Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Supreme Court fills two vacancies in 1st Subcircuit

Anthony E. Simpkins
The Illinois Supreme Court today appointed Anthony E. Simpkins to the 1st Subcircuit vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge Vanessa A. Hopkins. The appointment is effective December 15; it terminates December 6, 2016.

Simpkins has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1994. He currently serves as a Deputy Commissioner in the Chicago Department of Planning and Development. (According to a City of Chicago table, Mr. Simpkins is Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation in the Department's Bureau of Housing.) He formerly served as Senior Counsel in the Building & Land Use Litigation Division of the Corporation Counsel's office.

Maryam Ahmad
The Supreme Court also appointed Assistant State's Attorney Maryam Ahmad to the Cynthia Brim vacancy. Ahmad's appointment is effective December 1; it, too, will terminate on December 6, 2016.

Ahmad has been licensed in Illinois since 2000. She has also served as an Assistant Public Defender and as Sexual Harassment Officer for the City of Chicago. Earlier in her career, while still in law school, Ahmad worked as Special Assistant to the President on Diversity at DePaul University. Before attending law school, Ahmad was Dean of Multicultural Affairs at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lesbian and Gay Bar Association President pens open letter to Gov.-elect Rauner about Mr. Rauner's retention ballot choices

Ed. note -- The following letter is reprinted without comment; one apparent typo was corrected with the author's permission. The author of the letter, LAGBAC President John Litchfield, is an attorney at Foley & Lardner LLP.

Photo of Mr. Rauner voting on Election Day,
taken from the Glenview News website.
Dear Mr. Rauner,

A photo of you published on November 5, 2014 with your completed ballot indicates that you voted "No" on every judicial candidate for retention to the Cook County bench, according to Republican Judge James G. Riley's letter to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (published on November 10, 2014, and enclosed here for your reference). I, too, saw the photograph referenced by Judge Riley, and am disappointed to see that it confrrms his account.

This means you voted not to retain even the stars of the bench, the leaders and stand-outs, the innovators and those working to bring peace and resolution to families in our communities. Judges, perhaps more so than any of the elected officials in our state, have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of Illinoisans on a daily basis - whether it be petitioners in bankruptcy, divorce court, or child custody, or defendants in criminal cases or eviction proceedings. The issues our judiciary grapples with are deeply personal to the citizens of our state who deserve only the best on the bench.

Judge Riley's letter is correct: the 2014 class of retention candidates enjoyed better bar ratings than most previous classes; no 2014 candidate received less than 50% "Yes" recommendations from rating bar associations; and only eight of 73 had any "No" recommendations at all. Prior classes of retention candidates have usually featured at least one or two with 100% negative bar ratings.

One reason that I am conversant with these statistics is that I have been privy to the judicial evaluations process for more than four years as President of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, and over nine years as a member. Our members, and the members of many other bar associations, spend hundreds of hours a year evaluating judicial candidates by reviewing detailed candidate questionnaires, seeking feedback from practitioners familiar with the candidates' practices, and conducting live interviews all in an effort to educate the electorate on the otherwise confusing process of electing judges.

Every retention cycle, roughly 20% of the Cook County electorate vote "No" on every judicial candidate up for retention. While an unfortunate reality in our electoral process, our elected leaders should not encourage this action by their own example. It is simply irresponsible to do so.

There are a number of viable alternatives you could have explored. Let me address a few.

First, you could have taken an opportunity to speak out on long ballots that are confusing to voters, and maybe ever lent support to efforts to make voter information more widely available.

Second, with a little information, you could have addressed the possibility of raising the bar for retention from 60% to 65% or even 70% to improve the chances of removing poor performers from the bench - or at least creating the threat of job loss to inspire effort at better performance.

Third, you could have waded into the debate about whether judges should be elected at all, perhaps joining with politicians in other states in efforts to roll back existing voting opportunities, or better yet, working with legislators in Springfield to establish improvements to Illinois' system of electing judges.

Or, fourth, you could have just not cast votes in those races and pled ignorance.

But instead of these and other responsible alternatives, your vote risked chaos and the wholesale loss of a set of professionals who, for the most part, perform extraordinary service for the people of Cook County. Your decision to vote "no" on each and every judicial candidate demonstrates contempt for the judiciary, the volunteer attorney evaluators, and the electorate itself. I invite you to engage the Illinois bar to explain your vote. Perhaps you have thoughts about how the bar can work with the state to improve our judicial election process, and we would welcome your leadership on this issue. The system is far from perfect - but an irresponsible vote by the now-leader of Illinois only serves to exacerbate any problems, and sets a bad example of how to fix them.

Thank you for your time and attention. I am available and willing to discuss any of this if you are so inclined.

Sincerely yours,

John L. Litchfield, Esq.
President, the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago

Friday, November 14, 2014

Robin D. Shoffner appointed to Circuit Court

The Illinois Supreme Court today appointed Robin D. Shoffner to the 5th Subcircuit vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Shelli Williams-Hayes.

At the time of her appointment, according to ARDC, Shoffner was working for the City of Chicago Department of Law. She previously worked for Aon plc. She has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1990.

Shoffner's appointment is effective December 3, 2014. It will terminate December 5, 2016.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ken White says I'm wrong about the Park Ridge zoning suit

Ken White is one of the principals of Popehat, which I link to in my Sidebar, and a blogger of national renown on a number of free-speech related issues, SLAPP suits included.

His take on the case I wrote about Tuesday, 400 W. Talcott LLC v. Argionis, 14 CH 17457? A SLAPP False Alarm Out Of Chicago: The Law Is An Ass.

Somehow Mr. White finds time to practice both law and journalism from his base in California. I don't know how he does it.

Mr. White practiced journalism in this case by reaching out to the developer's attorneys, Ungaretti & Harris LLP, to get their side of the story (instead of regurgitating the local media coverage, as I did). Ungaretti & Harris sent Mr. White a copy of the Complaint filed on the developer's behalf.

In communicating with the developer's lawyers, Mr. White was able to discover the basis of the developer's ultra-expansive reading of §3-107 of the Administrative Review Law, 735 ILCS 5/3-107. The developer is relying on O'Hare International Bank v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals, 8 Ill.App.3d 764, 291 N.E.2d 349 (1st Dist. 1972). That case was cited by Lexis in the annotations to §3-107 for the generic proposition, "Plaintiffs' complaint for administrative review of a zoning decision was fatally defective because it did not name all parties of record as defendants." Lexis did not provide a clue that the "parties of record" might be neighboring property owners who testified against a proposed zoning change.

The text of the case, however, does. Mr. White quoted most of this passage from O'Hare International Bank in his post (8 Ill.App.3d at 767):
The Park Ridge residents who made personal or representative appearances at the zoning board hearing lived in the immediate vicinity of the plaintiffs' property. They were more than disinterested witnesses; they actively maintained a position opposed to the plaintiffs'. Their interest in the outcome of the hearing was substantial. They did not seek administrative review of the board's decision because the decision was favorable to them. Their interest became jeopardized a second time when the plaintiffs challenged the decision in the circuit court; yet they were neither notified of the suit nor made defendants. They were thus deprived of the opportunity of protecting their interest -- the monetary value of their homes and the aesthetic level of their neighborhood -- in court.

The plaintiffs' complaint for administrative review was fatally defective because it did not name all parties of record as defendants. The requirement of paragraph 271, chapter 110, Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, is both mandatory and jurisdictional; it was not waived by the defendants' failure to raise this objection in the trial court.
I don't see that case as saying the persons opposing the zoning were necessary parties because they were opposed to it, but rather that they were necessary parties because, as neighbors, they had an interest in the zoning determination, whether they were for it or against it. I suppose, upon consideration of Mr. White's piece, the real legal question will be, in this case, if the neighbors are even arguably necessary parties, whether the suit against them is sufficiently "retaliatory and meritless" to overcome the burden shifting provisions of Section 20 of the Citizen Participation Act, 735 ILCS 110/20.

If the really case can go forward with the neighbors as defendants, one comment Mr. White makes is particularly useful:
From my Monday-morning-quarterback armchair I will note that it would have been prudent to have a paragraph in the complaint saying something like "the Neighbor Defendants are named solely as required by Illinois law as potential parties of record to the administrative hearing, and no relief is sought specifically from them." It also would have been prudent to have an advance media strategy when this hit; a furor about SLAPPs was predictable. Nobody's perfect.
The probabilities are that one of these 22 defendants may be looking for a new mortgage, or selling their house, or seeking financing for a business venture during the pendency of this lawsuit. The developer's suit against them will show up in the course of the lender's investigation. In a gentler time, a disclaimer such as Mr. White suggests might have been sufficient to soothe the ruffled feathers of a nervous would-be lender. It might even work in the world we live in today. It sure would be worth a try -- and it surely would be helpful to a court determining, if it ever comes to this point, whether a party was acting in good faith in naming defendants as it did.

Mr. White concludes that the peculiarities of joinder requirements under our Administrative Review Law take the 400 W. Talcott LLC case out of the category of SLAPP suit. If so, maybe some clarification of who is, or who isn't, a necessary party under §3-107 is in order. Hello, General Assembly? Meanwhile, this much is certain: this case will still be interesting to follow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Is developer SLAPPing Park Ridge residents around?

The Park Ridge Herald-Advocate reports that 22 Park Ridge residents are being sued by a developer who has so far been frustrated in its efforts to turn an abandoned auto repair shop into a four-story mixed commercial and residential development.

The locus in quo (from Google Maps)
Also named in the suit, according to Jennifer Johnson's November 6 Herald-Advocate article, are the city of Park Ridge, 1st Ward Ald. Joe Sweeney, Park Ridge City Planner Jon Branham, and the nine members of the Park Ridge Planning and Zoning Commission. The suit is pending in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County (400 W. Talcott LLC v. Argionis, 14 CH 17457).

Johnson's article says the suit has been brought to overturn the city's zoning decision. I venture no opinion on the merits of the project or the city's decision.

But Johnson's article quotes a "zoning activist," Missy Langan, who says she and the other 21 residents were sued because they exercised "their First Amendment right to speak their opinions during city proceedings." The Park Ridge city attorney is quoted in Johnson's article as telling the City Council that the developer is interpreting the Administrative Review Act, under which the developer's suit is brought, as allowing it to name anyone who appeared at the zoning hearing in opposition to the plan. For the record, Section 3-107(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure provides, in pertinent part, "Except as provided in subsection (b) or (c), in any action to review any final decision of an administrative agency, the administrative agency and all persons, other than the plaintiff, who were parties of record to the proceedings before the administrative agency shall be made defendants."

A quick search this evening of the annotations to §3-107 compiled on Lexis shows no clear support for this expansive definition of the term "parties of record," but a quick search is not exhaustive research. On the other hand, inasmuch as these residents had no authority, individually or collectively, to deny (or, for that matter, to grant) anyone's request to rezone anything, it seems unlikely that they could possibly be considered "parties of record."

But let us suppose that the 22 residents could be joined as "parties of record." They may still be entitled to dismissal -- and an award of their attorneys' fees -- under the Illinois Citizen Participation Act, 735 ILCS 110/1, et seq. Section 15 of the Act, 735 ILCS 110/15, provides:
This Act applies to any motion to dispose of a claim in a judicial proceeding on the grounds that the claim is based on, relates to, or is in response to any act or acts of the moving party in furtherance of the moving party's rights of petition, speech, association, or to otherwise participate in government.

Acts in furtherance of the constitutional rights to petition, speech, association, and participation in government are immune from liability, regardless of intent or purpose, except when not genuinely aimed at procuring favorable government action, result, or outcome.
A party who succeeds in knocking out what is often referred to as a SLAPP suit (for "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation" in government) can recover attorney's fees and costs under Section 25 of the Act, 735 ILCS 110/25.

What makes a motion to dismiss under the Citizen Participation Act different is Section 20 of the Act, 735 ILCS 110/20. Section 20 provides:
(a) On the filing of any motion as described in Section 15 [735 ILCS 110/15], a hearing and decision on the motion must occur within 90 days after notice of the motion is given to the respondent. An appellate court shall expedite any appeal or other writ, whether interlocutory or not, from a trial court order denying that motion or from a trial court's failure to rule on that motion within 90 days after that trial court order or failure to rule.

(b) Discovery shall be suspended pending a decision on the motion. However, discovery may be taken, upon leave of court for good cause shown, on the issue of whether the movants (sic) acts are not immunized from, or are not in furtherance of acts immunized from, liability by this Act.

(c) The court shall grant the motion and dismiss the judicial claim unless the court finds that the responding party has produced clear and convincing evidence that the acts of the moving party are not immunized from, or are not in furtherance of acts immunized from, liability by this Act.
This is a burden shifting provision. Typically, on a motion to dismiss, all well-pleaded facts in a complaint are assumed to be true. Here, though, the party responding to the motion must come forward with "clear and convincing evidence that the acts of the moving party are not immunized" by the Citizen Participation Act. But the Illinois Supreme Court has held that the burden does not shift unless and until the movants meet their "initial burden of proving that plaintiff's lawsuit was solely 'based on, relate[d] to, or in response to' their acts in furtherance of their rights of petition, speech or association, or to participate in government." Sandholm v. Kuecker, 2012 IL 111443, ¶56. In Samoylovich v. Montesdeoca, 2014 IL App (1st) 121545, the Appellate Court interpreted Sandholm as requiring that a movant under the Citizen Participation Act prove that the suit against him or her is "retaliatory and meritless" before the burden shift of Section 20 can be properly invoked. Of course, persons sued merely for testifying against a proposed zoning change at a zoning hearing might just clear that initial hurdle without breaking a sweat.

It may be interesting to watch this case unfold.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

James Paul Pieczonka prevails in 12th Subcircuit

I reported last night that Republican James Paul Pieczonka was ahead of Judge James Kaplan in the far north suburban 12th Subcircuit after significant returns had been reported. These figures from Cook County Clerk David Orr's website this morning confirm last night's trend.

While this outcome may come as a surprise to many FWIW readers, particularly in light of the disparity in bar association ratings between the candidates, the result is not unprecedented. In fact, when a coalition of Republicans and racial minorities in the legislature created the Cook County subcircuit system in the early 1990s, the 12th Subcircuit was envisioned as a safe haven for Republican judicial candidates. And so it proved to be until 2006, when three female Democratic candidates beat three male Republicans for the three judicial vacancies at stake that year.

No Republican has been elected from the 12th Subcircuit since, until yesterday, but, perhaps, Pieczonka's election may represent a return to historical norms. Or the result may be a fluke. Time will tell. Either way, in 2016, if there is a vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit, count on multiple candidates filing for both the Republican and Democratic primaries there.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

All retention judges appear likely to be retained

The Chicago Board of Elections website lists each retention race separately on election night; Cook County Clerk David Orr's website provides a list of the retention judge results. So this is extremely unofficial, but after 'cherry picking' results in City counts of judges who were somewhat controversial for one reason or another, and comparing these with the County results, it looks like all the retention judges will survive tonight.

It also looks like no judge will get an 80% 'yes' vote, and very few will get more than 75%. Most seem to be in the range of 70-75%.

Judge Thomas E. Flanagan, the one judge singled out for a "no" vote by the Chicago Bar Association, has a combined 72.6% "yes" vote at this point, with over 75% of the City vote counted and roughly 88% of the County vote in.

Judge Annie O'Donnell, the one judge singled out for a "no" vote by the Chicago Council of Lawyers, has a combined favorable vote of just over 70%.

The County Clerk's office reports a 40.15% voter turnout; the Chicago Board of Elections is reporting turnout of 35.10% of the City's registered voters.

Mahoney apparent victor in 4th Subcircuit, Kaplan trails Pieczonka in the 12th

There are only two judicial contests this year in Cook County (all other races being unopposed). In the race for the Billik vacancy in the 4th Subcircuit, Assistant State's Attorney John J. Mahoney appears to be significantly ahead of his Republican opponent, LaGrange attorney Ian Brenson.

Here is the latest data, lifted from Cook County Clerk David Orr's website:

Meanwhile, in the far north suburban 12th Judicial Subcircuit, Judge James Kaplan is trailing his Republican opponent, James Paul Pieczonka, by 1983 votes, according to these figures from the Cook County Clerk's website:

There are not that many votes left yet to be counted in these contests.

Jean Margaret Cocozza appointed to Love vacancy

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Judge Jean Margaret Cocozza to the countywide vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge Noreen Valeria Love. The appointment is effective Friday, November 7 and terminates December 5, 2016.

Judge Cocozza had been serving pursuant to appointment to the Reyes vacancy. Diana Rosario faces no opposition today in her bid for that vacancy. Judge Cocozza's appointment to that vacancy will terminate Friday when she moves to the new appointment. Judge Cocozza Cocozza has been licensed in Illinois as an attorney since 1989. Prior to her 2013 appointment to the bench, Cocozza had served as a senior clerk in the chambers of Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Resources for voters looking to navigate the Cook County judicial retention ballot tomorrow

Yes, there are a lot of judges seeking retention (more than 70, including one elected Justice of the Appellate Court). That's a lot of judges. Even President Obama reportedly complained about the length of the retention ballot when he voted early.

But there are resources for voters looking for information or guidance concerning the retention judges.

Some of these prior posts on FWIW may be hepful:
To summarize, the one judge singled out as unworthy of retention by the Chicago Bar Association, Judge Thomas E. Flanagan, was deemed "qualified" by the Chicago Council of Lawyers and each of the other member bar associations of the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening. The Chicago Council of Lawyers found only one judge not qualified, Judge Annie O'Donnell. The Chicago Tribune follows the lead of the Chicago Council of Lawyers on the retention ballot, urging a "no" vote only on Judge O'Donnell. Several of the Alliance groups rated one or more judges as not qualified for retention (the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago urges six "no" votes, the most of any Alliance group -- see the "grids" post) but any judge rated not qualified by one or more Alliance groups was rated qualified by the CBA. The majority of judges on the retention ballot are rated qualified by each and every evaluating bar group.

Other voter resources. The retention judges also have their own website. You will find there a linked list of all jurists seeking retention. As of October 18, many of those links provided biographical information, pictures or .pdf resumes. To wit:
The Illinois Civil Justice League released its ratings of Cook County retention hopefuls on October 21 on its IllinoisJudges.net site. The ICJL rated retention candidates as Highly Recommended, Recommended, No Position, or Not Recommended. According to ICJL President Ed Murnane, the "No Position" rating was assigned to candidates or judges "who did not return our questionnaire and/or their candidacy left us insufficient information to assign a rating." The ICJL rated candidates "Not Recommended" if, in the opinion of that organization, there were "questions about the integrity, impartiality, fairness, or conduct of the candidate, judge, or their campaign." According to Murnane, judges earned a "Recommended" rating if they "demonstrated a satisfactory level of competency in regards to their legal and/or judicial careers, and/or who have demonstrated their commitment to educating the voters about their background, experience and viewpoints on the judicial system." The "Highly Recommended" rating was reserved, according to Murnane, for "judges who have demonstrated a high level of competency based on those criteria."

The ICJL gave "Highly Recommended" ratings to four Cook County Circuit Court judges, Gregory Wojkowski, Themis Karzenis, Lewis Nixon, and Donna Cooper. Justice Thomas Hoffman received a "Recommended" rating from the ICJL in his bid to be retained on the Illinois Appellate Court.

Here is the complete ICJL list of Cook County Circuit Court judges as published this morning in its daily newsletter:
Assigned to the Appellate Court:
Michael Hyman – Recommended
Robert Gordon – No Position
Mary Anne Mason – No Position

Assigned to the Law Division:
Joan Powell – Recommended
Eileen [O'Neill] Burke – Recommended
Patrick Sherlock – Not Recommended
Eileen Brewer – No Position
James O’Hara – Not Recommended
Margaret Brennan – Not Recommended
Janet Brosnahan – Recommended
Lynn Egan – Recommended
Gregory Wojkowski – Highly Recommended
James Flannery – No Position
Thomas Lipscomb – Recommended
Themis Karnezis – Highly Recommended
Thomas Flanagan – No Position

Assigned to the Chancery Division:
Lewis Nixon – Highly Recommended
Kathleen Kennedy – Recommended
Rodolfo Garcia – No Position

Assigned to the Probate Division:
Mary Ellen Coghlan – Recommended
Ann Collins-Dole – Recommended
Kathleen McGury – Recommended
John Fleming – Recommended
James Riley – Recommended

Assigned to the County Division:
Edmund Ponce de Leon – Recommended
Margarita Kulys Hoffman – Recommended

Assigned to the Domestic Violence Division:
Diana Kenworthy – Recommended
Ursula Walowski – Recommended
Sebastian Patti – Recommended

Assigned to the Domestic Relations Division:
Debra Walker – Recommended
Raul Vega – Recommended

Assigned to the Criminal Division:
Diane Gordon Cannon – Recommended
William Lacy – Recommended
Clayton Crane – Recommended
Kenneth Wadas – Recommended
Evelyn Clay – Recommended
Thomas Byrne – Recommended
Rickey Jones – Recommended
Mauricio Araujo – Recommended

Assigned to the Juvenile Justice Division:
Donna Cooper – Highly Recommended

Assigned to the First Municipal District:
Anita Rivkin-Carothers – Recommended
Jackie Portman – Recommended

Assigned to the Second Municipal District:
Shelley Sutker-Dermer – Recommended

Assigned to the Fourth Municipal District:
Kristyna Ryan – Recommended

Assigned to the Fifth Municipal District:
Patrick Rogers – Recommended
Peter Felice – Recommended

Assigned to the Sixth Municipal District:
James Rhodes – Recommended
Anna Demacopoulos – Recommended
Frank Zelzinski – Recommended
The IVI-IPO has also recommended several Circuit Court judges seeking retention for a "yes" vote. The IVI-IPO has not announced that it opposes any judicial retention bid; it has merely endorsed some, but not all, of the Circuit Court judges seeking retention. The retention candidates singled out by the IVI-IPO are:
  • Ann Collins Dole
  • Anna H. Demacopoulos
  • Clayton J. Crane
  • Debra Walker
  • Diana Kenworthy
  • Donna Cooper
  • Edmund Ponce de Leon
  • Edward A. Arce
  • Eileen Brewer
  • Eileen O'Neill Burke
  • Evelyn B. Clay
  • Jackie Marie Portman
  • James P. Flannery, Jr.
  • James Rhodes
  • Kathleen Kennedy
  • Kathleen McGury
  • Kenneth J. Wadas
  • Kristyna C. Ryan
  • Lewis Nixon
  • Lynn M. Egan
  • Marilyn F. Johnson
  • Marjorie C. Laws
  • Mary Anne Mason
  • Mauricio Araujo
  • Michael B. Hyman
  • Raul Vega
  • Rickey Jones
  • Robert E. Gordon
  • Sebastian Thomas Patti
  • Thomas J. Lipscomb
  • Ursula Walowski
  • William Lacy

FOP urges "no" vote on retention bid of Judge Anita Rivkin-Carothers

I saw it first on the often profane but usually informative police blog, Second City Cop. In addition to urging a "no" vote on all retention judges, in the linked October 31 post the proprietor or proprietors of Second City Cop singled out Judge Anita Rivkin-Carothers. It turns out that Chicago Lodge 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police (hardly an ally of Second City Cop) put up a post encouraging votes against Judge Rivkin-Carothers on October 30. From the FOP post:
When you vote on November 4th, you will see a Judge that must not be re-elected. You may know her as Anita Rivkin-Carothers and she is known as the “Gang Lawyer”.

Anita Rivkin-Carothers defended cop-killer Murray Blue years ago, who murdered Officer Daniel Doffyn and injured Officer Milan “Mike” Bubalo. Rivkin-Carothers said during opening statements that she intends to prove that Doffyn was accidentally shot by his partner during a frantic moment of gunfire. Rivkin-Carothers went on to say that after the shooting, investigators, including the chief administrator of the police department’s Office of Professional Standards, got together and filed a false report in which they blamed Blue.

Ballistics reports showed the bullets that struck Doffyn came from Blue’s Tec-9 automatic machine pistol.

She remains openly hostile to officers who come before her.
The bar associations have made a more favorable assessment of Judge Rivkin-Carothers' qualifications for retention. Judge Rivkin-Carothers has been rated "Qualified" for retention by the Chicago Bar Association. The CBA states:
Judge Anita Rivkin-Carothers is “QUALIFIED” for retention as a Circuit Court Judge. Judge Rivkin-Carothers was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1985. Judge Rivkin-Carothers served as an Assistant Cook County Public Defender from 1985-1987 before entering private practice. Judge Rivkin-Carothers was appointed to the Circuit Court in 2007 and elected a Circuit Court Judge in 2008 and is currently assigned to a trial call in the First Municipal District. Judge Rivkin-Carothers has a fine demeanor and is well regarded by the lawyers who appear before her.
The Chicago Council of Lawyers has also rated Judge Rivkin-Carothers as "Qualified" for retention. The Council states:
Prior to becoming a judge, Anita Rivkin-Carothers was in private practice between 1987 and 2007 doing complex criminal defense litigation.. She also for several years as an Assistant Cook County Public Defender in the felony trial division. Judge Rivkin-Carothers is currently sitting at the First Municipal District where she presides over bodily injury and property damage jury trials. Judge Rivkin-Carothers is considered to have good legal ability. She is praised for her temperament and for being respectful of all parties appearing before her. She is reportedly fair to parties and is knowledgeable about the law. The Council finds her Qualified for retention.
Each of the other member bar associations of the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening has found Judge Rivkin-Carothers qualified for retention as well.

Judge Rivkin-Carothers was also rated recommended for retention by the Illinois Civil Justice League.

Election Day Tomorrow: Information here today for voters in Cook County Judicial Subcircuits 4 and 12

Voters looking for information about races for Appellate Court, countywide Circuit Court, or subcircuit vacancies in all Cook County subcircuits except the 4th and 12th should know that there are no races. All countywide judicial races were decided in the March Democratic primary. The Democratic primary also determined the winners of tomorrow's uncontested subcircuit races with three exceptions. In the far northwest suburban 13th Subcircuit, the Republican primary determined the sole candidate for that vacancy. Only in the race for one of the two 4th Subcircuit vacancies (the Billik vacancy) and in the 12th Subcircuit are there two candidates vying for your votes. Here is information you may find helpful in determining who should get your vote in those races:

12th Subcircuit

James L. Kaplan -- #80

Campaign Website

Candidate Statements: James L. Kaplan: In his own words, Cook County Clerk's website

Video Interview: NTNM

Bar Association Evaluations
The Chicago Bar Association says:
Judge James L. Kaplan is “Qualified” for the office of Circuit Court Judge. Judge Kaplan was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1971 and was appointed to the Circuit Court in 2010. Judge Kaplan is thoughtful, possesses a good demeanor, and has performed well on the bench.
The Chicago Council of Lawyers says:
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.
Other Bar Association Evaluations:
Asian American Bar Association of the
Greater Chicago Area
Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater ChicagoRecommended
Cook County Bar AssociationRecommended
Decalogue Society of LawyersRecommended
Hellenic Bar AssociationRecommended
Hispanic Lawyers Association of IllinoisQualified
Illinois State Bar AssociationQualified
Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of ChicagoRecommended
Puerto Rican Bar Association of IllinoisRecommended
Women’s Bar Association of IllinoisRecommended

Chicago Tribune
Cong. Jan Schakowsky


James Paul Pieczonka -- #81

Campaign Website

Candidate Statemen:t Cook County Clerk's website

Bar Association Evaluations
The Chicago Bar Association says:
James Pieczonka is “Not Recommended” for the office of Circuit Court Judge. Mr. Pieczonka was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1983 and is currently a solo practitioner concentrating in Taxation, Real Estate and Condominium Law. Mr. Pieczonka’s practice and court experience is limited. Mr. Pieczonka held a real estate broker’s license from 2004-2007 and was actively involved as a broker during this period. The candidate owns a number of properties that are currently in foreclosure and is personally involved in several residual court actions. Mr. Pieczonka needs to gain additional practice experience and resolve these financial responsibility concerns before reapplying to serve as a Circuit Court Judge.
The Chicago Council of Lawyers says:
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.
Other Bar Association Evaluations:
Asian American Bar Association of the
Greater Chicago Area
Not Qualified
Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater ChicagoNot Recommended
Cook County Bar AssociationNot Recommended
Decalogue Society of LawyersNot Recommended
Hellenic Bar AssociationNot Recommended
Hispanic Lawyers Association of IllinoisQualified
Illinois State Bar AssociationNot Qualified
Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of ChicagoNot Recommended
Puerto Rican Bar Association of IllinoisNot Recommended
Women’s Bar Association of IllinoisNot Recommended


4th Subcircuit

John J. Mahoney -- #80

Campaign Website

Bar Association Evaluations
The Chicago Bar Association says:
John J. Mahoney is “Highly Qualified” for the office of Circuit Court Judge. Mr. Mahoney was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1984 and is currently serving as Deputy Supervisor of the Public Corruption and Financial Crimes Unit of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Mr. Mahoney has extensive criminal trial experience and has handled many complex cases. Mr. Mahoney is well regarded for his knowledge of the law, legal ability, fine demeanor, and temperament.
The Chicago Council of Lawyers says:
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.
Other Bar Association Evaluations:
Asian American Bar Association of the
Greater Chicago Area
Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater ChicagoRecommended
Cook County Bar AssociationNot Recommended
Decalogue Society of LawyersHighly Recommended
Hellenic Bar AssociationRecommended
Hispanic Lawyers Association of IllinoisHighly Qualified
Illinois State Bar AssociationHighly Qualified
Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of ChicagoRecommended
Puerto Rican Bar Association of IllinoisHighly Recommended
Women’s Bar Association of IllinoisRecommended

Chicago Tribune

Ian Brenson -- #81

Campaign Website

Bar Association Evaluations
The Chicago Bar Association says:
Ian Brenson is “Qualified” for the office of Circuit Court Judge. Mr. Brenson was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1989 and is a sole practitioner concentrating in general litigation, business law, and appellate practice. While Mr. Brenson has limited jury trial experience, he possesses the requisite legal knowledge, temperament, and ability to serve as a Circuit Court Judge.
The Chicago Council of Lawyers says:
Ian Brenson did not participate in the March 2014 Primary Election, but will appear on the ballot in the November 2014 general election. The Council did not evaluate him for the Circuit Court.
Other Bar Association Evaluations:
Asian American Bar Association of the
Greater Chicago Area
Not Rated
Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater ChicagoNot Evaluated
Cook County Bar AssociationNot Evaluated
Decalogue Society of LawyersNot Evaluated
Hellenic Bar AssociationNot Rated
Hispanic Lawyers Association of IllinoisNot Rated
Illinois State Bar AssociationNot Rated
Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of ChicagoNot Evaluated
Puerto Rican Bar Association of IllinoisNot Rated
Women’s Bar Association of IllinoisNot Rated