice Neville responds to NBC5 story on allegedly improper homeowner's exemptions; Assessor responds to Justice Neville


At this morning's slatemaking meeting, some Cook County Democratic Committeemen were interested in Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr.'s response to the recent story aired by NBC5 concerning a homeowner's exemption being granted on his late mother's property, where he does not live, but which was quitclaimed to him in 2004, according to the NBC5 story.

Everyone in Cook County is entitled to a homeowner's exemption on the home where they actually live.

This week's NBC5 story is not the first time that allegations have been made about prominent persons claiming homeowner's exemptions on more than one property.

Justice Neville told the committeemen there were "no irregularities." In fact, he told the group, the Cook County Assessor's Office reported to his committee just last night that its investigation showed no irregularities concerning exemptions on the property. Pressed for more information by another questioner, Justice Neville said he did not think he could expand on what the Assessor's Office said.

What did the Assessor's Office say?

Well, of course, no one told me, the blogger in the back of the spacious room at the IBEW Local 134 Headquarters on S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

So I reached out to Deputy Assessor and Chief Communications Officer Scott Smith who advised in an email as follows:
With the approval of the Local Records Commission, various records, including Homeowners’ Exemption applications from the year 2000, were destroyed by the Assessor’s Office. Our electronic records indicate whether a property received a homeowner’s exemption, but they do not reflect the name of the applicant. Therefore, we do not have the name of the person who filed for the exemption on this property in 2000. [Justice Neville's] name is on the deed so he’s ultimately responsible for repayment of the erroneous exemption and has been in contact with our office about doing so.
I did not get the chance to hear all the Supreme Court candidates' presentations, but according to the schedule I saw, in addition to Justice Neville, first-time candidate Daniel Epstein and Appellate Court Justices Cynthia Cobbs, Shelly Harris, Nathaniel Howse, Margaret McBride, and Jesse Reyes all made their pleas for the support of the Democratic Party.

The Party's choice remains in limbo this evening. While Justice Neville did command a majority of the committeemen's weighted vote on the Party's Supreme Court Subcommittee, the margin was slim, according to one committeeman with whom I spoke. The Party's final choice in this matter will be made tomorrow.

Caps are off in one Circuit Court race... maybe

A number of readers have pointed out that a prospective Circuit Court candidate recently received a $155,000 loan from her father, thereby eliminating contribution limits in any race in which she becomes a candidate.

I reached out to the prospective candidate -- who told me she is not a candidate... not yet, anyway.

It seems the vacancy she hopes to seek hasn't actually yet come open. Under the circumstances, she's asked me not to mention her by name. While a lot of readers know who I'm talking about here already, there's no reason not to honor that request.

But there are two reasons to run this post anyway.

First, some have speculated that caps might be lifted in all Circuit Court races on account of this one donation.

That does not appear to be the case.

The issue came up during the 2016 primary cycle, in late April 2015, to be precise, when Richard C. Cooke loaned his nascent judicial campaign $500,000. Application of Section 9.8-5(h) of the Election Code is easy when there is only one office up for election. There is only one Mayor of Chicago, one Governor of Illinois. In this election cycle, there is only one Supreme Court vacancy in the First District. But where there are multiple vacancies on the Circuit Court, as there are in every election cycle, the language of the statute is less helpful.

I quote now from my June 6, 2016 post on the subject:
Section 9.8-5(h) is not entirely clear, acknowledged Ken Menzel, General Counsel of the Illinois State Board of Elections. In a telephone conversation with FWIW yesterday, Menzel explained that there would have been less of a problem if the loan had come much later in the election cycle. Right now judicial candidates are, theoretically, potential candidates for many possible vacancies. However, [ISBE General Counsel Ken] Menzel pointed our that regulations were recently adopted (on May 19, in fact) that may provide guidance. Menzel cited FWIW to Title 26 of the Illinois Administrative Code, Section 100.75. Section 100.75(j)(2) states that, "'Candidate for the same office' shall be determined by candidate petition filings. Prior to the actual filing of petitions for a particular office, a candidate for that office wishing to receive official notice of a Self-Funding Notification from the Board must inform the Board in writing of his or her intention to seek nomination or election to the office in question."

At this point -- since Cooke has not declared for any specific vacancy and petitions can not yet be legally circulated -- it is probably safe to say that campaign finance caps * * * remain in place for all judicial campaign committees except Cooke's -- and he's not looking for more money. "That's almost certainly the legislative intent," one prominent election law attorney told me, though he would not comment for the record because of the possibility that this issue might be settled in the courts.
Prospective judicial candidates should consult their own election law attorneys on this subject for any clarification that may be required. I am not offering any sort of legal opinion or advice here.

The second takeaway from this story is a more general one, and one that arises in every election cycle that I've looked at over the past 12 years: Judges who are rumored to be retiring -- even strongly rumored -- to the point where it becomes common knowledge that Judge So-and-so is about to step down -- sometimes don't actually retire.

And, generally speaking, promises of future conduct are not actionable.

In the case of this particular candidate, I've heard the same rumor she has. And usually any rumor that reaches me has to be pretty widespread. So maybe the caps will come off in the race for that one vacancy, if it occurs. Maybe the candidate will look at another vacancy -- in which case the caps would be off there instead.

But not generally.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Who Sits Where -- Slating Week Edition

Along with the other countywide offices up for slating this week, the Cook County Democratic Party slatemakers will choose candidates for the countywide judicial vacancies. Subcircuit slating will occur afterwards, if at all, sometimes with public notice (I'll try to get out the word on those) and sometimes without (I'll try and get the word out on those, too, but my success rate is much lower).

What follows is the list of all Cook County judicial vacancies that have been published by the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The list below shows which vacancies have been filled by Supreme Court appointment. Some of these appointees will be slated by the Cook County Democratic Party; others will not.

And always remember this: There is SLATING and there is slating and the difference is not always apparent. Except in hindsight.

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

Supreme Court Vacancy

Vacancy of the Hon. Charles E. Freeman -- P. Scott Neville, Jr.

Appellate Court Vacancies

Vacancy of the Hon. P. Scott Neville, Jr. -- Michael B. Hyman1
Vacancy of the Hon. John B. Simon -- John C. Griffin

Countywide Vacancies

Vacancy of the Hon. Carole K. Bellows -- Kerrie Maloney Laytin
Vacancy of the Hon. Matthew E. Coghlan -- James T. Derico, Jr.
Vacancy of the Hon. Nicholas R. Ford -- Thomas M. Cushing
Vacancy of the Hon. Raymond Funderburk -- Celestia L. Mays
Vacancy of the Hon. Diane J. Larsen -- Levander Smith, Jr.
Vacancy of the Hon. Mary Anne Mason -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. James P. McCarthy -- Teresa Molina
Vacancy of the Hon. Joyce Marie Murphy Gorman -- Sheree D. Henry
Vacancy of the Hon. Jessica A. O'Brien -- Lloyd James Brooks
Vacancy of the Hon. Sebastian T. Patti -- Lynn Weaver-Boyle
Vacancy of the Hon. Thomas D. Roti -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Colleen F. Sheehan -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Kevin M. Sheehan -- Marina E. Ammendola

Subcircuit Vacancies

1st Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Rodney Hughes Brooks -- Fredrick H. Bates
Vacancy of the Hon. Rhonda Crawford2 -- Tyria B. Walton

2nd Subcircuit
"A" Vacancy3 -- Sondra Nicole Denmark

3rd Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Denise K. Filan -- Daniel E. Maloney
Vacancy of the Hon. Allen F. Murphy -- Erin Haggerty Antonietti

6th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Marya Nega -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Kathleen M. Pantle -- Unfilled

7th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Marianne Jackson -- Cara Lefevour Smith

8th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. John J. Fleming -- Unfilled4
Vacancy of the Hon. Deborah J. Gubin -- Michael A. Forti

9th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Larry Axelrood -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Marvin F. Luckman -- Michael A. Strom

10th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Thomas R. Allen -- John G. Mulroe

12th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Kay M. Hanlon -- Patricia M. Fallon

13th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Margarita Kulys Hoffman -- Michael Perry Gerber

14th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Robert Bertucci -- Gerardo Tristan, Jr.
Vacancy of the Hon. William G. Lacy -- Daniel O. Tiernan

15th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. John C. Griffin -- Nichole C. Patton

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1 Justice Hyman is a Cook County Circuit Court judge sitting by appointment to the Appellate Court. The Supreme Court's order appointing Justice Hyman to this vacancy provides that, unless he runs for, and wins a seat on the Appellate Court in 2020, he will return to his original position as a Circuit Court judge. There is no Hyman vacancy on the Circuit Court.

2 The late Rhonda Crawford won the Democratic Party's nomination for this vacancy in the 2016 primary but never took office. I do not know why the ISBE has designated this as the Crawford vacancy. I have asked for clarification on this, and if I get it, I will report it.

3 Vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Alexander White.

4 Jeanne Marie Wrenn was appointed to this vacancy, but, last November, Judge Wrenn was elected to fill the 8th Subcircuit vacancy of the Hon. Sheryl Pethers. That is why this vacancy is again unfilled.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Yolanda Harris Sayre announces plans to seek election to the Circuit Court

There's no campaign website yet, but there is a Facebook page supporting the 2020 judicial campaign of Chicago Police Department attorney Yolanda Harris Sayre.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1995 according to ARDC, Sayre was among those presenting her credentials to the Cook County Democratic Party for 'pre-screening' this past June.

Dan Balanoff to make 8th Subcircuit judicial bid

Dan Balanoff, the grandson of former Cook County Circuit Court Judge Miriam Balanoff, has announced plans to seek an 8th Subcircuit judicial seat.

That's a link to Balanoff's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Balanoff has already had a write-up on Politico, in a piece that mentions that Dan Balanoff's father is Cook County Circuit Court Judge Robert Balanoff and "his uncles are progressive political consultant Clem Balanoff and SEIU President Tom Balanoff."

Licensed as an attorney since 2007, according to ARDC, Balanoff is the principal of Balanoff & Associates, with an office on South Ewing Street on the Southeast Side. His campaign bio stresses that he has lived in Lincoln Park for the past decade, and has served on the Lincoln Park High School LSC.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

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August 22 fundraiser for Patricia M. Fallon

Supporters of newly installed Judge Patricia M. Fallon's candidacy have scheduled a fundraiser for their candidate on Thursday, August 22, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the offices of Wise, Morrissey LLC, 161 N. Clark St., 12th floor.

Tickets are $100, but government employees will be admitted for $50. Sponsorships are available ($250 - Bronze, $500 - Silver, $1,000 - Gold).

For more information, or to reserve tickets, email rsvp@1833group.com.

Fallon was appointed to the Hanlon vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit; she took office July 26.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Jonathan Clark Green announces 8th Subcircuit bid, August 14 fundraiser

Jonathan Clark Green has launched a bid for an 8th Subcircuit vacancy. That's a link to his new campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has been added to the blog Sidebar as well (yes, the candidate website Sidebar is back as of today).

Green's supporters have also planned a campaign kickoff event for their candidate on Wednesday, August 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Old Crow Smokehouse, 149 W. Kinzie Street.

Tickets for the event are $100 each (with discounted $50 tickets available for government or nonprofit employees). Sponsorships are also available ($250 - Sponsor, $500 - Host, $1,000 Chair). Free Validated Parking will be available from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Mart Parc Wells, 401 N. Wells Street. Todd Smith and Daniel Fusco are the co-hosts for this event.

For more information, or to reserve tickets, email rsvp@1833group.com.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Audrey Victoria Cosgrove plans 2020 judicial bid, July 31 campaign kickoff set

Audrey Victoria Cosgrove, who recently became Deputy Chief Legal Counsel at the Illinois Department of Labor, according to her campaign website, has announced plans to seek election to the Cook County Circuit Court in 2020.

In addition to setting up a campaign website on her behalf (linked above), Cosgrove's supporters are planning a kickoff event for their candidate on Wednesday, July 31, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at Gannon's Pub, 4264 N. Lincoln Ave.

This event is open to the general public, but persons wishing to attend are asked to register at this page. And, of course, while there is no set admission charge, the campaign is accepting donations. For more information about the event, email John Zmuda at john@foremoststrategy.com.

Cosgrove has been licensed in Illinois since 1990, according to ARDC. Before joining the Illinois Department of Labor, Cosgrove practiced with her husband, Thomas Cosgrove, in The Cosgrove Law Firm LLC.

Cosgrove began her legal career in the office of the Cook County Public Defender; she continued to represent criminal defendants in private practice. She also has served as an Administrative Law Judge for the Illinois State Police Merit Board, the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Tollway.

Her campaign biography notes that she has worked as a pro bono attorney "for the National Immigrant Justice Center, representing children in asylum and DACA cases" for eight years. Cosgrove is the Secretary of the Advocates Society and is an active member of the Polish National Alliance and the Polish National Alliance. A parishioner at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Chicago, where she serves as an Extraordinary Minister, Cosgrove was also recently appointed "45th Ward Ambassador for Advocates for Urban Agriculture." The mother of two children, Cosgrove has also fostered four children through Lawrence Hall Youth Services, according to her campaign biography.

Michael Weaver launches 2020 judicial bid, announces July 29 fundraiser

Michael Weaver, a partner in trial department of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, has announced plans to run for judge in 2020.

His supporters have set up a campaign website and announced a kickoff campaign event for their candidate on Monday, July 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at McDermott Will's Chicago office, 444 W. Lake Street, Suite 4000.

No donation is required, but attendees are "asked to consider a donation at one of the following sponsorship levels": Event Supporter - $100, Event Advocate - $250, Event Host - $500, or Event Chair - $1,000.

Even though the event is open to all, with or without a donation, sponsors are requesting attendees to register using this site for building security purposes. For more information about the event, contact Rachel O'Konis Ruttenberg at rsokonis@gmail.com

According to his campaign website, Weaver is the Partner-in-Charge for McDermott's LGBTQ+ Diversity and Inclusion Committee. As an associate, he organized a legal clinic for LGBTQ+ individuals with the Center on Halsted and the Broadway Youth Center of Howard Brown. Weaver has served on Equality Illinois PAC’s Board of Directors.

Before joining McDermott, Weaver served as a law clerk for Chief Justice F. Michael Kruse and Associate Justice Lyle L. Richmond of the High Court of American Samoa. He earned his law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He also holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration and Human Resource Development from George Washington University. Weaver has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2006, according to ARDC.

Weaver lives with his husband, Paul, and their senior Pug, Spooner, in Edgewater.

Cristin McDonald Duffy announces 2020 judicial bid

Assistant State's Attorney Cristin McDonald Duffy has announced plans to run for judge in the 2020 primary. That's a link to Duffy's campaign website in the preceding sentence.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1996, according to ARDC, Duffy has spent her career in the State's Attorney's Office. According to her campaign bio, Duffy spent 14 years in the Criminal Division, working her way up to felony prosecutor, and the last nine years in the Civil Division, working on municipal and tax cases.​ Duffy is currently the Deputy Supervisor of the Real Estate Tax Division. The campaign bio also notes that she is "Chair of the Training and Professional Development Committee and the On Boarding and Mentoring Committee for the Civil Division."

Duffy clerked for Corboy & Demetrio while attending law school at Loyola University of Chicago.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Who benefits from the lifting of contribution caps in the Supreme Court race?

On July 12, Supreme Court candidate Daniel Epstein dropped $285,000 into his campaign and filed his Notification of Self-Funding with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Under §9-8.5(h) of the Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/9-8.5(h), this one act eliminated all contribution limits in the race to succeed Justice Charles Freeman on the Illinois Supreme Court.

It's easy enough to understand why Epstein made the splashy gesture: Epstein has only been licensed in Illinois since 2015. He won't be rated qualified or recommended by any bar group; he falls well short of the 10-12 years' experience that the bar groups require before even thinking about awarding a favorable rating. So it took the big contribution to give Epstein some sort of credibility, at least in some circles.

Thus, three days after the mega-contribution, Epstein got a nice profile from Greg Hinz in his On Politics page on Crain's Chicago Business. (Do you really think Hinz would write about Epstein without the donation? Hinz mentioned it in the opening paragraph of his piece.)

But... while it gets some buzz for Mr. Epstein, at least in the short term, the contribution is nowhere near big enough to clear the crowded field of Supreme Court hopefuls.

When Richard C. Cooke loaned his judicial campaign $500,000 in June 2016, he was not committed to any particular race -- and the giant warchest surely helped him wind up unopposed for a 6th Subcircuit vacancy.

But Epstein was just one of eight candidates presenting their credentials last month at the Cook County Democratic Party's "Pre-Slating" Meeting. The other seven, in alphabetical order, were:
  • Appellate Court Justice Cynthia Cobbs
  • Appellate Court Justice Shelly Harris
  • Appellate Court Justice Nathaniel R. Howse, Jr.
  • Appellate Court Justice Margaret McBride
  • Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr.
  • Circuit Court Judge Sandra Ramos
  • Appellate Court Justice Jesse Reyes
The Pre-Slating Meeting took place three weeks before Epstein made his donation; none of these candidates are going to fold because of it. (And these may not be the only candidates for the vacancy. These are just the ones who were willing to ask the Democratic Party about possible slating.)

And, though $285,000 is surely a lot of money in most contexts, it will not be decisive in this race -- and perhaps even less so now.

That's not to say that the candidate who garners the most dollars will also win the most votes. If I had to bet today, I'd guess that the eventual winner will not raise or spend the most money. But the winner will likely spend more than $285,000.

So who benefits the caps being blown in this race? Not Epstein surely. Because of his relative youth and inexperience, he is not likely to get any serious traction in the legal community or, ultimately, with the voters.

I don't see any particular benefit to any of the other candidates either.

The removal of contribution caps might create significant discomfort for some well-heeled donors. Many of Chicago's leading law firms had already donated $11,600 to each of several Supreme Court candidates before Epstein's gesture -- now some may be pressed to contribute even more.

Epstein told Hinz that he wanted to discuss policy. Epstein correctly noted that Supreme Court justices do more than hear cases. Among other things, they determine the procedural rules that govern all our courts. They also set standards for continuing legal education and oversee the lawyer discipline process.

But, thanks to Epstein's donation, a lot of the conversation that might have taken place on those important topics may be elbowed aside in favor of stories about fundraising....

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Heather Begley announces 2020 judicial bid, fundraiser Thursday

A kickoff reception in support of Heather Begley's judicial campaign has been set for this Thursday evening, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Ceres Cafe, 141 W. Jackson.

Tickets for the event are $100 each, but sponsorships are available (Sponsor - $500, Host - $1,000, Chair - $2,800). For more information, or to reserve tickets, email rsvp@1833group.com.

Begley has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2003. Currently employed by Cunningham Meyer & Vedrine, P.C., Begley's firm bio notes that she had worked on the plaintiff's side before moving to medical malpractice defense. Begley has no campaign website at present, but she has launched a LinkedIn page touting her candidacy. According to the LinkedIn page, Begley clerked for Clifford Law Offices, P.C., before graduating from law school, staying on for another three years after. She then spent six more years with the Law Offices of Jeffrey J. Kroll. She has been with the Cunningham firm since 2016.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Mason steps down; Coghlan appointed to Appellate Court

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Anne Mason, who had been serving on the Appellate Court pursuant to Supreme Court appointment, will retire from judicial service Friday. David Thomas had a front page article on Justice Mason's retirement in the July 18 issue of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (subscription required).

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Probate Division Presiding Judge Mary Ellen Coghlan to replace Justice Mason on the Appellate Court effective July 30.

Although she was serving on the Appellate Court, Mason's retirement will create a countywide vacancy on the Cook County Circuit Court.

Teresa Molina appointed to countywide vacancy

Updated August 13, 2019

Teresa Molina, currently the Chief of Prosecutions for llinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, has been appointed to a countywide judicial vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James Patrick McCarthy.

The Order was entered July 16, but was posted just this morning on the Supreme Court's website.

The appointment is effective this Wednesday, July 24, and terminates December 7, 2020.

Molina has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2001. The Supreme Court's July 25 press release concerning the appointment can be accessed here.

Sheree D. Henry receives countywide appointment

In an order entered just before the July 4 holiday, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Sheree D. Henry to a countywide judicial vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Joyce Marie Murphy Gorman.

The appointment is effective August 2 and terminates December 7, 2020.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1994, Henry has been working as an Assistant Cook County Public Defender. Before joining the PD's office, Henry served as an Assistant Public Guardian in the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office. Henry also served eight years in the Illinois National Gaurd. She was a candidate for a 2nd Subcircuit vacancy in the 2018 primary.

Fundraiser Wednesday for Judge Michael Alan Strom

Supporters of Judge Michael Alan Strom's campaign are hosting a fundraiser for their candidate this Wednesday, July 24, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., at the Ceres Cafe, 141 W. Jackson Blvd.

Tickets for the event are $100 each. Sponsorships are available (Sponsor - $250, Host - $500, Chair - $1,000). For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, email rsvp@1833group.com.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Strom to the Luckman vacancy in the 9th Subcircuit late last year; he took office this past January.

Fallon to be sworn in Friday; campaign website already online

It was in early June that FWIW reported that Patricia M. Fallon was planning a 2020 judicial bid.

A few weeks later came an email announcing that a campaign website had been launched to support Fallon's candidacy.

Then, on the eve of the July 4 holiday, the Illinois Supreme Court entered an order appointing Fallon to the 12th Subcircuit vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge Kay M. Hanlon.

Fallon will be sworn in Friday, July 26; her appointment will terminate on December 7, 2020.

But she will now be running for the bench as an incumbent.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated

Well, somewhat exaggerated, anyway.

Clearly, I've left a lot uncovered in the past three weeks or so and I'll have a lot of catching up to do.

That should start tomorrow.

It will take a little time. I'm still not as caught up with other things as I need to be... and, with luck, will be soon.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Guest Post: An Electoral and Demographic Analysis of Cook County's 7th Judicial Subcircuit


by Frank Calabrese

Judicial appointments by the Illinois Supreme Court are typically sleepy affairs, and the media responds to an appointment with a yawn. This month however a media storm erupted when Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke recommended the appointment of Cara LeFevour Smith to a 7th Subcircuit vacancy, resulting in unusually intense scrutiny. All the local television networks and daily papers covered the “controversy” of the Supreme Court appointing Judge Cara Smith. The CBS story was entitled “Judicial Appointee 'A Slap In The Face' To Represent The West Side”. The media coverage was largely premised on the idea that 7th Judicial Subcircuit is an African-American political district and the Supreme Court was disenfranchising minority residents by appointing a white woman to that district.

The 7th Subcircuit was created with the intent to elect more African-American judges. However, the makeup of the 7th Subcircuit has changed a lot since it was created in the early 90’s. Today's West Loop neighborhood is considerably different than it was when first included within the 7th Subcircuit boundaries. This post does not address the prudence of the appointment of Judge Cara Smith, but rather to help the media and readers of this blog to understand why a white woman won the 7th subcircuit in 2016 and how candidates should now approach this subcircuit.

As of the 2010 Census, the 7th Judicial Subcircuit was still majority African American, around 53%. However, with the construction boom in the west loop and the continued depopulation of the west side of Chicago west of Western Avenue, I would estimate that the district is no longer majority African-American, but rather a plurality. The district is extremely segregated, with River Forest, Forest Park, and the west loop east of Ashland being white, Berwyn being Hispanic, and the core of the district, the west side of Chicago, being African-American, with many census tracts reading 100% African-American. The district makes little sense today and if redrawn today, it would certainly look very different so that it could be again be a truly African American district.


The 2016 7th Subcircuit election was interesting for many reasons. One is that all the candidates were well known in the legal community. Two of the candidates, Judge Pat Spratt and Judge Rosa Silva, are now judges and another, Jennifer Ballard, is the chief of staff to the State’s Attorney. It is also notable that a white woman, Judge Spratt, won in a district that was designed to elect an African-American judge. In this election, Pat Spratt won with an odd coalition of white votes and support in Austin and the 37th ward. Judge Spratt was supported by Alderman Emma Mitts and had organizational support in Austin. Rosa Silva did very well by winning big in Berwyn and white areas. Julianna Ballard won in the 28th and 27th wards, where she was supported by the local aldermen.


I hope this post clears up some confusion in the media and readers of this blog. Yes, the 7th Subcircuit was designed and intended to elect African-American judges. However, the subcircuit has changed so much since the 90’s that the state legislature should redraw it so that it can again reliably elect African-American judges. I would recommend removing the Berwyn portion of the 7th subcircuit and uniting Berwyn into the 14th subcircuit (which would further make the 14th Subcircuit a Latino subcircuit). Further, I would include Maywood to the west in the 7th Subcircuit and I would remove the west loop neighborhood and include it with a white majority subcircuit (likey a redrawn 6th or 8th Subcircuit).

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Ed. note: Frank Calabrese is a political researcher and consultant. FWIW offers no opinion about Frank's proposed redrawn boundaries. However, the boundaries of all 15 Cook County judicial subcircuits will be withdrawn after the 2020 Census, pursuant to the provisions of HB2625, passed during the most recent legislative session. At last report, the bill was still awaiting the Governor's signature, but that is expected imminently. (For prior FWIW coverage on HB2625, click here).

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Correcting the record: Justice Burke issues second statement on Cara LeFevour Smith appointment

I missed this when it came out -- which it apparently did only hours after my post on this subject.

You can read the linked earlier post for background if you don't know the story already. But here is the link to the updated statement.

There are two material changes in the updated statement: First, new Judge Smith was found "Qualified" by the Chicago Bar Association, not "Highly Qualified." Second, only six of the seven Supreme Court justices voted to accept Justice Burke's recommendation of Smith: Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr. "did not participate" in the vote.

I will again go on record as being baffled by this entire 'controversy.'

Article 6, Section 12(c) of the 1970 Illinois Constitution provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
A vacancy occurring in the office of Supreme, Appellate or Circuit Judge shall be filled as the General Assembly may provide by law. In the absence of a law, vacancies may be filled by appointment by the Supreme Court. A person appointed to fill a vacancy 60 or more days prior to the next primary election to nominate Judges shall serve until the vacancy is filled for a term at the next general or judicial election....
My handy copy of the 1970 Illinois Constitution Annotated says that, in the past 49 years or so, the Illinois General Assembly hasn't quite gotten around to passing a law on the subject of filling judicial vacancies. Accordingly, the Supreme Court is entirely free to appoint anyone it wants to any vacancy that occurs. No screening committee is required. No "transparency" (one of those really malleable words that means entirely different things to different people at different times, depending on whose ox is being gored, er, circumstances). No bar association evaluations. If enough of the other justices on the court will go along with it, a justice is free to fill a vacancy with whomsoever he or she chooses, for any reason, just as long as the appointee is a U.S. citizen and holds an Illinois law license.

(Article 6, Section 11, of the 1970 Illinois Constitution adds a third requirement, namely, that no person is eligible to serve as judge who is not a "resident of the unit which selects" him or her. Historically, however, the Court has not always acted as if this requirement were binding on it for purposes of temporary appointments. However, any appointee would be obliged to establish residency as required by this provision in order to seek election to the vacancy he or she was tapped to fill.)

The point is, the Supreme Court makes temporary appointments. The appointment of Judge Smith is no different from any other of the several temporary appointments that the Supreme Court makes in the course of a given year. It is temporary. Transitory. Of limited duration.

If they provide some boost at election time, temporary appointments are by no means a guarantee of election. In Cook County, a Supreme Court appointment does not even guarantee slating. My archives are chock full of examples of persons who received temporary appointments, but were unable to convert these appointments into election.

Those temporary appointees who have been able to secure election to the bench have been able to develop political support from (or they already had the support of) the elected officials and other community leaders in the county or in their subcircuit.

Clearly, new Judge Smith is going to be facing an uphill battle with some of the elected officials and other community leaders in the 7th Subcircuit. If she even runs.

But, in my opinion, based on my observation of judicial elections in Cook County these past 12 years or so, this controversy is not about Judge Smith. Not particularly.

I don't claim to know for a fact, but I have every reason to believe that this entire contretemps is about an individual politician's failed attempt to redeem a promise to a particular individual -- a promise to make that individual a judge.

In general, I am in favor of politicians attempting to keep their promises.

So I am not being critical.

However, in this instance, I suspect that the politician in question calculated that his best chance at redeeming his promise was by securing a Supreme Court appointment for that person -- a temporary appointment, yes, but that would fulfill the promise.

The word 'calculated' is carefully chosen. The politician may have also calculated that he might not be able to clear the field of other African-American candidates in favor of his chosen candidate; therefore, in a primary contest with multiple African-American candidates, in an increasingly diverse subcircuit,* he might not be able redeem his promise to make this person a judge except by appointment.

If the politician's preferred person were appointed, but did not win in a crowded primary field, the politician could say that this was the appointee's fault, not his own. He could credibly point to the appointment itself, and his own presumably substantial efforts on the candidate's behalf, even in a losing cause.

But the appointment did not go as the politician had hoped.

Protests followed, and most of those protesting honestly thought they were protesting about racial disrespect, or for transparency in an appointment process. But I think it was about a promise. To a specific person. Who may well run for the spot anyway -- and win.

Meanwhile, here's a little thought-experiment for your consideration: What sort of law, if any, do you think the General Assembly should enact regarding the filling of judicial vacancies as they occur? Extra credit: What sort of law do you think the General Assembly could pass?

I'll hang up now and listen for your answers.


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* Just how diverse the 7th Subcircuit has become is the subject of a guest post by Frank Calabrese that I expect to have for you shortly.

Fundraiser tomorrow for Justice Neville

Supporters of Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr.'s bid to remain on the Illinois Supreme Court have announced a kick-off reception for their candidate tomorrow, June 26, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Taste 222, 222 N. Canal Street.

A lengthy list of "special guests" has been announced for this event. On the list are several Democratic ward and township committeemen, Toni Preckwinkle (4th), Leslie Hairston (5th), Roderick Sawyer (6th), Gregory Mitchell (7th), Michelle Harris (8th), Michael Madigan (13th), David Moore (17th), Matt O'Shea (19th), Kevin Bailey (20th), Howard Brookins (21st), Michael Scott (24th), Walter Burnett (27th), Jason Ervin (28th), Sean Tenner (46th), Robert Steffen (Barrington), Karen Yarbrough (Proviso), and Calvin Jordan (Rich). (Some of these folks have other titles, as you no doubt have noticed, but before the Democratic Party's slate is made, these titles are of paramount import.)

Two Congressmen, Bobby Rush and Danny Davis, are also among the announced special guests, as are Board of Review Commissioners Larry Rogers Jr. and Michael Cabonargi. Retired circuit judges or appellate justices on the list of special guests are John O. Steele, Marcus Salone, Pamela Veal, Bernetta Bush, Carl McCormick, Walter Williams, Sidney Jones, Marianne Jackson, and Judge Anthony Young.

Several present and former state legislators, a couple of aldermen, MWRD President Kari Steele, and MWRD Com. Kim DuBuclet are also among the announced special guests.

Tickets for the event are $250 each, but sponsorships are available (Host - $500, Sponsor - $1,000, Patron - $2,500, Chair - $5,800). Tickets are available online at this link. For more information about the event, email swapna@p2consultinginc.com.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Who Sits Where -- Flag Day Edition


Although it makes for a charming story, today is not the anniversary of the day on which seamstress Betsy Ross delivered the first American flag. It was Betsy Ross's grandson who turned family tradition into national mythology with an 1870 paper presented to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

But the Second Continental Congress did adopt the first American flag by resolution dated June 14, 1777:
Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.
President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day in 1916. In 1949, the observance of Flag Day was established by Act of Congress (see, 36 U.S.C. § 110).

Meanwhile, we are also nine months away from the 2020 Primary -- but the Democratic Party's pre-slating meeting is next week. And so, once again, we pause to consider what judicial vacancies may be on the ballot in the March 2020 primary -- even though those elected to these vacancies won't actually take office until December 7, 2020.

Crazy, right?

Anyway, what follows is not a comprehensive list of Cook County judicial vacancies but, rather, a list of vacancies that have either been filled by Supreme Court appointment, or for which an application process has been announced, or that I believe to exist even though no announcement has been made. Not all of the "vacancies" listed below are necessarily vacant -- and some of the persons identified as filling these vacancies have not yet actually taken office -- but an official announcement has been made. There are probably other vacancies, beyond those reported here, which the Supreme Court has neither filled nor announced. When new vacancies are made public, I can and will update as necessity requires and opportunity permits.

But this is the best information I have now.

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

Supreme Court Vacancy

Vacancy of the Hon. Charles E. Freeman -- P. Scott Neville, Jr.

Appellate Court Vacancies

Vacancy of the Hon. P. Scott Neville, Jr. -- Michael B. Hyman1
Vacancy of the Hon. John B. Simon -- John C. Griffin

Countywide Vacancies

Vacancy of the Hon. Carole K. Bellows -- Kerrie Maloney Laytin
Vacancy of the Hon. Matthew E. Coghlan -- James T. Derico, Jr.
Vacancy of the Hon. Nicholas R. Ford -- Thomas M. Cushing
Vacancy of the Hon. Raymond Funderburk -- Celestia L. Mays
Vacancy of the Hon. Diane J. Larsen -- Levander Smith, Jr.
Vacancy of the Hon. Jessica A. O'Brien -- Lloyd James Brooks
Vacancy of the Hon. Sebastian T. Patti -- Lynn Weaver-Boyle
Vacancy of the Hon. Kevin M. Sheehan -- Marina E. Ammendola

Subcircuit Vacancies

1st Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Rodney Hughes Brooks -- Fredrick H. Bates
Vacancy of the Hon. Vanessa A. Hopkins2 -- Tyria B. Walton

2nd Subcircuit
"A" Vacancy3 -- Sondra Nicole Denmark

3rd Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Denise K. Filan -- Daniel E. Maloney
Vacancy of the Hon. Allen F. Murphy -- Erin Haggerty Antonietti

6th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Marya Nega -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Kathleen M. Pantle -- Unfilled

7th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Marianne Jackson -- Cara Lefevour Smith

8th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. John J. Fleming -- Unfilled4
Vacancy of the Hon. Deborah J. Gubin -- Michael A. Forti

9th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Marvin F. Luckman -- Michael A. Strom

10th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Thomas R. Allen -- John G. Mulroe

12th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Kay M. Hanlon -- Unfilled

13th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Margarita Kulys Hoffman -- Michael Perry Gerber

14th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Robert Bertucci -- Gerardo Tristan, Jr.
Vacancy of the Hon. William G. Lacy -- Daniel O. Tiernan

15th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. John C. Griffin -- Nichole C. Patton

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1 Justice Hyman is a Cook County Circuit Court judge sitting by appointment to the Appellate Court. The language of the Supreme Court's order appointing Justice Hyman to this vacancy suggests that, unless he runs for, and wins a seat on the Appellate Court in 2020, he will return to his original position as a Circuit Court judge. For this reason I have not included a "Hyman vacancy" among the countywide openings.

2 The late Rhonda Crawford won the Democratic Party's nomination for this vacancy in the 2016 primary but never took office.

3 Vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Alexander White.

4 Jeanne Marie Wrenn was appointed to this vacancy, but, last November, Judge Wrenn was elected to fill the 8th Subcircuit vacancy of the Hon. Sheryl Pethers. That is why this vacancy is again unfilled.

Election lawyer co-authors book; book signing Tuesday, June 18 at Lizzie McNeill's

Election lawyer Michael C. Dorf and George Van Dusen have co-authored a biography of the late Cong. Sidney R. Yates, Clear it With Sid! (The link in the preceding sentence is to the Barnes & Noble website; here's an Amazon link, if you prefer.)

Fellow election lawyer James P. Nally reports that Dorf will be signing copies of his book at Lizzie McNeill's, 400 N. McClurg Ct., on Tuesday, June 18, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

I am speculating here, admittedly, but I suspect that copies of the book may also be available for purchase at the book signing event.

Campaign website launched, June 26 fundraiser set, for Judge Dan Tiernan

Supporters of Judge Dan Tiernan's bid to hold his 14th Subcircuit seat have launched a campaign website. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence.

According to his campaign bio, Tiernan was a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney from 1995 to 2007. He left that office to become "a managing partner at Delgado & Tiernan, PC, a law firm specializing in criminal defense." While in private practice, he also handled probate, real estate, and immigration matters. In January 2016, according to the campaign bio, Tiernan joined the Office of the Cook County Independent Inspector General, "conducting investigations into allegations of fraud, waste, mismanagement, and criminal activity at the county level."

Tiernan's supporters are planning a campaign kickoff fundraiser on Wednesday, June 26, at the Billy Goat Tavern, 1535 W. Madison Street.

Tickets for the event are $100 apiece, but government lawyers may purchase tickets for $50. Sponsorships are also available (Neighbor - $250, Friend - $500, Patron - $1,000). Tickets will be available at the door. For more information about the event, or to obtain tickets, email tiernanforjudge@gmail.com.

Erin Haggerty Antonietti appointed to 3rd Subcircuit vacancy

In an order entered yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Erin Haggerty Antonietti to the 3rd Subcircuit vacancy created by the passing of Judge Allen F. Murphy.

Antonietti's appointment is effective June 26 and terminates December 7, 2020.

According to ARDC, Antonietti has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1991. A campaign committee has already been organized on her behalf, according to records obtained from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

State Sen. Mulroe appointed to 10th Subcircuit vacancy

In an order entered yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed State Sen. John G. Mulroe (D-10) to fill the 10th Subcircuit vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge Thomas Allen.

The appointment is effective June 21 and terminates December 7, 2020. The Court's appointment was made on the recommendation of Justice Mary Jane Theis. The Supreme Court's complete press release about the appointment may be found here. As reported here in April, Mulroe's appointment was not unexpected.

Mulroe has served in the State Senate since 2010. He was previously a candidate for a 10th Subcircuit vacancy in 2008.

Licensed in Illinois since 1988, Mulroe has operated John G. Mulroe, P.C. since 1995. Before that, according to the Supreme Court's press release, Mulroe spent six years as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney "and has also served as a hearing officer for the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District." According to the Supreme Court's press release, Mulroe received highly qualified or recommended ratings from a dozen bar groups.

Protest of 7th Subcircuit appointment set for later this morning... but why?


So this flyer burbled up on my phone last evening. I spent some time looking for confirmation on social media that this was a for-real thing.

I eventually found it floating around Facebook. I can't confirm who's organizing this protest, but I can confirm that at least one recent judicial candidate had this flyer on Facebook tonight.

For those who came in late, Cara Lefevour Smith, who has been toiling of late as a spokesperson and policy adviser for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, was appointed last Friday to a 7th Subcircuit vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge Marianne (not Marion) Jackson.

Ms. Smith's appointment was made by the Illinois Supreme Court on the recommendation of Justice Anne M. Burke. Illinois Supreme Court justices have the privilege of recommending persons for vacancies in their respective districts; the Court generally accepts those recommendations. In Cook County, a/k/a the First Judicial District, we have three Supreme Court justices. They take turns when vacancies arise. The Jackson vacancy was Justice Burke's to fill. This past February, Justice Burke announced an application process for filling this vacancy.

Back in the early 1990s, when the subcircuit system was created, the 7th Subcircuit was one of those subcircuits intended to increase African-American representation on the Cook County bench. Judge Jackson (elected a full circuit judge in 2016 after serving as an associate judge since 1997) is African-American. Ms. Smith is not.

Demographics have shifted in many parts of the county since 1990, including, in particular, in the 7th Subcircuit. But the subcircuit boundaries have remained unchanged since the subcircuit system was put in place. These population shifts spurred the Illinois General Assembly, just this month, to pass HB 2625, requiring that the subcircuit boundary lines be redrawn after the 2020 census.

Ms. Smith's future on the bench is by no means assured. If she wishes to stay in office, she will have to seek election next year.

But if Ms. Smith is elected next year, she would not be the first non-African-American judge elected in the 7th Subcircuit.

Two 7th Subcircuit vacancies were filled in 2016. Judge Jackson won one of these; the other was won by Judge Patricia S. Spratt. Judge Spratt was appointed to that other vacancy in 2015 on the recommendation of then-Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman. Former Justice Freeman is African-American; Judge Spratt is not.

Two 7th Subcircuit vacancies were filled in by election in 2014 as well. One of the judges elected then was African-American; the other was not.

Three of the four judges elected from the 7th Subcircuit in 2012 were African-American. But one was not.

Neither the appointment nor the election of a non-African-American in the 7th Subcircuit is unprecedented. And appointment is not election. And if the community is not enamored of this appointment, the appointee will not survive the primary. That's why many people favor having judicial elections, to prevent elites from simply imposing judges on a community.

So... why is this appointment so controversial?

I don't know for certain, of course, but I do know that, late yesterday, Justice Burke took the extraordinary step of issuing a press release explaining the appointment process generally -- and discussing one disappointed applicant in particular. Quoting from the press release:
On Oct, 29, 2018, Ald. Jason Ervin came to my office and asked me to appoint Pamela Reaves-Harris to an upcoming 7th Subcircuit vacancy. I let Ald. Ervin know that Ms. Harris was welcome to apply and that she would need to be reviewed by my Judicial Selection Committee.

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Pamela Reaves-Harris submitted an application which included an evaluation by The Chicago Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Committee. The evaluation, executed by then President Patricia Brown Holmes, found Ms. Harris to be “Not Recommended” for the office of Circuit Court Judge and stated, in part, that while Ms. Harris was “a dedicated, busy and hardworking public servant,” her “limited practice and court experience would make it difficult for her to effectively serve as a Circuit Court Judge.” My Judicial Selection Committee similarly concluded that Ms. Reaves-Harris was not a qualified candidate. Cara LeFevour Smith was found “Highly Qualified” by both the Chicago Bar Association and my Judicial Screening Committee. The Supreme Court unanimously voted to [appoint] Cara LeFevour Smith to the 7th Subcircuit vacancy.
Here are some additional facts: Derrick Smith was appointed to a vacancy in the Illinois House of Representatives in March 2011. In March 2012, just a week before the Democratic primary, Smith was arrested on federal charges. An informant caught Smith on tape accepting a $7,000 bribe to promote a grant to a day care center. On tape, Rep. Smith can be overheard telling the man passing the money to just 'leave it in the envelope.'

The man passing the money was also the man wearing a wire.

Well, Smith won the primary with Democratic Party support (he was running against a one-time Republican operative for the Democratic nomination), but got booted out of the House thereafter. Despite his expulsion, Smith stayed on the ballot, beating a "Unity Party" candidate who was recruited and endorsed by the Democratic Party in Smith's stead.

Smith could not be expelled from the House a second time for the same offense -- and his case hadn't gone to trial by the time the 2014 primary rolled around. So the party put up Pamela Reaves-Harris to oppose him. She won. (Smith was convicted in June 2014.)

Reaves-Harris did not run for reelection. As a result, Melissa Conyears-Ervin, the wife of Ald. Jason Ervin, wound up unopposed in the Democratic Primary and won that seat, holding it until her recent election as City Treasurer.

These facts may explain why Ald. Ervin sees this particular appointment as a "problem." Or not.

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