Friday, January 27, 2023

Jennifer Barron appointed to DuPage County vacancy

The Illinois Supreme Court today appointed Naperville attorney Jennifer L. Barron to an at-large vacancy on the Circuit Court of DuPage County, a vacancy created by the recent appointment of Judge Linda E. Davenport to the Third District Appellate Court.

The appointment is effective February 15 and expires on December 2, 2024.

A solo practitioner, Barron has operated as Barron Legal Ltd. since 2017. She has also been of counsel to the Law Offices of Lynn D. Dowd since 2004 and has worked as a pro bono attorney for Prairie State Legal Services since 2015. Ms. Barron’s previous experience includes serving as a partner at Boyle & Barron, Ltd. (formerly Charles A. Boyle & Associates, Ltd.), and as an associate at Cozen O'Connor P.C. She has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1995. The Supreme Court's press release is available at this link.

That's the news, presented as I usually cover these things, although regular FWIW readers will no doubt object that I don't usually cover judicial comings or goings outside the boundaries of our beloved County Cook.

But I have my reasons: I was sharing office space with Charles A. "Pat" Boyle in 2001 when I first met Jennifer Barron. She's a really good attorney and I have every expectation that she will do a great job on the DuPage County bench. She tried a med mal case once for Pat in which the jury actually asked the Paul Newman Question (i.e., "can we give the plaintiff more than she asked for?") (I realize that Millenials and Zoomers may have to Google the reference, but it will be worth their while). And because I've worked with Lynn Dowd on a number of matters over the years, I have personal knowledge of some great work that Barron has done for Dowd.

So I could not let this occasion pass, even if it is a tad outside the usual purview of this site. Since this appointment is safely outside Cook County, I trust my reputation for neutrality will not be irreparably damaged if I also publicly offer my congratulations to Ms. Barron... and I do so herewith.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Guest Post: From refugee to jurist -- the story of Judge Alfred J. Paul

I heard about this story at yesterday's Appellate Lawyers Association meeting. With the permission of the author and the permission of Justice Eileen O’Neill Burke, president of the Illinois Judges Association, I herewith reprint this piece from The Gavel, the IJA newsletter in which this article first appeared.

by Justice Mathias W. Delort

Today’s news reports are full of stories about refugees fleeing their homelands in search of a better life. From our perspective as American judges, these stories might seem remote and perhaps even irrelevant. The life story of one of our judicial colleagues, however, not only illuminates the tremendous potential these persons have to contribute to our society, but serves as an inspiration for all of us.

Cook County Associate Judge Alfred J. Paul, who recently retired after 36 years of distinguished service to the State of Illinois, was born in 1942 in Huszczka Duża, Poland, a tiny settlement about 100 miles from Lviv, Ukraine. At that time, World War II was raging, and Poland was under German control. When he was but two years old, Al and his older brother Kazimierz, and his mother were snatched at gunpoint by German soldiers and placed on a train to Germany to work as unpaid laborers on a farm. The farm was liberated by French troops in 1945, and the family lived in barracks in Germany from 1945 to 1950. The family could not return to their homeland, because Poland was under Russian occupation. During this time, Al learned not only his native Polish, but German, as well, although teaching in the refugee camp was sporadic at best. In 1948, President Truman signed the Displaced Persons Act, which allowed families such as the Pauls to immigrate to the United States if they could receive medical clearance and secure sponsorship from an American citizen. The Paul family’s sponsor was an army colonel from Texas.

The Paul family, now reunited with Al’s father, boarded a ship and emigrated to the United States under the new law. When the ship arrived in New Orleans in 1950, Al was wearing German lederhosen. The family traveled to Texas and discovered that the sponsoring colonel intended to exploit the family for free agricultural work on a chicken farm. They were housed in a snake-infested hovel, where temperatures routinely exceeded 100 degrees. They feared deportation if they did not accede to this arrangement.

After six months of this horrific experience, a Polish-American priest from the community came to the family’s rescue by helping them escape from the Texas farm under cover of darkness. The priest wrote a large tag for each family member to wear, stating that the wearer did not speak English and was headed to Chicago. A cousin living in Chicago, whom they had never met, obtained a taxi to meet them at the station. The cousin helped Al’s father secure housing in the Wicker Park neighborhood and a job in a local factory.

At age seven, Al began attending the local Catholic grade school, where the nuns helped him learn English for the first time. An excellent student, Al went on to graduate from Holy Trinity High School. He then became a student at DePaul University, where he participated in the ROTC program, became a naturalized citizen, and graduated with a degree in history. He then served in the army for almost three years during the Vietnam War era. Although his ROTC training qualified him as an officer, Al’s assignment was far from a cushy desk job. He was assigned to one of the most desolate military posts on earth -- Murphy Dome Air Force Station in northern Alaska -- where the temperatures dipped to glacial levels as low as -71° Fahrenheit. The base housed a radar facility manned by soldiers like Al. Their job was to sit in an underground bunker and constantly monitor radar screens for possible nuclear missiles from Russia routed over the polar regions. To qualify for this role, Al obtained top-secret cryptographic clearance. Murphy Dome soldiers took on other tasks in the area, as well, and Al was commended for his heroic efforts helping to save lives and property during the great Fairbanks, Alaska flood of 1967.

After being discharged with the rank of first lieutenant, Al began working at the federal courthouse in Chicago as a clerk for a bankruptcy referee. This piqued his interest in the law, and he began attending Chicago-Kent Law School at night. During law school, he married Mary McCue, and the couple has been together for over 50 years.

Al and Mary’s son, Danny, was born in 1979, and was quickly diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a condition which renders him a functional quadriplegic. For a long period during his childhood, Danny received extensive care at Children’s Memorial Hospital, and his parents kept close watch on him while they stayed at the nearby Ronald McDonald House. Like his father, Danny was an excellent student, a fact that is especially remarkable, given his inability to attend school in person. He received much of his education through lessons which teachers sent home for him to work on. He graduated from Lane Technical High School in Chicago and earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies, with distinction, online from Indiana University. Danny has continuously been on a ventilator since 1986, and he receives round-the-clock nursing care from a devoted group of home health aides and his tireless parents. He enjoys watching sporting events and working on his computer, which he operates by using his eyebrows to move a cursor to select letters and words. With this remarkable technology, he has met friends from around the world.

After a few years of working for a small law firm and handling personal injury litigation for the Chicago Transit Authority, Al was appointed as an associate judge of the circuit court of Cook County in 1986. During his time in the Law Division, he presided over countless jury cases, helping reduce the division’s then-legendary backlog. For the last 21 years, he has been the mainstay of the court’s county division, which handles a variety of unusual matters such as real estate valuation objections, tax deeds, mental health issues, and election disputes.

In recognition of his military service, Judge Alfred Paul retired from the circuit court at 11:11 am on Veterans Day (11/11), 2022. His judicial colleagues presented him an award engraved with these words: “To the best team player who never said no to anyone who needed help”. That’s quite an understatement.

The Illinois Judges Association extends its congratulations and gratitude to Judge Paul for an inspiring life of selfless service to country, community, and family.

Alderperson in need of lawyers... as donors

Anyone who's lived in Chicago for more than a few years knows that some members of Chicago's City Council will likely be in need of lawyers... for representation... in the face of criminal charges. But 49th Ward Alderperson Maria Hadden is currently looking for lawyers for a different purpose, namely, to support her reelection effort:
This particular opportunity to mix and mingle with other politically inclined lawyers (some of whom may someday support your judicial hopes... or not) is set for Tuesday, February 7, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at One North Kitchen & Bar, 1 N. Upper Wacker Drive.

Tickets are $100 apiece and, of course, sponsorships are available (Friends and Neighbors - $150, Fighting the Good Fight - $250, Zealous Advocate - $500, and Good Government Ally - $1,000). For tickets, follow this link.

Event sponsors have included the following statement at that link, "Given higher Covid rates, we'll ask that people bring and wear masks when not eating or drinking."

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Solidarity Award recipients announced in advance of February 5 Green Book program

An update to this January 9 post:

The six organizations jointly sponsoring the February 5 "Green Book" program -- the Black Women's Lawyers Association, the Cook County Bar Association, the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, the Illinois Judicial Council, the Jewish Judges Association of Illinois, the North Suburban Bar Association, and the Women's Bar Association of Illinois -- have announced the identities of the persons who will recive their Solidarity Awards. The persons to be honored at the event are:
  • Illinois Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr.,
  • Former Congressman Bobby Rush,
  • Illinois State Sen. Laura Fine, and
  • Circuit Court Judge Abbey Fishman Romanek.
Tickets for the February 5 CLE event and awards presentation are $35 for adults and $20 for children. Sponsorships are also available. Both event tickets and sponsorships are available at this link. For more information about potential sponsorships, email wbai.cle@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

District Court offers child care option for ILND General Bar members

An email from the District Court that may be of interest to some FWIW readers:

The CCC Learning Center is now enrolling new students at the newly renovated childcare facility at 78 W. Van Buren Street, Chicago, adjacent to the Ralph H. Metcalfe Federal Building. The CCC Learning Center offers quality childcare and learning to children aged 6 weeks to 5 years old at a location convenient to federal employees and attorneys with downtown offices.

Members of the ILND General Bar are invited to take advantage of this service.

The CCC Learning is a NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accredited facility and is open from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. With bright and inviting amenities, they offer flexible care options ranging from one to five days per week. 

For information on enrollment, tuition, or to schedule a tour, call 312-886-0834 or email ccclearningcenter78@comcast.net. A "virtual tour" of the facility is available at this YouTube link.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Weeping Angels strike Springfield yet again: Countywide vacancies will continue in Cook County but the number of associate judgeships is going down

A year ago, here on FWIW, I was wondering about P.A. 102-0693's apparent elimination of 55 countywide judicial slots in Cook County -- and, with it, the elimination of 55 opportunities for the Cook County Democratic Party to cash substantial checks from eager lawyers in exchange for the privilege of the Party's endorsement for countywide judicial vacancies.

At the time I was concerned about the nine persons already slated for countywide vacancies in the June 2022 primary -- I sometimes get hung up on language actually used in statutes (which I thought wsa something lawyers were supposed to do) -- but the election went off without a hitch and, in the event, 10 countywide vacancies were filled.

But that did not resolve the question of how future countywide vacancies might be allocated among the newly created subcircuits.

Countywide vacancies did occur thereafter in the normal course, and some of these were filled by temporary appointments, as the Supreme Court sometimes does when it has a mind to.

After one such appointment, last summer, I reached out to the Supreme Court's press officer to find out which new subcircuit would be given the privilege of filling the latest vacancy. I printed the response: "The vacancy created... will be filled by election in 2024 so if it needs to be allotted to a subcircuit, that allotment will occur closer to the 2024 election."

If?

I questioned the usage of the conditional word at the time -- if the vacancy needs to be allocated? Wasn't that the plain language of the statute?

Sure, I thought it was a little odd that the Legislature -- wholly controlled as it was (and is) by the Democratic Party -- would deprive the Cook County Democratic Party of the significant revenue streams, actual and incidental, created by countywide judicial vacancies. But I thought, well gosh, the Senate President is not just a township Committeeperson, when it comes to the selection of judicial candidates in our fair county, he is in fact one of the most influential. So I figured, however inconvenient this might be for the Cook County Democratic Party for the next several election cycles, this was all a done deal.

But the Supreme Court (or at least its press officer) understood the political untenability of the vacancy allocaton method specified by P.A. 102-0693 much better than I did.
And, sure enough, late last week, the Weeping Angels struck Springfield again.

The vehicle chosen for utter transformation on this occasion was HB0045, a 307-page behemoth that would have conformed language in a host of statutes to current fashion (alderman to alderperson, and so forth). (They're not always one-paragraph wonders.) HB0045 bill sailed through the House after it was introduced in January 2021, passing 102-6 in April of that year. It moved to the Senate and seemed to be sailing through there as well... until it was parked awaiting its third and final reading.

And there it remained until January 5 of this year, when it was revived, only to be eviscerated, with all its previous 307 pages torn out and 70 new ones substituted in their stead. On that same day, it sailed through committee and back onto the Senate floor for what was already (technically at least, which is all that apparently matters) its third reading... where it passed... on a party line vote... and -- still on the same day, mind you -- went back to the House which sent it to and through committee and back onto the floor. By this time, a new day had dawned. And on this new day, January 6, the "amendment" to its bill was accepted by the House, also on a party-line vote.

It will presumably be signed into law promptly, if indeed this has not already occurred.

Don't blink!

Obviously, I did not find out about any of this on my own. FWIW has a great many sharp readers, some of whom actually know what's going on in the political world, and one of them -- named Anonymous, like most of my readers -- sent me a link to the Senate "Amendmendment."

So what happened?

The amendment addresses how the validity of mail-in ballots is determined (worthy of its own post, obviously) and makes changes across the State to the Judicial Circuits Districting Act of 2022.

To which FWIW readers say -- get to how it changes things in Cook County already.

OK. First, there will be countywide vacancies to be filled in Cook County in 2024 and beyond. The number of countywide judgeships remains at 94.

Now, the 55 new resident judgeships (in the five new Cook County subcircuits) will be filled from vacancies occurring among the ranks of the associate judges.

Section 2f(d-5) of the Circuit Courts Act, 705 ILCS 35/2f(d-5) has been totally rewritten. Last year's §2f(d-5) provided:
All vacancies in circuit judgeships in the Circuit of Cook County, which are not allotted to Judicial Subcircuits 1 through 15 pursuant to subsection (c) of this Section, existing on or occurring on or after June 1, 2022 shall be allotted in numerical order to Judicial Subcircuits 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 until there are 11 resident judges to be elected from each of those subcircuits (for a total of 55).
(It was the "existing on" language that had me worried about the 2022 countywide candidates: Vacancies exist until they are filled by election; existing vacancies can be temporarily filled by the Supreme Court, but the vacancies still exist. But we got past that... somehow... so we move on.)

As now rewritten, §2-f(d-5) clarifies that a vacancy occurring in one of the existing subcircuits goes automatically to the same numbered subcircuit under the new map, even if that subcircuit is now on the other side of the county. It also purports to address the allocation of the few remaining pre-subcircuit resident judgeships. But the meat of the new provision is this:
Any vacancies in formerly associate judgeships converted to resident circuit judgeships in the Circuit of Cook County occurring on or after June 1, 2023 shall be allotted in numerical order to Judicial Subcircuits 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 until there are 11 resident judges to be elected from each of those subcircuits (for a total of 55). The maximum number of formerly associate judgeships converted to resident circuit judgeships which may be allotted to Judicial Subcircuits 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 in an election cycle shall be 2 judgeships per subcircuit.
This is a reference to an amendment to §2(a)(4) of the Judicial Vacancies Act, 705 ILCS 40/2(a)(4), which increases the number of resident (for our purposes, subcircuit) judges in Cook County from 165 to 220 and adds a new §2(a)(4)(vi), which in turn explains that the new 55 resident judges will be authorized one by one, "one each for each reduction upon vacancy in the office of associate judge in the Circuit of Cook County as those vacancies occur on and after the effective date of this amendatory Act of 102nd General Assembly and as those vacancies are determined under subsection (b-5) of Section 2 of the Associate Judges Act until the total resident judgeships authorized under this item (vi) is 55."

The reference here is to new §2(b-5) of the Associate Judges Act, 705 ILCS 45/2(b-5). We're coming to this in due course.

But first, we need to look at §2(a) of the Associate Judges Act, which sets the 'maximum' number of associate judges in Cook County as a division problem: Take the population of Cook County (still the only circuit with a population of more than 3,000,000) and divide that figure by 29,000. So the statutory maximum number of associate judges changes according to population fluctuations in Cook County. It went down in 2010. It went up by two as a result of the 2020 census.

Of course, nothing is simple when it comes to calculating the number of judges in Cook County. Section 2(a) of the Associate Judges effectively adds six associates to the result of the division problem referred to in the preceding paragraph with this sentence: "In addition, in circuits of 1,000,000 or more inhabitants, there shall be one additional associate judge authorized for each municipal district of the circuit court."

That maximum number was reduced when the first 15 subcircuits were created. Section 2(b) of the Associate Judges Act reduced the maximum by 60.

(Or thereabouts at least. I did some ciphering today preparing this article. After the 2010 Census, which put the population of Cook County at 5,194,675, the maximum number of Cook County associate judges per §2(a) was 186 (5.194.675 divided by 29,000 comes out to just over 179, which rounds up under "or part thereof" language in §2(a) to 180 plus one for each of our six municipal districts). Reduce that number by 60 as per §2(b) and we have 136. However, in 2019, when all the associate judges were up for retention, there were 137 relected by their peers, and one rejected, making a total of 138. 'Close enough for government work,' you may say, and I can't disagree, really, but it offends my sense of neatness. Maybe someone can explain the seeming discrepancy.)

Anyway (to resume the narrative thread), new §2(b-5) reduces, or will reduce, the maximum number of associate judges in Cook County by another 55. This is the operative language:
Each associate judgeship vacancy that occurs on or after June 1, 2023 shall be converted to a resident circuit judgeship and allotted to a subcircuit pursuant to subsection (d-5) of Section 2f of the Circuit Courts Act, and that maximum number shall be reduced by one until the total number of associate judges authorized under subsection (a) is reduced by 55. The maximum number of formerly associate judgeships converted to resident circuit judgeships which may be allotted to subcircuits 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 in an election cycle shall be 2 judgeships per subcircuit. A vacancy occurs when an associate judge dies, resigns, retires, is removed, or is not reappointed upon expiration of his or her term; a vacancy does not occur at the expiration of a term if the associate judge is reappointed.
The current class of associate judges working its way through interviews will not be derailed by this new statute. And no more than 10 associate judge vacancies in any given election cycle can be allocated to the new subcircuits. But the frequency of new classes of associate judges, absent extraordinary turnover, will likely diminish.

And all these changes were accomplished in a day.

It's amazing what our Legislature can accomplish when it wants to. It's no way to run a proper government -- but it's amazing nonetheless.

Don't blink!

Monday, January 09, 2023

February 5 program: The Green Book CLE and Solidarity Awards

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center will open an exhibit on February 2 entitled "The Negro Motorist Green Book."

A few days later, on Sunday, February 5, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., a consortium of six local bar and judges' groups will present a lecture by Dr. Adam Green, who serves on the faculty of the University of Chicago in the Departments of History and Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity, on The Green Book, Plessy v. Ferguson, and the Civil Rights Act. The lecture will follow self-guided tours of the exhibit. One hour CLE credit will be available for lawyers attending (diversity credit is pending).

The program will also feature the presentation of Solidarity Awards, awards to be conferred jointly by all six sponsoring groups. The identities of the awardees is expected to be disclosed later this week.

The six organizations jointly sponsoring the February 5 program are the Black Women's Lawyers Association, the Cook County Bar Association, the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, the Illinois Judicial Council, the Jewish Judges Association of Illinois, the North Suburban Bar Association, and the Women's Bar Association of Illinois.

The Green Book was created, and updated annually for many years, by Victor Green, a Black postal carrier from Harlem. The exhibit at the Holocaust Museum was created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with Candacy Taylor. The Smithsonian Institution has an online Green Book exhibit where readers can get a sense of what can be found at the exhibit at the Holocaust Museum. A quote from the online exhibit:
The Green Book would not have been possible if not for the community of self-sufficient, talented, and successful Black businesses that filled its pages.
Tickets for the February 5 CLE event and awards presentation are $35 for adults and $20 for children. Sponsorships are also available. A Gold level sponsorship ($100) includes two adult tickets and printed recognition in the program materials; a Platinum level sponsorship ($250) includes four adult tickets, verbal recognition at the event, social media publicity, and prominent recognition in the program materials. Both event tickets and sponsorships are available at this link. For more information about potential sponsorships, email wbai.cle@gmail.com.

Several bar groups plan dinner to welcome in the Lunar New Year

The Women's Bar Association of Illinois, the Asian American Bar Association, the Korean American Bar Association, and the Chinese American Bar Association are jointly sponsoring their Second Annual Lunar New Year Dinner Celebration on Thursday, January 19, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Wicker Park Iron Age Korean Steakhouse, 1265 N. Milwaukee Ave. Judge Rena Marie Van Tine will be the keynote speaker at the event.

Tickets for the dinner are available at this page of the WBAI website. The price is $40 apiece for WBAI, AABA, CABA, and KABA members ($30 for those selecting a vegetarian option). The non-member price is $50 ($40 for the vegetarian option).

Sunday, January 08, 2023

Haitian American Lawyers Association hosts welcome reception for new Loyola Law Dean

The Haitian American Lawyers Association will host a welcome reception for new Loyola Law Dean Michèle Alexandre on Friday, January 20, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Loyola, 25 E. Pearson, 10th Floor.

Organizers note that "Dean Alexandre is the 14th Dean of Loyola School of Law, the first Black dean (in a permanent role), and the first Haitian-American dean to hold this position."

Registration is required for this event. To register, click here.

Saturday, January 07, 2023

Film Premiere at the Illinois Holocaust Museum on January 19: "The Devil's Confession: The Lost Eichmann Tapes"

I have to do another post about an upcoming event at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, and I will, of course, but this upcoming event caught my attention along the way:

On January 19, the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center will host the North American premiere of The Devil's Confession: The Lost Eichmann Tapes (trailer here).

The Devil’s Confession: The Lost Eichmann Tapes unearths secret recordings of Adolf Eichmann, one of the chief architects of the Holocaust’s Final Solution, which definitively shows his active involvement in the planning and implementation of one of the greatest atrocities in world history. Recorded in Buenos Aires in 1957 by Dutch journalist and former SS-Officer Willem Sassen with the intention to prove the Holocaust did not happen as portrayed and without Hitler’s knowledge, these tapes show the opposite and expose Eichmann, in his own voice, stunningly contradicting claims he made during his eventual trial for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes against the Jewish people. The Devil’s Confession: The Lost Eichmann Tapes sheds light on the hidden forces that concealed the recordings, altering the arc of history as we have understood it for more than 70 years, and provides irrefutable proof against Holocaust denial and the pernicious antisemitic hatred from which it springs.

Originally premiered as the opening film of the renowned documentary festival DOCAVIV (and released as a documentary series on Israel’s TV-network KAN 11), MGM Television, SIPUR, Toluca Pictures, Alice Communications, Menemsha Films, and the Illinois Holocaust Museum will bring a feature-length version of The Devil’s Confession: The Lost Eichmann Tapes to North America, beginning with its January 19 premiere in Skokie.

A reception, starting at 5:15 p.m., will precede the premiere. The screening will be followed by a distinguished panel discussion with Director Yariv Mozer, Executive Producer Emilio Schenker, and world-renowned Holocaust experts Dr. Michael Berenbaum, of American Jewish University, and Dr. Peter Hayes, Professor, Northwestern University. The discussion will be moderated by Richard Salomon, Vice President, Museum Board of Directors. Opening remarks will be given by Steve Stark, Chairman of Toluca Pictures, former President of MGM Television, and Executive Producer of the film.

Co-sponsoring this premiere with the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center are the Illinois Film Office, the JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival, Am Shalom, Chicago-Kent School of Law Centerfor National Security and Human Rights Law, Temple Chai, the Consulate General of Argentina in Chicago, and the Decalogue Society of Lawyers.

To register for this event, click here.

Clarence Darrow offers CLE in upcoming CBA presentation

For many years Clarence Darrow was comfortably ensconced as the second-most famous lawyer to come out of the State of Illinois. Then Barack Obama dislodged him.

But Darrow is still in there pitching, providing CLE for the CBA on Wednesday, February 2, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., at the Union League Club.

Well... not actually the real Darrow... but Paul Morella, an actor with a one-man show that features reenactments of some of Darrow's best-known courtroom moments laying, in the words of the event promoters, "the foundation for an examination of the ethical issues raised during the performance, including conflicts of interest, jury nullification, dishonesty, misrepresentation, fraud and more."

Sadly, the promotional materials don't address whether Morella will specifically address Darrow's guilt or innoncence in the California jury-tampering case that almost ended Darrow's career some 110 years ago. (There is some serious question about whether Darrow may have actually been guilty of those bribery charges. But that's the great thing about history: It is populated by flesh-and-blood people, just like people in the present day, people in possession of great attributes... with coexisting great flaws... and who may be, or should be, worthy of respect and admiration, those human defects notwithstanding.)

Tickets for this event are $100 each for CBA members (CBA Advantage Plan members have to pay full price for this event). The non-members price is $150. Registration is available via this link. Organizers say that attendees will qualify for 1.5 IL PR-MCLE credit.

Friday, January 06, 2023

AABA Installation set for February 1; early bird pricing ends this weekend

The Asian American Bar Association will hold its 35th Annual Installation Gala on Wednesday, February 1, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the University Club of Chicago, 76 East Monroe St.

Early bird ticket sales end this weekend -- and tickets are already becoming scarce.

For the moment, tickets for those in the private sector are $120 each; tickets are $90 each for persons working in the public sector, for non-profits, or for students. Next week, tickets will be $125 each for AABA members, $150 for non-members. Registration can be accomplished through this link. And, FWIW readers will be relieved to discover, sponsorship opportunities are still available.

At this event the AABA will confer awards on Rudy Figueroa (In-House Counsel Leadership Award), Eirene Nakamura Salvi (Rising Star Award), Peter Ohr (Justice Award), and Avanti Bakane (Law Firm Partner Diversity Leadership Award).

A portion of the profits from this event will be donated to the AABA Law Foundation whose mission is to support the development of Asian Pacific American law students through the Foundation’s scholarship program.

Book it: Chicago lawyer-authors interview each other about their books

The Chicago Bar Association will host a CLE event for Tuesday, January 17, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., featuring Illinois Appellate Court Justice David Ellis, the author or co-author of several books, including the recently-published solo venture, Look Closer, and former CBA President Daniel Cotter, the author of The Chief Justices, interviewing each other about theiri respective works. This in-person event will also be webcast.

Amission is free for CBA CLE-Advantage members. Otherwise, admission is $65 for CBA members ($125 for non-members). Registration is available at this link. Copies of both books will be available at the presentation and there will be an audience Q&A opportunity.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

An early Christmas present from Mother Nature? Courts closed tomorrow

The forecast for the next day or so keeps changing but, at its worst, the forthcoming winter storm will not equal, much less eclipse, the Blizzard of '67 (an image from which is pictured here).

Nevertheless, the Chief Judge's Office has announced that Cook County Courts will be closed tomorrow (with a few exceptions). Anyone needing to see the actual Order entered in this regard can click here. For everyone else, herewith the court's press release:


Due to predictions of significant snowfall, high winds causing blizzard-like conditions, and extremely low temperatures and wind chills in Cook County, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans ordered courts and related operations of the Circuit Court of Cook County to be closed Friday, December 23.

This means that, with the exception of adult bail hearings at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse and juvenile detention hearings at the Juvenile Courthouse, and hearings on petitions for civil emergency protective orders, there will be no court proceedings (in-person or virtually) in any Cook County courthouse, and the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court will also be closed, except for purposes of staffing bond court and detention hearings.

All cases previously scheduled for Friday, December 23, 2022, will be rescheduled by order of the Presiding Judge of each division and district of the court, and the clerks will send notices of the new court dates.

Hearings on existing civil protective orders (domestic violence orders of protection, stalking no contact orders, civil no contact orders, firearms restraining orders) will be rescheduled to a date no later than January 6, 2023. Civil protective orders set to expire on December 23 are extended to January 6, 2023.

Bond court bail hearings, including those for domestic violence offenses and suburban cases, and juvenile court detention hearings will take place according to the court’s weekend and holiday schedules.

Hearings for new civil emergency protective orders (EOP) will be held from 9:00 p.m. - 3:00 a.m. on Friday, December 23, and from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m on Saturday, December 24. A civil EOP hearing can be requested by visiting Illinois Legal Aid Online at https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/legal-information/emergency-order-protection-cook-county.

For domestic violence advocacy, assistance with emergency EOP hearings, or information about a criminal order of protection, the public can call:
Connections for Abused Women and their Children’s 24-hour hotline: (773) 278-4566

Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline in Chicago: (877)-TO END DV (voice) or 1-877-863-6338 (Voice) or 1-877-863-6339 (TTY). The hotline is toll free and confidential.

Perhaps an illustration of confirmation bias... but, then again, perhaps not

I am certain that a great many FWIW readers would agree with the proposition that we here in the Great State of Illinois are uncommonly obsessed with elections and election law. Why? Because, by tinkering with the mechanics of the electoral process, we can influence, if not actually pre-determine, electoral outcomes. See, generally, maps and redistricting.

So I was not surprised to see, in a newsletter-email addressing the introduction and adoption of election-related legislation in the 50 states I recently received from Ballotpedia, evidence supporting my opinion. This graphic from said email should more than adequately illustrate my point:
Only New York State had more election-related legislation introduced in its legislature than we did in ours.

Only about 11% (266, to be precise) of the election-related bills introduced in state legislatures nationwide were in fact enacted. The success or failure rate of election-related legislation was not broken down on a state-by-state basis, but the newsletter did say, "States with Democratic trifectas—meaning full legislative and gubernatorial control—accounted for 93 of the 266 enacted bills (35%), and 121 (45%) came in states with Republican trifectas. States with divided governments enacted 52 bills (20%)."

Trying to control election outcomes by controlling election mechanics is apparently one of those few remaining areas of bipartisan agreement: Both sides agree that the other side should have no chance, or as little chance as possible.

But the tactics are different. See this chart:

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Being a judge is almost as stressful as being a urologist: O*NET online

I'll bet you never heard it put that way. I certainly never did.

But a recent ABA Journal article by Debra Cassens Weiss provides this nugget, citing to a list published by the Occupational Information Network, or O*NET Online, a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration, and developed by the National Center for O*Net Development.

To be more specific, as Cassens Weiss writes, the list "ranked 873 jobs based on the importance of stress tolerance, defined as the ability to accept criticism and deal calmly and effectively with high-stress situations."

According to the O*NET list, the top occupations requiring high stress tolerance are:
  • Urologists,
  • Film and Video Editors,
  • Anesthesiologist Assistants (tie),
  • Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates (tie), and
  • Telephone Operators (tie).
I know what you must be thinking: There still are telephone operators?

According to the ABA Journal article, "Lawyers had a stress ranking of 87, putting them much further down on the list. They tied with more than 20 other occupations, including umpires and referees, registered nurses, intelligence analysts, gambling change people, child care workers and anesthesiologists."

A big takeaway here: Somehow anesthesiologists have figured out a way to blame their assistants when things go wrong.

And, wouldn't you think, given the alleged similarities in function, that umpires, referees, and judges would all be rated as similarly stressful?

In case you're wondering (I was, at least) "gambling change persons" are not people who experience remorse five minutes after the start of any game on which they have wagered. Rather, "gambling change persons" are defined as persons who "[e]xchange coins, tokens, and chips for patrons' money. May issue payoffs and obtain customer's signature on receipt. May operate a booth in the slot machine area and furnish change persons with money bank at the start of the shift, or count and audit money in drawers."

I certainly do not accept the rankings on this list without question: Door-to-door sales workers are allegedly one of the least stressful occupations. That can't be right.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Connors resignation opens opportunity for Navarro

Illinois Appellate Court Justice Maureen E. Connors has announced her retirement, and the Illinois Supreme Court has wasted no time in filling her vacancy.

In an Order entered today, the Supreme Court reassigned Justice Mary L. Mikva, a Circuit Court judge already serving by appointment on the Appellate Court, to the Connors vacancy.

Justice Mikva's previous Appellate Court assignment was open-ended. The new assignment is effective January 18, 2023 and terminates December 2, 2024. To remain on the Appellate Court after that date, Justice Mikva would have to win election to the court in the 2024 election. Under today's order, however, she remains a Circuit Court judge sitting on the Appellate Court by assignment. If she fails to win election to the Appellate Court, or chooses not to run, she can remain a Circuit Court judge when her time on the Appellate Court is up.

Today's Order also allows Justice Mikva to retain her own caseload.

Justice Connors' cases will be taken over by Circuit Court Judge David R. Navarro pursuant to a separate Order, also entered today, by the Illinois Supreme Court. This Order assigns Judge Navarro to the Appellate Court effective February 6, 2023, in which assignment he will remain "until further order of the Court."

Navarro was appointed to the Circuit Court bench in 2017. He was elected to a 4th Subcircuit vacancy in 2018. Navarro was appointed acting presiding judge of the Pretrial Division in November 2021.

The Supreme Court's press release about Judge Navarro's new assignment can be found here.

Justice Connors had served on the Appellate Court since she was appointed to that court in late 2010. She was elected to that court without opposition in 2012. Connors was recently retained as an Appellate Court justice in the 2022 election.

Justice Mikva has been serving on the Appellate Court by assignment since 2016. She was elected to the Circuit Court in 2004.

Friday, December 09, 2022

CBA to present Korematsu reenactment on Thursday, December 15

Fred Korematsu in 1998
The Chicago Bar Association D.I.C.E Committee, the Young Lawyers Section of the CBA, and the Japanese American Bar Association of Chicago are partnering to present a program on Korematsu v. United States on Thursday, December 15 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m., at the CBA building, 321 S. Plymouth Ct.

The link in the preceding sentence is not to the 1944 Supreme Court opinion (that "shameful precedent," as Justice Sonia Sotomayor called it in her dissent in Trump v. Hawaii, 138 S.Ct. 2392 (2018) (see, p. 92 of the linked .pdf document)) but, rather, to educational materials published by the U.S. Courts.

Those materials note that, while Fred Korematsu's conviction (for violating an exclusion order by the military) was overturned in a 1983 case (he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 1998), "the Supreme Court decision still stands."

That flat assertion might come as a surprise to the Supreme Court justices who heard Trump v. Hawaii. In the majority opinion in that case, Chief Justice Roberts stated, "Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and---to be clear---'has no place in law under the Constitution.' 323 U.S., at 248 (Jackson, J., dissenting)." And, as alluded above, in her dissent, Justice Sotomayor stated, "Today, the Court takes the importantstep of finally overruling Korematsu * * *. This formal repudiation of a shameful precedent is laudable and long overdue."

This seeming digression into Trump v. Hawaii is relevant because the materials for next Thursday's program, which were drafted and provided by the Asian American Bar Association of New York, includes commentary at the end from Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Sotomayor. I may have given some of that away here.

The program will feature CBA members reenacting key moments from Fred Korematsu’s trial and fight for justice. During the presentation, participants will examine key areas of the law involved in the case.

Korematsu was born in the United States but was arrested for his Japanese ancestry and for refusing to comply with military orders. During World War II, Japanese Americans were regarded as a threat to U.S. security and were uprooted from their homes to remote internment camps in the West.

However, Korematsu took a stand for his rights as an American-born citizen and brought his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court rejected his claim that the relocation of Japanese Americans during the War was based on racial bias.

For additional information about this program or to register to attend, visit this page of the CBA website.

CBA Symphony Orchestra and Chorus present a Classical Holiday on December 17

Sure, Schroeder might say that a Beethoven-only program would more than suffice.

But the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Bar Association Chorous have decided to offer even more in their holiday program, to be presented on Saturday, December 17, beginning at 7:30 p.m., at St. James Episcopal Cathedral, 65 E. Huron Street.

Marek Rachelski will conduct the CBA Orchestra and Stephen Blackwelder will conduct the CBA Chorus in a program that features selections from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker and Handel's Messiah and as well as movements from Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.

Tickets will be available at the door ($20 apiece for adults, $15 for law students or persons 18 and under). Tickets purchased online in advance are discounted: $15 for adults, $10 for students. To purchase tickets online, click here.

SABA Chicago Holiday Party set for Monday, December 12

The South Asian Bar Association of Chicago will have its Holiday Party this coming Monday, December 12, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at City Social, 120 N. LaSalle St. Registration is required for this event (yes, that's the link).

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Cook County Bar Association Winter Ball & Holiday Toy Drive set for December 15

The Cook County Bar Association will hold its Winter Ball & Holiday Toy Drive on Thursday, December 15, from 5:30 to 10:00 p.m., at the Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W. 35th Street.

Tickets for this event are $100 each. The price includes admission, limited open bar, food from Premier Catering, and live entertainment from the "Park N Ride" band and sounds from DJ Commando. Semi-formal attire is encouraged.

Attendees are also encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys. Checks in lieu of toy donations may be made payable to the Cook County Bar Association or, alternatively, Zelle payments may be sent to president@cookcountybar.org.

Event tickets are available here.

AABA Chicago Holiday Party this Thursday, December 8

A holiday party sponsored by the Asian American Bar Association Chicago and the AABA Chicago Law Foundation will take place this Thursday evening, December 8, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at Lao Sze Chuan, 520 N. Michigan Ave.

Tickets are $55 each for members ($65 for non-members). Law students will be admitted for $15. All tickets are available at this link. Tickets will also be available at the door, but payment must be made by credit card only; no cash will be accepted.

Monday, December 05, 2022

New class of Cook County Circuit Court judges sworn in today via Zoom

I just know this will be triggering to some small percentage of FWIW readers, but it is a fact and I refuse to shrink from my responsibility to report that the newest crop of Cook County Circuit judges, all of whom (with the exception of Joe Gump) were effectively elected in the June Democratic primary, there being no two-party system to speak of in our fair county, were sworn in this morning in an online Zoom hearing.

The festivities were streamed live on YouTube.

It was, as these things go, a very nice ceremony, with advice and admonitions appropriate to the occasion from several judicial luminaries, including former 7th Circuit Chief Judge Diane P. Wood, Chief Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer of the Northern District of Illinois, newly-installed Illinois Supreme Court Justice Joy V. Cunningham, and Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis.

It was a little strange, of course, to watch a ceremony like this shoehorned into the Hollywood Squares format of a Zoom meeting. Fortunately, no one took it upon themselves to assume the part of Paul Lynde. All the new judges seemed to have a standard Circuit Court of Cook County virtual background -- a viewer could quickly pick out the virtual nature of the background because the arm of this new judge, or that one, would disappear when they failed to remember to sit entirely stock still.

And, let's face it, this was an occasion where the persons being welcomed into the third branch of government (as a number of speakers reminded the initiates) were understandably excited, elated, and, well, eager to get the formalities over with so they could celebrate with friends and family. Some of them had trouble sitting entirely still.

Allow me to use this platform to offer my personal and heartfelt congratulations to all the newly sworn-in judges.

I realize that even this modest salutation will also be triggering for some FWIW readers.

There are some very bitter people on the outside looking in. Having been disappointed myself over the past 30 years of not reaching the bench, I can appreciate the disappointment that others also feel. I can even understand how some may feel that disappointment more keenly, these days, than I might, since I've stopped actively striving (why, I didn't even fill out applications for the last couple of AJ classes -- I figure the Supreme Court knows where to find me, if it wants to, and I'm not holding my breath anymore waiting).

But I do have a problem understanding much of the anger and bitterness that some have expressed in comments FWIW readers never see.

Not all of the angry people are judge wannabes. Some are practitioners who felt, rightly or wrongly, that the civil court system failed utterly during Covid, depriving them of opportunities to earn a livelihood. A judge on Zoom, for some of these, is a judge who is not earning their pay.

But some of these angry people have ambitions to one day don the robe themselves. Or say they do. And yet they profess disdain for the successful candidates and heap scorn on the (pick one or more) ability, intelligence, independence, work ethic, and/or sobriety of the judges already serving. This makes no sense to me: Why would anyone aspire to a job working with colleagues they despise?

Well... as I've said on many occasions... I am no politician.

Anyway, congratulations to all the new judges. I wish you well.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Limited tickets still available for HLAI holiday party on December 2

The HLAI (and HLAI Charities) Holiday Party is set for this Friday, December 2, from 5:30 to 7:30p.m., in the Cava Room, above Moe's Cantina, 155 W. Kinzie.

Limited tickets are still available for this event. Tickets are $75 each for HLAI members, $100 for non-members (law students will be admitted for $55) and can be purchased by clicking here. All attendees are asked to bring an unwrapped toy or gift card (minimum $20 value) to benefit the children of Mujeres Latinas en Acción & Legal Aid Society. Proceeds from this event will fund HLAI Charities Scholarships.

Who will tell the Speaker that "Blue Christmas" is a sad song?

I wouldn't wish a Blue Christmas on anyone... but this is America, doggone it, and, if that's what he wants to do, the Speaker is free to wish a lonely, miserable Christmas on his many foll... what?... oh. It has just been called to my attention that "blue" in this context is a reference to the Speaker's political party and is not meant in any way to suggest that the Speaker wishes any quantum of sadness, large or small, on anyone during this holiday season.

Readers will hopefully note a very positive feature of the above and foregoing invitation: There is a strong financial incentive to bring a toy to this seasonal soirée. Tickets are $250 apiece -- but persons who pledge to bring a toy to be donated to local organizations can purchase tickets for the heavily discounted price of just $100 each.

To purchase tickets for this event (with or without a toy), or to purchase a sponsorship for this event, click here.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

FWIW didn't get the story wrong: Circuit Court Judge Freddrenna M. Lyle has been assigned to duty on the Appellate Court

And Judge Lyle will assume Justice Cunningham's case load when she arrives (Justice Joy V. Cunningham, you will recall, having been appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court).

However, owing to what the Supreme Court describes as a "clerical error," the Supreme Court entered a "Corrected Order" this past Friday indicating that Judge Lyle is being assigned "to the position currently held by the Honorable Cynthia Y. Cobbs, who is being reassigned to the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District."

Which means... depending on what is meant by a separate order also entered Friday... that Justice Cobbs, a Circuit Court judge already serving by assignment to the Appellate Court, is now in the 'up or out' slot. Probably.

Here's where the potential confusion comes from: Justice Cobbs has not been appointed to the Appellate Court. Rather, the order states that Justice Cobbs "is reassigned to duty in the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, to the position currently held by the Honorable Joy V. Cunningham, who is being appointed to the Supreme Court of Illinois." So she has been put in Cunningham's slot, but keeps her own caseload.

In contrast, in 2020, the Supreme Court expressly appointed Justice Robert E. Gordon, like Justice Cobbs a Circuit Court judge serving on the Appellate Court by appointment, to the vacancy of Justice Shelvin Louise Marie Hall.

However, because Friday's order expressly provides that Justice Cobbs' new 'assignment' will terminate on December 2, 2024, I believe that the intention of Friday's order is that Justice Cobbs would have to run for, and win, the Cunningham seat (or some other) on the Appellate Court in order to remain on that bench. On the other hand, because she has not been appointed to the Cunningham vacancy, in the event that she is unsuccessful in her potential bid for the Cunningham vacancy, or if she chooses not to run, Cobbs would remain a judge of the Circuit Court after the expiration date of last week's reassignment (December 2, 2024).

If memory serves (and, because the Supreme Court website has since been updated, I can no longer pull up the 2018 order to double-check), the language in this order is similar to that employed in the older order reassigning Justice Hyman to a specific Appellate Court vacancy, with a definite end date: Justice Hyman ran for that vacany and won in 2020, but if he had fallen short, he would have remained on the Circuit Court bench. As it was, Hyman's Circuit Court seat came open when he won election to the Appellate Court and was filled in this most recent election cycle.

Advocates Society Holiday Party set for December 16

The Advocates Society, the Association of Polish-American Attorneys, will hold its Holiday Party on Friday, December 16, starting with a short meeting at 6:30 p.m., at the Copernicus Annex at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago.

Dinner will follow the short meeting, according to the event organizers, and festive games will follow dinner. This will be a family-friendly event, the Advocates assert, with festive attire suggested. Tickets are $30 per person, but accompanied children 16 and under will be admitted at no charge. To register for this event, click here.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Transitioning to Life as a Judicial Law Clerk: December 8 CLE from DSF and ISBA

There was a time when the opportunity to serve as a judicial law clerk came only at the beginning of one's legal career. That has apparently changed.

The Illinois State Bar Association Diversity Leadership Council and the Diversity Scholarship Foundation will present a free CLE program on Thursday, December 8, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., at the JW Marriott Hotel, 151 W. Adams. This program, entitled "It's Never Too Late: Transitioning to Life as a Judicial Law Clerk," will take place during the ISBA/IJA Joint Midyear Meeting.

Speaking at the program will be Enrique Abraham, of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office; Jonathan B. Amarilio, of Taft Stettinius and Hollister LLP; U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman, of the Northern District of Illinois; Illinois Appellate Court Justice Jesse G. Reyes; and Ryan Suniga, Law Clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Jorge L. Alonso, of the Northern District of Illinois. Jerrod L. Williams, a Law Clerk, in the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, will serve as moderator. Bianca B. Brown, of the Chicago Transit Authority, is the program coordinator.

While the program is free, registration is required. This can be accomplished at this page of the ISBA website.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Northwest Suburban Bar Association Holiday Party set for December 7

Tickets are available at this link for the Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Annual Holiday Party, to be held on Wednesday, December 7, starting at 5:00 p.m., at Maggiano's Little Italy, 1901 E. Woodfield Dr., Schaumburg.

The NWSBA will honor retired Judge James A. Geocaris with its Lifetime Achievement Award at this event. The NWSBA will also confer its Public Service Award on Judge Steven A. Kozicki. Tickets cost $100 per person; the price includes dinner and an open bar.

Questions about the event should be directed to Kaitlyn Gallagher at kgallagher@nwsba.org. Persons or groups wishing to sponsor this event should contact Julie Barth at jbarth@nwsba.org.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Tickets now available for Illinois Latino Judge Association Holiday Fiesta

The Illinois Latino Judges Association Holiday Fiesta will take place on Thursday, December 8, from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m., at Mi Tierra Restaurant, 2528 S. Kedzie, Chicago.

Tickets are $75 apiece and are available at this link.

Guest Post: Approaching a new retention normal?

Today FWIW is again honored to present a Guest Post by Albert J. Klumpp, a generous and frequent contributor to FWIW over the years, a research analyst with a public policy PhD, and the author of several scholarly works analyzing judicial elections.

by Albert J. Klumpp

Despite the current level of political turmoil throughout our country, last Tuesday’s election concluded one of the quietest judicial retention cycles on record. Nationally there were 692 state court judges seeking noncompetitive retention in eighteen different states. Pending some unreported results in Kansas and Indiana, 689 of the judges appear to have been retained. The lone exceptions were in Maricopa County, Arizona, where three trial court judges with less-than-perfect marks from the state’s judicial performance commission were on the verge of defeat, albeit with many thousands of ballots still to count.

Here in Cook County, the voting indicated that the surge in interest in the retention part of the ballot that began in 2018 and grew in 2020 is starting to fade. This is not at all unexpected. The same happened during the Operation Greylord elections of the 1980s, and has happened in other jurisdictions as well. But while the post-Greylord voting was largely the same as the pre-Greylord voting, in this instance future retention elections are likely to settle into a somewhat different normal compared to the past.

Ballots are still being counted in both city and suburbs, but the retention numbers are complete enough to allow for a sufficient examination of the results:
  • The reported voter turnout of 41% is the lowest for any November election since the adoption of judicial retention in 1964. Conversely, the median participation rate for the retention judges on the ballot was 76%, the highest level ever. Since it typically is the most regular and dedicated voters who complete the retention part of the ballot, the two figures in combination is not a surprise.
  • The baseline approval rate for the 61 judges on the retention ballot, controlling for all positive and negative variables, was a historically typical 75.3 percent. This is exactly the same figure as in 2020 and just below the 75.4 percent level in 2018. (There in fact were 62 judges listed on the ballot, but unfortunately both the city and county election agencies did not report vote totals for the retiring Daniel Pierce.)
  • Among the bar association ratings, the Illinois State Bar Association’s were by far the most influential at roughly eight percent of the vote, compared to roughly five percent for all of the other bars combined. In recent years the ISBA ratings have been reported more frequently by suburban media, so their growing influence is to be expected, and in fact was measured as growing in 2018 and 2020. However, in this election they were predominant among the bar groups even in the city. The eight percent figure may be a bit of an overstatement, due to the small overall number of negative ratings by the bars and the consequent difficulty in estimating their impact, but the trend is undeniable.

  • The two social media guides from progressive activists that were detectable in the 2018 and 2020 voting were once again detectable here. The “Girl I Guess” guide was used by roughly 4.8 percent of the voters, while the “Cheat Sheet” guide circulated by the Chicago Votes group was used by roughly 1.6 percent. As expected, both were much more influential in the city than in the suburbs.

  • Unlike the primaries, where name cues are highly influential and often determinative, name cues are of little significance in retention voting and were not a major influence here. Female judges did 1.8 percent better than males, and among the three most important race/ethnicity categories (Irish, Black, Hispanic), none was worth more than 1 percent.

  • Overall roughly 200,000 voters made use of information from one of the above-named information sources to cast a mixture of yes and no votes. This is double the historically typical figure of 100,000, but only a fraction of the 400,000 in 2018 and the 520,000 in 2020. However, while the number is smaller than in the two previous elections, it occurred with no help whatsoever from either of the major metropolitan newspapers, The Sun-Times and Tribune both not only declined to offer any retention recommendations of their own, but did not even report any of the bar association ratings for informational purposes.
One final point, something that drew surprisingly little pre-election attention but cannot be ignored:
This was the county Democratic party’s mailer for the election, showing a full retreat from the aggressive position taken by the party in 2018 and 2020 regarding retention candidates. There is no mention on the party’s website of having done the sort of investigating that it claimed to have done in 2018 and 2020, so this appears to be simply a reversion to the party’s previous long-running practice of simply recommending yes votes on the full retention class. And while this may have surprised many observers, history teaches us that it should have surprised no one.

In 1887, 1921, 1953, 1984 and again in 2020 the local political powers-that-be suffered headline-generating embarrassments in judicial elections, because they forgot the lessons of the past and were repudiated by the electorate for trying to overly influence the process of judicial selection. It’s a remarkably cyclical pattern that repeats every thirty-something years, and proves the old adage of those who forget history being doomed to repeat it. This mailer may well be evidence of another cycle coming to a close.

Looking forward, if the Sun-Times and Tribune, which were significant drivers of retention votes in the past, continue to shun the retention candidates in the future, then future elections will continue to see the combination of the internet, social media and smartphones play the primary role in retention voting as they apparently did here. The mixture of information-based votes will be more political and less profession-oriented — especially considering that the bar community shows no interest in strategies to increase the use of its ratings, and seems oddly accepting of its lessening influence. This will likely occur regardless of the choices made by the county Democratic party.

When the results are official the ward and township numbers are final, I’ll share some detail from the analysis at that level. For now I’ll just add the usual fine print about how the figures cited above are statistical estimates with margins of error, but that on the whole they “fit” the retention results very well and describe the voting patterns accurately.

Judge Freddrenna M. Lyle assigned to Appellate Court

Updated 11/18/22 to add link to Supreme Court press release

In an order entered yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court assigned Circuit Court Judge Freddrenna M. Lyle to duty on the First District of the Illinois Appellate Court. The Supreme Court's press release about the appointment is available here.

Pursuant to the order, Judge Lyle will take up her new duties when Justice Joy V. Cunningham officially joins the Illinois Supreme Court on December 1. Judge Lyle will also assume Justice Cunningham's caseload on the Appellate Court.

Justice Cunningham has been appointed to the Supreme Court, which means that, if she wishes to remain on that Court, she will have to seek election to that office in 2024. Judge Lyle has been assigned to the Appellate Court, which means that she will not necessarily have to seek the Cunningham vacancy on the Appellate Court in 2024 in order to remain in that assignment.

Judge Lyle, a former Chicago alderperson, was first elected to the Circuit Court in 2016. She was retained in the recent election (winning a "Well Qualified" rating from the Chicago Council of Lawyers in the process).

But Lyle began her judicial service in late 2011, when the Illinois Supreme Court appointed her to a 2nd Subcircuit vacancy. She did not run for that judgeship; instead, in 2012, she received a new appointment, this time to a 7th Subcircuit vacancy. She did not run for that vacancy either.

In 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Lyle to a 5th Subcircuit vacancy. This was the vacancy to which she was elected -- without opposition -- in 2016.

The Cook County Democratic Party slated Judge Lyle for an Appellate Court vacancy in the 2014 election cycle. Judge Lyle's "Qualified" rating from the Chicago Bar Association was rescinded on the eve of the primary (because the CBA felt that its rating was being touted as an endorsement in some of Judge Lyle's radio commercials), only to be reinstated after the primary, after Judge Lyle's bid for the Appellate Court had come up short.