Friday, August 21, 2009

Five sitting judges among associate judge finalists

LaGuina Clay-Clark, who is currently sitting by appointment to the Steele vacancy in the First Judicial Subcircuit, and Yehuda P. Lebovits, who was recently appointed to the Otaka vacancy in the Ninth Subcircuit, are among the 20 finalists for 10 vacant Cook County associate judgeships.

Three other judges serving pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court appointments also made the cut, including William Edward Gomolinski (pictured at right). Gomolinski was recalled by the Supreme Court to judicial service after losing to Pat Rogers in a bid to keep a Fourth Subcircuit seat in the 2008 primary. Gomolinski earned endorsements from both the Tribune and the Sun-Times in that campaign.

The other two finalists who are also currently sitting as judges are William R. Jackson, Jr., who was appointed by the Supreme Court to the countywide Riley vacancy, and Demetrios G. Kottaras, who was, like Gomolinski, recalled to judicial service by the Illinois Supreme Court after his 2007 appointment to the Lott vacancy expired.

The other 15 finalists are:
  • Carmen Kathleen Aguilar;
  • Thomas M. Battista;
  • Clarence Lewis Burch;
  • Theresa Christine Ceko;
  • Neil H. Cohen;
  • Stephen James Connolly;
  • Lori Gail Levin;
  • Linda Johanna Pauel;
  • Vicki Faye Rogers;
  • Bernard Joseph Sarley;
  • Regina Ann Scannicchio;
  • Andrea M. Schleifer;
  • Richard Denis Schwind;
  • Ketki Shroff Steffen; and
  • Jeffrey L. Warnick.
Aguilar was also a candidate in the Fourth Subcricut in 2008. Connolly was 'pre-endorsed' by the Cook County Democratic Party in 2008 in case any vacancies opened up after the formal slating. None did, and Connolly did not run.

According to the press release issued yesterday by the Circuit Court of Cook County, a total of 261 attorneys completed the interview process for this round of associate judge vacancies (out of 278 who applied). (Full disclosure: The name of one of the 241 attorneys who did not make the cut is listed at the end of this post.)

The names of these 20 finalists have been forwarded by Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans to the Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. According to the Circuit Court press release, "Within 14 days after the Chief Judge's notification, the Director mails a secret ballot with the names of the candidates to each circuit judge. The judges then vote for one candidate for each vacancy to be filled. The judges must return the ballots to the Director within 14 days of the date the ballots were distributed."

The finalists were chosen by the unanimous vote of a Screening Committee. In addition to Chief Judge Evans, these jurists also served on the Committee:
  • Honorable Paul P. Biebel, Jr., Presiding Judge of Criminal Division;
  • Honorable Henry A. Budzinski, Presiding Judge of Probate Division;
  • Honorable Sophia H. Hall, Administrative Presiding Judge of Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Resource Section;
  • Honorable Moshe Jacobius, Presiding Judge of Domestic Relations Division;
  • Honorable Patricia M. Martin, Presiding Judge of Child Protection Division;
  • Honorable Edmund Ponce de León, Presiding Judge of Fourth Municipal District;
  • Honorable Shelley Sutker-Dermer, Presiding Judge of Second Municipal District;
  • Honorable Joseph J. Urso, Presiding Judge of Third Municipal District; and
  • Honorable E. Kenneth Wright, Jr., Presiding Judge of First Municipal District.
Judge Evans stated, "The selected candidates reflect the Committee's consideration of legal excellence and variety of legal experience as well as diversity of race, ethnicity and gender. The selection of these candidates ensures the court's continued commitment that litigants coming before the bench can be confident of being treated fairly and justly."

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