Monday, January 11, 2010

Chicago Council of Lawyers statement on the judicial primary

The Chicago Council of Lawyers has issued a statement regarding the upcoming judicial election in Cook County. I take the liberty of reproducing it here in full:
The voters of cook County face a judicial ballot with a substantial number of unqualified candidates – even higher than usual. To the Council, this means that the electoral process is attracting more and more lawyers who should not be judges . It does not mater whether it is the economy or other reason that is causing more unqualified people to seek the bench. Higher numbers of unqualified candidates increase the likelihood that we are going to have more unqualified judges on the bench in December 2010. It is more important now than ever before that voters differentiate between qualified and unqualified candidates. The bar associations must get the word out to voters as to who is really qualified, and individual lawyers owe it to the judicial system to work for the election of only qualified candidates.

In the future, the judicial evaluations need to be used as part of a process to improve the quality of the judiciary – the written evaluations of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, for example, can be used by supervising judges as a benchmark to hold new judges accountable. These evaluations state what members of the bar think a candidate must do to improve – things that new judges must do before they become the good judges we all deserve.

Even one bad judge hurts the lives of thousands of people every year. We must work to elect only qualified judicial candidates.

Peter Steinmeyer
Chicago Council of Lawyers

Malcolm Rich
Executive Director
Chicago Council of Lawyers
The evaluations released by the Council are available here on For What It's Worth (and, of course, on the Council's website). Also available here on FWIW are the evaluations released by the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. And there will be more. In an email yesterday, Mr. Rich advises that the rest of the members of the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening will release evaluations by Wednesday. As soon as these are available, these will be posted here and also on a site maintained by the Chicago Council of Lawyers,


Anonymous said...

Of course, it must be noted that the Chicago Council of Lawyers inserts its own biases into the evaluation process, as do the other bar associations. Voters who choose to pretend that such biases do not exist will be casting their votes in the judicial races at their own peril.

Unknown said...

Raymond Mitchell aims for a step-up--from his traffic court spot-- where he sits as an associate judge, to the law courts, which is where the big firms can find him.

He says he's a Democrat, but let's evaluate this: he is backed by Republicans Jim Thompson, Dan Webb, and their Winston & Strawn law firm, where Mitchell worked briefly. Big Jim's wife, Jayne Carr Thompson, is on Ray Mitchell's campaign committee.

As one newspaper put it, "they don't talk to the crowd about the briefs he wrote in defense of former Gov. George Ryan." Winston & Strawn papered the courts with Ryan's appeals--of his sentencing, pension entitlement, and so forth. That's their brand of aggressive lawyering. Mitchell's campaign predictably challenged his opponents' petition signatures before the Election Panel...intended to weary and dilute the opposition.

Mitchell's donations, prior to his appointment to traffic court, were to Republican candidates, see Coincidentally, prior to the traffic court appointment, he did donate Democratically--in 2007, when he gave to the campaign of Illinois S. Crt. Justice Anne Burke. He was then slated for this race by her husband, Alderman Edward Burke.

Highly Qualified said...


Didn't you post the exact same thing at the Sun-Times but include that Bonnie McGrath was your choice? This time you didn't even bother to go positive and suggest a candidate, just slam Ray Mitchell instead.

Have you ever appeared before Judge Mitchell? I have. He's fantastic. He is knowledgeable about the law, professional, and can manage a high volume call. He has been found highly qualified, qualified or recommended by every bar association. In fact, he is the only person in the Hayes vacancy that HAS been found qualified by everyone.

Pull your head out of your ass. If you want to crap on a candidate for not being qualified, look at your own candidate, McGrath. And if you want to cast aspersions, don't forget that McGrath actually ran as a Republican in 1998. She changed her name to run in that race to make her sound Irish. Didn't help. The voters agreed with all the bar associations that she not qualified. And now, 12 years later she is STILL NOT QUALIFIED.

Go throw your mud somewhere else and let the qualified judges continue to serve.

Jack Leyhane said...

For the record, Judge Michell is a full circuit judge, not an associate judge. He was appointed to the Hayes vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court effective October 14, 2008. The court's press release announcing the appointment is still available on line.

I'd ask that commenters use temperate language.

Jack Leyhane said...

Meanwhile I guess I'll work on my spelling. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

My, my! One can only conclude that the campaign contribution to Anne Burke's campaign committee were well worth it for Raymond Mitchell. Apparently very well worth it.

And while on the subject of Mitchell's campaign contributions, one would be remiss that in addition to having donated a sizeable sum to unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Ryan, he has also given a sizeable sum (enough to have been itemized on State Board of Election records) to the man who defeated Ryan, ousted Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Those campaign contributions certainly tell voters a lot about Ray Mitchell, hopefully enough for them to say, "Vote for you, Ray - NO WAY!"

Highly Qualified said...


Why don't you talk about the man's qualifications? Why smear him with some political contributions that, heavens, might show that he is bipartisan in his contributions?

Your post is shameful. It's mudslinging at its best. The man has been found qualified by every single bar association. Heck, it's one of the only things they all agree on.

Your post, and Charles', just highlight the political toilet that is the Bonnie McGrath campaign. Since you have nothing positive to say about your own unqualified former Republican candidate, you seek to smear another candidate. You didn't even bother to notice that Charles already posted Bonnie's talking points. Morons.

Go back to the swamp.

Anonymous said...

Note to Highly Qualified:

Due to the incongruities of Illinois' judicial selection system, Raymond Mitchell need not worry about his long-term future on the bench, regardless of the outcome of his race on February 2.

Should Mitchell lose his primary race to Bonnie Carol McGrath or to Carl B. Boyd, Justice Anne burke can always ask her supreme court colleagues to recall Judge Mitchell after his term expires in December, or simply reappoint him to the next available vacancy. This process, appalling at it may seem to those who view it a slap in the face of the electorate, can legally be done again and againg until Mitchell finally prevails at the ballot box.

You cited Mitchell's bar association ratings. However, those ratings must be looked at with the realization that few of the evaluators would even think of not giving a high mark to someone who had been put forth by the most prominent (or notorious, depending I guess on one's point of view) politically-connected law firm in the state, particularly after said candidate had been appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Should Judge Mitchell lose on February 2 (and I hope he does), there will be no need for a tag drive for his benefit. My guess is that if this were to occur, he would resign from the bench in mid-November, a couple of weeks before his term expires, pick up a few big-bucks cases over the following couple of months, and have his judicial robe cleaned and ready for the eventual call from Justice Burke & Co. to come on back to the courts, to help deal with an overload of cases.

Asking? said...

Anon, Do you plan on voting for any appointed judge? Hooks? Lyons? Harmening? Malone? Murphy? Bender? Kull?

Highly Qualified. said...


You forgot the part about Mitchell's role in the Kennedy assassination. Seriously, do you not get the irony of your comment in a post urging voters to pay attention to bar evaluations basically urging them NOT to elect the only candidate in that race that has been found highly qualified, qualified or recommended by every bar group?

Are you suggesting that the voters elect McGrath or Boyd who have been found not qualified by virtually every single bar group?

Do you really believe that it is a vast conspiracy among all the bar groups to give him high evaluations? Can you explain why some of the appointed judges (specifically Lebovits) have not been found qualified. Why Fermin Sessions who had been appointed by the Court was panned by most of the bar groups?

Once again, you don't bother to explain why a voter should vote for McGrath or Boyd. And you really can't because they aren't qualified and lack experience needed to be a judge.

You have not explained what it is about Judge Mitchell that makes you not believe the bar evaluations. It's not his knowledge of the law. It's not his courtroom or appellate court experience. It's not his temperament. It's not his skill at handling complex litigation or managing the heavy calls of traffic court.

It's sad that you need to resort to negative campaigning to support your candidate.

I, for one, urge people to vote for qualified candidates. Too bad you don't do the same.