Monday, August 31, 2015

Joint fundraiser for Judges Gillespie and Martin set for September 17

Per email received from attorney Charles Beach, a fundraiser has been scheduled to support the judicial bids of both Judge Aleksandra Gillespie (running countywide) and Judge Marc Martin (running in the 11th Subcircuit) on Thursday, September 17, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at 312 Chicago, 136 North LaSalle Street.

Tickets for the event are $150 each and may be obtained at the door; no RSVP is necessary, according to Beach, who also advises that he will co-host the event along with attorneys Todd Pugh, Tom Breen, and Donna Rotunno.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Campaign website found for Judge Anthony Simpkins

Found on the Internet, the campaign website of Judge Anthony E. Simpkins. That's a link to the campaign site in the preceding sentence; a link has been added to the blog Sidebar.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1994, Simpkins was appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court late last year. According to the campaign website, Simpkins became a Deputy Commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development in 2007, "focusing on housing preservation initiatives and economic development policy." For a decade before that, Simpkins was an Assistant Corporation Counsel, serving as Senior Counsel in the Building & Land Use Litigation Division.

According to his campaign website, Simpkins has served as a board member and past-president of the Muslim Bar Association of Chicago and as a board member of the Cook County Bar Association. Simpkins also serves as a Board member of the Downtown Islamic Center, the RTW Veterans Center, and as Managing Editor of the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture.

Ahmad, Simpkins slated for judicial posts in 1st Judicial Subcircuit

Judge Maryam Ahmad announced today on Facebook that she has been "officially endorsed today by the Cook County Democratic Party as its candidate" for the Brim vacancy and that her colleague, Judge Anthony E. Simpkins, was endorsed by the Party for the Hopkins vacancy.

John Fitzgerald Lyke campaign website launched

A campaign website for Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke, Jr. has now gone live. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

According to his campaign website, Judge Lyke is a lifelong Chicago-area resident, raised on the South Side of Chicago, "in the Robert Taylor housing project and Englewood communities." While growing up "poor and the youngest and only son of a single-mother of six," Lyke "dreamed of becoming a lawyer and ultimately a judge." Lyke was licensed as an attorney in Illinois in 1994. He was appointed to the countywide Biebel vacancy just this past July; this month he was slated by the Cook County Democratic Party for a countywide judicial post.

Lyke's campaign website notes that, before becoming a judge, he tried "over 500 cases, argued thousands of motions and negotiated thousands of settlements. He served as prosecutor for approximately six years and a criminal defense attorney for 15 years thereafter. Thus, Lyke writes, "I’ve been on both 'sides of the fence.'" Lyke also served as an Administrative Law Judge for the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Licensing before his bench appointment, according to his campaign website.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Aleksandra Gillespie campaign website goes live

Supporters of Judge Aleksandra Gillespie's bid to retain her countywide judgeship have launched a campaign website for their candidate. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Gillespie to the countywide Howlett vacancy in August 2014; the Cook County Democratic Party recently slated her for a countywide seat.

Gillespie has been licensed as an attorney since 1993. Before becoming a judge, Gillespie served as an Assistant Cook County State's Attorney, rising to a first chair trial position. According to her campaign website, Gillespie worked at the Second Municipal District Courthouse in Skokie, "litigating motions and trials, negotiating all pleas, educating, supervising and mentoring junior members of the litigation team." Outside the courtroom, Judge Gillespie has, according to her campaign website, been active in church, school and youth hockey programs (Gillespie and her husband are the parents of two sons). According to her campaign website, Gillespie has also participated in "community outreach and educational programs" and provided "educational guidance to law enforcement."

Friday, August 28, 2015

Brendan O'Brien fundraiser set for September 30

Supporters of Brendan O'Brien's countywide judicial bid have announced a fundraiser for their candidate on Wednesday, September 30, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Rosebud Theater District, 70 West Madison Street.

Powers Rogers & Smith, P.C. and Hurley McKenna & Mertz P.C. are hosting the event.

The suggested donation for the fundraiser is $100 per person, although $500 sponsorships are available.

For more information, or to reserve tickets, email

O'Brien was recently slated for a countywide judicial seat by the Cook County Democratic Party.

Updated August 29 to provide a different end time for the event per subsequent information received.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Alison Conlon campaign website goes on line

Per email received from Thom Mannard, a campaign website has been established for Judge Alison Conlon. That's a link to the website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Judge Conlon was appointed to the countywide Hogan vacancy earlier this year; earlier this month, the Cook County Democratic Party agreed to support her countywide judicial bid.

Conlon's campaign website notes her extensive pro bono practice before becoming a judge. "Since her appointment to the bench," the campaign website notes, "in addition to her regular judicial duties [Conlon] has volunteered each week in the 'flexible hours' court for parties who are not represented by lawyers, enabling parties to appear before or after hours between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. or 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. to avoid missing work."

Conlon graduated from New Trier High School and got her bachelor's degree from Yale University. She received a master’s degree from Georgetown University and her law degree from Duke Law School. She began her legal career as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras. She later served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel. Colon was a partner in the firm of Barnes & Thornburg at the time of her appointment to the bench where, according to her campaign website, "she represented people, businesses, cities and villages in commercial and tort litigation."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Patricia S. Spratt appointed to 7th Subcircuit vacancy

The Illinois Supreme Court yesterday named Patricia S. Spratt to fill the 7th Subcircuit vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge Anita Rivkin-Carothers. The appointment is effective September 8 and terminates on December 5, 2016.

Spratt is a currently partner in the Chicago office of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP; she has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1991. She was a candidate for the countywide Neville vacancy in 2014, winning endorsements from the Tribune and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky along the way.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Campaign website found for Judge Marc Martin

A campaign website has been launched for Judge Marc Martin. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence; a link has been added to the blog Sidebar.

Martin's campaign bio highlights his experience as a criminal defense attorney, noting his participation "in numerous high-profile cases and trials (e.g., R. Kelly, Conrad Black, R.J. Vanecko, and cases arising from the federal government’s Greylord, Gambat and Family Secrets investigations)." According to his campaign website, Martin has briefed or argued over 100 cases before the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals -- more than 50 cases before the 7th Circuit alone.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Martin to the Kelly vacancy in the 11th Subcircuit in the Spring of 2014.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ed Underhill announces 6th Subcircuit judicial bid; campaign website launched

Ed Underhill has announced his candidacy for judge in the 6th Subcircuit. That's a link to Underhill's campaign website in the preceding sentence (it has just gone live); a link has been added to the blog Sidebar as well.

Underhill has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1984. He is a principal in the Chicago office of Masuda Funai. His work biography highlights his practice in "intellectual-property disputes, contract disputes, UCC disputes (including commercial warranty claims), dealer terminations, unfair competition, business torts, and limited non-commercial claims." It also states that Underhill has developed a significant ADR practice, representing clients in mediations and arbitrations. The work biography adds that Underhill is a "published playwright and short story writer," winning the Chicago Lawyer Fiction Contest in 1986. Underhill has also been "a finalist in various national fiction writing competitions," according to his work bio.

Underhill's campaign website notes that he has been a homeowner in the Bucktown neighborhood for 15 years (he lives with his husband, Liam, and their dog Finn, according to the website) and has been active in the Bucktown Community Organization. Also according to his campaign website, Underhill has served as a member of the Chicago Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Committee and is a former president of the Northern Illinois University Alumni Council.

FWIW tops 1,000,000 page views

It happened sometime last night.

Here is how matters stood when I left the office last evening:

And here is how things looked when I signed on this morning:

Fellow bloggers will understand the near-obsessive concern with stats; that means 99% of my regular readers will respond with a hearty who cares?

Still, you have to admit, a million seems like a nice, round number. It even gives a blog a certain weight of authority or gravitas, occasional posts like this one notwithstanding.

I would think the achievement even more substantial were I not persuaded (by the comments I've intercepted in comment moderation) that thousands of these one-million-plus page views were initiated by shady characters looking to place spam ads for sex toys or knockoff fashion goods. Of course, since I delete all those comments, you need never know about these.


Well, anyway, most of the people arriving here at FWIW are looking for information about Cook County judicial races -- candidates, lawyers thinking about becoming candidates, judges, campaign consultants, and (when election time draws near) actual voters, at least some of whom must think that FWIW is a resource for making informed decisions on judicial candidates. So, that's good. I think.

Page Two of this blog is not nearly as popular as this one (not quite 85,000 page views according to the stats page). But that's hardly surprising, since Page Two isn't updated that frequently, except at the height of the election seasons, and the content there is not only irregular, but eclectic.

In any event, thank you for visiting FWIW. Now, onward to our 2,000,000th page view....

Thursday, August 20, 2015

William B. Sullivan campaign website, September 10 fundraiser announced

Supporters of Judge William B. Sullivan have launched a campaign website and scheduled a September 10 fundraiser for their candidate. That's a link to the campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

The Thursday, September 10 fundraiser for Judge Sullivan will be at FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres will be available. Tickets are $100 each and sponsorships are available as well ($250 - bronze, $500 - silver, $1,000 - gold, and $5,000 platinum). For additional information about the event, or to order tickets, email

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Sullivan to the Zwick vacancy in the 11th Subcircuit this past April (he took office in June). His campaign website notes that he is a 1984 graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School, and a 1989 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Music and History. Sullivan attended DePaul University Law School, where, according to the campaign site, "he was the founder and two-time editor-in-chief of the DePaul Journal of Art, Technology, and Intellectual Property Law (formerly known as the DePaul Journal of Art and Entertainment Law)."

After graduating from DePaul in 1992, Sullivan set up a solo law practice in Oak Park where, according to his campaign biography, he practiced in the areas "real estate, bank and business transactions, estate planning, commercial litigation, personal injury, landlord-tenant disputes, and probate and estate administration" until he was appointed to the bench. Sullivan was also a licensed real estate broker and operated a real estate brokerage firm from 1998 to the date of his judicial installation.

According to his campaign website, Sullivan has also worked as an Adjunct Professor at DePaul University College of Law and as a Hearing Officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections. He was "twice elected President of the Cicero Township Trustees of Schools, an entity that collected, invested and distributed tax monies on behalf of Oak Park, Berwyn, and Cicero schools." Sullivan has served as co-founder and president of the Oak Park and River Forest High School Alumni Association; vice president of the Oak Park Area Arts Council; president of the Oak Park Huskies Baseball Club, Inc.; and as a member of the Board of Directors of L’Arche Chicago, a not-for-profit social services organization, and the Oak Park Township Senior Services Committee. He has also volunteered as a coach with the Oak Park Youth Baseball program and serves as a cantor and lector at St. Catherine of Siena–St. Lucy Parish.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cook County Dems slate six sitting judges for eight Circuit Court vacancies; Lampkin and Burke slated for the Appellate Court

The Cook County Democratic Party today endorsed six of the eight judges already serving by Supreme Court appointment for countywide vacancies in the March primary. Although the Democratic Party has not announced whether these six judges have been endorsed for the vacancies they currently fill, the six appointed judges receiving the Democratic Party's blessing are:
  • Alison Conlon,
  • Daniel Patrick Duffy,
  • Rossana Fernandez,
  • Alexandra Gillespie,
  • John Fitzgerald Lyke, Jr., and
  • Devlin Joseph Schoop.
The Party endorsed Brendan O'Brien and Maureen O'Donoghue Hannon for the other two countywide vacancies. O'Brien filed for a countywide vacancy in the 2014 primary, withdrawing in January 2014 and leaving the Democratic Party's slated candidate (and eventual victor) Kristal Rivers in a one-on-one with appointed Judge Peter J. Vilkelis. (Vilkelis was subsequently named an Associate Judge.) Hannon was also a candidate in the 2014 election cycle, also withdrawing in January 2014 and leaving the Democratic Party's slated candidate (and the eventual victor) Diana Rosario in a one-on-one contest with Stephen J. Feldman.

Five alternates were also chosen -- meaning that, when and if additional countywide vacancies open up (assuming that the alternate does not run against the Party's slate in the meantime) these individuals are already 'pre-slated.' The five alternates, in order, are Fredrick Bates, Sean Chaudhuri, Patrick Heneghan, Nichole Patton, and Peter Michael Gonzalez.

The two appointed countywide Circuit Court judges who did not receive the endorsement of the Democratic Party are Judges Jean Margaret Cocozza and James L. Kaplan. According to Manuel Galvan, press secretary for the Cook County Democratic Party, neither Judge Cocozza nor Judge Kaplan scheduled an appearance before the slating committee.

There are currently two Appellate Court vacancies. Justice Bertina Lampkin holds one of these by Supreme Court appointment; the other is held by Justice Stuart E. Palmer. Justice Lampkin was slated today by the Cook County Democratic Party for one of these two vacancies, as was Circuit Court Judge Eileen O'Neill Burke. Three alternates were also selected. In order, these are Associate Judge William Boyd, Judge Raul Vega, and Associate Judge Leonard Murray. Justice Palmer did not schedule an appearance before the slating committee, according to Galvan.

Reality intrudes -- a programming note

Two years ago, with the Cook County Democratic Party's slating meeting at the Hotel Allegro, steps from my office, and steps from the Daley Center, I was able to sit in and observe as much as of the judicial slating process as any outsider could. I had one matter to cover in the course of the two-day session, and I was able to run to court and run back without missing much of anything.

This year, however,the slating meeting, which began yesterday, is at the Erie Cafe, on the west end of the River North area. Neither my office nor the Daley Center has moved, and I have too much on my desk to permit me the luxury of attending.

It would be one thing if there were useful, productive legal work on my desk. After all, the practice of law is my day job -- this blogging enterprise may be fun for me and informative for my readers, but blogging won't pay my bills.

But the truth is, the red-hot, five-alarm emergencies on my desk are mostly discovery matters.

The discovery matters on my desk break down into two categories -- (1) needless and pointless form discovery and (2) discovery deployed as a "tactical game," notwithstanding the Supreme Court's admonition against that sort of thing in Williams v. A.E. Staley Mfg. Co., 83 Ill.2d 559, 416 N.E.2d 252, 256 (1981).

Of course, since 1981, the Supreme Court has gone into the business of prescribing form discovery....

There was one time, back in the early 1980s, when I personally saw something in discovery that dramatically impacted the outcome of a case: I was the junior associate in my firm, tasked with slogging through the medical records subpoenaed in a personal injury case, when I came across a nurse's note recounting how hospital security had to be dispatched to fetch back the supposedly-seriously-injured patient-now-plaintiff who'd slipped away from his bed... and into a nearby tavern.

I haven't seen anything half as good since. And I've seen far too many discovery requests and responses and piles and piles of subpoenaed records.

As a solo practitioner, I'm still looking. I have to: I have no junior associates or paralegals on whom to dump the thankless task of completing form discovery responses. So, while I'm very grateful for the uptick in paying legal work, my current caseload (in my experience, the mix changes over time) includes a lot of litigation matters, all in the discovery phase. Because I have to do the discovery myself I see first-hand the effect that "discovery" of things already known and/or really unimportant to the disposition of a case has on the cost of litigation. Discovery deployed as a tactical weapon is even more costly -- and injurious to our stated professional goals of civility and access to justice.

But these are issues to take up when the workload permits.

Meanwhile, I've had some rumors from inside the slating meeting about who will be on the list when the list is announced -- but no one, as yet, has volunteered to go 'on the record.'

When I have some results to report, I will do so.

But, for now, however, reality intrudes, and I have discovery issues to which I must attend.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Illinois Judges Foundation Summer Reception set for August 26

The Illinois Judges Foundation, the charitable arm of the Illinois Judges Association, will host its Summer Reception on Wednesday, August 26, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Corboy Hall at the Chicago Bar Association building, 321 S. Plymouth Court.

Proceeds from the reception support the charitable and educational programs of the Illinois Judges Association, including in particular the Harold Sullivan Scholarship. Headlining the event will be Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis, Seventh Circuit Chief Judge Diane Wood, and Lake County Chief Judge John T. Phillips. This year's Harold Sullivan Scholarship recipients (Stephanie Wiggins of the NIU School of Law, Shymane Baker of the John Marshall Law School, and Tolani Odutayo, of the University of Illinois Law School) will also be honored.

Refreshments will be served.

Tickets for the event are $100 apiece and can be purchased online or by calling Christine Athanasoulis at (708) 705-4355.

Persons interested in becoming a sponsor of the event should contact either Kevin Fagan at or Christine Athanasoulis.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Nichole C. Patton planning 2016 judicial bid?

Nichole C. Patton has a Facebook page announcing her plans to run for Cook County Circuit Court judge in the March 2016 primary. That's a link to the Facebook page in the preceding sentence; there is as yet no campaign website that I can find (the website link on the Facebook page is not active). When there is a campaign website, I'll add it to the blog Sidebar.

Patton filed for the Appellate Court in the 2014 Primary, but withdrew. She ran for the Circuit Court countywide in 2012, and from the 15th Subcircuit in 2010.

Patton is an Assistant State's Attorney. She has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1997.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Who sits where -- I can't believe it's already August edition

Petitions can begin circulating a month from today. The Cook County Democratic Party will meet to formally choose its judicial slate on August 18 and 19.

So it's time, again, to update the list of known Cook County judicial vacancies. Generally, these are vacancies that have been filled by interim Supreme Court appointment (or in which appointment processes are underway). There are surely other vacancies which the Supreme Court has not filled (there are rumored to be three vacancies in the 6th Subcircuit, for example, but below you will see listed only two). There will be additional vacancies, and additional appointments between now and late fall when the Illinois State Board of Elections posts an authoritative list of judicial vacancies in anticipation of the 2016 primary (a preliminary list of vacancies should go up on the ISBE website sometime this month).

As always, errors or omissions in this list are mine alone and I am grateful for additions and corrections provided.

Appellate Court Vacancies

Vacancy of the Hon. James R. Epstein -- Stuart E. Palmer
Vacancy of the Hon. Patrick J. Quinn -- Bertina E. Lampkin

Countywide Vacancies

Vacancy of the Hon. Paul P. Biebel, Jr. -- John Fitzgerald Lyke, Jr.
Vacancy of the Hon. Richard J. Elrod -- Rossana P. Fernandez
Vacancy of the Hon. Thomas L. Hogan -- Alison Conlon
Vacancy of the Hon. Michael J. Howlett, Jr. -- Aleksandra Nikolich Gillespie
Vacancy of the Hon. Themis N. Karzenis -- Devlin J. Schoop
Vacancy of the Hon. Noreen Valeria Love -- Jean Margaret Cocozza
Vacancy of the Hon. Patrick W. O'Brien -- James L. Kaplan
Vacancy of the Hon. Susan Ruscitti-Grussel -- Daniel P. Duffy

Subcircuit Vacancies

1st Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Cynthia Y. Brim -- Maryam Ahmad
Vacancy of the Hon. Vanessa A. Hopkins -- Anthony E. Simpkins

4th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. William J. Kunkle -- Edward John King

5th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Jane L. Stuart -- Freddrenna M. Lyle
Vacancy of the Hon. Shelli Williams-Hayes -- Robin D. Shoffner

6th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Leida J. Gonzalez Santiago -- vacant
"A" Vacancy* -- Anna M. Loftus

7th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Anthony L. Burrell -- Marianne Jackson

9th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Andrew Berman -- Jerry A. Esrig

10th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Garritt E. Howard -- Eve M. Reilly

11th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Carol A. Kelly -- Marc William Martin
Vacancy of the Hon. Susan F. Zwick -- William B. Sullivan

12th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Sandra Tristano -- Carrie E. Hamilton
"A" Vacancy** -- Roger G. Fein

I will update this list periodically, as new vacancies are announced or filled.

A navigation tip that blog newcomers may find helpful: If you click on one of the subjects at the bottom of this post, e.g., "2016 Judicial Primary," you will get a page filled with blog posts similarly tabbed, starting with the most recent post at the top.

* This is the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge William J. Maddux. Vacancies of judges elected to city-only or suburbs-only judicial vacancies prior to the adoption of the subcircuit system in the early 1990s are assigned to subcircuits as they occur pursuant to a schedule included in the original subcircuit legislation.

** This is the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert J. Quinn. Like Judge Maddux, Judge Quinn was elected to a 'Chicago-only' Circuit Court vacancy in 1992, the last time judges were elected on a citywide or suburbs-only basis (and also the first time judges were elected from Cook County Subcircuits).

ISBE publishes 2016 Candidate Guide, Election and Campaign Finance Calendar

If you're going to play the game, you've got to know the rules.

The Illinois State Board of Elections has published the rulebooks for the current election cycle. Here is a link to the 2016 Candidate Guide. Here, too, a link to the 2016 Election and Campaign Finance Calendar (both of these are .pdf documents).

Judicial candidates can begin circulating petitions as soon as one month from today -- September 1. The regular filing period opens November 23 and closes November 30.

Nominating petitions for judicial vacancies occurring during the interval from November 9 through November 30 will be accepted from December 14 through December 21.

The ISBE has not yet posted a list of Cook County judicial vacancies -- but if this election cycle is like the last one, we can expect a list to go up sometime in August. Whenever the list does go up, it will still be subject to change if and when new vacancies are posted.