Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Reacting to Dan Mihalopoulous's column today

Dan Mihalopoulos (@dmihalopoulos) gets all the best judicial emails. I admit to being jealous.

FWIW readers probably read Mihalopoulos's column in this morning's Bright One (does the Sun-Times still use that slogan?) and most of them probably went to the Sun-Times website to read Judge Pethers' email and Judge Evans's response. (Judge Pethers' email is no longer downloadable on Scribd, but it was still on the website when I was last there.)

So rather than reproduce Mr. Mihalopoulous's work product here, let me react to some things in the column and in the, um, attachments.

Isn't it interesting that today's column follows so closely on the heels of yesterday's disclosure that Chief Judge Evans may face a challenger next month? Sure, it might just be a coincidence. Then again, as Finley Peter Dunne's Mr. Dooley observed more than a century ago, "Politics ain't beanbag." Mihalopoulos wrote, "[Judge Pethers] doesn’t name any of the allegedly better-clouted colleagues who were promoted unfairly over her. But Pethers put the blame for the situation squarely on longtime Chief Judge Timothy Evans."


I guess we'll know for sure if there are more of these kinds of stories in the next couple of weeks... but there may be some storm clouds gathering on Judge Evans's horizon.

There are obviously different levels of nobody-sent-ness. There's a neologism for you (OED take note). But Judge Pethers, who was elected to the bench (from the 8th Subcircuit, for all you vultures out there salivating about the forthcoming vacancy) in 2004, describes herself as a "nobody nobody sent."

Judging by the comments I regularly receive here, I'm pretty sure that I lost a number of readers to head explosions when they read that.

They'd give anything for that one brief shining moment that Judge Pethers experienced after the 2004 Primary, the moment that she finally learned that she'd bested a field of three challengers (all male) even if it was by only 53 votes over her nearest competitor.

I have a number of readers who would protest that, in winning an election, Judge Pethers necessarily became Somebody, capital-S deliberately inserted. But I also have a friend who never tires of telling me that 'where you stand depends on where you sit'---and in a group where everyone has won an election---where winning an election is just the minimum buy-in to the game---maybe Judge Pethers was politically disadvantaged. She obviously felt that she was.

And I sure as heck have nothing to add on the questions of whether Judge Evans did or didn't respond to Judge Pethers's request for assignment to the Law Division or whether Judge Pethers did or did not withdraw that request. But, while I understand that those of us among the Great Unwashed cannot simply walk in and see the county's Chief Judge, wouldn't you think that fellow judges, especially judges working in the same building, would have just a tad more access?

Why is it not OK to acknowledge that being a judge is a job? Judge Pethers wrote, "I never thought I would refer to being a judge as a 'job,' but it feels that way." Why shouldn't it?

Being a judge is a job. It is also a great honor and privilege---but if there wasn't also a paycheck every couple of weeks to accompany that honor, I daresay most of Judge Pethers' colleagues would likewise quit. Being a judge is (I assert with all the confidence of an outsider) a great job, but I think I'm on safe ground in advancing that claim. As Judge Pethers acknowledged, "Good pay, great benefits, lots of vacation. Even as a 'job,' it's the best one I've ever had."

The real story may be that there are some who have the job but aren't doing it. Judge Pethers mentioned, more or less as an aside, that "there are judges who regularly don't even come to work, but get to choose their courtrooms."

Let's stop that statement before the comma.

There are judges who regularly don't come to work?

Of course Mihalopoulos picked up on that statement.

Andy Shaw at the BGA and Rick Tulsky at Injustice Watch probably perked right up when they saw that one, too.

And I had a commenter here recently who made a very topical joke about two judges "notorious for taking off far more days than they actually show up, [who] gave court personnel and lawyers a shock recently when they both appeared at the Daley Center on one of the days they called in sick. It was soon discovered that [they] were playing Pokémon Go and given their unfamiliarity with the building, did not realize they were in the courthouse."

Maybe this is all so much slander. But, if it's not, I sure hope we can count on the bar association JECs or other reform-minded groups to name names and provide documentation. Because---and my readers know this as well as anyone---there is no shortage of qualified persons willing to step up and replace those who are not doing the job.


Anonymous said...

What was most distressing about Judge Pethers' rant was "IT'S ALL ABOUT ME! A judge's job is about service not ego or self aggrandizement.

Anonymous said...

Must have been a slow news day. How did such a non-story make page two of the Sun Times? Let's break this down in the most simplest fact pattern: Unhappy employee quits job because she feels she has been improperly pasted-over for advancement by a boss who ignores her so she pens a critical resignation letter throwing shade on her boss and unnamed coworkers. Did I nail it fairly well in one line? It is not unreasonable to conclude that this same fact pattern is commonplace in every profession at every level; and yet it is hardly news worthy.

I guess Dan Mihalopoulos must believe what makes this particular story actually a story is because it involves Judges. I don't think so. I wish I was interviewed for comment on this story. I would have told Dan that, although I never met Judge Pethers or had a case in front of her, I think she is an ungrateful idiot And being an ungrateful idiot is not newsworthy. Did she expect that being a judge in Cook County was not political? Did she expect that everyday on the bench would be filled with interesting and engaging work? Did she expect that her boss would roll out the red carpet and listen intently and sympathetically to her quibbles? What foolish expectations.

I think it is safe to say that most of us are not satisfied with our jobs. I never met or practiced with an attorney, from sole practitioner to large firm partner, that was satisfied with their jobs. We are all engulfed in toil. Most of your readers, myself included, would be thrilled and privileged to become a judge even if we were assigned for life to the sub-basement of the Maywood Courthouse. Pro-se or small claims cases for life? Where do I sign up? I would make the most out of everyday and try to do as much good as possible for as many people as possible. All judges make the same salary no matter what floor their courtroom is on so no loss their either.

So goodby Judge Pethers. With Godspeed to greener pastures you go. And to Dan Mihalopoulos: this really was a non-story. Pethers garners very little sympathy in my book and if you goal was to make Evans look bad (which I am sure it was); you missed it by a mile. My suggestion to you is to conduct a little research on this Blog. Go back a few years and read the stories and comments pertaining to recent judicial appointments made by Burke, Freeman, and especially Theis. Look what the Supreme Court is up to. Now that is what I want to see plastered all over page two.

Anonymous said...

Well said to the two anonymous writers above. This black lady who reads was not impressed by the Judge Pether's comments. I bet this was not her first rant. The judiciary is better off without her.

Anonymous said...

You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Sends You

You're a nobody till somebody sends you
You're nobody till you kick upstairs
You gotta flash the bling, and promise to do as your told
But gold can’t bring you happiness till your alderman gets paroled
The bench is just the same, you'll never change it
Unless you have “a guy” working from above
You're nobody till somebody sends you
Find yourself a somebody to fund
You're a nobody till somebody sends you
You're nobody till you kick upstairs
Evans may tell you “hon, you’re stuck in 1501”
But the world’s not fair if you’re not someone.
As sure as the Speaker shines above
You're nobody, nobody till somebody sends you
So find yourself somebody
Gotta get yourself somebody
Because you're nobody till somebody sends you
You're nobody till somebody leads you up the backstairs
You may think the job’s a bore, stuck on a lower floor
But you can’t even the score blabbing about a missing colleague next door.
The world, the whole world's the same, you'll never change it change it
As sure as the stars shine above
You're a nobody till somebody sends you
So find yourself somebody somebody to fund

Anonymous said...

So, Judge Pethers makes $190,758 per year as a Circuit Court Judge. That's $15,896.50 per month. Factor in the benefits, paid vacation, paid sick, and paid personal days. Factor in the prestige and respectability. Factor in the butt-kissing. Factor in the ......... Never mind, I have to go. Time to take my 8,734th fender bender discovery deposition. Oh, that was Wednesday. My bad. Time to conduct my 2,346th real estate closing. Oh, that was yesterday. My bad. It's Friday - must be time to chase my 12,471st ambulance.

As in a previous comment, I could also call her an idiot. But, I will not. That might insult the idiots and I don't want them mad at me. Most of them are my clients and that would not be good for business.

Mr. Groundhog F. Day II, Esq.