Monday, November 30, 2015

7th Subcircuit race getting crowded, other last-day filings

Christopher J. Stuart
There are three new candidates for the Rivkin-Carothers vacancy in Cook County's 7th Judicial Subcircuit as of mid-afternoon.

Judge Patricia "Pat" S. Spratt filed for this vacancy last Monday (she holds this seat pursuant to Supreme Court appointment), as did Brian J. O'Hara (who also filed for the countywide Karzenis vacancy).

Jennifer Ballard
Today, Spratt and O'Hara were joined in this subcircuit race by Christopher J. Stuart (that's a link to his Facebook campaign page; his campaign website is still under construction), Hinshaw & Culbertson partner Jennifer Ballard (that's a link to her campaign website; a link has been added to the blog Sidebar), and Mable Taylor (who ran for 7th Subcircuit vacancies in 2012 and 2014, getting knocked off the ballot in 2014). Ballard is the candidate slated by the Democratic Party in this race; she has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2008.

As expected, Travis Richardson filed for the 2nd Subcircuit vacancy this afternoon. Three others filed in this race last Monday: D. Renee Jackson, Celeste Jones, and Chelsey R. Robinson.

Judge Ketki "Kay" Steffen has filed as the sole Democratic candidate in the heavily Republican 13th Subcircuit.

Lisa Copland filed for the Hopkins vacancy in the 1st Subcircuit this afternoon. Her two opponents in this race are Judge Anthony E. Simpkins and Rhonda Crawford. (I've just found Crawford's campaign website; there is a link in the preceding sentence and the site has also been added to the blog Sidebar).

There will presumably be other filings later this afternoon -- as close to close of business as the ISBE will permit. Those in line when the ISBE shuts its doors this afternoon will be eligible for a special lottery for the last place on the ballot. In a crowded field, according to widely held belief, first place is preferable, but last place is almost as good.


Albert said...

It may be widely believed, but when I tested and measured it I found no benefit to it at all. That's in contrast to a significant benefit for the first position that I found in nearly all jurisdictions.

Liz said...

Perhaps you should check the accuracy of the information listed for candidate Jennifer Ballard in the 7th judicial subcircuit. The Cool County Democratic Party chairman has indicated that there was no endorsement of a candidate in that race. It is not surprising that this misrepresentation should appear. Her qualifications for the position of judge are lacking based on her limited experience as an attorney and litigator.

Jack Leyhane said...

Liz -- I make as many mistakes as anybody. Sometimes I'm afraid I make more than most -- but I stand by my October 16 post announcing the slating of Ms. Ballard and Judge Jackson. I even had two sources on this one -- an email from Deborah Graham and a comment on (on this October 15 post) from E.P. (E.P.'s comments have a decided edge... but E.P. been pretty accurate in this election cycle so far -- and, again, I waited for the additional confirmation before running with the post). If something has changed since, no one has told me.

On the other hand, Liz, if you want to tell me that some of the Committeemen who supposedly gave Ms. Ballard their unanimous support actually did so with fingers crossed, I can't dispute you. It certainly happens.

That might account, at least in part, for the proliferation of candidates in the race for the Rivkin-Carothers vacancy.

I suspect another reason that this race has drawn so many candidates is that (assuming that Ms. Ballard was indeed slated) her opponents see the slated candidate as significantly flawed.

Ballard is unlikely to be rated as recommended or qualified by any of the many bar associations that evaluate judicial candidates -- most, if not all, of the bar associations that screen judicial candidates require 10 or even 12 years of legal practice before they will even consider giving a favorable rating. Jennifer Ballard was first licensed in Illinois in 2008. Ballard is the Chair of the WBAI Public Office Committee; I am certain that she is keenly aware that, if she does automatically receive 100% negative ratings, she could easily become the poster-child for some TV expose about "unqualified" candidates. It was WGN in the last election cycle. Who knows who it will be this time? Channel 5 looks like the most likely candidate -- it has already run one report partnering with a group called Injustice Watch. (Rick Tulsky, who was involved with Medill Watchdog and, through that, with the earlier WGN series, is involved with this new group. I haven't yet been able to find a new email address for him; his old Northwestern University email is disconnected.)

On the other hand, Jennifer Ballard is a partner (if newly minted) at Hinshaw & Culbertson. I don't know Ms. Ballard from Adam (or Eve) but I have known a lot of attorneys who are or who have been affiliated with Hinshaw over the years. It has always been a quality shop. I'm certain that Ballard is, on this basis alone, far better qualified for the bench than many -- most? -- other candidates who have suffered strongly negative ratings, even at this early stage of her career. I happen to think that time 'in harness' makes one a better judicial candidate -- but that's a prejudice I've accumulated along with gray, thinning hair. If I had been given a similar opportunity to run as a slated candidate, at a similar stage in my career, even though my time-in-service would likely disqualify me from any positive ratings, I probably would have made the same decision that Ms. Ballard has: Run. Who knows when, or if, another opportunity may arise?

Still, the likely negative ratings (note I am not saying that all Ballard's ratings will be negative -- I have given up prophecy) creates an impression of blood-in-the-water. It should be no surprise that so many candidates have filed in this same race.