Thursday, September 25, 2014

Council, Alliance ratings in the two contested Cook County judicial elections

Voters will have a choice of candidates in only one race in the 12th Subcircuit and one in the 4th Subcircuit.

In the 12th Subcircuit race, the Chicago Council of Lawyers has issued these ratings on the two competing candidates:

Judge James L. Kaplan –-- Qualified
Judge James L. Kaplan was appointed to the Circuit Court in 2010. He was admitted to practice in 1971. Before becoming a Circuit Judge, he was senior partner with the law firm of Kaplan & Sorosky Ltd., and served as a judge on the Illinois Court of Claims. His practice primarily involved workers’ compensation matters. Judge Kaplan was considered to be a good lawyer with good legal ability and temperament. As a judge, he is reported to demonstrate a good temperament and ability to manage a courtroom. The Council finds Mr. Kaplan Qualified for the Circuit Court.


James Paul Pieczonka –-- Not Qualified
James Paul Pieczonka was admitted to practice in 1983. He has spent most of his career as a sole practitioner doing both transactional work and litigation. In addition to his legal practice, he has been involved in real estate development matters. From 1985 to 1996, he also worked as an Administrative Law Judge for the Illinois Department of Revenue in the Hearings Division. Mr. Pieczonka has limited litigation experience. Some question his litigation skills. Much of his career has been related to transactional work and real estate development. The Council finds him Not Qualified for the Circuit Court.

Here are the Alliance ratings on the two candidates:

In the race for the Billik vacancy in the 4th Subcircuit, the Chicago Council of Lawyers has issued these ratings on the two candidates:

John J. Mahoney –-- Well Qualified
John J. Mahoney was admitted to practice in 1984. He serves as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney, and currently is the Supervisor of the Public Corruption and Financial Crimes Unit in the Special Prosecutions Bureau. He also supervises the Money Laundering Unit, the Intellectual Crimes Unit, the Mortgage Fraud Unit, and the soon to be formed Insurance Fraud Unit. His former positions include being a lead prosecutor in the Felony Trial Division. Between 1991 and 1997 he was a lawyer with the Peoples Energy Corporation, Office of the General Counsel, practicing before the Illinois Commerce Commission as well as in a variety of divisions of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Mr. Mahoney has had a wide variety of litigation experience in highly complex matters. He has also handled 20 appellate cases as principal counsel. His answers to the judicial evaluation matters were thoughtful. Mr. Mahoney is considered to have very good legal ability with a professional demeanor. He is especially praised for both his litigation skills and his skill at supervising complex litigation. He is the coauthor of the Illinois statute known as the Illinois Financial Crime Law. The Council finds him Well Qualified for the Circuit Court.


Ian Brenson – Not Recommended
Ian Brenson did not submit materials for evaluation. The Council finds him Not Recommended for the Circuit Court.

Here are the Alliance ratings on the two candidates:

Sources within the Alliance told FWIW that the Alliance was not contacted by Brenson after he was appointed to the ballot. Moreover, the Alliance was unaware of Brenson's candidacy until recently. Brenson was rated Qualified by the Chicago Bar Association.

Related: CBA ratings in "contested" Cook County judicial races on the November ballot

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