Thursday, October 18, 2012

Welcome Cook County Early Voters!

For some reason, many of you will vote as soon as early voting starts on October 22 or shortly thereafter.

I hate to be the one to break it to you -- but, even though you've already done your civic duty, you'll still have to deal with the attack ads and the phone calls right on through November 6.

You've presumably arrived on this page because you want to make choices that you think are appropriate in judicial elections. Hopefully, therefore, you also voted in the Democratic primary -- not because For What It's Worth has entered the partisan fray but, rather, for the simple reason that most of the Cook County judicial races were decided there.

Yes, I know, the Republican primary also decided who would win one seat in the 13th Judicial Subcircuit -- but the point remains: All of the open Appellate Court and countywide Circuit Court seats were decided in the primary. So were most of the subcircuit vacancies. There is a partisan contest for Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, for one 12th Subcircuit vacancy, and for both vacancies in the 4th Judicial Subcircuit.

That's it.

On the other hand, there are 57 Circuit Court Judges and one Appellate Court Justice on the retention ballot this year. You are asked to vote Yes or No on the question of whether each of these persons should be retained in office. Any judge who fails to get a 60% (plus 1) favorable vote would be looking for work come the first Monday in December.

Most judges -- the vast majority in Cook County, certainly -- merit retention. In any given election cycle, however, there will be some who are controversial, some who have received generally bad marks from the evaluating bar associations or who have bypassed the evaluation process altogether. For What It's Worth makes no recommendations or endorsements. I will, however, shortly put up a post where voters can compare what the different bar associations have said about candidates who have been rejected by one or more of the major bar groups.

In addition to the posts I've already put and the posts I'll be putting up here in the coming days, there are other resources for the voter looking to study up on judges.

Suburban Cook County voters can obtain a sample ballot via this page on the website of Cook County Clerk David Orr. Some of the candidates' names on your sample ballot will be hyperlinked. Clicking on these links will take you to statements provided by the candidates or their campaigns. Circuit Court Judges seeking retention who have submitted statements are Moshe Jacobius, Stuart E. Palmer, Ronald F. Bartkowicz, E. Kenneth Wright, Jr., Lee Preston, James M. Varga, Marcia Maras, Carl Anthony Walker Mike McHale, Diane M. Shelley. Justice James Fitzgerald Smith, who is seeking retention on the Appellate Court, also has a candidate statement on the Cook County Clerk's website.

Voters in the City of Chicago don't get hyperlinked candidate statements on their sample ballots, but Chicago voters can get a sample ballot on the website of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

Some Cook County judges seeking retention have also answered questionnaires posed by the Illinois Civil Justice League. Questionnaire responses received by the ICJL from all Illinois judicial candidates are available through the website. Cook County judges seeking retention who have answered the ICJL questionnaire are Martin S. Agran, Ellen L. Flannigan, Moshe Jacobius, Lee Preston, Thomas David Roti, and Carl Anthony Walker. Justice James Fitzgerald Smith also submitted a response to the ICJL Questionnaire.

All of the judges seeking retention are listed on the 2012 Cook County Judges Retention Website. Many of the judges (and Justice Smith) also have statements on this site as well.

Related Posts on For What It's Worth:

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