Thursday, July 25, 2019

Audrey Victoria Cosgrove plans 2020 judicial bid, July 31 campaign kickoff set

Audrey Victoria Cosgrove, who recently became Deputy Chief Legal Counsel at the Illinois Department of Labor, according to her campaign website, has announced plans to seek election to the Cook County Circuit Court in 2020.

In addition to setting up a campaign website on her behalf (linked above), Cosgrove's supporters are planning a kickoff event for their candidate on Wednesday, July 31, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at Gannon's Pub, 4264 N. Lincoln Ave.

This event is open to the general public, but persons wishing to attend are asked to register at this page. And, of course, while there is no set admission charge, the campaign is accepting donations. For more information about the event, email John Zmuda at

Cosgrove has been licensed in Illinois since 1990, according to ARDC. Before joining the Illinois Department of Labor, Cosgrove practiced with her husband, Thomas Cosgrove, in The Cosgrove Law Firm LLC.

Cosgrove began her legal career in the office of the Cook County Public Defender; she continued to represent criminal defendants in private practice. She also has served as an Administrative Law Judge for the Illinois State Police Merit Board, the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Tollway.

Her campaign biography notes that she has worked as a pro bono attorney "for the National Immigrant Justice Center, representing children in asylum and DACA cases" for eight years. Cosgrove is the Secretary of the Advocates Society and is an active member of the Polish National Alliance and the Polish National Alliance. A parishioner at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Chicago, where she serves as an Extraordinary Minister, Cosgrove was also recently appointed "45th Ward Ambassador for Advocates for Urban Agriculture." The mother of two children, Cosgrove has also fostered four children through Lawrence Hall Youth Services, according to her campaign biography.

Michael Weaver launches 2020 judicial bid, announces July 29 fundraiser

Michael Weaver, a partner in trial department of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, has announced plans to run for judge in 2020.

His supporters have set up a campaign website and announced a kickoff campaign event for their candidate on Monday, July 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at McDermott Will's Chicago office, 444 W. Lake Street, Suite 4000.

No donation is required, but attendees are "asked to consider a donation at one of the following sponsorship levels": Event Supporter - $100, Event Advocate - $250, Event Host - $500, or Event Chair - $1,000.

Even though the event is open to all, with or without a donation, sponsors are requesting attendees to register using this site for building security purposes. For more information about the event, contact Rachel O'Konis Ruttenberg at

According to his campaign website, Weaver is the Partner-in-Charge for McDermott's LGBTQ+ Diversity and Inclusion Committee. As an associate, he organized a legal clinic for LGBTQ+ individuals with the Center on Halsted and the Broadway Youth Center of Howard Brown. Weaver has served on Equality Illinois PAC’s Board of Directors.

Before joining McDermott, Weaver served as a law clerk for Chief Justice F. Michael Kruse and Associate Justice Lyle L. Richmond of the High Court of American Samoa. He earned his law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He also holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration and Human Resource Development from George Washington University. Weaver has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2006, according to ARDC.

Weaver lives with his husband, Paul, and their senior Pug, Spooner, in Edgewater.

Cristin McDonald Duffy announces 2020 judicial bid

Assistant State's Attorney Cristin McDonald Duffy has announced plans to run for judge in the 2020 primary. That's a link to Duffy's campaign website in the preceding sentence.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1996, according to ARDC, Duffy has spent her career in the State's Attorney's Office. According to her campaign bio, Duffy spent 14 years in the Criminal Division, working her way up to felony prosecutor, and the last nine years in the Civil Division, working on municipal and tax cases.​ Duffy is currently the Deputy Supervisor of the Real Estate Tax Division. The campaign bio also notes that she is "Chair of the Training and Professional Development Committee and the On Boarding and Mentoring Committee for the Civil Division."

Duffy clerked for Corboy & Demetrio while attending law school at Loyola University of Chicago.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Who benefits from the lifting of contribution caps in the Supreme Court race?

On July 12, Supreme Court candidate Daniel Epstein dropped $285,000 into his campaign and filed his Notification of Self-Funding with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Under §9-8.5(h) of the Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/9-8.5(h), this one act eliminated all contribution limits in the race to succeed Justice Charles Freeman on the Illinois Supreme Court.

It's easy enough to understand why Epstein made the splashy gesture: Epstein has only been licensed in Illinois since 2015. He won't be rated qualified or recommended by any bar group; he falls well short of the 10-12 years' experience that the bar groups require before even thinking about awarding a favorable rating. So it took the big contribution to give Epstein some sort of credibility, at least in some circles.

Thus, three days after the mega-contribution, Epstein got a nice profile from Greg Hinz in his On Politics page on Crain's Chicago Business. (Do you really think Hinz would write about Epstein without the donation? Hinz mentioned it in the opening paragraph of his piece.)

But... while it gets some buzz for Mr. Epstein, at least in the short term, the contribution is nowhere near big enough to clear the crowded field of Supreme Court hopefuls.

When Richard C. Cooke loaned his judicial campaign $500,000 in June 2016, he was not committed to any particular race -- and the giant warchest surely helped him wind up unopposed for a 6th Subcircuit vacancy.

But Epstein was just one of eight candidates presenting their credentials last month at the Cook County Democratic Party's "Pre-Slating" Meeting. The other seven, in alphabetical order, were:
  • Appellate Court Justice Cynthia Cobbs
  • Appellate Court Justice Shelly Harris
  • Appellate Court Justice Nathaniel R. Howse, Jr.
  • Appellate Court Justice Margaret McBride
  • Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr.
  • Circuit Court Judge Sandra Ramos
  • Appellate Court Justice Jesse Reyes
The Pre-Slating Meeting took place three weeks before Epstein made his donation; none of these candidates are going to fold because of it. (And these may not be the only candidates for the vacancy. These are just the ones who were willing to ask the Democratic Party about possible slating.)

And, though $285,000 is surely a lot of money in most contexts, it will not be decisive in this race -- and perhaps even less so now.

That's not to say that the candidate who garners the most dollars will also win the most votes. If I had to bet today, I'd guess that the eventual winner will not raise or spend the most money. But the winner will likely spend more than $285,000.

So who benefits the caps being blown in this race? Not Epstein surely. Because of his relative youth and inexperience, he is not likely to get any serious traction in the legal community or, ultimately, with the voters.

I don't see any particular benefit to any of the other candidates either.

The removal of contribution caps might create significant discomfort for some well-heeled donors. Many of Chicago's leading law firms had already donated $11,600 to each of several Supreme Court candidates before Epstein's gesture -- now some may be pressed to contribute even more.

Epstein told Hinz that he wanted to discuss policy. Epstein correctly noted that Supreme Court justices do more than hear cases. Among other things, they determine the procedural rules that govern all our courts. They also set standards for continuing legal education and oversee the lawyer discipline process.

But, thanks to Epstein's donation, a lot of the conversation that might have taken place on those important topics may be elbowed aside in favor of stories about fundraising....

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Heather Begley announces 2020 judicial bid, fundraiser Thursday

A kickoff reception in support of Heather Begley's judicial campaign has been set for this Thursday evening, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Ceres Cafe, 141 W. Jackson.

Tickets for the event are $100 each, but sponsorships are available (Sponsor - $500, Host - $1,000, Chair - $2,800). For more information, or to reserve tickets, email

Begley has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2003. Currently employed by Cunningham Meyer & Vedrine, P.C., Begley's firm bio notes that she had worked on the plaintiff's side before moving to medical malpractice defense. Begley has no campaign website at present, but she has launched a LinkedIn page touting her candidacy. According to the LinkedIn page, Begley clerked for Clifford Law Offices, P.C., before graduating from law school, staying on for another three years after. She then spent six more years with the Law Offices of Jeffrey J. Kroll. She has been with the Cunningham firm since 2016.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Mason steps down; Coghlan appointed to Appellate Court

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Anne Mason, who had been serving on the Appellate Court pursuant to Supreme Court appointment, will retire from judicial service Friday. David Thomas had a front page article on Justice Mason's retirement in the July 18 issue of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (subscription required).

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Probate Division Presiding Judge Mary Ellen Coghlan to replace Justice Mason on the Appellate Court effective July 30.

Although she was serving on the Appellate Court, Mason's retirement will create a countywide vacancy on the Cook County Circuit Court.

Teresa Molina appointed to countywide vacancy

Updated August 13, 2019

Teresa Molina, currently the Chief of Prosecutions for llinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, has been appointed to a countywide judicial vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James Patrick McCarthy.

The Order was entered July 16, but was posted just this morning on the Supreme Court's website.

The appointment is effective this Wednesday, July 24, and terminates December 7, 2020.

Molina has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2001. The Supreme Court's July 25 press release concerning the appointment can be accessed here.

Sheree D. Henry receives countywide appointment

In an order entered just before the July 4 holiday, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Sheree D. Henry to a countywide judicial vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Joyce Marie Murphy Gorman.

The appointment is effective August 2 and terminates December 7, 2020.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1994, Henry has been working as an Assistant Cook County Public Defender. Before joining the PD's office, Henry served as an Assistant Public Guardian in the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office. Henry also served eight years in the Illinois National Gaurd. She was a candidate for a 2nd Subcircuit vacancy in the 2018 primary.

Fundraiser Wednesday for Judge Michael Alan Strom

Supporters of Judge Michael Alan Strom's campaign are hosting a fundraiser for their candidate this Wednesday, July 24, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., at the Ceres Cafe, 141 W. Jackson Blvd.

Tickets for the event are $100 each. Sponsorships are available (Sponsor - $250, Host - $500, Chair - $1,000). For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, email

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Strom to the Luckman vacancy in the 9th Subcircuit late last year; he took office this past January.

Fallon to be sworn in Friday; campaign website already online

It was in early June that FWIW reported that Patricia M. Fallon was planning a 2020 judicial bid.

A few weeks later came an email announcing that a campaign website had been launched to support Fallon's candidacy.

Then, on the eve of the July 4 holiday, the Illinois Supreme Court entered an order appointing Fallon to the 12th Subcircuit vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge Kay M. Hanlon.

Fallon will be sworn in Friday, July 26; her appointment will terminate on December 7, 2020.

But she will now be running for the bench as an incumbent.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated

Well, somewhat exaggerated, anyway.

Clearly, I've left a lot uncovered in the past three weeks or so and I'll have a lot of catching up to do.

That should start tomorrow.

It will take a little time. I'm still not as caught up with other things as I need to be... and, with luck, will be soon.