Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Objections coming to some judicial petitions

Before resuming the discussion of who filed Monday, I wanted to call attention to a statement by a Cook County judicial candidate that I saw recently on line. I won't name the candidate or the site where I saw the comment because I don't want to invite unnecessary speculation about the person or persons who might be the subject of this candidate's observation. Talking about petitions that were filed in this candidate's race, the candidate said, "It's shameful how blatantly bogus most of the signatures are. Photocopying the same pages and submitting them as different page numbers. Come on people - these are judicial races!"

I will grant that the petition process and the governing election laws are picayune, byzantine, and generally (and unashamedly) designed to keep outsiders out of the politicians' way.

Because the process is so tricky to navigate, it is understandable, perhaps, that a person not steeped in politics might fail to comply with some of the requirements and open up their nomination petitions to challenge. It is even understandable that a lawyer, not versed in election law, running for a non-judicial post, might make an inadvertent (and potentially fatal) error in his or her petitions. But photocopied petition pages designed to make the pile look plumper? This surely is beyond the pale in any case.

So I agree with the candidate I've quoted: These are judicial races. Persons who achieve election to the bench might some day be called upon to apply these election laws to others. Compliance with each specific requirement seems particularly necessary for a judicial candidate even if one were assured that no one would ever investigate the petitions submitted: Someone who aspires to be called 'your honor' in court should act honorably in seeking the position.

When I ran for judge in 1994 and 1996 I started off by seeking experienced legal counsel (Mat Delort, now an Associate Judge). When my petitions were signed, and assembled (and not with any photocopied pages) I brought them back to my attorney for review. My goal was to make my petitions "bulletproof." And any elevated motives here coincide with self-interest: The modest expense involved in taking these simple steps pales beside the cost of defending a petition challenge. I didn't get a lot of votes when I ran for judge -- but I didn't draw any challenge to my petitions either.

As of 9:15am today, the State Board of Elections website shows no petition challenges filed as of yet. Apparently, however, some are in the pipeline.

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