Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sometimes you gotta maintain perspective....

The post below about Clare Quish's appointment to the bench and Judge Mary Mikva's elevation to the Appellate Court drew the predictable comments about "friends and family" and "insiders," in large part because Ms. Quish served for several years as a law clerk to then-Appellate Court Justice Mary Jane Theis... and it was now-Supreme Court Justice Theis who recommended Quish's appointment by the Supreme Court.

It's not 'sour grapes' to harrumph about the prior association. Please. I am certain that there were a great many applicants for the Circuit Court appointment (Justice Theis uses a committee to screen judicial wannabes) who were at least as qualified and capable and smart as Ms. Quish. And who'd do as good a job in office, too.

On the other hand, when your sink backs up, do you call the plumber who fixed your hot water heater last year? Or do you ignore that good experience and pick a name out of the phone book? You might ask your neighbors who they've used -- and your neighbors probably know some excellent plumbers, too -- but (in Chicagoese) if you've 'got a guy,' why would you look elsewhere?

Human nature is hard to overcome. We tend to rely on those we know, those we've met before, those with whom we have some 'history.' (This, I think, is the true value of diversity programs -- these help us meet people we'd not otherwise have met and find we share things in common we would otherwise never know. Our list of 'who to call' -- or who might call us -- grows.)

One of the anonymous comments (they're all anonymous, of course; only an idiot blogger gives his name) was signed "The Guy Nobody Sent." Another, after venting about Ms. Quish, added, "please do not get me started on the Mikva appointment to the Appellate Court. If the Mikva name sounds familiar to anyone with respect to Democratic Politics, it should."

Yes, the name Abner Mikva is familiar... former State Representative, former Congressman, former Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Former White House Counsel (during Bill Clinton's first term). Mentor to a then-young Barack Obama. The ultimate insider.

Except... on my bookshelf is a book, yellowing slightly now with age, by the late Milton L. Rakove, titled We Don't Want Nobody Nobody Sent (Indiana University Press, 1979). It's an "oral history" of the Daley years (that's the Richard J. Daley years for you young people out there). Think Studs Terkel, only Professor Rakove was interviewing politicians, not war veterans or people along Division Street.

Here is Abner J. Mikva, quoted by Professor Rakove (p. 318):
I guess I had always an interest in politics. The year I started law school, 1948, was the year that Douglas and Stevenson were heading up the Democratic ticket in Illinois. I was all fired up from the Students for Douglas and Stevenson and passed this storefront, the 8th Ward Regular Democratic Organization. I came in and said I wanted to help. Dead silence. "Who sent you?" the committeeman said. I said, "Nobody." He said, "We don't want nobody nobody sent."
Abner Mikva may be as much of an "insider" as anyone can imagine... now. But he was the original nobody that nobody sent.

Things change. Today's outsiders may be insiders tomorrow. I don't pretend to know what alchemy or magic spell converts an outsider to an insider. But history shows that it happens. Sometimes.


Anonymous said...

Well, I guess when Jack speaks, everybody gets quiet. Black lady who reads checking in.

Jack Leyhane said...

When Jack speaks, everybody gets quiet?

Funny... it never worked that way at home....

Anonymous said...

I am not exactly sure why this post is titled the way it is. Comments in the previous posts very predictably criticize, and rightfully so, Supreme Court Justice Theis with regard to her latest two juducial appointments to the Circuit Court. It seems most posts on this blog never so much as raise an eyebrow unless they report on a judicial vacancy being filled; then a floodgate is opened and negagative comments flow in. Why is that and what does maintaining perspective have to do with anything?

I have the answer as it relates to myself and maybe a few others out there.

Generally, over the last several years, I have not had an issue with most of the people that the three first distric Supreme Court Justices have appointed. Most seem like they have the ability to do the job. Let's face it, the job does not take much, and I will take a judge that is fair over "qualified" (according to the bar associations criteria) any day if the week. I understand and accept that most if not all of these appointed judges are, have been, and will always be "political insiders and friends and family". I get it. We all get it.

What upsets and troubles me then, is not WHO is appointed, but rather how two of the Supreme Court justices (Theis and Burke, but especially Theis) have concocted a meaningless "process" to cover and disguise the reality of judicial appointments. It is so offensive because it is so hypocritical. It is so fake. These two justices have created a spectacle. Each time there is an opening on the bench, if the appointment does not go to Freeman to fill, it is time for another installment of the greatest show on earth:

Lights dim and the press release announcing the vacancy is issued. The esteemed members of the judicial selecion committee pop out of the clown car in the center ring ready to go to work for the good of Cook County. It's a Herculean task they face. Time passes. Suspence builds. Then with a loud bang, the newly appointed judge is shot out of a red, white, and blue cannon and lands in the basement of the Daley Center.

A second press release is issued informing everyone how great the new judge, the selection committee, and Justice Theis are. The crawd roars and jumps to their feet.

But the shows not over!

There is a smell of elephant crap in the tent! Oh no! The newly appointed judge just happens to be the justice's former law clerk!

As I said earlier, I have come to accept that I will have to hold my nose with each successive appointment. So Jack, it is not a matter of perspective. I get how things work. But please! And I am asking nicely to Justice Theis. Spare me your circus. You issued your press release announcing the formation of your judicial screening committee on February 15, 2013, and I had high hopes. I even voted for you when you ran for the Supreme Court. I am trying to inject a little humor into my comments, but to be bitterly truthful, you let me down.

Anonymous said...

Agreeing with everything you have said; then what is the purpose of the Theis Judicial Selection Committee? The actual investigations of the judicial candidates is conducted by the CBA and Alliance, are they not? I get calls all the time from bar associations asking my opinion on someone that used me as a reference. Never once from the Theis Committee yet I have had many friends apply for subcircuit and countywide vacancies. Has anyone ever received a call?

Let's just admit that Justice Theis formed this useless committee as a smoke and mirrors diversion that she can point to when the Chicago Tribune or Sun Times comes calling inquiring as to why relatives of politicians, golfing buddies, former law clerks, and attorneys at connected law firms are appointed judges.

To add insult to injury, after the appointment is made with much fanfare and hoopla: The new judge is so great, the committee is great and recognized for their hard work and dedication to fairness; and most of all Justice Theis is applauded for her transparency, sensitivity to diversity, and giving everyone that applies the same opportunity to become a judge.

Then the good Justice is the guest of honor at various bar association seminars and award ceremonies where she just glows like a proud mother hen while explaining her "process" to those with judicial aspirations. The hypocrisy is taken to a new level. Draw your own conclusions about the ethics or impropriety.

Tell it like it is Jack; and you might really leave them all speechless.

Anonymous said...

Any word on Justice Burke's appointment in the 6th? She posted that MONTHS ago.

Anonymous said...

The comment posted by Anon 12:16 clearly shows he/she does not attend many political functions, if for no other reason, to hear the juicy gossip. Now the following is just gossip, and could not possibly be factual because things like this do not happen in Cook County, but is presented for entertainment purposes only:

Although the subcircuit is home to many qualified candidates; let's just say they are not the right "flavor". So prior to the vacancy being announced it was thought best that imported talent would be the best course of action. The leading candidate for the Burke vacancy is a hispanic State's Attorney who just coincidently quickly moved into the subcircuit after many years of living and practicing on the south-side of Chicago. If this were a fairy tail you would be right in thinking a little bird flew to 26th and California and whispered in the State's Attorney's ear: Tweet - Move to Humboldt Park. Tweet - Announcement of Vacancy Coming Soon. Tweet - You are Going to Be a Judge. Tweet - Don't worry about the rest of the applicants. But this is not a fairy tail, this is Cook County, so picture a certain powerful Democratic Committeeman picking up the phone. In Jack's language, this Committeeman 'got a guy'.

Now hold your horses everyone and take back those comments about about the Puerto Ricans. This State's Attorney is not Puerto Rican. But hell, in addition to English, he speaks the same other language which is a very good thing. And his complexion has a beautiful and naturally tan hue. So he fits the bill nicely.

But there is a slight problem. Which brings us to today's lesson. Loose lips sink ships. Which means keep your mouth shut. Do not talk. Do not brag. Do not go to a Cook County political function and explain that your neck tie was a gift by a certain powerful Democratic Committeeman.

Sometimes fairy tails do come true. Sometimes they don't. You can say you read about it here first.

Anonymous said...

@anon 11:03...though he is Mexican, he doesn't speak Spanish. This is also not the first time that loose lips have sunk his judicial ship along with other "anger" issues. Joe Berrios, Ed Burke and Gloria Chevere will continue to back him even though Justice Burke may have the common sense not to appoint him.