Sunday, December 30, 2007

Maureen Ward Kirby website link

Per email received from Emily Woodrow: The campaign website of Judge Maureen Ward Kirby, candidate for the Healy vacancy. Judge Kirby now holds that seat pursuant to appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court; Ms. Woodrow is her campaign manager. I've added this link to the list of candidate websites in the Sidebar. If you know of a candidate website that is not listed in the Sidebar, please send me an email.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cook County a "Judicial Hellhole"?

The American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF) has published a new report labeling the Circuit Court of Cook County as a "Judicial Hellhole." The report has become an annual event; Madison and St. Clair Counties in downstate Illinois have been recipients of this dubious honor in prior years.

This year's report has again attracted national attention; here is a link to a December 24 article in the New York Times article about the report. (The article is reprinted in the December 27 edition of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.)

The ATRF report defines "Judicial Hellholes" as "places where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants in civil lawsuits. The jurisdictions discussed in this report are not the only Judicial Hellholes in the United States; they are merely the worst offenders. These cities, counties or judicial districts are frequently identified by members of the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) and individuals familiar with the litigation."

"Judicial Hellhole" is such a catchy phrase that it has been registered as a trademark of ATRA; the use of the terms was licensed to ATRF by ATRA for its attack on Cook County and the other jurisdictions slammed in the current report.

ATRA, according to its website, "was co-founded in 1986 by the American Medical Association and the American Council of Engineering Companies."

So: What does ATRF offer in support of its contention that Cook County "judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants in civil lawsuits?" ATRF cites three reasons (pp. 9-11). First, "Trial Lawyers Cash in on Grief." Second, a "Cook County Judge Throws Out Illinois Medical Liability Reform." Third, a "Mixed Bag of Excessive Verdicts."

The first charge refers to an amendment passed this year to the Wrongful Death Act, 740 ILCS 180/1 et seq. Section 2 of the Act was amended to permit juries in such cases to consider, as elements of damage, the "grief, sorrow, and mental suffering" of "the surviving spouse and next of kin of the deceased person."

One might construct a reasoned argument that this amendment will have adverse consequences for Illinois businesses. One might even ask why the legislature found itself able to meddle with the Wrongful Death Act when it could not pass a budget and still can not pass mass transit relief. But even accepting that many of the sponsors of the amendment were from Cook County, how can this legislative action be used to besmirch the reputation of the hundreds of judges sitting in Cook County?

When last I heard, trial judges have an obligation to apply the laws of this State as written, whether the laws are wise or foolish, so long as the laws are constitutional. Is ATRF against this?

Maybe it's against judges determining constitutional challenges... at least that's one way of understanding ATRF's second objection, that "a Cook County court has invalidated a state legislative limit on potentially infinite pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice cases."

I have not carefully studied the most recent cap statute or Cook County Circuit Judge Diane Joan Larsen's opinion finding that statute wanting; for that reason I venture no opinion on whether Judge Larsen called it right or wrong... but caps statutes have twice before been invalidated by the Illinois Supreme Court. Surely ATRF would expect judges to follow precedent in reaching decisions, right?

And even if -- even if -- Judge Larsen was entirely off base in her ruling, how does that one ruling show, generally, that Cook County "judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants in civil lawsuits?"

The last and final reason why ATRF says Cook County is a "Judicial Hellhole" is that there were some very large verdicts in Cook County this past year. Some anecdotes are shared. Why the verdicts in the particular cases were large is largely not addressed.

ATRF asks what makes a "Judicial Hellhole" -- and answers its own question this way (p. 1): It's the judges. "While most judges honor their commitment to be unbiased arbiters in the pursuit of truth and justice," the report says, "judges in Judicial Hellholes do not. These few judges may simply favor local plaintiffs’ lawyers and their clients over defendant corporations."

This is an extraordinary charge. But the gaudy charges against the Cook County judiciary are unsubstantiated by the ATRF report. If the ATRF report were a lawsuit, it might be sneered at as frivolous litigation.
Accompanying illustrations taken from the ATRF report.

Marilyn F. Johnson website link

Per email received from the candidate: The campaign website of Judge Marilyn F. Johnson, candidate for the countywide Keehan vacancy. (Johnson was appointed to this vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court in March 2006.) I've added this link to the list of candidate websites in the Sidebar. If you know of a candidate website that is not listed in the Sidebar, please send me an email.

Ursula Walowski website link

Found on the Internet: The campaign website of Ursula Walowski, candidate for the Kowalski vacancy in the 10th Judicial Subcircuit. I've also added this link to the list of candidate websites in the Sidebar. If you know of a candidate website that is not listed in the Sidebar, please send me an email.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A dilemma regarding bar association evaluations

You'll notice Judge Shapiro's 'in his own words' post begins with a quote from his CBA evaluation.

The judicial evaluation committees of the various bar associations are working long hours to sift through the candidates' applications and complete their evaluations of the candidates' credentials. When all the evaluations are done, the bar associations will post their findings (this link, for example, will take you to the CBA results when they are available).

In the meantime, however, bar associations are releasing results on a candidate by candidate basis -- but only to the candidates themselves. Some, but not all, of the candidates have their evaluations from some, but not all, of the bar associations which are doing evaluations.

I will be posting the complete results from the different evaluating groups when they are released... but, in the meantime, I have something of a dilemma.

James E. Babcock, Jr. sent out an email this morning advising that he's received "Qualified" ratings from the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association, a "Recommended" rating from the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, and a "Highly Recommended" rating from the Decalogue Society. (Babcock sent this email to me and several newspaper reporters.)

I'm torn about posting this information -- and this has nothing to do with Mr. Babcock personally: I just don't know how fair it is to disclose information like this about Candidate A in a race before Candidate B gets his or her results. The bar associations do not infer or imply that Candidate A is more qualified or more highly recommended than Candidate B, if both are found "Qualified" or "Recommended," just because Candidate A's ratings are finished first. On the other hand, waiting until everyone's ratings are completed to reveal anyone's ratings will take us close to the February 5 primary date -- too close in time, perhaps, for the ratings to have the influence they might otherwise have on the voters.

Thus my dilemma: I want to help candidates publicize their favorable ratings, but I don't wish to contribute to any incorrect impression that a candidate who is evaluated sooner is somehow better than a candidate who receives the same ratings but not until a later date.

If you have an opinion on this subject, I would very much like to hear it. Leave a comment.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

James A. Shapiro: In his own words

James A. Shapiro is a candidate for judge in the 8th Judicial Subcircuit.

"Judge Shapiro is well regarded for his integrity and fine judicial temperament." -- December 2007, Chicago Bar Association rating Judge Shapiro qualified for election to the bench.

I am a sitting judge, appointed to an Eighth Subcircuit vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court. Before my appointment, I practiced law for more than 22 years, with extensive trial experience, both jury and bench. I was an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago, and then practiced mostly federal and state criminal defense, with a significant amount of civil litigation, for over a decade.

Although I have been on the bench only since August, I previously had over ten years of quasi-judicial experience as a Hearing Board Chair with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and as a Chair-Qualified Arbitrator for the Cook County Mandatory Arbitration Program.

I have federal and state experience, civil and criminal, plaintiff and defendant, prosecution and defense, private and government practice, and have been a practitioner at big, medium, small, and solo firms.

But perhaps my strongest qualifications for this position, in addition to my professional experience and knowledge of the law, are my fairness, patience, empathy and a deeply-held belief that a good judge can have a positive impact on the people who appear in his or her court.

The justice system can be a faceless bureaucracy; people should be treated with dignity and respect, not as case numbers or administrative units. Judges need to remember that what is routine and mundane to the administrators and practitioners is probably totally foreign, incomprehensible and often frightening to the litigants. As a judge, I am committed to ensuring that people who appear before me understand the procedures and what is happening to them.

When I first decided to study law, my main objective was to be a fighter for justice. Whether prosecuting public corruption in the U.S. Attorney’s office, defending clients in criminal court, or representing indigent victims of fraud and misrepresentation, I have felt fulfilled in that role. I have also achieved immense satisfaction from my scholarly pursuits as professor, lecturer, and author.

I have authored or co-authored law review articles on federal sentencing and federal tort claims which have been cited in cases, law school casebooks, other law review articles, and treatises. During the 1990s, I taught legal writing at Loyola, and from 1993-2003 I was a guest lecturer at Chicago Kent, teaching federal plea negotiations. Since 2003, I have been an Adjunct Professor at John Marshall, teaching Federal Courts. My teaching experience also includes lecture tours in 1999 and 2000, speaking on American criminal justice issues at the German-American Institutes in Freiburg, Tübingen, Heidelberg, Munich, Nuremburg, and Stuttgart, Germany.

I love the law - teaching it, arguing it, writing about it - and have relished it in all its manifestations throughout my career. Serving as a judge is yet another aspect of its practice, one I have grown into through experience and which I now am honored and privileged to enjoy.

James A. Shapiro website link

Per email received from Aviva Patt, Campaign Manager for Judge James A. Shapiro, candidate for the Sheehan vacancy in the 8th Judicial Subcircuit: Campaign website of James A. Shapiro. I've also added this link to the list of candidate websites in the Sidebar. If you know of a candidate website that is not listed in the Sidebar, please send me an email.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

No contest anymore in 3rd Subcircuit

Assistant State's Attorney Maureen Leahy Delehanty withdrew Friday, December 21 as a candidate in the 3rd Subcircuit race. Judge Patrick J. Sherlock, appointed to the Donnersberger vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court, will now hold that seat by default.

Paula M. Lingo website link

Found on the Internet: the campaign website of Paula M. Lingo, candidate for the Murphy vacancy. I've added this link to my list of judicial candidate websites in the Sidebar.

Lingo has been slated by the Democratic Party for this vacancy. Her website features narration by Cook County Commissioner Jerry Butler, something that may make a favorable Impression, at least among voters of a certain age. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

If you know of any other Cook County judicial candidate website that is not listed in the Sidebar, please send me an email or leave a comment.

Drunk driver comes clean -- the wrong way

When accused of drunk driving, it may be best to come clean -- but not the way an 18 year old man did recently in Wisconsin, according to this UPI story posted December 17.

According to the UPI story, a reserve officer in the Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Department stopped the drunk driving suspect near a gas station, but the suspect decided to flee.

His chosen escape route, however, took him through the gas station's car wash. This was not the right way to come clean.

A Fond du Lac police office who'd stopped to help was nearly run over as the suspect's vehicle came careening out of the car wash, but, according to this Canadian Press story, the driver was apprehended four miles down the road after a "tire deflation device" was used to stop the car.

The driver was reportedly Tasered at the scene. It is not reported whether the driver, who was not named in either linked account, responded with this year's most memorable quote, "Don't tase me, bro!."

What not to say in court: An occasional series

From the Times Herald-Record, a newspaper serving New York's Hudson Valley, this story about Lance Majors' day in court: On December 13, according to Victor Whitman's article, Lance Majors, 38, of Poughkeepsie, New York, appeared before Judge Frank LaBuda for sentencing on drunken driving and other charges stemming from a March 24, 2007 incident in which he was clocked at a speed of "107 mph with his 11-year-old daughter in the passenger's seat."

There may not be very many helpful things a person might say under similar circumstances. The remarks attributed to Mr. Majors on this occasion, however, must be ranked among the least helpful.

According to the article, Majors told Judge LaBuda that he "expected no justice from a man with a reputation for sarcasm in court." Then, Whitman writes, Majors "shook his head and laughed out loud." But this was not all: As sentence was being pronounced, Majors told the judge, "Just speed it up because you are really boring me."

For the record, Judge LaBuda sentenced Majors to a prison term of 2⅓ to 7 years on the felony drunk driving charges and to the maximum sentence allowed "on six counts, including charges for reckless endangerment, driving with a revoked license, endangering the welfare of a child and speeding." For good measure, Judge LaBuda tacked on an additional 15 days for contempt of court. "Laugh all you want to, Mr. Majors," the judge said.

Whitman reports, "Majors has five prior convictions for DWI, and has been convicted for a string of crimes, including a robbery and the possession and sale of drugs." Majors represented himself in the three day jury trial that led to his convictions.

Friday, December 21, 2007

David H. Latham website link

Per email received today: Candidate website of David H. Latham, candidate for the Young vacancy in the 7th Subcircuit. I've also added this link to the list of candidate websites in the Sidebar.

I learned this week of a couple other candidate websites that are in development; I expect to post these soon as well. If you know of any Cook County judicial candidate website that is not listed in the Sidebar, please send me an email or leave a comment.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fraternal Order of Police makes endorsements in certain judicial races

The Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge No. 7, has announced its endorsements for the February 5, 2008 Cook County judicial primary.

The FOP chose to make endorsements in all but one countywide race. It also made endorsements in the Sixth, Eighth and Tenth Subcircuits.

Judicial candidates endorsed by the FOP are:
Countywide [Disko Vacancy] -- Lauretta Higgins Wolfson

Countywide [Glowacki Vacancy] -- Jesse G. Reyes

Countywide [Healy Vacancy] -- Maureen Ward Kirby

Countywide [Keehan Vacancy] -- Marilyn F. Johnson

Countywide [Lott Vacancy] -- Thomas J. Byrne

Countywide [Montelione Vacancy] -- No Endorsement

Countywide [Murphy Vacancy] -- Paula M. Lingo

Countywide [Nowicki Vacancy] -- Brian Terrence Sexton

Countywide [Thomas Vacancy] -- Joan Powell

6th Subcircuit [Figueroa Vacancy] -- Nancy Hallihan Horodecki

8th Subcircuit [Sheehan Vacancy] -- James Byrne

10th Subcircuit [Kowalski Vacancy] -- Ursula Walowski

10th Subcircuit [Morrissey Vacancy] -- John G. Mulroe

10th Subcircuit [Pucinski Vacancy] -- Thomas Francis Biesty

The Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge No. 7, is the union which represents Chicago police officers below the rank of Sergeant.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Filling in the blanks

For What It's Worth now has a second page: That's where you'll find the judicial ballot for the February 5, 2008 primary -- vacancy by vacancy, in ballot order.

Only five names on page two have links back here to "In Their Own Words" posts as this is written -- but as each new "In Their Own Words" post is received, a link will be added. And, of course, the essay will be posted here, on page one.

The goal is simple: Every Cook County judicial candidate would submit an essay. Voters will be able to visit page two, click on a race in which they are interested and read each candidate's essay (clicking back and forth using the back arrows on their browsers) and thereby make informed choices.

Absentee ballots will be available soon after Christmas; early voting begins in mid-January. I'm hopeful, therefore, that candidates will submit their essays as soon as possible.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thomas Francis Biesty: In his own words

Thomas Francis Biesty is a candidate for the Pucinski vacancy in the 10th Judicial Subcircuit.

During my career, I have witnessed our laws in action from many points of view. From enforcing the law on the street, to upholding the law in the courtroom, and even teaching it in the classroom, I have participated in almost every aspect of our legal process.

My passion for the law, commitment to public service and strong ethics make me the ideal candidate for Judge of the Circuit Court 10th Judicial Subcircuit to fill the vacancy of the Honorable Aurelia Pucinski.

The following brief overview outlines my qualifications for this important position:

My first taste of the law was as a young police officer on the streets of New York. As a rookie cop I was assigned to some of the roughest areas of the city including Harlem and the South Bronx. The challenges and frustrations of working in these areas were offset by the realization that enforcement of the laws fairly and consistently helped improve the lives of the many working class residents struggling to survive in these terrible conditions. During my years on the job, I earned awards and commendations for exceptional police work, but my job satisfaction came from doing my job and making my "beat" a safer place to live.

Upon graduation from law school, my commitment to public service brought me to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office where I have investigated and prosecuted some of Chicago’s most vicious killers and criminals over the last 16 years, including Daniel Escobedo, Kenneth Hansen and Frank Jayne to name a few.

Most recently, as Supervisor of the Cold Case Squad, I successfully prosecuted the well-known Brown's Chicken Massacre defendant Juan Luna. Not only was this case complex, it was the first high profile death penalty case after capital litigation reforms. While this case was 14 years old, and extremely challenging, justice was served and the case was closed.

Day to day, I supervise a team of eight attorneys and four investigators that specialize in developing strategies to solve "cold case" homicides (more than one year old). I regularly manage investigations among various law enforcement agencies while applying new methods and scientific technology to solve these crimes. The success of this unit over the last several years has lead to almost 100 closed cases. We have successfully prosecuted murders from 1955 to the present and I take great pride in the fact that justice has been served in cases that had been previously unsolved.

Before working in the Cold Case Squad, I was assigned to the Gang Prosecutions Unit. While there, I was assigned to prosecute and investigate gang leaders and gang members. Additionally, I was cross-designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. During my tenure, we successfully prosecuted and dismantled a notable violent street gang.

Through out my career as a practicing attorney, I have had the honor and privilege of teaching law students and coaching less-seasoned lawyers. I have guest lectured at John Marshall School of Law and DePaul School of Law. Additionally, I have taught various courses at the National College of District Attorneys, taught at the Capital Litigation Training for the State Appellate Prosecutor and was an adjunct professor at Triton College for five years. These classroom experiences afforded me the opportunity to share the realities of the criminal justice system with my students from various perspectives.

In addition to my professional qualifications, it should be noted that I have already rated qualified or recommended from most Bar Associations (see website

My legal experience is complimented and balanced by my community involvement. Over the last four years, I have been a basketball and baseball coach for the Chicago Park District and local Little League. Additionally I am an active member of my community association. Likewise, I have given back to the legal community when I was a member of the Chicago Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Committee for six years and for four of those years I was the Vice Chair of the Judicial Evaluation Community.

While I am unsure whether any of the other candidates in my race can claim all of the above endorsements, I am confident that no other candidate has the experience, passion or the various perspectives of our legal system that I have. If I am elected Judge, I will be fair and impartial, treating all parties equally under the laws of our state.

LaGuina Clay-Clark website link -- and a unique fundraiser

Found on the Internet: The campaign website of Judge LaGuina Clay-Clark. I've also added this link to the list of candidate websites in the Sidebar.

Judge Clay-Clark was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the Turkington vacancy in the 1st Judicial Subcircuit; she's running against Donna L. Cooper and Zedrick T. Braden III in an effort to keep this seat.

As repeat visitors here may have noticed, I have also run candidate fundraiser announcements when asked. To be honest, Judge Clay-Clark didn't ask me to put in a plug for hers... but when I saw it... well, here's the invitation, copied from her site:

Monday, December 10, 2007

Countywide races -- Thomas vacancy -- and a word about sources and how candidates can tell their own stories

In part one of this look at the current status of the countywide judicial races in Cook County, we covered the Disko and Glowacki vacancies. In part two, we looked at the Healy, Keehan, and Lott vacancies. In part three, we looked at the Montelione, Murphy, and Nowicki vacancies. That leaves only the Thomas vacancy.

Thomas Vacancy

E. Madeline O'Neill has been an attorney since 1980, and, according to ARDC, was recently employed by the Chief Judge's Office at the Cook County Juvenile Courthouse. As Eleesha Madeline O'Neill, O'Neill ran for judge in the 6th Subcircuit in 1994 and filed again in 2006. She would have faced off against Gloria Chevere in the race for the "A" vacancy, but was not on the primary ballot. I wrote about O'Neill in this earlier post because O'Neill also filed, initially, for the 6th Subcircuit vacancy. In response to that post, I received this comment from "fedup dem": "For the record, O'Neill is one of 14 Hearing Officers who were 'rewarded' in March for years of dedication and hard work in reducing the backlog of cases in the Child Abuse and Neglect Division of Juvenile Court by being fired in the round of layoffs." I don't pretend to vouch for the information provided by "fedup dem," but I repeat it here in the expectation that it will promptly be contradicted if untrue.

Joan Powell is the slated candidate of the Democratic Party for this vacancy; she has also been endorsed for this vacancy by the Chicago Federation of Labor. She was appointed to this vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court. Abdon M. Pallasch's September 17 Chicago Sun-Times article about this year's slating noted that Powell is the "wife of Democratic political strategist Phil Krone." Before going on the bench, Powell was an Assistant State's Attorney.

David John Mulvihill (Objection Pending) is a senior attorney in the Legal Department of the LaSalle Bank Corporation. He's been an attorney since 2000.

Patrick Dennis Riley (Objection Pending) ran for the Saylers vacancy in 2004. A lawyer since 1988, Riley is a solo practitioner with offices downtown.

This concludes our sketches of the countywide judicial candidates in Cook County.

In putting these sketches together, I've used the "Illinois Newspaper" database in Westlaw, the ARDC website, the State Board of Elections website, Sullivan's Law Directory, and Yahoo! and Google searches. Candidate websites, where known, were consulted. In a few cases, candidates sent information to me. Some of these pieces are longer and more detailed than others. Some candidates, because of the jobs they have held, have had more public exposure: Thus, more information is available. However, that more is known about Candidate A than Candidate B does not automatically mean that Candidate A would make a better judge.

This is one of the reasons why I've offered every judicial candidate in Cook County the opportunity to state their own case for election -- to place before the voters their own credentials, in their own way, and in their own words. That link will take you to my offer. Since I first made the offer, some candidates have indicated concern about the suggested 500-word limit: Let me state again that I'll run what the candidate asks... but I suggest that anything too far in excess of 500 words will look too long on this narrow page and may turn off prospective voters who may "comparison shop" among candidates. I'll run the candidates' statements upon receipt.

A couple of weeks before the primary, I'll set up posts in ballot order.

Any candidate who has submitted a post 'in their own words' will find their name linked to that post. Thus, a voter can click back and forth from the 'sample ballot' to the candidates' own statement... and make informed decisions about judges in Cook County on February 5, 2008.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Countywide races -- Part III

In part one of this look at the current status of the countywide judicial races in Cook County, we covered the Disko and Glowacki vacancies. In part two, we looked at the Healy, Keehan, and Lott vacancies. As we move along in this survey, we move further down the ballot. We resume here with the Montelione vacancy.

Montelione Vacancy

Debra B. Walker (Objection Pending) is a partner with the firm of Clausen Miller PC. She was a finalist in the most recent round of Associate Judge selection. Walker was President of the Women's Bar Association of Illinois in 1998-99. A C.P.A. as well as a lawyer, Walker's Clausen Miller biography reports that Walker has "was recently appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism and to the Board of Directors of the Illinois Bar Foundation." Senator Richard Durbin appointed Walker to his nominations commission. Walker is also a past president of the North Michigan Avenue Business and Professional Women’s Network. She was recently endorsed for this vacancy by the Chicago Federation of Labor.

Thaddeus L. Wilson is the candidate slated by the Democratic Party for this vacancy. He was appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court in August of this year. Before going on the bench, Wilson was the law partner of 21st Ward Ald. Howard B. Brookins, Jr. A South Carolina native, Wilson received his Bachelors degree in 1989 from the University of Notre Dame. He worked initially as a computer programmer/systems analyst at Joseph T. Ryerson & Son before taking his law degree in 1994. He's also served as a hearing officer for the Chicago Board of Elections.

Thomas A. Doran (Objection Pending) is an Assistant Corporation Counsel in Chicago. He's been a lawyer since 1992.

Murphy Vacancy

Kristyna Colleen Ryan (Objection Pending) has been a lawyer with Childress Duffy Goldblatt Ltd. She's been a lawyer since 2000.

Paula M. Lingo is the slated candidate for this vacancy. She ran for the bench before in 2000, in the 5th Subcircuit. She is currently Chief Legal Counsel to Eugene "Gene" Moore, Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Lingo has been a lawyer since 1977.

Frank James Ryan (Objection Pending) has been a lawyer since 1981. He practices with Ryan and Ehrenstrom in Oak Forest.

Nowicki Vacancy

Brian Terrence Sexton is the supervisor of the gang unit in the State's Attorney office. He's been a lawyer since 1987.

Kim R. Kardas is a solo practitioner in the Loop. Formerly with Belgrade & O'Donnell, Kardas has been an attorney since 1980.

According to the November 15, 2007 Chicago Daily Law Bulletin,John J. "Jack" Murphy "is the younger brother of 1st District Appellate Justice Michael J. Murphy and Circuit Judge Patrick T. Murphy." A lawyer with Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, Murphy is a member of the Glenview School Board.

Michael B. Hyman is the slated candidate of the Democratic Party for this vacancy. (The preceding link is to Hyman's "In His Own Words" post on this blog; what follows is a link to his campaign website.) Judge Hyman was appointed to this vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court in June 2006, shortly after he completed his term as President of the Chicago Bar Association. Before going on the bench, Hyman was a partner at Much, Shelist, Freed, Denenberg, Ament & Rubenstein, P.C., concentrating in antitrust, securities fraud and consumer fraud matters. He recently received the endorsement of the Chicago Federation of Labor in this race.

Kim L. Sorrells (Objection Pending), a lawyer since 1988, is an Assistant Public Defender, based in Markham.

Mary McDonagh-Faherty (Objection Pending). According to the Cook County Clerk's website, this objection was sustained but, as of Sunday evening, the State Board of Elections still shows her as an active candidate.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Countywide races -- Part II

In part one of this look at the current status of the countywide judicial races in Cook County, we covered the Disko and Glowacki vacancies. We resume here with the Healy vacancy.

Healy Vacancy

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Maureen Ward Kirby to this vacancy in August 2007; she has since been slated for this vacancy by the Democratic party and endorsed by the Chicago Federation of Labor. Before August, Kirby was a partner with Bell, Boyd & Lloyd LLP. About 10 years ago Kirby represented Northwestern football player Darnell Autry in a case against the NCAA, trying to get the NCAA to let Autry (who had aspirations of becoming an actor) appear -- without pay -- in a movie.

Peter John Curielli (Objection Pending) has been a lawyer since 2000. He has an office in Barrington.

Keehan Vacancy

Judge Marilyn F. Johnson was appointed to this seat by the Illinois Supreme Court. The Democratic Party slated her for this vacancy and the Chicago Federation of Labor has endorsed her candidacy. Johnson was General Counsel for the Chicago Public Schools until 2003, when she became Chief of Staff of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority. Johnson briefly succeeded Jack Hartman as Executive Director of the Tollway Authority in 2006 but accepted appointment to the bench instead.

As Giuseppe R. "Joe" Papavero, Joseph Robert Papavero (Objection Pending) ran as a Republican in the 12th Subcircuit in 2006. A lawyer since 2000, the ARDC's website lists Papavero's employer as Community Investment Corporation.

Lott Vacancy

Joanne Marie "Jody" Rogers practices with Ellison Nielsen Zehe Antas. According to the firm's website, Rogers practices in civil rights, insurance subrogration, insurance malpractice, property & casualty, and personal injury - defense. An attorney since 1989, Rogers ran for a countywide vacancy once before, in 1998.

Thomas J. Byrne is the candidate slated by the Democratic Party in this race. He also received the endorsement of the Chicago Federation of Labor. Byrne is a supervisor in the Cook County state's attorney's office in the 3rd Municipal District at Rolling Meadows. He ran for the Schiller vacancy in 2006, finishing second behind Pamela E. Hill Veal. Byrne won the Tribune endorsement in 2006, however. The Tribune editorial said, "In 16 years as a prosecutor Thomas J. Byrne has handled more than 1,000 cases. He supervises the prosecutors assigned to the Rolling Meadows courthouse. He works with police to evaluate felony cases, and his peers have praised him for having the courage to make and defend unpopular decisions about what would be appropriate criminal charges."

Countywide races narrow

The countywide races for seats on the Cook County bench have narrowed considerably since the filing period closed on November 5. Many would-be candidates have dropped out -- some voluntarily, some because objections to their campaign petitions were sustained and they were found ineligible for the ballot.

In some races, the field has narrowed to the point that there may be actual 'head to head' match-ups.

We'll start the round-up of where the countywide races stand now with the Disko and Glowacki vacancies. Candidates listed in ballot order.

You'll note that, in some cases, the candidate's name is followed by the words "Objection Pending." That only means that a petition challenge has been made -- but it does not mean that the challenge will or will not be successful. To follow the status of petition objections, click here.

Disko Vacancy

Lauretta Higgins Wolfson is the candidate slated by the Democratic Party for this vacancy. She was appointed to this seat by the Supreme Court and is married to First District Appellate Justice Warren Wolfson. Wolfson was recently endorsed by the Chicago Federation of Labor for this vacancy.

Dennis J. Burke (Objection Pending) is also a sitting judge, appointed by the Supreme Court to the Murphy vacancy. The Cook County Democratic Party, however, chose Paula M. Lingo for that seat instead. Judge Burke (who had to step down as Associate Judge to accept appointment as a full circuit judge) was chosen to be a fourth alternate by the Party. That meant that he would automatically have become the candidate of the Democratic Party if four additional seats opened up... but not even one did.

Glowacki Vacancy

Sharon Finegan Patterson (Objection Pending) is making a second bid for the bench, finishing third in the 2006 Primary to Pamela E. Hill Veal in the race for the Schiller vacancy. Patterson has a solo office in the Loop; she's been a lawyer since 1980 and, according to her Sullivan's entry, practices in the areas of commercial litigation, employment disputes and personal injury.

Associate Judge Jesse G. Reyes is the Democratic Party's slated candidate in this race. Judge Reyes went on the bench in 1997; he recently served as President of the Illinois Judges Association. In April of this year, Reyes was the recipient of the 2007 Justice Anthony Scariano Award, presented by the Justinian Society of Lawyers for his work advancing the interests of Italian-Americans, minorities and women in the legal profession. Judge Reyes has received wide acclaim for his work collecting childrens' books and distributing them to needy families. Before going on the bench, Reyes served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago and as an attorney for the Chicago Board of Education.

Terry MacCarthy's website touts his 12-year membership in AFSCME. That may have figured in the the decision by the Chicago Federation of Labor to endorse MacCarthy in this race. MacCarthy is an Assistant Cook County Public Defender and has been a lawyer since 1990.

Luther Franklin Spence (Objection Pending), a lawyer since 1975, has his office in Maywood. He does criminal defense and personal injury work.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Rosaire Marie Hall website link

Per email received today from Dalila Fridi: Campaign website of Rosaire Marie Hall, candidate for the Morrissey vacancy in the 10th Subcircuit. I've also added this link to the list of candidate websites in the Sidebar. If you know of a candidate website that is not listed in the Sidebar, please send me an email.

(Photo courtesy of Matthew W. Jannusch.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Website links, "In Their Own Words" posts sought

I'd like to list every Cook County judicial candidate with a campaign website in my Sidebar. If you know of a link, send an email or leave a comment.

Also, every Cook County judicial candidate is invited to submit an essay (approximately 500 words) advising why he or she is the one voters should select on February 5. For more about this, click here. Four candidates have already participated; I know others that have been promised. To read the posts submitted so far, click on the "In Their Own Words" label at the bottom of this post.

Pennsylvania man flees, then summons police

Robert Saldon, 50, of Somerset County, Pennsylvania, reported his truck stolen on Thanksgiving night.

When police arrived, they took him into custody.


According to this AP story posted late yesterday on Yahoo! News, Conemaugh Township police pulled Saldon over earlier that night because of a broken taillight on his truck. Saldon got out of his truck, but didn't wait for a ticket -- he ran away.

When Saldon got home, he shaved off his mustache and changed clothes. Then he called police and reported that his truck had been stolen.

Apparently, there aren't that many officers working for the Conemaugh Township Police Department, particularly on holiday evenings, so the same officer who was left in the dust at the traffic stop was dispatched to take the report.

He was not fooled by Mr. Saldon's disguise.

Kirk Swauger's story for the Johnstown, Pennsylvania Tribune-Democrat provides a possible explanation for Saldon's behavior.

According to Swauger's story, Saldon had been arrested for DUI on a couple of prior occasions; he may not have been entirely sober on this occasion either. Swauger reports that Saldon was charged with drunken driving and escape, and also "with illegally operating a vehicle without a court-required ignition interlock system to stop habitual drunk drivers; resisting arrest; careless driving and two summary violations."

Oh, and another reason why the disguise didn't work? When Saldon shaved, there remained a "pale outline of the just-removed facial hair on his wind-reddened face."

Neapolitan court orders Tweety Bird to sing

According to this story, posted today on Yahoo! News, a court in Naples, Italy issued summonses to Tweety Bird, Mickey Mouse, and Donald and Daisy Duck.

The summonses were issued in connection with a criminal trial of a Chinese man accused of counterfeiting Disney and Warner Brothers products bearing the likenesses of the aforementioned rodent and his feathered friends. Ariel David's story for the Associated Press explains it was all a clerical error: "Instead of naming only the companies and their legal representatives, clerks also wrote in the witness list the names of the cartoons that decorated the toys and gadgets the man had reproduced."

Cristina Ravelli, a Disney lawyer, says the trial will probably be continued while summonses are rewritten.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Fundraiser announced for Judge Thaddeus L. Wilson

Per email received this morning, a fundraiser will be held for Judge Thaddeus L. Wilson on December 11, 2007, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Midtown Kitchen + Bar, 203 N. LaSalle Street, in downtown Chicago.

Ticket prices for the event run from $50 each (the "Patron" level) to $1,000 (the "Supreme" level). Other levels of support are the $100 "Friend" level, the $250 "Bailiff" level, the $500 "Circuit" level, and the $750 "Appellate" level.

For additional information regarding Judge Wilson's fundraiser, call (312) 360-0888, ext. 203 or email the Committee to Elect Thaddeus L. Wilson at

Thaddeus L. Wilson is the slated candidate for the countywide Motelione vacancy. He was appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court in August of this year.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Is there any value in "face time" for a candidate?

This is Lamour Holloway.

Until Tuesday, at least, Holloway was employed by the Public Defender's office. It was on Tuesday that she allegedly took delivery of a 38 pound package of pot -- at the office. A police officer dressed as a UPS delivery person brought it in. Holloway buzzed two kids into the office -- the police wouldn't say if these were her own kids, although the story this morning in the Chicago Sun-Times noted that she apparently has two kids who about the ages of these kids -- and then left with the two kids and the package. When Holloway tried to hand the package to her husband, waiting outside in a car, the police moved in.

To this point, this is a standard-issue dumb criminal story. What caught my eye, though, was that 15th Subcircuit judicial candidate Anna Helen Demacopoulos was the spokesman for the prosecutor's office when this story was reported. I saw her on one of the TV newscasts last night (Channel 9, I think) and, this morning, I saw she was quoted extensively in the Sun Times story.

(From the Sun-Times story this morning: "'As a public employee, there's a sense of trust," Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Anna Demacopoulos said after court. 'And then to use children as a shield to disguise your criminal conduct in that public building is really disgusting.'")

Obviously, Ms. Demacopoulos' status as a judicial candidate was not mentioned, nor should it have been.

But the question is: Do stories like this -- favorable press mentions -- help a judicial candidate? Or do they come and go like soap bubbles, usually fading from the public consciousness without leaving any lasting impression?

Leave your theory in the comments if you like.
Suspect photo obtained from the NBC5 website.

Cell phone goes off -- then New York judge goes off, too

This is Robert Restaino, until recently a judge in upstate New York. The above photo, by Dan Cappellazzo, first appeared in the Niagara Gazette on a happier occasion in Restaino's life, when he was elected a Niagara Falls city judge.

Restaino's lost that job, at least for now, because of a March 2005 incident in his courtroom. There was a sign in the courtroom cautioning all present to turn off their cell phones. According to the AP story that ran in the November 28 issue of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, "Restaino was hearing the cases of domestic violence offenders who had been ordered to appear weekly to update the judge on the progress of their counseling" when, despite the cautionary sign, someone's cell phone went off.

That set the judge off. And when no one produced the offending phone, Restaino announced, "Everyone is going to jail.... Every single person is going to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now. If anybody believes I'm kidding, ask some of the folks that have been here for a while. You are all going."

And then, according to the story, they all did go to jail -- all 46 people in the room. Fourteen of those, those that couldn't make bail, "were shackled and bused to another jail." Restaino ordered them all released that afternoon -- but it was too late to save his job. The AP reported that Raoul Felder, chairman of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, wrote (in an opinion issued November 13 and just made public Tuesday afternoon) that Restaino "'snapped' and 'engaged in what can only be described as two hours of inexplicable madness.'"

The story's already been picked up around the world. (See, for example, these articles in the Times of India or the Guardian.) The tone of coverage has been uniformly critical.

But Restaino has received a more sympathetic press in his own hometown. Mark Scheer's news story in the Niagara Gazette, said the court commission was "was unrelenting in its criticism." The article quoted Restaino's lawyer extensively, stressing the lawyer's hope that the New York Court of Appeals (to which an appeal of the court commission's decision will be made) "will measure those few hours against a decade of [Restaino's] exemplary conduct on the bench and years of extraordinary service to the Niagara Falls community."

The Gazette also ran a column by Ken Hamilton. Hamilton lamented that the court commission couldn't see "what our Judge Bobby did, day in and day out." Hamilton said the commission needed to "understand how frustrating it is to see the same groups of people, over and over and over again."

Besides, Hamilton wrote, "There have been very few community-based boards or trusteeships to which the judge has not given his quality time in helping to improve the lives of those who too often parade themselves in front of him. He has poured his heart and soul into this little dysfunctional community that we call home and he has loved it as though he gave birth to it. He has given and given and given and given and all that he has ever asked for in return was a little respect. Apparently, when the respect gave out just one time too often, so did his patience and judicial temperament and for one moment in time, his human side exposed itself."

In another case, one might call that a ringing endorsement of Judge Restaino's character. That would probably not be a felicitous choice of words in this case, however.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

James E. Babcock, Jr.: In his own words

James E. Babcock, Jr. is a Republican candidate for the Ryan vacancy in the 13th Subcircuit.

I am the grandson of the late Marty "Abe" Jackson, Will County Magistrate, and Judge who served 18 years during the 50's and 60's and was later elected as Will County Sheriff. My father is the late James E. Babcock, Sr. a Joliet attorney. Whether sitting next to my grandfather on the bench at the old limestone Will County Court House as a child or walking to downtown Joliet as a teen to watch my father's closing arguments, I knew that I wanted to be an attorney and someday, a judge.

During past 22 years, I have attempted to maintain a clear understanding of both procedural and substantive law, changes to the same as they occur, and the experience learned in law school remain true today. Every case from the drafting of pleadings through jury instructions begins with a clear understanding of the law to be applied to a case. I am a busy litigator, with a diverse practice and often deal with complex litigation. Despite this and what is often a hectic schedule, I attempt to remain on time and do not engage in personal attacks no matter how much unrestraint an opponent may have. I stay in contact with my opponents to minimize wasting the Court's time and I speak with candor. My opponents, the courtroom staff, clerks and deputies are treated with dignity and respect.

The two critical elements in evaluating judicial candidates and their ability to do justice are experience and fairness.

As to experience, not only is the length of experience important, but the success, complexity and diversity of that experience. That experience is not only gained in the files and matters in which I represent a party, but those times wherein I am in a courtroom waiting for my matters to be called and observing, listening and experiencing how others may practice and how judges may arrive at their rulings.

As a jurist in non jury matters or pretrial motion practice, it is the Judge who must weight the credibility of the evidence presented. Experience matters.

The second element, fairness, must be seated in a conviction that the respect earned must be equal to or greater than the respect received together with a strong commitment to not only knowing right, but doing right.

How have these two elements of experience and fairness translated into my practice of law?

My practice is built not upon advertisement, but by my reputation of experience and fairness. Those that retain me are often times family, friends, relatives, co-workers or neighbors of existing clients. A large portion of my practice has been built upon referrals not only from the plaintiff's bar but also from defense attorneys against whom I have tried cases over the last 22 years.

Over the past 10 years, there has been a greater focus and success in the implementation of procedures to alleviate the delays previously experienced in our courts, especially in the Law Division. Every job change requires a learning curve. Our system is making strides to be efficient and effective, can we really afford to elect someone who has less experience, knowledge and who is not "trial ready"? I have the experience, the knowledge, and the commitment to make litigation, fair, less expensive, and more efficient.

Although the changes made in the last ten years have facilitated a move toward a more efficient civil judicial system, the time and resources required to be spent on procedural matters sometimes prevents matters from being resolved by pretrial conference An effective pretrial Judge must have the respect of the litigants in his knowledge of the subject matter, a proven record of experience in evaluating both the strengths and weaknesses of a broad range of complex litigation and a proven reputation for fairness from both sides of the bench. I have proven to possess those qualifications from both sides of the bar.

In addition, I believe a Judge should be an administrative advocate. If something is right, it ought to be done. The following are areas for change involving our youth and the elderly. The first area would be Minor's Estates. $10,000 is far too much money to allow in even the best intentioned parents' control. The second area would be a task force to try to come to some compromise in what is now a four to six month process in obtaining Medicare lien information and settlement authority for our seniors who are injured in accidents.

A friend, former judge and referring attorney with whom I consulted said, "Jimmy you can’t recreate the wheel." My response is and always will be if it’s right it ought to be done, keep trying to put the square peg in the round hole and eventually that peg may wear down.

Housekeeping: Announcements and requests

Tonight I put up a fourth installment of the "In Their Own Words" series; several other candidates have already expressed interest and I look forward to putting up many more in the weeks to come.

I want every Cook County judicial candidate to have a chance to present himself or herself as he or she thinks best. I invite every judicial candidate in Cook County to send me an email. In 500 words or thereabouts (I initially said 500 words or less and this stressed some people out), I would ask each candidate to say why he or she should be elected. I'm not asking anyone to compare themselves to any opponent. Recall the adage 'you don't make your own candle shine brighter by blowing on someone else's.' I'm asking each candidate to say why he or she is the best choice for the voters to make. I'll run what they write.

A couple of weeks before the primary I'll set up wrap up posts -- I'll arrange "sample ballot" posts. Each candidate who participates will have their name shown as a link -- a link to that candidate's "In Their Own Words" post. That way, voters will be able to 'comparison shop' -- reading each candidate's post and making a truly informed decision about their vote.

I continue to seek candidate website links. If you know of a candidate with a website, send me the link. I will put it in the Sidebar here.


I'm still looking for candidate questionnaires. I think it might be very interesting to examine the questions posed by interest groups on both ends of the political spectrum... especially if we can run them side by side.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Michael B. Hyman: In his own words

Judge Michael B. Hyman is a candidate for the countywide Nowicki vacancy.

As a judge, I hold fast to the ideals of justice -- to do what I can to make the legal system a true instrument of justice and thereby elevate the public's confidence in the courts. Justice, through its servants, judges, requires that each litigant be treated equally and fairly and with dignity – the immigrant the same as the aristocrat; the powerless the same as the powerful; white or nonwhite, straight or gay, men or women, equally; otherwise, justice dries up, rots, and ultimately goes dormant. "If we do not maintain justice," said Francis Bacon some 400 years ago, "justice will not maintain us."

I believe that judges need more than legal ability to properly dispense justice. Judges also must appreciate the inherent powers and wide discretion that go hand-in-hand with such a privileged position and value the complexities of contemporary life in terms of its social, political, economic and historical aspects. During my professional career, now in its 30th year, I not only honed the legal skills and procedural know-how necessary to preside over hearings and trials, but I also honed my sense of everyday life which well prepared me to make decisions that affect peoples' lives.

Bar associations in town have issued extremely favorable evaluations of me. The Chicago Council of Lawyers, for example, rated me "Well Qualified," stating: "Mr. Hyman is considered to have very good legal ability and temperament. He has substantial trial experience and he is of the highest integrity and his work with the organized bar has been outstanding." The Chicago Bar Association rated me "Highly Qualified," stating: "Mr. Hyman is highly regarded for his knowledge of the law, legal experience, integrity, and fairness and fine temperament. Throughout his career, Mr. Hyman has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to public service and to improving the legal profession through his work with numerous bar associations."

My legal practice predominately involved prosecuting complex fraud cases with the best legal talent in the country on the other side. I was a recognized national authority in the class action arena and selected annually as among the cream of Illinois lawyers by Leading Lawyer and Illinois Super Lawyer, including selection as one of the Top 100 Illinois Super Lawyers of 2005. I served as president of the Chicago Bar Association and as president of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. In addition, I have held numerous leadership positions in the ABA, the ISBA, CBA and the American Society of Legal Writers.

As a sitting judge, I am extremely careful never to become an advocate for either side. Fairness is my mantra, impartiality my mandate. I must ensure that the litigants in each case receive their "day in court," which includes a full and fair hearing in a timely fashion. And that every litigant leave the court feeling that, win or lose, I was open-minded, impartial, respectful, rational, and diligent. Because that is required if we are to maintain justice.

Full disclosure department

When I embarked on this project of covering the judicial primary in Cook County I made it a point to state expressly that I would not be filing for the primary -- and, of course, I didn't.

However, a number of vacancies were recently posted for the office of Cook County Associate Judge. I have applied for Associate Judge on several prior occasions and I applied this time as well.

Associate judges are elected by the full circuit judges (the judges elected by the people). In Cook County, a screening committee composed of judges will sort through all the applications (last time out there were 242 applicants for what turned out to be 31 vacancies). Two finalists will be chosen by this screening committee for each vacancy and the circuit judges will select their new colleagues from those finalists. It may be a year or more before the next class of associate judges is chosen.

Chicago Federation of Labor announces judicial endorsements

Actually, as Rich Miller in The Capitol Fax Blog points out, the CFL made endorsements in a number of races, judicial and otherwise, but Mr. Miller chose not to include the judicial endorsements in his post today. So I'll put the judicial endorsements here.

Click here for the full list of CFL-endorsed candidates in handy .pdf format. This link should take you to the CFL's press release and another version of the endorsement list.

Chicago Federation of Labor
Endorsed Cook County Circuit Court Candidates
February 5, 2008 Primary Election

Countywide Endorsements

Debra B. Walker – Montelione Vacancy

Terry MacCarthy – Glowacki Vacancy

Thomas J. Byrne – Lott Vacancy

Maureen Ward Kirby – Healy Vacancy

Michael B. Hyman – Nowicki Vacancy

Paula M. Lingo – Murphy Vacancy

Lauretta Higgins Wolfson – Disko Vacancy

Marilyn F. Johnson – Keehan Vacancy

Joan Powell – Thomas Vacancy

Subcircuit Endorsements

LaGuina Clay-Clark - 1st Subcircuit – Turkington Vacancy

Patrick J. Sherlock - 3rd Subcircuit – Donnersberger Vacancy

Pat Rogers - 4th Subcircuit – Shultz Vacancy

Stephen Stern - 5th Subcircuit – Judgeship A

Laura Bertucci Smith - 6th Subcircuit – Figueroa Vacancy

Anita Rivkin-Carothers - 7th Subcircuit – Young Vacancy

James A. Shapiro - 8th Subcircuit – Sheehan Vacancy

John G. Mulroe - 10th Subcircuit – Morrissey Vacancy

Gerald Patrick Cleary - 10th Subcircuit – Kowalski Vacancy

Kenneth Fletcher - 10th Subcircuit – Pucincki Vacancy

Michael John Halloran - 12th Subcircuit – Devlin Vacancy

Joe Gump - 13th Subcircuit – Ryan Vacancy

Gary Stanton - 13th Subcircuit – Tobin Vacancy

James N. O'Hara - 14th Subcircuit – Henry Vacancy

Anna Helen Demacopoulos - 15th Subcircuit – Judgeship A

Unless this list is amended -- and it may be, of course -- it appears that the CFL did not make an endorsement in at least one contested primary, the race for the Bush vacancy in the 5th Subcircuit. Also, James N. O'Hara is unopposed in his bid to replace Judge James F. Henry -- but then, the CFL also decided to endorse Justice Anne M. Burke in her uncontested race.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thomas Francis Biesty website link

Courtesy of an email from Mary Biesty, the candidate's wife and campaign manager, I have this link to the campaign website of Thomas Francis Biesty, candidate for the Pucinski vacancy in the 10th Subcircuit. I've added this link to the list of candidate websites in the Sidebar. If you know of a candidate website that is not listed in the Sidebar, please send me an email.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

James E. Babcock, Jr. website link

Found: Campaign website of 13th Subcircuit Republican hopeful James E. Babcock, Jr. I've also added this link to the list of candidate websites in the Sidebar. If you know of a candidate website that is not listed in the Sidebar, please send me an email.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Debra Kramer Marcus: In her own words

Debra Kramer Marcus is a candidate for judge in the 8th Subcircuit.

Over my 27 years practicing law, I have had the opportunity to gain a wealth of experience in a variety of civil litigation matters, concentrating all of my efforts in courtroom related work.

I began my career working primarily on defense files for a wide spectrum of clients, including defending doctors in medical malpractice cases, manufacturers in product liability cases, and the insureds of various insurance companies.

I then became a founding partner of a boutique-style law firm, where I practiced for the next 20 or so years, and which by its unique nature presented an even broader range of civil litigation matters with which I was personally involved, including the defense of large manufacturing concerns such as Chrysler, General Motors, Honda, Suzuki, Toyota, and Kawasaki. In this area I have been a featured speaker for IICLE and for client sponsored corporate seminars on issues of motor vehicle litigation and discovery.

Additionally, I have had, and continue to have at my current law firm, the opportunity to represent hundreds of injured plaintiffs. These cases run the gamut from injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents, to slip and falls, to individuals suing transit companies, doctors, hospitals and major manufacturing concerns. Many of these cases have involved catastrophic injuries and complex liability issues, and have resulted in multimillion dollar settlements and/or verdicts.

Finally, I have had an extensive appellate practice, having briefed and argued numerous appeals in various Illinois Appellate Courts, the Illinois Supreme Court, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, resulting in over 20 reported decisions, either changing or supporting Illinois law.

I have recently been selected as an Illinois Super Lawyer, 2007 through a multi-step evaluation process that incorporates peer recognition and professional achievement to select the top 5% of Illinois lawyers for outstanding achievement in their practice of law.

Because of the large number and types of cases that I have been associated with over the years, I have acquired extensive experience in every stage of the civil litigation process. Further, because my experience has included work on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants, I believe that I have a unique and beneficial perspective on handling all of the hotly contested issues that arise in the courtroom arena.

Moreover, I have always endeavored to conduct myself with professional and personal integrity and have consistently maintained cordial relationships with my opponents, as well as the judges before whom I have appeared, continuing these relationships long past the pendency of the case which formed our initial introduction.

I feel that obtaining a judicial appointment would be the pinnacle of my legal career as well as an opportunity for me to give back to the legal community which has enriched and rewarded me over the past 27 years.

Cook County judicial candidates are invited to submit their own personal essays. For more information about the "In Their Own Words" challenge, click here.

Thomas R. Mulroy: In his own words

Thomas R. Mulroy is a Democratic candidate for the Devlin vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit.

I am a Circuit Court Judge from the 12th Judicial Sub Circuit, having been appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme court in February 2007. I practiced law for thirty-four years and have a depth of varied courtroom experience representing clients in their most important legal matters. Temperament, decisiveness, politeness are essential qualities in a judge, but experience in the system and in representing clients cannot be learned and is invaluable to a judge. I am pleased to detail my experience below.

Upon graduation from Loyola Law School, I was appointed an Assistant United States Attorney and began my career as a courtroom lawyer. As a federal prosecutor I tried many jury cases in federal court and argued numerous matters before the Seventh Circuit.

I joined Jenner & Block in 1976 and remained with the firm for twenty-five years. I tried criminal and commercial jury cases throughout the country in the state and federal courts. I was very active in the representation of indigent clients through Catholic Charities, Legal Assistance Foundation and the Federal Defender Program.

While at Jenner, I was a member of the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission and was appointed Special Council to the Commission and prosecuted two members of the Commission for misconduct. I was an instructor of trial practice at Northwestern, Loyola and DePaul law schools and published numerous articles on trial practice and procedure. I established “The Mulroy Award for Excellence in Evidence” at Loyola Law School. I have given many presentations on trial issues and on lawyers’ ethics to practicing attorneys throughout the country.

In 2000, I left Jenner to begin my own firm. I represented the retired partners of Arthur Andersen in the wake of the Enron scandal and Andersen’s bankruptcy in order to recover some of their life savings lost as the result of Andersen’s scandal.

In 2003, I was recruited by Mcguirewoods to be chairman of its litigation department prior to its merger with Ross Hardies. I could not resist the opportunity of joining a national firm of almost 1000 lawyers in fifteen cities.

I was found highly qualified to be a judge by the Chicago Bar, Women’s Bar, Decalogue Society and Chicago Council of Lawyers. I am the endorsed Democratic candidate for the 12th Judicial Sub Circuit.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote that “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.” Above all, we need judges who are experienced.

Cook County judicial candidates are invited to submit their own personal essays. For more information about the "In Their Own Words" challenge, click here.

Debra Kramer Marcus website link

8th Subcircuit candidate Debra Kramer Marcus has sent me an email providing a link to her campagin website. I've also added it to the list of candidate websites in the Sidebar. If you know of a candidate website that is not listed in the Sidebar, please send me an email.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A challenge that a candidate may welcome: In Their Own Words

A lot of petition challenges have been filed, so for many judicial candidates "challenge" right now is a loaded term.

But I propose a different kind of challenge here.

My belief is that judicial primaries provide a rare opportunity -- too rare these days -- to actually vote for a candidate. In fact, I suspect that many readers will come to the conclusion that, in many races, there are many good choices.

The bar associations have begun to scrutinize the candidates' credentials. I hope that all serious candidates are participating in this process. But, in the final analysis, bar association recommendations can only show how the candidates are measured by their peers.

The special interest groups will now also begin to measure the candidates according to their own agendas. I mentioned recently the questionnaire put out by the Illinois Civil Justice League. I mentioned that one specifically because I have a link to it; I know there are others from all sides of the political spectrum. I'd be pleased to post links if anyone will share.

But my point is that it would be a shame if candidates allowed themselves to be framed by these questionnaires: It would be better if each candidate could present himself or herself as he or she thinks best.

And that is my challenge. I invite every judicial candidate in Cook County to send me an email. In 500 words or less, I would ask each candidate to say why he or she should be elected. I'm not asking anyone to compare themselves to any opponent. Recall the adage 'you don't make your own candle shine brighter by blowing on someone else's.' I'm asking each candidate to say why he or she is the best choice for the voters to make. I'll run what they write.

And a couple of weeks before the primary I'll set up wrap up posts -- I'll arrange "sample ballot" posts. Each candidate who participates will have their name shown as a link -- a link to that candidate's "In Their Own Words" post. That way, voters will be able to 'comparison shop' -- reading each candidate's post and making a truly informed decision about their vote.

I'll start putting up posts now -- as soon as they come in. Sure, the first ones that come in will be "buried" in the blog -- but the links on the "sample ballot" posts will take voters to each one. As a practical matter, I'll probably have to cut off these posts by early January so that I can get the "sample ballot" posts up and available in plenty of time for the primary.

This is a chance to make the stump speech most of us who've run for judge will never have a chance to make.

I know writing such an essay won't be an easy task: As lawyers, we're used to advocating for a client -- for someone else. It's not as easy to talk about ourselves.

But I am tired of hearing about how no one knows who to vote for on the judicial ballot. I know candidates want to be heard; I know that there are limited outlets.

I offer this as one. If it's presumptuous of me to do make this offer -- well, it probably is.

Any takers?

Candidates: Just so you can gauge what your post will look like on this page, the post above to the dotted line is 543 words.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Check out the Sidebar -- List of Candidate Websites is taking shape

I've put together a list of all the candidate websites I've found (or that have been sent to me) so far.

(The website for Judge Thaddeus Wilson that was up at one time and then was "under construction" now seems to be off line.)

Please: If you know of a live site, send me an email or leave a comment. I'll add it in.

UPDATE -- November 20, 2007: The website for Judge Thaddeus L. Wilson is back on line again and has been added to the Sidebar accordingly.

A mystery solved in the 5th Subcircuit

Granted, it was no mystery to the persons involved, but when I looked at the list of candidates filing in the 5th Subcircuit, I couldn't find out anything about Helen Paxton. I concluded my post with a plea for information.

Well, ask and ye shall receive: An email arrived a few days back from Kulmeet S. Galhotra advising that Helen Paxton is Helen Paxton Arnold, an Assistant Public Defender at 555 W. Harrison. Paxton has been working in domestic violence courtrooms, he advised, since the courthouse was at 13th and Michigan. And "Bob" Galhotra should know; he's President of the Cook County Public Defenders' Association (he was also kind enough to send along the link to the union's website).

Herewith the races so far in the 5th Subcircuit:

Bush Vacancy

Jackie Marie Portman holds down the top ballot spot in the race for the Bush vacancy. Portman has been a lawyer since 1999, and is making her second run for the bench. She finished fourth in the 2004 primary contest for the Cox vacancy, about 18,000 votes behind the winner, Edward Washington, II. Portman is employed by the City of Chicago Office of Professional Standards. An objection has been filed to her candidacy.

Next on the ballot will be Judge Furmin D. Sessions, recently appointed to that vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court. An objection has also been filed to his candidacy.

Nkrumah Lumumba Hopkins holds the third and final ballot position for this vacancy. An attorney since 1998, she is a solo practitioner with an office on East 53rd Street.

Additional Judgeship A

Stephen Stern won the top spot for this race. Stern is a former president of the Cook County Bar Association. He too has a solo law office; his is in the Loop.

Dominique C. Ross has been a lawyer since 1995. She maintains a solo office at 26th and Michigan.

Helen Paxton will have the last spot on the ballot in this race; she did not file her papers until later in the morning of October 29th and so was not eligible for the ballot lottery. Objections are pending to her candidacy and to Stephen Stern's.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Five battle for Pucinski vacancy in 10th Subcircuit

Assistant State's Attorney John Garrett Maher will be first on the ballot for the Pucinski vacancy. An attorney since 1993, Maher was recently in the news as the prosecutor in the Phillip Radmer case. According to an article by Ray Gibson and Robert Becker in the September 25 Chicago Tribune, Radmer was the ex-Berwyn attorney who "was the central figure in a scheme, uncovered last year by the Tribune, to steal more than 60 vacant lots using phony corporations and fictitious buyers. Radmer netted at least $655,000 from the sale of just four properties owned by the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago."

Eileen O'Neill Burke is not a State's Attorney, although she was for 10 years. An attorney since 1990, O'Neill-Burke (her name is hyphenated in Sullivan's) maintains a solo office on Northwest Highway on the Northwest Side of Chicago.

O'Neill-Burke made the news a little over a year ago for her representation of Mardin Azad Amin, a young man who was trying to go home to Iraq for a family reunion when a female airport security guard discovered something in his carry-on luggage that she could not identify. She asked Amin what it was and he said it was a "pump" -- but the security guard thought he said "bomb." O'Neill Burke was ultimately able to make the felony charges go away; the news stories printed world-wide are still lurking on the Internet.

Joan Ellen Smuda is now an Assistant Attorney General, but she was appointed to the Circuit Court in 1995. She lost her 1996 primary bid to keep her seat when she was unable to secure the Democratic Party endorsement. Smuda has also served as general counsel for the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America.

Kenneth L. Fletcher is the slated candidate for the Pucinski vacancy. He was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to fill this vacancy. Before going on the bench, Fletcher was an Assistant Public Defender.

Thomas Francis Biesty is an Assistant State's Attorney who's been associated with the Cook County State's Attorney's cold case unit. He recently prosecuted Juan Luna for his part in the 1993 Palatine Brown's Chicken massacre. He drew the last spot on the ballot in this race.