Friday, November 15, 2013

Two last minute subcircuit vacancies open up and one candidate jumps in already

Updated with additional information 11/19/13

Everyone knows in advance that every seat in the Illinois House will come up for election every two years. But judicial vacancies aren't as predictable.

Judicial vacancies might come open if a judge were removed in a retention election; the whole world would be on notice that this vacancy would be filled in two years at the next general election. But no judge has been removed in a retention election for years.

Thus, the typical way that a vacancy comes up for election is when a judge dies or retires.

Just like everyone else in the world, judges retire for all sorts of reasons: Judge David Sterba, who was serving on the Appellate Court at the time of his resignation, decided he wanted to get back into trial practice. Judge Sterba was elected from the 15th Subcircuit and his vacancy is posted in the 15th Subcircuit. Judge Allen Goldberg, who has coordinated CLE programs for attorneys on mediation topics (and, I found out yesterday, continues to do so in retirement), left the bench to work as a mediator. Judge Goldberg was elected from the 9th Subcircuit and his vacancy is posted in the 9th Subcircuit. Other judges may resign because of failing health, or because of the health challenges faced by a spouse. Some want to travel, some want to spend time with their grandchildren.

But a judicial vacancy is not announced when a judge announces plans to retire; the vacancy does not exist until the judge actually hangs up the robe. Thus, although you probably know that Law Division Presiding Judge William Maddux has announced his retirement, because Judge Maddux will not leave office until January, his vacancy will not be filled (except, perhaps, by appointment) until 2016. Judge Maddux was elected to the bench in 1992, in the last group of candidates elected from "Chicago only" (1992 was also the first year for subcircuit elections). As vacancies in these Chicago only (and Suburban only) occur, new subcircuit vacancies are created in their place. Multiple sources have confirmed to FWIW that Judge Maddux's vacancy will be assigned to a subcircuit pursuant to a September 27, 1991 Supreme Court Order (M.R. 7848) (in which the order for filling subcircuit vacancies as they are created was determined by lot). Since the last such vacancy was assigned, pursuant to the 1991 order, to the 11th Subcircuit, the next such vacancy will be assigned to the 6th. Since another sitting Chicago only or Suburban only judge could (at least theoretically) retire before the effective date of Judge Maddux's planned January retirement, it is not certain that his vacancy will become an "A" vacancy in Subcircuit 6. But the next Chicago only or Suburban only vacancy will be assigned to the 6th, the next one after that to the 12th Subcircuit, and the one after that to the 2nd Subcircuit, and so on, as the 1991 order provides.

In any event, the exact number of vacancies on the March 2014 primary ballot will not be known until the expiration of certain statutorily-set deadlines.

There are two deadlines relevant to our consideration and the first of these was this past Sunday.

In the latest, and last group of judicial vacancies posted by the Illinois State Board of Elections for the filing period beginning November 25, there are two new subcircuit vacancies, in the 7th Subcircuit (the vacancy of Judge LaQuietta J. Hardy-Campbell) and in the 4th Subcircuit (the vacancy of Judge Mary A. Mulhern).

Martin Reggi
Berwyn attorney Martin Reggi has already announced for the Mulhern vacancy, according to an email received by FWIW from the candidate's son. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1980, Reggi filed for the "A" vacancy in the 4th Subcircuit in 2012, although he ultimately withdrew from that race. Reggi does not have an updated campaign website yet; however, when it is updated I will add it to the blog sidebar.

With these two new vacancies, there are three Appellate Court vacancies to be filled, 10 countywide Circuit Court vacancies, and 15 vacancies to be filled in the subcircuits. The 9th has the most vacancies this year (three); there are two vacancies to be filled in the 15th and now two each to be filled in the 4th and 7th Subcircuits. There is only one vacancy posted at this time in Subcircuits 2, 3, 10, 11, 12 and 13 -- but none at all in Subcircuits 1, 5, 6, and 8. (There were four vacancies to be filled in the 8th Subcircuit in 2012.)

But this list is still subject to change.

Any vacancies posted between now and December 2 (which just happens to be the last day of the regular filing period) will appear on the March 2014 primary ballot. There will be a special filing period for any of these late-breaking openings, from December 16 to 23.

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