Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Guest Post: An Electoral and Demographic Analysis of Cook County's 7th Judicial Subcircuit

by Frank Calabrese

Judicial appointments by the Illinois Supreme Court are typically sleepy affairs, and the media responds to an appointment with a yawn. This month however a media storm erupted when Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke recommended the appointment of Cara LeFevour Smith to a 7th Subcircuit vacancy, resulting in unusually intense scrutiny. All the local television networks and daily papers covered the “controversy” of the Supreme Court appointing Judge Cara Smith. The CBS story was entitled “Judicial Appointee 'A Slap In The Face' To Represent The West Side”. The media coverage was largely premised on the idea that 7th Judicial Subcircuit is an African-American political district and the Supreme Court was disenfranchising minority residents by appointing a white woman to that district.

The 7th Subcircuit was created with the intent to elect more African-American judges. However, the makeup of the 7th Subcircuit has changed a lot since it was created in the early 90’s. Today's West Loop neighborhood is considerably different than it was when first included within the 7th Subcircuit boundaries. This post does not address the prudence of the appointment of Judge Cara Smith, but rather to help the media and readers of this blog to understand why a white woman won the 7th subcircuit in 2016 and how candidates should now approach this subcircuit.

As of the 2010 Census, the 7th Judicial Subcircuit was still majority African American, around 53%. However, with the construction boom in the west loop and the continued depopulation of the west side of Chicago west of Western Avenue, I would estimate that the district is no longer majority African-American, but rather a plurality. The district is extremely segregated, with River Forest, Forest Park, and the west loop east of Ashland being white, Berwyn being Hispanic, and the core of the district, the west side of Chicago, being African-American, with many census tracts reading 100% African-American. The district makes little sense today and if redrawn today, it would certainly look very different so that it could be again be a truly African American district.

The 2016 7th Subcircuit election was interesting for many reasons. One is that all the candidates were well known in the legal community. Two of the candidates, Judge Pat Spratt and Judge Rosa Silva, are now judges and another, Jennifer Ballard, is the chief of staff to the State’s Attorney. It is also notable that a white woman, Judge Spratt, won in a district that was designed to elect an African-American judge. In this election, Pat Spratt won with an odd coalition of white votes and support in Austin and the 37th ward. Judge Spratt was supported by Alderman Emma Mitts and had organizational support in Austin. Rosa Silva did very well by winning big in Berwyn and white areas. Julianna Ballard won in the 28th and 27th wards, where she was supported by the local aldermen.

I hope this post clears up some confusion in the media and readers of this blog. Yes, the 7th Subcircuit was designed and intended to elect African-American judges. However, the subcircuit has changed so much since the 90’s that the state legislature should redraw it so that it can again reliably elect African-American judges. I would recommend removing the Berwyn portion of the 7th subcircuit and uniting Berwyn into the 14th subcircuit (which would further make the 14th Subcircuit a Latino subcircuit). Further, I would include Maywood to the west in the 7th Subcircuit and I would remove the west loop neighborhood and include it with a white majority subcircuit (likey a redrawn 6th or 8th Subcircuit).

Ed. note: Frank Calabrese is a political researcher and consultant. FWIW offers no opinion about Frank's proposed redrawn boundaries. However, the boundaries of all 15 Cook County judicial subcircuits will be withdrawn after the 2020 Census, pursuant to the provisions of HB2625, passed during the most recent legislative session. At last report, the bill was still awaiting the Governor's signature, but that is expected imminently. (For prior FWIW coverage on HB2625, click here).

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Correcting the record: Justice Burke issues second statement on Cara LeFevour Smith appointment

I missed this when it came out -- which it apparently did only hours after my post on this subject.

You can read the linked earlier post for background if you don't know the story already. But here is the link to the updated statement.

There are two material changes in the updated statement: First, new Judge Smith was found "Qualified" by the Chicago Bar Association, not "Highly Qualified." Second, only six of the seven Supreme Court justices voted to accept Justice Burke's recommendation of Smith: Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr. "did not participate" in the vote.

I will again go on record as being baffled by this entire 'controversy.'

Article 6, Section 12(c) of the 1970 Illinois Constitution provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
A vacancy occurring in the office of Supreme, Appellate or Circuit Judge shall be filled as the General Assembly may provide by law. In the absence of a law, vacancies may be filled by appointment by the Supreme Court. A person appointed to fill a vacancy 60 or more days prior to the next primary election to nominate Judges shall serve until the vacancy is filled for a term at the next general or judicial election....
My handy copy of the 1970 Illinois Constitution Annotated says that, in the past 49 years or so, the Illinois General Assembly hasn't quite gotten around to passing a law on the subject of filling judicial vacancies. Accordingly, the Supreme Court is entirely free to appoint anyone it wants to any vacancy that occurs. No screening committee is required. No "transparency" (one of those really malleable words that means entirely different things to different people at different times, depending on whose ox is being gored, er, circumstances). No bar association evaluations. If enough of the other justices on the court will go along with it, a justice is free to fill a vacancy with whomsoever he or she chooses, for any reason, just as long as the appointee is a U.S. citizen and holds an Illinois law license.

(Article 6, Section 11, of the 1970 Illinois Constitution adds a third requirement, namely, that no person is eligible to serve as judge who is not a "resident of the unit which selects" him or her. Historically, however, the Court has not always acted as if this requirement were binding on it for purposes of temporary appointments. However, any appointee would be obliged to establish residency as required by this provision in order to seek election to the vacancy he or she was tapped to fill.)

The point is, the Supreme Court makes temporary appointments. The appointment of Judge Smith is no different from any other of the several temporary appointments that the Supreme Court makes in the course of a given year. It is temporary. Transitory. Of limited duration.

If they provide some boost at election time, temporary appointments are by no means a guarantee of election. In Cook County, a Supreme Court appointment does not even guarantee slating. My archives are chock full of examples of persons who received temporary appointments, but were unable to convert these appointments into election.

Those temporary appointees who have been able to secure election to the bench have been able to develop political support from (or they already had the support of) the elected officials and other community leaders in the county or in their subcircuit.

Clearly, new Judge Smith is going to be facing an uphill battle with some of the elected officials and other community leaders in the 7th Subcircuit. If she even runs.

But, in my opinion, based on my observation of judicial elections in Cook County these past 12 years or so, this controversy is not about Judge Smith. Not particularly.

I don't claim to know for a fact, but I have every reason to believe that this entire contretemps is about an individual politician's failed attempt to redeem a promise to a particular individual -- a promise to make that individual a judge.

In general, I am in favor of politicians attempting to keep their promises.

So I am not being critical.

However, in this instance, I suspect that the politician in question calculated that his best chance at redeeming his promise was by securing a Supreme Court appointment for that person -- a temporary appointment, yes, but that would fulfill the promise.

The word 'calculated' is carefully chosen. The politician may have also calculated that he might not be able to clear the field of other African-American candidates in favor of his chosen candidate; therefore, in a primary contest with multiple African-American candidates, in an increasingly diverse subcircuit,* he might not be able redeem his promise to make this person a judge except by appointment.

If the politician's preferred person were appointed, but did not win in a crowded primary field, the politician could say that this was the appointee's fault, not his own. He could credibly point to the appointment itself, and his own presumably substantial efforts on the candidate's behalf, even in a losing cause.

But the appointment did not go as the politician had hoped.

Protests followed, and most of those protesting honestly thought they were protesting about racial disrespect, or for transparency in an appointment process. But I think it was about a promise. To a specific person. Who may well run for the spot anyway -- and win.

Meanwhile, here's a little thought-experiment for your consideration: What sort of law, if any, do you think the General Assembly should enact regarding the filling of judicial vacancies as they occur? Extra credit: What sort of law do you think the General Assembly could pass?

I'll hang up now and listen for your answers.

* Just how diverse the 7th Subcircuit has become is the subject of a guest post by Frank Calabrese that I expect to have for you shortly.

Fundraiser tomorrow for Justice Neville

Supporters of Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr.'s bid to remain on the Illinois Supreme Court have announced a kick-off reception for their candidate tomorrow, June 26, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Taste 222, 222 N. Canal Street.

A lengthy list of "special guests" has been announced for this event. On the list are several Democratic ward and township committeemen, Toni Preckwinkle (4th), Leslie Hairston (5th), Roderick Sawyer (6th), Gregory Mitchell (7th), Michelle Harris (8th), Michael Madigan (13th), David Moore (17th), Matt O'Shea (19th), Kevin Bailey (20th), Howard Brookins (21st), Michael Scott (24th), Walter Burnett (27th), Jason Ervin (28th), Sean Tenner (46th), Robert Steffen (Barrington), Karen Yarbrough (Proviso), and Calvin Jordan (Rich). (Some of these folks have other titles, as you no doubt have noticed, but before the Democratic Party's slate is made, these titles are of paramount import.)

Two Congressmen, Bobby Rush and Danny Davis, are also among the announced special guests, as are Board of Review Commissioners Larry Rogers Jr. and Michael Cabonargi. Retired circuit judges or appellate justices on the list of special guests are John O. Steele, Marcus Salone, Pamela Veal, Bernetta Bush, Carl McCormick, Walter Williams, Sidney Jones, Marianne Jackson, and Judge Anthony Young.

Several present and former state legislators, a couple of aldermen, MWRD President Kari Steele, and MWRD Com. Kim DuBuclet are also among the announced special guests.

Tickets for the event are $250 each, but sponsorships are available (Host - $500, Sponsor - $1,000, Patron - $2,500, Chair - $5,800). Tickets are available online at this link. For more information about the event, email

Friday, June 14, 2019

Who Sits Where -- Flag Day Edition

Although it makes for a charming story, today is not the anniversary of the day on which seamstress Betsy Ross delivered the first American flag. It was Betsy Ross's grandson who turned family tradition into national mythology with an 1870 paper presented to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

But the Second Continental Congress did adopt the first American flag by resolution dated June 14, 1777:
Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.
President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day in 1916. In 1949, the observance of Flag Day was established by Act of Congress (see, 36 U.S.C. § 110).

Meanwhile, we are also nine months away from the 2020 Primary -- but the Democratic Party's pre-slating meeting is next week. And so, once again, we pause to consider what judicial vacancies may be on the ballot in the March 2020 primary -- even though those elected to these vacancies won't actually take office until December 7, 2020.

Crazy, right?

Anyway, what follows is not a comprehensive list of Cook County judicial vacancies but, rather, a list of vacancies that have either been filled by Supreme Court appointment, or for which an application process has been announced, or that I believe to exist even though no announcement has been made. Not all of the "vacancies" listed below are necessarily vacant -- and some of the persons identified as filling these vacancies have not yet actually taken office -- but an official announcement has been made. There are probably other vacancies, beyond those reported here, which the Supreme Court has neither filled nor announced. When new vacancies are made public, I can and will update as necessity requires and opportunity permits.

But this is the best information I have now.

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

Supreme Court Vacancy

Vacancy of the Hon. Charles E. Freeman -- P. Scott Neville, Jr.

Appellate Court Vacancies

Vacancy of the Hon. P. Scott Neville, Jr. -- Michael B. Hyman1
Vacancy of the Hon. John B. Simon -- John C. Griffin

Countywide Vacancies

Vacancy of the Hon. Carole K. Bellows -- Kerrie Maloney Laytin
Vacancy of the Hon. Matthew E. Coghlan -- James T. Derico, Jr.
Vacancy of the Hon. Nicholas R. Ford -- Thomas M. Cushing
Vacancy of the Hon. Raymond Funderburk -- Celestia L. Mays
Vacancy of the Hon. Diane J. Larsen -- Levander Smith, Jr.
Vacancy of the Hon. Jessica A. O'Brien -- Lloyd James Brooks
Vacancy of the Hon. Sebastian T. Patti -- Lynn Weaver-Boyle
Vacancy of the Hon. Kevin M. Sheehan -- Marina E. Ammendola

Subcircuit Vacancies

1st Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Rodney Hughes Brooks -- Fredrick H. Bates
Vacancy of the Hon. Vanessa A. Hopkins2 -- Tyria B. Walton

2nd Subcircuit
"A" Vacancy3 -- Sondra Nicole Denmark

3rd Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Denise K. Filan -- Daniel E. Maloney
Vacancy of the Hon. Allen F. Murphy -- Erin Haggerty Antonietti

6th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Marya Nega -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Kathleen M. Pantle -- Unfilled

7th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Marianne Jackson -- Cara Lefevour Smith

8th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. John J. Fleming -- Unfilled4
Vacancy of the Hon. Deborah J. Gubin -- Michael A. Forti

9th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Marvin F. Luckman -- Michael A. Strom

10th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Thomas R. Allen -- John G. Mulroe

12th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Kay M. Hanlon -- Unfilled

13th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Margarita Kulys Hoffman -- Michael Perry Gerber

14th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Robert Bertucci -- Gerardo Tristan, Jr.
Vacancy of the Hon. William G. Lacy -- Daniel O. Tiernan

15th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. John C. Griffin -- Nichole C. Patton

1 Justice Hyman is a Cook County Circuit Court judge sitting by appointment to the Appellate Court. The language of the Supreme Court's order appointing Justice Hyman to this vacancy suggests that, unless he runs for, and wins a seat on the Appellate Court in 2020, he will return to his original position as a Circuit Court judge. For this reason I have not included a "Hyman vacancy" among the countywide openings.

2 The late Rhonda Crawford won the Democratic Party's nomination for this vacancy in the 2016 primary but never took office.

3 Vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Alexander White.

4 Jeanne Marie Wrenn was appointed to this vacancy, but, last November, Judge Wrenn was elected to fill the 8th Subcircuit vacancy of the Hon. Sheryl Pethers. That is why this vacancy is again unfilled.

Election lawyer co-authors book; book signing Tuesday, June 18 at Lizzie McNeill's

Election lawyer Michael C. Dorf and George Van Dusen have co-authored a biography of the late Cong. Sidney R. Yates, Clear it With Sid! (The link in the preceding sentence is to the Barnes & Noble website; here's an Amazon link, if you prefer.)

Fellow election lawyer James P. Nally reports that Dorf will be signing copies of his book at Lizzie McNeill's, 400 N. McClurg Ct., on Tuesday, June 18, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

I am speculating here, admittedly, but I suspect that copies of the book may also be available for purchase at the book signing event.

Campaign website launched, June 26 fundraiser set, for Judge Dan Tiernan

Supporters of Judge Dan Tiernan's bid to hold his 14th Subcircuit seat have launched a campaign website. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence.

According to his campaign bio, Tiernan was a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney from 1995 to 2007. He left that office to become "a managing partner at Delgado & Tiernan, PC, a law firm specializing in criminal defense." While in private practice, he also handled probate, real estate, and immigration matters. In January 2016, according to the campaign bio, Tiernan joined the Office of the Cook County Independent Inspector General, "conducting investigations into allegations of fraud, waste, mismanagement, and criminal activity at the county level."

Tiernan's supporters are planning a campaign kickoff fundraiser on Wednesday, June 26, at the Billy Goat Tavern, 1535 W. Madison Street.

Tickets for the event are $100 apiece, but government lawyers may purchase tickets for $50. Sponsorships are also available (Neighbor - $250, Friend - $500, Patron - $1,000). Tickets will be available at the door. For more information about the event, or to obtain tickets, email

Erin Haggerty Antonietti appointed to 3rd Subcircuit vacancy

In an order entered yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Erin Haggerty Antonietti to the 3rd Subcircuit vacancy created by the passing of Judge Allen F. Murphy.

Antonietti's appointment is effective June 26 and terminates December 7, 2020.

According to ARDC, Antonietti has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1991. A campaign committee has already been organized on her behalf, according to records obtained from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

State Sen. Mulroe appointed to 10th Subcircuit vacancy

In an order entered yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed State Sen. John G. Mulroe (D-10) to fill the 10th Subcircuit vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge Thomas Allen.

The appointment is effective June 21 and terminates December 7, 2020. The Court's appointment was made on the recommendation of Justice Mary Jane Theis. The Supreme Court's complete press release about the appointment may be found here. As reported here in April, Mulroe's appointment was not unexpected.

Mulroe has served in the State Senate since 2010. He was previously a candidate for a 10th Subcircuit vacancy in 2008.

Licensed in Illinois since 1988, Mulroe has operated John G. Mulroe, P.C. since 1995. Before that, according to the Supreme Court's press release, Mulroe spent six years as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney "and has also served as a hearing officer for the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District." According to the Supreme Court's press release, Mulroe received highly qualified or recommended ratings from a dozen bar groups.

Protest of 7th Subcircuit appointment set for later this morning... but why?

So this flyer burbled up on my phone last evening. I spent some time looking for confirmation on social media that this was a for-real thing.

I eventually found it floating around Facebook. I can't confirm who's organizing this protest, but I can confirm that at least one recent judicial candidate had this flyer on Facebook tonight.

For those who came in late, Cara Lefevour Smith, who has been toiling of late as a spokesperson and policy adviser for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, was appointed last Friday to a 7th Subcircuit vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge Marianne (not Marion) Jackson.

Ms. Smith's appointment was made by the Illinois Supreme Court on the recommendation of Justice Anne M. Burke. Illinois Supreme Court justices have the privilege of recommending persons for vacancies in their respective districts; the Court generally accepts those recommendations. In Cook County, a/k/a the First Judicial District, we have three Supreme Court justices. They take turns when vacancies arise. The Jackson vacancy was Justice Burke's to fill. This past February, Justice Burke announced an application process for filling this vacancy.

Back in the early 1990s, when the subcircuit system was created, the 7th Subcircuit was one of those subcircuits intended to increase African-American representation on the Cook County bench. Judge Jackson (elected a full circuit judge in 2016 after serving as an associate judge since 1997) is African-American. Ms. Smith is not.

Demographics have shifted in many parts of the county since 1990, including, in particular, in the 7th Subcircuit. But the subcircuit boundaries have remained unchanged since the subcircuit system was put in place. These population shifts spurred the Illinois General Assembly, just this month, to pass HB 2625, requiring that the subcircuit boundary lines be redrawn after the 2020 census.

Ms. Smith's future on the bench is by no means assured. If she wishes to stay in office, she will have to seek election next year.

But if Ms. Smith is elected next year, she would not be the first non-African-American judge elected in the 7th Subcircuit.

Two 7th Subcircuit vacancies were filled in 2016. Judge Jackson won one of these; the other was won by Judge Patricia S. Spratt. Judge Spratt was appointed to that other vacancy in 2015 on the recommendation of then-Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman. Former Justice Freeman is African-American; Judge Spratt is not.

Two 7th Subcircuit vacancies were filled in by election in 2014 as well. One of the judges elected then was African-American; the other was not.

Three of the four judges elected from the 7th Subcircuit in 2012 were African-American. But one was not.

Neither the appointment nor the election of a non-African-American in the 7th Subcircuit is unprecedented. And appointment is not election. And if the community is not enamored of this appointment, the appointee will not survive the primary. That's why many people favor having judicial elections, to prevent elites from simply imposing judges on a community.

So... why is this appointment so controversial?

I don't know for certain, of course, but I do know that, late yesterday, Justice Burke took the extraordinary step of issuing a press release explaining the appointment process generally -- and discussing one disappointed applicant in particular. Quoting from the press release:
On Oct, 29, 2018, Ald. Jason Ervin came to my office and asked me to appoint Pamela Reaves-Harris to an upcoming 7th Subcircuit vacancy. I let Ald. Ervin know that Ms. Harris was welcome to apply and that she would need to be reviewed by my Judicial Selection Committee.

* * *

Pamela Reaves-Harris submitted an application which included an evaluation by The Chicago Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Committee. The evaluation, executed by then President Patricia Brown Holmes, found Ms. Harris to be “Not Recommended” for the office of Circuit Court Judge and stated, in part, that while Ms. Harris was “a dedicated, busy and hardworking public servant,” her “limited practice and court experience would make it difficult for her to effectively serve as a Circuit Court Judge.” My Judicial Selection Committee similarly concluded that Ms. Reaves-Harris was not a qualified candidate. Cara LeFevour Smith was found “Highly Qualified” by both the Chicago Bar Association and my Judicial Screening Committee. The Supreme Court unanimously voted to [appoint] Cara LeFevour Smith to the 7th Subcircuit vacancy.
Here are some additional facts: Derrick Smith was appointed to a vacancy in the Illinois House of Representatives in March 2011. In March 2012, just a week before the Democratic primary, Smith was arrested on federal charges. An informant caught Smith on tape accepting a $7,000 bribe to promote a grant to a day care center. On tape, Rep. Smith can be overheard telling the man passing the money to just 'leave it in the envelope.'

The man passing the money was also the man wearing a wire.

Well, Smith won the primary with Democratic Party support (he was running against a one-time Republican operative for the Democratic nomination), but got booted out of the House thereafter. Despite his expulsion, Smith stayed on the ballot, beating a "Unity Party" candidate who was recruited and endorsed by the Democratic Party in Smith's stead.

Smith could not be expelled from the House a second time for the same offense -- and his case hadn't gone to trial by the time the 2014 primary rolled around. So the party put up Pamela Reaves-Harris to oppose him. She won. (Smith was convicted in June 2014.)

Reaves-Harris did not run for reelection. As a result, Melissa Conyears-Ervin, the wife of Ald. Jason Ervin, wound up unopposed in the Democratic Primary and won that seat, holding it until her recent election as City Treasurer.

These facts may explain why Ald. Ervin sees this particular appointment as a "problem." Or not.


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Campaign website launched for Judge Dan Maloney; June 19 fundraiser set

Supporters of Judge Dan Maloney's bid to retain his 3rd Subcircuit seat have launched a campaign website. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence.

According to his campaign bio, Maloney worked as an Assistant State’s Attorney in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office for 16 years, prosecuting domestic abusers, violent gang members and narcotics traffickers. Maloney "supervised the Complex Narcotics Unit until he left in 2017 to work for the U.S. Department of Justice as Division Counsel for the Chicago Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)." There, the campaign bio continues, Maloney handled legal matters for the DEA in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin and training sessions for state, local and federal law enforcement officers across the country.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2001, Maloney was appointed to the Filan vacancy in the 3rd Subcircuit by the Illinois Supreme Court in January of this year.

Maloney's supporters have organized a fundraiser for their candidate on Wednesday, June 19, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Petterino's, 150 N. Dearborn Street.

Tickets for the event are $100 each, but sponsorships are available (Red - $1,000, White - $500). Tickets may be purchased at this page of the campaign website. Questions concerning the event should be directed to

Special presentation of Purchased Lives exhibit on June 30

The Purchased Lives exhibition has been at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center since February, and will be there until August 25. The link in the preceding sentence will take you to the Skokie museum's website, where you can purchase tickets to see the exhibition on any convenient date prior thereto.

But the Jewish Lawyers Association of Illinois, the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, the Illinois Judicial Council, and the Cook County Bar Association are co-hosting a special presentation of the Purchased Lives exhibition on Sunday, June 30, from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Admission for this special presentation is free, but reservations must be made by emailing

Registrants will be invited to participate in networking and refreshments from 1:00 to 2:00. At 2:15, Dr. Leslie M. Harris, Professor of History at Northwestern University, will speak about the continuing legacy and impact on the slave trade in the 21st Century, including the continuing relationship between the slave trade and current issues of racial bias and injustice. Docent-led tours of the exhibit will be available beginning at 2:45.

The Purchased Lives exhibition addresses the pain and injustice of the American domestic slave trade, illuminating just how widespread the practice of slavery was in American life, as well as its impact on enslaved families across the country.

The exhibition, originally curated by The Historic New Orleans Collection, showcases more than 75 original artifacts, slave narratives, and oral histories. Through interactive displays, visitors engage directly with historical records by tracking the shipment of more than 70,000 people to New Orleans. Purchased Lives also contains a collection of "Lost Friends" ads placed after the Civil War by newly freed people attempting to locate Illinois family members.

The sponsors of this special event also advise that registrants will also be able to experience Dimensions in Testimony, interactive 3·D holographic interviews with Holocaust survivors, their recollections now preserved for posterity.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Brad Trowbridge announces for 8th Subcircuit vacancy

Family law practitioner (and one-time social worker) Bradley R. Trowbridge has announced plans to seek the Democratic nomination for the Fleming vacancy in the 8th Judicial Subcircuit.

A campaign website has already been launched in support of Trowbridge's campaign. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence. (Eventually, when enough sites are up and running, I'll set up a Sidebar here listing all candidate websites and this will be included.)

According to his campaign website, Trowbridge has served as an adjunct faculty member at John Marshall Law School and as President of the Chicago Battered Women's Network. "More recently," according to the campaign bio, "[Trowbridge] volunteered for First Defense Legal Aid and The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence."

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2000, Trowbridge was a candidate for a countywide vacancy in the 2018 primary. He also sought an 8th Subcircuit vacancy in 2012.

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Saturday, June 08, 2019

Tyria B. Walton, Cara Lefevour Smith receive bench appointments

Updated June 26, 2019 to provide link to Supreme Court press release concerning the appointment of Judge Walton

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Tyria B. Walton to the 1st Subcircuit yesterday, filling a longstanding vacancy.

Walton is an Assistant Public Defender; she has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1997. The appointment is effective June 25 and terminates on December 7, 2020. On June 26, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a press release concerning Walton's appointment.

The vacancy Walton will soon fill has existed since December 5, 2016. Anthony E. Simpkins was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Vanessa Hopkins from judicial service. The late Rhonda Crawford defeated Simpkins in the 2016 Democratic Primary, and was unopposed on the November ballot. But she never took office.

In a second order entered yesterday, the Supreme Court appointed Cara Lefevour Smith to the 7th Subcircuit vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge Marianne Jackson.

Smith's appointment is effective June 17; it also terminates on December 7, 2020.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1992, Smith has served recently as a spokesperson for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. She previously served as an Illinois Assistant Attorney General. Her late father, Raymond F. LeFevour, was the President of Wright Jr. College.

Both of these appointments were made on the recommendation of Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

JIB files Complaint against Judge Mauricio Araujo

The Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board has today filed a Complaint with the Illinois Courts Commission against Judge Mauricio Araujo, charging that he engaged in a pattern of inappropriate and harassing behavior toward several women including a court reporter, a Chicago Police Officer, and a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney.

Quoting now, from the Summary of Allegations in the JIB's Complaint:
In or around the Spring and Summer of 2012, on two separate occasions, Respondent made unwanted sexual advances toward a court reporter while alone with her in the confined space of an elevator at the Domestic Violence Courthouse in Chicago. On August 15,2016, Respondent made unwelcome sexual comments toward, and attempted unwanted physical contact with, a Chicago Police Officer while she was in his chambers at the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building to obtain his signature on a search warrant. On September 11,2018, Respondent made inappropriate and sexually suggestive comments about an Assistant State's Attorney after she appeared before him, and did so in the presence of another Assistant State's Attorney.
The JIB's trial counsel, Kevin M. Fee and Martha C. Clarke of Sidley Austin LLP, will prosecute the Complaint.

Judge Araujo was elected to the bench in 2008 from the 6th Subcircuit. At the time he was rated qualified, recommended or better by every evaluating bar association. He was retained in 2014. In that election, Araujo was rated qualified for retention by each of the Alliance Bar groups and by the Chicago Bar Association.

Araujo has been assigned to administrative duties since his alleged comments about the Assistant State's Attorney broke into the news. According to a tweet this afternoon from the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin's Jordyn Reiland, the court reporter and police officer referred to in the JIB Complaint came forward after the media reports surfaced about Araujo's comments about the female prosecutor.

Margaret McBride joins race for Illinois Supreme Court

Another Appellate Court Justice has apparently joined the race for the Freeman vacancy on the Illinois Supreme Court: Papers were filed with the Illinois Board of Elections on April 18 reflecting the formation of a "Committee for Margaret McBride," the stated purpose of which is to elect Margaret McBride to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Committee was formed without any funds on hand.

However, the ISBE website confirms that Clifford Law Offices, P.C., contributed $11,600 to the campaign on May 29.

Robert A. Clifford is listed as the Chairman of the McBride campaign.

McBride now joins Appellate Court colleagues Cynthia Y. Cobb, Shelly A. Harris, Nathaniel R. Howse, Jr., and Jesse G. Reyes in the race to unseat Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr., their former colleague, who was appointed to the Freeman vacancy last year.

There will presumably be other candidates. In fact, there appears to be one more already: A search today indicates that a committee has been formed to support the candidacy of Evanston attorney Daniel Epstein for the Illinois Supreme Court. According to ARDC Epstein was first licensed to practice law in Illinois in 2015.

Frank Calabrese creates maps with GIS technology that show where victories in judicial elections may be found

To say that Frank Calabrese is somewhat intense is like saying that a laser beam is a somewhat focused beam of light.

As the old expression goes, he's the kind of guy who would make coffee nervous.

So it seemed appropriate to meet him recently, as I did, at a Northwest Side Starbucks. I was on time. Frank was already ensconced at a table, typing on his laptop, waving me over before I'd gotten fully inside the store.

I was not surprised to see that he was also working on a tall cup of something while hammering on the keyboard and scanning the horizon for bloggers. I was surprised when he showed me that the cup contained hot chocolate. "I don't really like coffee," he said.

What Frank Calabrese likes is politics. To be specific, he likes political campaigning.

He's worked in all sorts of races, including aldermanic races (where he got his start, he says), the most recent mayoral race, the State's Attorney race, the Clerk of the Circuit Court race, and several judicial races. These days, he told me, he's doing a lot of research on candidates, sometimes for candidates who don't even know he's working on their behalf.

(Candidates hire someone else, Frank said, and that person enlists Frank, more or less as a subcontractor.)

Frank dropped lots of names. I didn't pick any up. That's not why I was there.

This is why I was there (click to enlarge or clarify):

Frank Calabrese has found a way, using an Excel code he's written, to meld Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology with precinct level results from the City and County election authorities to show where candidates actually received support. Frank wanted to share some of the maps he's created from recent judicial campaigns.

Each candidate is represented by a different color on the map -- but the astute reader, or at least one using a larger screen, will soon notice that some red- or green- or blue-shaded areas are darker than others. The greater a candidate's vote percentage in a given precinct, the darker the color on the map. Chicago is so Balkanized, Frank noted; nowhere else in the country can a candidate get 70% support on one block -- but only 10% on the next.

In the first map, above, showing the race for the Dooling vacancy, the slated candidate won the primary; in the map below, showing the race for the Brewer vacancy, the slated candidate came up short.

Frank noted that both slated candidates did well in African-American communities and in Evanston where, he says, the Democratic organization is still quite strong. But Tom Sianis, though victorious, did not carry many North Shore precincts beyond Evanston. Tim Leeming, who had the Tribune endorsement, won those areas. Oran Whiting, who also had the Tribune endorsement, fared much better in those North Shore areas than Sianis.

Whiting's campaign, however, fared poorly in Northwest and Southwest Side communities where many police officers and firefighters live. John Maher, an Assistant State's Attorney who prosecuted gang crimes, received his strongest support in those areas.

There were two ASA's among the four candidates for the countywide Clay vacancy. One of these, Kathaleen Lanahan, who enjoyed the Tribune's endorsement, won the race. Her colleague in the State's Attorney's Office, Michael O'Malley, carried many Northwest and Southwest Side precincts. Neither enjoyed the official endorsement of the Democratic Party:

O'Malley did not have a lot of endorsements, but he did have one from the FOP.

These maps illustrate, fairly dramatically, that the 'boosts' that some candidates seem to receive, based on their surnames, or gender, or from the Tribune endorsement are real. Calabrese acknowledged that the maps provide confirmation of what Dr. Albert Klumpp has been reporting for years.

But the maps also show that -- as many candidates have learned to their sorrow -- the endorsement of the Democratic Party is, in and of itself, no guarantee of victory in a judicial primary election.

Frank Calabrese is a young man, often (he noted) quite a bit younger than the judicial candidates with whom he consults. Mature, successful lawyers may be wary of taking the advice of someone half their age. Instead, Frank noted, judicial candidates often prefer to rely on mentors who ran successful judicial campaigns -- but the political landscape has changed with the passage of time, Frank contends. He created these maps, he told me, to illustrate this.

Certainly Frank's maps illustrate, again, that all politics is local. In Chicago, often very local.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

June 11 fundraiser set for Judge Lynn Weaver Boyle

Supporters of Judge Lynn Weaver Boyle's campaign to remain on the Cook County bench have planned a fundraiser for their candidate on Tuesday, June 11, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Harry Caray's, 33 W. Kinzie. State Senate President John Cullerton and Cook County Commissioner John Daley are the honorary hosts for the event.

Tickets for the event are $100 apiece, but sponsorships are available ($250 - Silver, $500 - Gold, and $1,000 - Platinum) and are available at this page on the candidate's new campaign website. For additional information about the event, contact Thom Karmik at (702) 809-2379 or by email at

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Weaver Boyle to the countywide Patti vacancy late last year.

Patricia M. Fallon announces 2020 judicial bid

Patricia M. Fallon, a former Assistant Cook County State's Attorney now working for the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, has announced plans to seek election to the Cook County Circuit Court in the 2020 Democratic Primary.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2001, according to ARDC, Fallon states, on a new campaign Facebook page, that she is running because she is "ready to take my seventeen years of litigation experience in employment, labor, civil rights and contract law disputes, including both federal and state court litigation, to the bench."

Fallon received her law degree from the Chicago-Kent College of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola University. Her Facebook campaign page notes that she resides in Glenview with her husband and two sons.

386 of 391 Illinois associate judges receive new 4-year terms

Three hundred eighty six of the 391 Illinois associate judges seeking reappointment for new four-year terms were retained by their colleagues in each of Illinois' 24 judicial circuits, according to an announcement issued today by the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts.

The appointments of all associate judges serving in Illinois, even those appointed recently (Judge James A. Wright, for example, appointed after a runoff only last June, and his 16 classmates, all sworn in last June 29) were set to expire on June 30 (under Supreme Court Rule 39(a)(1), the terms of all Illinois associate judges "expire on June 30th of every fourth year subsequent to 1975, regardless of the date on which any judge is appointed"). Only those associate judges seeking reappointment and retained by a vote of three-fifths of the sitting full circuit judges in their respective circuits, would be permitted to continue in office.

(Spoiler alert: Judge Wright and his classmates were all retained.)

The nearly 99% retention rate this year is slightly better than the roughly 98% retention rate in 2015 (when 376 of 384 associate judges were retained).

But in 2015, all 140 Cook County associate judges seeking a new four-year term were retained; this year, while 137 Cook County associate judges seeking reappointment were retained, one, Judge Richard Denis Schwind, was not.

Schwind became as associate judge in 2012; at the time of his 2012 appointment he was serving as an Assistant Illinois Attorney General. He was a finalist for associate judge in 2009.

Last fall, Judge Schwind was assigned to administrative duties following a media report in which Schwind was quoted as telling an African-American criminal defendant, during sentening, "You were never a slave." (Click here for FWIW post.) Schwind was one of four judges recently rated "not recommended" for retention by the Chicago Bar Association.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Tomorrow and June 22: CBA Symphony Orchestra & Chorus to perform joyfully

The Chicago Bar Association Orchestra & Chorus, the DePaul Community Chorus, and the Niles Metropolitan Chorus will perform Beethoven's Ode to Joy tomorrow, Sunday, June 2, at 3:00 p.m., at St. John Brebeuf Church, 8305 North Harlem in Niles, and again on Saturday, June 22, at 8:00 p.m. at Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan Ave.

The performances of the Ode to Joy will feature winners of the American Prize in Voice Chicago Oratorio Award. The program will also include movements from Schumann's Piano Concerto, featuring Neil Posner on the piano; Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, featuring John Vishneski III on the clarinet; Saint-Saëns' Violin Concerto No. 3, featuring Sara Su Jones on violin; and selections by the combined choruses.

David Lazaar Katz, Stephen Blackwelder, and Marek Rachelski will conduct.

Tickets for tomorrow's concert in Niles are available online at this link.

To purchase tickets for the June 22 concert at Orchestra Hall, click here.

Mike Gerber receives new bench appointment

In an order entered yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court returned Michael Perry Gerber to the Cook County Circuit Court bench, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Margarita Kulys Hoffman.

The appointment is effective Tuesday, June 4, and will terminate on December 7, 2020.

Gerber was previously appointed to the bench in late 2016, also to a 13th Subcircuit vacancy. He sought election to that post as a Republican, winning "Highly Qualified" ratings from both the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association, and capturing the Tribune endorsement, but was defeated in the primary.

A 1980 graduate of DePaul Law School, Gerber was one of the longest serving Cook County Assistant State's Attorneys when he was first tapped for judicial service. He has also served as an instructor in business law in the College of Business and Management at the Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) since 1980.

Gerber's new appointment comes on the recommendation of Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke. Justice Burke had announced an application process for the Hoffman vacancy in February.