Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Associate judge candidates? The Alliance of Illinois Judges would like to hear from you

All Cook County judges are elected.

Many -- most -- are elected by the people, either countywide or from one of the 15 Cook County subcircuits. These are the "full" Circuit Court judges.

But some Cook County judges are elected by the "full" Circuit Court judges. These are the Associate Judges.

There's an election going on for Associate Judges right now, also. It's been going on since February 8 of this year; that was the deadline for interested lawyers to send in their applications (click here to see the list of those who applied). It will most likely be going on throughout the primary season, too. Eventually a nominating committee, composed primarily, if not exclusively, of presiding judges, will interview every one of the 272 applicants (at least every one of those who does not drop out along the way).

The nominating committee's function is to promulgate a "short list" of finalists -- winnowing down that long list of applicants into a list containing twice as many vacancies as there are vacancies. This may not happen until April or May of next year. (We don't know how many vacancies there are in the associate judge ranks at the present time. There have to be at least five before the process begins in Cook County. The number of vacancies is likely to increase while the process drags on. The largest number of vacancies filled at one time that I can remember was 31. This was in 2007.)

In any event, when the short list comes out, the rest of the judges have a brief time -- a few weeks at most -- to evaluate the finalists and decide from among them. Mostly, they do. However, in both of the last two associate judge classes, at least one associate judge was elected who was not on the short list.

Presumably, all the current associate judge candidates already know this. But there may be some FWIW readers who don't know how the AJ process works. Without some context, this announcement from the Alliance of Illinois Judges might be confusing.

But enough context. The AIJ is asking associate judge candidates to provide their ratings and résumés and to respond to a questionnaire. The first link in the paragraph above will take you to it (and associate judge candidates will find directions there about how to return completed questionnaires and other requested materials). These are the questions that the AIJ is asking associate judge candidates to answer:
  1. List your community service including civic, bar association and legal community activities.
  2. List your activities that directly impacted the LGBTQ community.
  3. Provide a personal statement that includes the reasons for your interest in the judiciary.
The AIJ has set a January 8, 2018 deadline for responding.


Anonymous said...

Is the AIJ planning on contacting all the candidates? I have applied and received no email or other notice from them. If I did not read this page, I would not know about it. I suspect others are in the dark as well.

Jack Leyhane said...

Anon 12/6 @2:19 p.m. -- The AIJ asked me to put up a post about its questionnaire -- on the assumption that many AJ candidates would be FWIW readers. In you case, it seems to have worked.

Anonymous said...

It's rigged.

Anonymous said...

Really? Please enough already. The AIJ is an organization of judges, not a bar association. I'm not aware of any other judicial association (i.e. their members are all judges) that rate or rank the Associate Judge candidates. Further, there already is a bar association that is part of the Alliance that shares the perspective and views of the AIJ. Why don't you find something to do. maybe a charity, or some community service ?

Anonymous said...

Do you mean Alliance of Bar Associations?

Jack Leyhane said...

Anon 12/6 @10:47 p.m. -- No.

Anon 12/6 @10:45 p.m. -- LAGBAC and the other Alliance bar associations do evaluate AJ candidates (as does the CBA), but they are at most offering information for the voters -- in the primary, for 'we the people' -- in the AJ selection, for the full circuit judges who vote on the AJ candidates. The AIJ, as you point out, is an organization comprised, in part, of voters in AJ elections (there are AJs among its membership as well). And it is seeking information directly from the candidates, not filtered by bar association recommendations. I've not seen this before either.

Anonymous said...

Why would AIJ send emails to every applicant? This is optional. Seems to me the viable shortlisters have been getting their support in tow for the last 10 months. Those candidates involved in the lgbt community and/or those that intend to make that a selling point should have AIJ on their radar by now.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me, this suggests that the Judges who are part of the AIJ want to have a larger voice in addition to (or despite/contrary to) the ratings that come out of LAGBAC's efforts. Many would say that the ratings from LAGBAC over the years have lost some credibility and have been viewed with skepticism.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 12/7 at 8:17 am: So you agree that the CBA, the Alliance of Bar Associations, (including the LAGBAC) review and evaluate the AJ candidates, but you suggest that they do it for "we, the people" meaning the voters.. Well the only voters are the circuit judges, not the people so since the circuit judges rely upon the bar associations for review before they vote, do you really believe they are waiting for a small group of 30 or so judges of the AIJ, ( which presumably may belong to LAGBAC) to give their evaluation?
Again., really? Time to stop drinking the Kool Aid.

Jack Leyhane said...

Anon 12/7 at 7:02 p.m. -- First, your comment was addressed to me, the only one foolish enough to use his actual name here.

Second, you misread my comment. I said the bar groups provide evaluations as guidance for voters in both the primary and AJ elections. The electorate in the primaries are 'we the people' and the electorate in the AJ election is the pool of sitting full circuit judges.

Third, while a judge or two may be swayed, in a given case, by the opinions of colleagues who belong to the AIJ, I don't believe that circuit judges generally are waiting for the AIJ's evaluations of AJ candidates. I never said I did. What I did say is that the AIJ is choosing not to rely exclusively on the bar groups' evaluations, including (at least arguably) LAGBAC, and making its own independent assessment of the AJ applicants, according to its own criteria. Moreover, it is making this independent assessment from, potentially, the entire pool of AJ applicants, not just those happy few on the short list -- suggesting, at the very least, a willingness to look beyond the short list when it is announced. This, I believe, is something new.

Fourth, the metaphor of 'drinking the Kool Aid' comes from the Jonestown Massacre of 1978 when adherents of the "Rev." Jim Jones drank cyanide-laced Kool Aid without question or hesitation (in many cases after first poisoning their own children). It has come to mean blind, unquestioning acceptance of something. What, either in this post, or in my previous comment, have I blindly and unhesitatingly accepted?

(I know we are all supposed to be happy passengers on the efiling train these days... but I've seen several studies that suggest that persons reading online simply don't comprehend material as well as they would were the same material printed on paper. And this blog often seems to provide disheartening anecdotal evidence of this phenomenon....)

Anonymous said...

Most of these comments seem to be by people unfamiliar with the AJ nominating process.
The nominating committee accepts letters...and requests such when the committee is formed.
Smart candidates seek these out from people who know them well and/or whose opinion is valued by the committee.
These questions don't strike me as an evaluation but rather an attempt to choose worthy candidates to support. A quick look at the applicant list indicates some competition within the LGBT candidates...some great folks have applied.
Good for AIJ for being open about it.
Jack, your comments are crystal clear...thanks for moderating.

Anonymous said...

What is the agenda of AIJ in submitting these questions?
Does the organization intend to rate Associate Judge candidates that they will later vote on?
Anyone see an ethical issue here?