Friday, September 27, 2013

What does an alternate candidate do while waiting for new judicial vacancies to open?

FWIW readers will recall that the Cook County Democratic Party named four alternates for countywide judicial office at its recent slating session. These four are pre-endorsed, if you will, for any countywide judicial vacancy that happens to open up between now and the beginning of December, when the cutoff occurs for the special judicial filing period.

None may open up; then again, there could be four or more. The latest list of judicial vacancies posted as of September 20 by the Illinois State Board of Elections shows new vacancies opening up only far Downstate -- a resident circuit court judgeship in Vermilion County (5th Circuit) and another resident circuit court judgeship in Douglas County (6th Circuit).

However, if a vacancy should open up for one of the pre-endorsed candidates in Cook County, that candidate would have to scramble to meet the applicable filing deadline and get up to speed on the campaign. That could get expensive, and quickly, too.

Thus, to build up a warchest in case of need, the supporters of one of the pre-endorsed candidates, Assistant Public Defender Alfredo (Al) Maldonado, are holding a Campaign Kick-Off Event next Wednesday, October 2, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Output Lounge, 1758 W. Grand Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are $50 apiece but sponsorships are available ($100 - Sponsor, $200 - Patron, $500 - Host). To reserve tickets or for more information about the event, email

October 16 fundraiser planned for Samuel Bae

Supporters of Samuel Bae's 12th Subcircuit judicial bid are planning an October 16 fundraiser for their candidate at the North Branch Pizza & Burger Co., 4520 W. Lake in Glenview, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. There will be an open bar and food will be served.

The suggested donation for the event is $100. For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, please email the candidate's sister (and former law partner), Jennifer E. Bae, at

October 8 fundraiser planned for Judge Andrea Buford

Supporters of Judge Andrea Buford are planning an October 8 fundraiser for their candidate at the Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for the event are $125 each. Sponsorships are available ($250 - Friend, $500 - Patron, $1,000 - Supporter, and $2,500 - Sponsor).

For more information about the event, or to make reservations, email

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Buford to the bench earlier this year, filling to the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Pamela E. Hill Veal. The Cook County Democratic Party has since slated her for the Veal vacancy.

Cook County Bar Association sponsors Legislative & Business Diversity Reception

I did speak with Cook County Bar Association Executive Director Cordelia Brown about the October 3 reception and confirmed that the event is free but that reservations are required. Ms. Brown said the CCBA is hoping for a big turnout from state legislators and other persons active in political affairs. She is the person through whom reservations must be made and her contact information is shown above.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fundraiser for Judge Chris Lawler set for October 9

Supporters of Circuit Court Judge Chris Lawler are planning a fundraiser for their candidate on Wednesday, October 9 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the law offices of O'Connor & Nakos, Ltd., 120 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 3500.

Tickets for the event are $100 each, but sponsorships are available (Friend - $250, Patron - $500, Benefactor - $1,000). For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, email by October 2.

Lawler is running for the Sterba vacancy in the 15th Subcircuit, the vacancy to which he was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court in June of this year.

Samuel S. Bae to run for judge in the 12th Subcircuit

Des Plaines attorney Samuel S. Bae has announced plans to seek the Democratic nomination for judge in Cook County's 12th Subcircuit.

Licensed in Illinois since 1999, Bae concentrates his practice in family law, personal injury and business transactions. He has also been active in providing pro bono services to KAN-WIN, Korean American Women in Need, an organization that provides services to women and children affected by domestic violence. Bae has also worked as a volunteer attorney with Korean American Community Services through a program operated by the Korean American Bar Association.

Bae lives in Mt. Prospect with his wife and two children. According to his sister (and one-time law partner) Jennifer Eun Bae, Bae's campaign website is still in development. When it launches, it will be added to the blog Sidebar.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sondra Denmark to seek 15th Subcircuit seat

Assistant Will County State's Attorney Sondra Denmark has begun a campaign for judge in the 15th Subcircuit. That's a link to Denmark's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has been added to the blog Sidebar. According to ARDC, Denmark has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2004.

Judge Chris Lawler campaign website found

Judge Lawler with Illinois Supreme Court
Justice Anne M. Burke at Lawler's installation
A campaign website has been established supporting the candidacy of Judge Chris Lawler, appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the Sterba vacancy in the 15th Subcircuit this past June. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Lawler, an attorney in Illinois since 1988, was practicing with the Chicago law firm of Hilbert, Lawler & Power, Ltd. at the time of his appointment to the bench. According to his campaign website, Lawler spent his pre-judicial career handling insurance defense and personal injury matters. He is a former president of the Southwest Suburban Bar Association and has served a member of the Marist High School Board of Directors, including a five-year stint as Board Chair. His website notes that, among other civic and charitable activities, Lawler has served on the Board of Directors and the Board of Advisors of Catholic Charities. A former member of the St. Alexander School Council, Lawler currently serves on the Parish Financial Council. He has also coached youth basketball and baseball teams.

Patrick Kevin Coughlin makes 15th Subcircuit bid

Assistant State's Attorney Patrick Kevin Coughlin has announced plans to file for the Doody vacancy in the 15th Subcircuit. That's a link to Coughlin's campaign website in the preceding sentence. A link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1996, Coughlin's website states that he is "Deputy Chief of the Narcotic Prosecution Bureau at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office where he oversees 47 ASAs within the Narcotic Bureau, comprised of the Complex Narcotics Unit, Asset Forfeiture Unit, Narcotic Felony Trial Division, and the Narcotic Preliminary Hearing/Special Grand Jury Unit."

Also according to his website, Coughlin has lectured at the Chicago Police Department's Training Academy and for the the Illinois State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Association. He has been an instructor with the St. Michael School's Mock Trial program and has served an Adjunct Professor with Kaplan University and the University of Phoenix.

Thomas M. Cushing launches 9th Subcircuit race

Candidate Cushing, at left, with Evanston Ald. Jane Grover (7th),
and Wilmette Park Commissioner James Brault

Attorney Thomas M. Cushing launched his bid for judge in the 9th Subcircuit with a meet the candidate night on Thursday, September 19 at the Evanston home of Margaret and Joseph Flanagan. Over 100 friends and family attended the free event, to learn about Cushing's campaign plans.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1988, Cushing currently maintains a law office in Evanston. According to his campaign website, "secured multiple verdicts and settlements for injury victims and small businesses in excess" of a million dollars, representing "companies in commercial disputes, as well as organizations advocating for a cleaner, more sustainable society."

Cushing's website also touts his volunteer experience, including extensive coaching in youth sports and service as School Board Chairman at St. Athanasius. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Loyola University Law School.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Barrett, Embil apparently slated in 15th Subcircuit

corrected September 22, 2013

15th Subcircuit candidate Michael Barrett and family
Multiple sources have confirmed to FWIW that attorney Michael Barrett and Judge Diana L. Embil have been slated by Democratic committeemen in the far south suburban 15th Judicial Subcircuit for the Sterby and Doody vacancies respectively. The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Embil to the Doody vacancy earlier this year.

In slating Barrett, the 15th Subcircuit committeemen bypassed Judge Chris Lawler, who currently holds the Sterba vacancy pursuant to Supreme Court appointment.

Judge Embil
The 15th Subcircuit includes Orland, Lemont, and Rich Townships and parts of Worth, Palos, Thornton, Bremen, and most of Bloom Townships.

Licensed as an Illinois attorney since 1991, Michael Barrett currently practices with the firm of Barrett & Sramek in Palos Heights. He ran for a 15th Subcircuit seat (as Michael Brendan Barrett) in 2010. According to his campaign website, Barrett served Cook County Committee on the Courts in the 21st Century, the Circuit Court of Cook County Expanded Jurisdiction Committee, and has previously been found recommended or qualified by every rating bar association. Barrett is also, according to his campaign website, the Illinois Referee-in-Chief; Supervisor of Ice Hockey Officials for USA Hockey; and the President of the Chicago Fury, a not for profit Youth Hockey Organization.

Barrett's campaign website has been added to the list of candidates in the blog Sidebar. FWIW has so far been unable to find a campaign website for Judge Embil. However, in the course of researching this post, I found a number of campaign websites for other 15th Subcircuit candidates. Posts about these candidates will be going up shortly.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mr. Daley's decision has a ripple effect on Cook County judicial races

William Daley's decision to withdraw from the gubernatorial race will have a significant effect on judicial races in Cook County.

There is no presidential primary in 2014 to bring voters to the polls. A Daley-Quinn donnybrook near the top of the primary ballot would have increased the Democratic primary turnout. Now, however, in the Democratic primary, the major offices will be largely uncontested. No serious primary challenge is expected to Senator Dick Durbin. Gov. Pat Quinn may face opposition from former Cease Fire Director Tio Hardiman, but that is unlikely to energize the typically lethargic primary electorate.

Meanwhile, down at the bottom of the Cook County ballot, there will be several hotly contested judicial races. Many of these contests will pit highly-qualified individuals against each other (not that the Tribune would notice, or care) -- but there will be some candidates with fairly thin credentials. There always are. If voters aren't careful, some of these lesser candidates may win their primary races.

If form holds, there will be no Republican judicial candidates (except in the 13th Subcircuit, a presumed Republican bastion). That means, in nearly all cases, the winners of the Democratic primary races for judicial office in March can pretty much count on donning a robe on the first Monday in December.

Because turnout will be low, judicial candidates who have a core constituency they can get to the polls will have a decided advantage. That should be good news for the Democratic Party's slated candidates, at least to the extent that ward and township organizations can still turn out primary voters (and to the extent that the organizations remain faithful to the slate).

Long-time FWIW readers will recall that Dr. Albert Klumpp has generously supplied post-election analyses of various factors, including ethnicity, gender, slating and endorsements, that influence the outcome of judicial elections. Here is the table Dr. Klumpp supplied in the aftermath of the 2012 primary:
Female Name14.612.012.2
Irish Name11.411.19.6
Black Name7.18.06.8
Top Ballot Line4.46.78.5
Spending (per $10k above avg.)

Dr. Klumpp supplied a similar analysis after the 2010 primary.

In that earlier table, Dr. Klumpp offered a side-by-side comparison of the 2008 and 2010 primaries.

The figure that jumped off the screen at me was the extraordinary influence of a female name in 2008.

But there was an exceptionally high turnout in 2008, as Cook County voters came out to support Barack Obama's first presidential bid. Many people voted in the 2008 primary who did not vote in primaries before and have not voted in primaries since. It would not be surprising that random factors, like candidate gender, would be particularly influential in a year as voters determined to support Mr. Obama, but who did not necessarily have fixed opinions on other races, voted their way down the ballot.

We won't see a repeat of this phenomenon in 2014. Most of the voters in March 2014 will come to the polls from a sense of obligation -- not just Democratic stalwarts or activists -- but all those those who take their civic duty seriously. Non-slated candidates with exemplary qualifications may make inroads among many of these dedicated voters. But the real challenge for all judicial candidates will be to motivate their people -- most of whom are not regular primary voters -- their friends and family, colleagues, parents of their children's school friends, fellow members of their church or synagogue -- to actually turn out and vote. As many as three of four of these are likely to find something else to do on March 18. In a low turnout election, the value of each of these votes will be magnified tremendously.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ketki Steffen interviewed on NTNM

Cook County judicial candidate Ketki Steffen was interviewed recently on Avy Meyers' North Town News Magazine Program. Steffen's interview (and all NTNM interviews) are available by following the link here or, of course, you can watch the interview here.

My thanks to NTNM host and moderator Avy Meyers and his entire technical crew Sonny Hersh for allowing me to post this interview.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jerry Esrig joins 9th Subcircuit race, fundraiser planned for September 24

Attorney Jerry Esrig has announced plans to seek one of the 9th Subcircuit vacancies. That's a link to his campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has been added to the blog Sidebar.

Licensed as an Illinois attorney since 1978, Esrig is a founding partner in the firm of Zaideman & Esrig, P.C.. From roughly 1985-1999 the firm was known as Epstein, Zaideman & Esrig, PC. (Esrig's former law partner, Justice James Epstein, was appointed to the Circuit Court in 1999. Epstein was later elected to the Circuit Court and, in 2010, to the Illinois Appellate Court. According to his campaign website, Esrig chaired Justice Epstein's successful bid for the Appellate Court.)

On his campaign website, Esrig writes that, in his practice, he has represented "small and medium sized businesses in commercial disputes and profoundly injured individuals." According to his website, Esrig served as secretary and then president of Am Yisrael Synagogue. As president, he helped initiate construction of the Rabbi William and Toby Frankel Religious Education Center. He has also coached AYSO soccer and Evanston Youth Baseball.

Esrig's supporters are planning a fundraiser for their candidate on Tuesday, September 24, from 5:30 PM to 7:30 p.m., at the Prairie Moon Restaurant, 1502 Sherman Ave., Evanston. Honorary Co-Chairs of the event are Hon. Abner Mikva and Hon. Jan Schakowsky. Tickets are $100 each, but sponsorships are available (Supporter - $250, Sponsor - $500, Host-Sponsor - $1,000). For more information, or to make reservations, see this page of Esrig's campaign website or call Thom Mannard at 847-997-3020.

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 30 fundraiser planned for Pamela McLean Meyerson

Supporters of 11th Subcircuit candidate Pamela McLean Meyerson are planning a fundraiser on September 30, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m., at Petterino's, 150 N. Dearborn Street.

Tickets for the event are $100 apiece, but sponsorships are available ($250 - Supporter, $500 - Patron, $1000 - Angel). To reserve tickets, or for more information about the event, email The candidate's committee asks that reservations for the fundraiser be made by September 25.

For those who came in late: FAQs about FWIW

Now that judicial candidate petitions are circulating, this seems an appropriate time to review what I'm trying to accomplish with my coverage of Cook County judicial races. A lot of this stuff is already addressed in the blog Sidebar, but this post aims to answer any questions that may be in the minds of prospective candidates or their supporters:
  1. This is a non-partisan blog. I want to cover all candidates running for judge in Cook County. If a candidate has a website, I will link to it and post it in the blog Sidebar. Because this is Cook County, the vast majority of posts here will be about candidates running as Democrats. If recent patterns hold, the winners of the Democratic primary races in March will be elected in November without opposition, Republican or otherwise. That does not mean I won't cover Republican candidates; it just means there aren't that many to cover. To the extent that there are Republican candidates, I intend to post about them, too.
  2. This blog does not make endorsements. I do know some of the candidates who are covered here, whether because I've had cases with or against them over the years, or we've officed together, or because we've met through bar functions, or because we've met through this blog. I have mentioned significant connections, but I don't think the public cares how many candidates I've met or who I intend to vote for. Instead, I've made an editorial decision to try and present all candidates in the most positive light that I can, especially in my first post about a campaign. When the bar association evaluations come out, later in the election cycle, I will also report these -- and, of course, not all of the evaluations will be positive. But I'm not going to go out of my way to slam anyone.

    I believe the best candidates will distinguish themselves when information about all candidates is presented for the voters' consideration. In addition to bar evaluations, I will advise of newspaper endorsements (if they're made) or community group or union endorsements (when I can verify them). On the other hand, while I won't make individual endorsements, I have been a lawyer for 33 years and I know a little something about what I want for my clients when I appear in court. I reserve the right to talk about that -- in general terms -- in future posts.
  3. I want to publicize candidates' events. This post appears sandwiched between two posts about candidate fundraisers. But I will publicize more than candidates' fundraising efforts. If a candidate wants to promote a speaking engagement or publicize a petition party, I'll run that, too. I will try and include photographs if the candidate or his or her campaign provides them. But I do have a day job and I can't possibly find out about all candidate events on my own. I rely primarily on candidate requests for publicity. I'm sure I'll hear from some campaigns ten times or more; there are others that I'll never hear from once. That does not mean I'm playing favorites; I'm just responding to the email I receive.
  4. Judicial candidates are not charged to get their information on this blog. I don't book the Google ads on this page, but I personally am not accepting candidate ads. (I will accept ads from persons or companies looking to offer products or services to judicial candidates; see the blog Sidebar for additional information.)

    Information about candidates and campaigns is put up here without charge. In this early stage of the election cycle, judicial election posts on FWIW are read primarily by candidates, their supporters, and persons who are thinking about running for judge at some time in the future. Ultimately, however, as the primary date draws close, I hope that the information collected here will be of use to the voters -- so no one can truthfully say (are you listening Chicago Tribune?) that one can't find out anything about the many men and women who seek judicial office in Cook County.
  5. I am not a professional journalist. However, since professional journalists insist on ignoring judicial elections, I will do the best I can. Having run for judge twice myself (in 1994 and 1996) I appreciate just how little opportunity judicial candidates have to get their credentials before the public. I've already stated my editorial bias in favor of trying to present candidates in the best possible light, at least in my initial post about any given campaign. However, I reserve the right to fact-check information provided, to add information I've discovered on my own, to combine or even ignore duplicative releases. In short, I reserve the right to edit, with one exception that I will explain at the end of this post.
  6. Comments on this blog are 'moderated.' This means I read any comment that anyone cares to leave and decide whether or not it will get posted. I will not automatically exclude anonymous comments, but I'd greatly prefer you leave a name. I don't think that comments from friends and family like "he's the best" or "she's the most qualified" are going to really sway any voters when the time comes -- but I will generally let these kinds of comments through. I will generally block "attack" comments, especially from anonymous commenters. Already in this election cycle, I've gotten comments to the effect that Candidate X is from a 'clout paranoid family,' or that no one should support Candidate Y because of all the negative online comments about him (perhaps from this same anonymous source?), or that Candidate Z is a 'sleepy old piece of [stuff].' You'll not be seeing those comments on this blog.

    I understand that this is a blog and there is an expectation, for better or worse, that all Internet commentary should be freewheeling and even pungent. But this is my blog and I reserve the right to exclude overly nasty or personal comments. I don't intend to stifle discussion; I merely want that discussion to be reasonably civil. If I allow a sharp comment about your favorite candidate to be published, you will think I'm not strict enough. If I 'flush' your broadside against Candidate X, you may think I'm too strict. Consider this my apology-in-advance -- and consider leaving a comment I can publish.
One final note: Candidate filing begins on November 25 and closes December 2 (there is a special judicial filing period for any late-opening vacancies that runs from December 16-23). Thus by Christmas, we will know who has filed for all Cook County judicial vacancies. These candidates will all be bombarded with questionnaires from newspapers and all sorts of special interest groups asking very specific, and often very pointed, questions about issues dear to the inquiring group. FWIW does something a little different. Around the beginning of January I will begin asking any interested candidate to provide a statement, an essay addressed directly to the voters. I've done this before and several candidates have taken advantage; to see the kinds of things candidates have wanted to share with voters in previous elections, click on this link. I'll run these statements 'as is,' without edits, and I will link these "In Their Own Words" posts when I put up the Organizing the Data posts when we get closer to the primary.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Brendan O'Brien fundraiser planned for October 18

Supporters of Brendan O'Brien are planning an October 5 fundraiser for their candidate on October 18, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Kenny's Tavern, 917 W. 55th Street, Countryside.

Tickets for this event are $50 apiece, but sponsorships are available for $200. To order tickets, or for more information about the event, email

Programming Note: The O'Brien campaign advises that the fundraiser previously scheduled for September 19 at the Rosebud in the Three First National Plaza building has been postponed until further notice.

Megan Goldish joins 9th Subcircuit field

Assistant State's Attorney Megan Goldish has joined the field of candidates seeking one of the three vacancies available in Cook County's 9th Judicial Subcircuit. That's a link to Goldish's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1997, Goldish's campaign website notes that she has been a first chair in the Felony Trial Division of the State's Attorney's Office since 2008. The site emphasizes her prior work in the Domestic Violence Division on behalf of women and children who have been the victims of abuse. Goldish's campaign website also notes her service on the Junior Board of the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and on the board of the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation. According to the website, Goldish has also been an active volunteer with the Jewish United Fund and other Jewish organizations, a supporter of the 100 Club, the Illinois Alzheimers Association and the Big Shoulders Fund.

Goldish's website notes her membership in several bar associations and, in particular, her active involvement in the Women's Bar Association of Illinois, including the WBAI / State’s Attorney’s Law Student Mentoring program and the nominating and selections committees for the WBAI's Reach Up Rise Back Award.

But Goldish's website also notes that Goldish is a graduate of Chicago’s Second City Conservatory and the Second City Musical Improv program. According to her website, Goldish has performed in productions at the Annoyance Theater, Studio B, and the Skybox Theater at Second City. coming online for 2014 election cycle

The Illinois Civil Justice League has activated its page for the 2014 election cycle. While the primary focus of this blog is Cook County, the ICJL covers judicial races across the entire state. Collar county and Downstate voters will want to bookmark the page and refer to it frequently between now and Election Day.

Like a number of other groups, the ICJL typically asks judicial candidates to complete questionnaires. FWIW will link to ICJL questionnaire responses (and others publicly available) when these become available.

Kelly Maloney Kachmarik plans countywide judicial bid, announces initial fundraiser

Attorney Kelly Maloney Kachmarik has announced plans to seek election to the countywide Veal vacancy. That's a link to Kachmarik's website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Licensed in Illinois since 2001, Kachmarik currently works for James J. Roche & Associates (full disclosure: I have previously worked with Mr. Roche and Ms. Kachmarik). According to Kachmarik's campaign website, while a student at DePaul Law School, Kachmarik was a summer associate for the firm now known as Sidley Austin LLP. She also served as an extern to former U.S. District Court Judge Wayne Andersen.

A graduate of Mother McAuley High School, Kachmarik later became one of the founders of the McAuley Law Society, for alumnae who, like Kachmarik, joined the legal profession. According to her website, Kachmarik has also been active in the CBA JEC and the Women's Bar Association and serves as a volunteer at the Cossit School in La Grange.

Supporters of Kachmarik's campaign have planned a fundraiser for their candidate at the BeviAmo Wine Bar, 1358 W. Taylor St. in Chicago, on October 10 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Tickets are $30 apiece. For more information about the event, or to order tickets, see the candidate's website.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

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Monday, September 09, 2013

John Michael Allegretti announces 4th Subcircuit bench bid

Attorney John Michael Allegretti, who currently serves as General Counsel to the Cook County Treasurer, is running for judge in the far west suburban 4th Judicial Subcircuit. That's a link to Allegretti's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Licensed in Illinois since 1995, Allegretti's campaign site notes that he has worked in private practice, as a Hearing Officer for the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, an Assistant State’s Attorney at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, and as General Counsel for the Cook County Assessor before taking up his present position with the Treasurer's Office. Allegretti is also the Democratic Committeeman of Riverside Township. This is Allegretti's second run for judicial office; he also ran from the 4th Subcircuit in 2008.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Joanne Rosado campaign plans Oktoberfest fundraiser

Supporters of Joanne Rosado have announced an Oktoberfest fundraiser for their candidate, on Friday October 4, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., at the Casual Tap, 5924 W. Montrose, Chicago. Tickets are $75 each. There will be an open bar and appetizers will be served at the event. To get more information, or to purchase tickets, see the campaign website (linked above) or call Bob at 773-750-5638.

Friday, September 06, 2013

James E. Hanlon, Jr. announces bench bid in 12th Subcircuit

Attorney James E. Hanlon, Jr. has announced plans to seek election to the Circuit Court from the 12th Judicial Subcircuit.

That's a link to Hanlon's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Licensed as an Illinois lawyer since 1984, Hanlon is currently director of client development initiatives for litigation and other key practice areas for Novus Law, working (according to his campaign website) with Novus clients on e-discovery issues, including "technology assisted review." Hanlon began his career with Katten Muchin Zavis (now Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP), rising from associate to equity partner in the course of an 18 career. In 2002, Hanlon joined another megafirm, Howrey LLP, working as an equity partner in the firm's global litigation group before leaving in 2008 to set up his own practice. He has been with Novus since 2010.

According to his campaign website, Hanlon has coached Hubbard High School's Mock Court Team; served as a mentor in the Illinois Supreme Court's Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentor Program; served on the CBA's Judicial Evaluation Committee, Securities Law Committee and E-Discovery Committees; served as a member of the board of Teen Living Programs, Inc.; and served as president of both the Northbrook Hockey League and the Glenbrook North Spartan Hockey Club. He is married to Circuit Court Judge Kay Hanlon.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Judge Sharon Oden Johnson to seek election to the Appellate Court

Judge Sharon Oden Johnson
Updated 9/6/13 to specify that Judge Johnson is running for the Steele vacancy.

A Facebook message alerted me that Judge Sharon Oden Johnson has launched a bid for the Steele vacancy on the Appellate Court.

That's a link to Judge Johnson's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Judge Johnson was elected to the bench in 2010 from the 1st Subcircuit. She currently sits in the Domestic Relations Division - Parentage and Child Support Section.

Diana Rosario campaign plans September 24 fundraiser

Diana Rosario
Supporters of Diana Rosario, recently slated by the Cook County Democratic Party for the countywide Reyes vacancy, have announced a September 24 fundraiser for their candidate at Lazo's Restaurant, 2009 N. Western Avenue in Chicago. The event will run from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and beer, wine and a light buffet will be served.

Tickets for the event are $75 each, but sponsorships are available (Friends - $250, Supporters - $500, Hosts - $1,000). Rosario's campaign does not yet have a website up and running (there is a Facebook page) but more information about the event can be found by emailing There is also a PayPal link in operation where tickets can be purchased.

Anjana Hansen Kick-Off Fundraiser set for September 18

Nevin's Pub in Evanston.
Supporters of 9th Subcircuit judicial candidate Anjana Hansen have announced a kick-off fundraiser on September 18, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Tommy Nevin's Pub, 1450-1458 Sherman Avenue in Evanston.

Tickets for the event are $100 each, but sponsorships are also available (Supporter - $250, Sponsor - $500, or Host Sponsor - $1,000). For more information about the event, or to order tickets, visit this page of the candidate's website.

Drug cases against jurists provide wake-up call for bench and bar

Friday the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reported that all of the federal judges in the Southern District of Illinois had recused themselves from the forthcoming weapons and heroin possession trial of former Circuit Court Judge Michael N. Cook.

It was at then-Judge Cook's Pike County hunting lodge earlier this year where newly sworn-in Associate Judge Joseph D. Christ was found dead. Authorities later determined that Judge Christ had died of a drug overdose.

Around the time of Cook's arrest St. Louis TV station KSDK reported that Judge Cook had handled 90% of the drug cases in St. Clair County.

Former Utah Judge Virginia Ward and her
attorney in court on August 27.
Virginia Ward, a former judge in Salt Lake City, Utah, pled guilty on August 27 to picking up packages of Oxycodone to deliver to her dealer. She faces up to 15 years in prison.

Before her arrest, according to Marissa Lang's July 17 article in the Salt Lake Tribune, in 11 years as judge of the Salt Lake City justice court, Ward tried countless cases against defendants facing misdemeanor drug charges.

Lang's August 27 story for the Salt Lake Tribune, linked above, explains the particulars of Ward's downfall:
On March 30, the day she was arrested, Ward had received two packages containing 338 tablets of Oxycodone, the documents state.

She told agents that she had been taking the drug to treat her neck pain and also admitted that she had traded "controlled substances that she had received in order to obtain Oxycodone and other controlled substances," according to court documents.
It's possible to look at these stories from Utah and Downstate Illinois simply as examples of the corrupting influence of illicit drugs.

But I wonder if these sad stories don't illustrate a deeper, systemic problem, one not limited just to drugs and drug usage. I submit that, for a nation supposedly that lives by the rule of law, an awful lot of us seem to think that laws are things to pick and choose, things that too often apply only to the 'the other guy.'

You might think that lawyers and particularly judges would be especially likely to obey all laws, but lately I have begun to suspect that this is no longer the public perception. Thus, a little story I picked up earlier this year about a Michigan judge who fined himself when his cellphone went off in court got attention around the world. News, I was taught, is the unusual, the unexpected. Dog bites man is not generally news; man bites dog generally is. When a judge holding himself to the same standards as anyone else in his courtroom becomes news, that's a pretty good clue that the public no longer thinks judges are any more likely than anyone else to actually obey the law. Stories like those involving Judge Cook Downstate or Judge Ward in Utah can't possibly help.

Thus the wake-up call: Lawyers and judges have both a particular obligation to obey the laws and a unique opportunity to influence the development of laws. If laws (even laws with laudable purposes) are unworkable, incapable of uniform enforcement, or impractical (perhaps too harsh?) as framed, we can help our legislators repeal, revise, or amend those laws to cure those flaws and better implement the lofty purposes with which the laws were first enacted. I've got a little list; I'll bet most lawyers have one, too. It might be useful to see if we can have a civil, rational discussion about which laws may be unworkable, incapable of uniform enforcement or impractical and how we might go about revising them.

This will be taken up in future posts. Who knows? If we can have a polite, thoughtful discussion on the Internet we might start a whole new online trend. In the meantime, if you have suggestions or topics you'd like to see addressed in posts along these lines, send me an email or leave a comment below.

Related: Death of a Downstate judge, downfall of another