Friday, August 23, 2019

Suzanne McEneely announces run for countywide Larsen vacancy -- and caps are off in this race, too

Suzanne McEneely, a career Assistant Public Defender, has announced plans to seek the Democratic nomination for the countywide Larsen vacancy in the 2020 Primary. That's a link to the candidate's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Licensed in Illinois since 2001, according to ARDC, McEneely's campaign bio stresses her wide-ranging experience within the PD's office. Currently based in Skokie, McEneely has represented clients in the misdemeanor, domestic violence, mental health court, veterans court and felony trial rooms there.

In an email to FWIW, McEneely reported that her campaign had a successful first fundraiser on August 14, adding that her "campaign has over $150,000 on hand and we will begin our broader campaign which includes billboards and social media in the coming days."

A review of the ISBE website this morning confirms that a Notification of Self-Funding has been filed by the McEneely campaign -- meaning that caps are off in the race for the Larsen vacancy.

McEneely's campaign bio also notes that she has been active in her parish and in her children's school. She also has served on the board of the Children’s Heart Foundation of Illinois, according to her campaign bio. McEneely lives on Chicago's Northwest Side and is a graduate of the DePaul University College of Law.

The ISBE has posted a new list of judicial vacancies

The list says it is current as of August 12.

Only one new Cook County vacancy appears thereon, that being the 3rd Subcircuit vacancy of Judge Peter Flynn.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Pam Stratigakis announces 9th Subcircuit judicial bid

(Things I Learned Looking Up Other Things -- with apologies to the late Sydney J. Harris)

Noodling around the Internet yesterday, looking for something else, I discovered the Facebook campaign page for 9th Subcircuit judicial candidate Pam Stratigakis. A career Assistant State's Attorney, Stratigakis has been licensed in Illinois since 2001. Her most recent assignment, according to the bio on the Facebook page, has been in the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Division.

A campaign website is apparently under construction, but it has not yet gone live.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

LAP Annual Dinner set for November 14

The Illinois Lawyers' Assistance Program will hold its Annual Dinner on Thursday, November 14, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Union League Club of Chicago, 65 W. Jackson.

Lisa F. Smith, the award-winning author of Girl Walks Out of a Bar, will be the keynote speaker at the event.

Smith is a recovery advocate, writer, speaker, podcast host, and lawyer. Smith describes her memoir, Girl Walks Out of a Bar, as "the story of my descent into and recovery from drug and alcohol addiction." She co-hosts a podcast, Recovery Rocks, with Tawny Lara.

A graduate of Northwestern University and Rutgers School of Law, where she served on the Editorial Board of the Rutgers Law Review, Smith is a frequent speaker at law firms, law schools, bar associations, and other organizations. She serves on the Advisory Board of’s Minds Over Matters mental health reporting project.

Smith has appeared on TODAY and BBC World News discussing alcoholism and addiction. Her writing has been published in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Women’s Health, Refinery29,, A Women’s Thing, and, among others.

Tickets for the dinner are $150 each (tables of 10 are $1,500). Sponsorships are available (Friend - $250, Bronze - $500, Silver - $1,000, Gold - $2,500, Platinum - $3,500, and Presenting - $5,000). Sponsorships come with dinner tickets, ads in the event program, and other benefits. Dinner tickets and more information about the sponsorship opportunities can be found by clicking here.

Heather Kent to seek countywide O'Brien vacancy; September 12 fundraiser set

Assistant State's Attorney Heather Anne Kent has announced plans to seek the O'Brien vacancy in the 2020 Democratic Primary. That's a link to the campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar. There is also a campaign Facebook page.

Kent has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2006, according to ARDC. Her campaign bio notes that Kent has spent her career in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, where she is currently assigned to the felony trial division. She has previously served in the Child Protection Division of that office. A graduate of St. Ignatius High School, Kent earned her undergraduate degree at Providence College in Rhode Island and her J.D. from DePaul University School of Law.

Kent's supporters have organized a fundraiser in support of her campaign for Thursday, September 12, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Pony Inn, 1638 W. Belmont. Tickets are $100 each, but government employees will be admitted for $60, and sponsorships are available ($250 - Bronze, $500 - Silver, $1,000 Gold). For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, visit the candidate's website or email

September 9 fundraiser for Judge Kerrie Maloney Laytin

Gretchen Harris Sperry and Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP will host a fundraising event for Judge Kerrie Maloney Laytin at Hinshaw's Chicago office, 151 N. Franklin St., on Monday, September 9, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Tickets for the event are $100 each, and sponsorships are available ($250 - Bronze, $500 - Silver, $1,000 - Gold).

For more information, or to reserve tickets, email

Beth Ryan to seek countywide Coghlan vacancy

Elizabeth Condron Ryan, or Beth Ryan, as she is apparently known to her friends and supporters, has announced plans to seek nomination to the countywide Coghlan vacancy in the 2020 Democratic Primary. That's a link to Ryan's campaign website in the preceding sentence; it has also been added to the blog Sidebar. There is also a campaign Facebook page which specifies Ryan's interest in the Coghlan vacancy.

Licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2004, according to ARDC, Ryan is the owner of the Loop Law Office of Elizabeth C. Ryan. Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, according to her campaign biography (Christ the King, Mother McAuley), Ryan now resides on the Northwest Side of the City, in Sauganash, with her husband and four daughters.

Ryan externed for 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William Bauer while still in law school, according to her campaign bio. After graduation, Ryan clerked for Judge Martin Agran, when he was sitting in Chancery. She later worked for Newman Boyer & Statham, doing personal injury work, starting her own practice in 2011.

In a statement to FWIW, Ryan said she is "running as an independent Democrat, but I expect to have a wide base of support throughout Cook County. Our organizing effort right now is family and friends in anticipation of kicking off our petition drive in early September. We have over $130,000 in cash on hand and billboards are going up. We are in this to win."

A review of the Illinois State Board of Elections website confirms that a Notification of Self-Funding has been filed by Ryan's campaign committee.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Cook County Democrats slate eight of 10 appointed judges for Circuit Court vacancies

There are currently 13 countywide vacancies on the Cook County Circuit Court.

The Illinois Supreme Court has filled 10 of these vacancies with interim appointees (meaning that the appointees serve until the first Monday in December 2020, when these vacancies will be filled with persons elected to these posts).

Last week at its slating meeting, the Cook County Democratic Party agreed to endorse eight of the 10 sitting countywide appointees for the vacancies they currently fill.

To be specific, the Party endorsed Judges Kerrie Maloney Laytin, James T. Derico, Jr., Celestia L. Mays, Sheree D. Henry, Levander Smith, Jr., Teresa Molina, Lloyd James Brooks, and Lynn Weaver Boyle.

But Laura Ayala-Gonzalez, pictured at left, the Deputy Supervisor of the Felony Review Unit at Cook County State's Attorney's Office, was slated for the Ford vacancy. Judge Thomas M. Cushing now holds that vacancy by appointment, but he did not appear before the Democratic Party's slatemakers.

And Jill Rose Quinn was slated for the Kevin M. Sheehan vacancy over Judge Marina E. Ammendola, who did ask for the Party's endorsement. FWIW readers may remember that Quinn sought a 10th Subcircuit vacancy in 2018. As near as I can tell, Quinn is the first transgender candidate ever endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party for countywide office.

Loop attorney Christ Stacey was slated for Mason vacancy; Araceli De La Cruz, pictured at right, the General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer of Acero Schools, was slated for the Roti vacancy; and Maura McMahon Zeller was slated for the Colleen F. Sheehan vacancy. That's a link to Zeller's campaign website in the preceding sentence; it has been added to the website list in the blog Sidebar.

Cook County Dems slate 10 alternates for Circuit Court

The casual reader may think this an odd choice for a post, even here.

After all, alternate choices, by definition, if they wait as the Party is asking them to wait, will not even appear on the ballot unless a vacancy occurs. If vacancies do open, the alternates are automatically slated (pre-slated?) in the order of their selection, from one to ten.

There are 13 countywide vacancies already; there may be a few more. A couple, perhaps.

But not 10.

Why accept slating as an alternate for a vacancy that will never open?

The gentleman on the left is Thomas E. Nowinski, a one-time Assistant State's Attorney who is currently Labor Counsel in the Office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2004, he is the son of retired Judge Thomas E. Nowinski.

He was also the Democratic Party's fifth alternate in the 2018 election cycle.

Only three slots opened up after the slating meeting in 2017 -- but those first three 2018 pre-slated alternates, Rosa Maria Silva, Tom S. Sianis, and Thomas F. McGuire, are all sitting judges today.

So, by accepting the unlikely alternate spot in 2018, Mr. Nowinski is in position now to have the Party's promised support the moment another vacancy occurs. And he's got a campaign website and campaign Facebook page already in place awaiting the fulfillment of that contingency.

So... the Cook County Democratic Party would presumably hold Nowinski up as an example of what can happen where a prospective candidate remains patient. His story is incentive for the nine behind him not to run against a Party candidate.

And there's a cautionary tale in this historical review: Alternates 1, 2, and 3 from 2018 are all judges today. Alternate 5 is in line to be slated when as and if another countywide vacancy occurs.

What happened to Alternate 4? Well, the fourth alternate in 2018 was a sitting judge, with an appointment that would have expired if she didn't find a way to stay on the bench. So she tried her hand a subcircuit race... and got knocked off the ballot. She was among the many presenters last week at the slating meeting. But she wasn't slated. And she is not an alternate either.

After Nowinski, the Party's slated alternates are, in order, former Judge Travis Richardson, Cristin McDonald Duffy, Eric Sauceda, Yolanda Sayre, Frank Andreou (a 12th Subcircuit candidate in 2016), Joseph Chico (who made a 1st Subcircuit run in 2010), Diane Marie Pezanoski (a finalist for Associate Judge in 2018), Amanda Pillsbury (who ran countywide in 2018), and Ashonta Rice (who was a candidate for a 15th Subcircuit vacancy in 2018).

And who did the Party actually slate for the 13 countywide vacancies already in existence? I'll get to that in my next post.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Appellate Court candidates present credentials to Cook County Democratic Party slatemakers

The competitive race for the Illinois Supreme Court vacancy has taken a whole lot of attention away from the two First District Appellate Court vacancies to be filled in 2020.

That's a shame.

Because as important as the Illinois Supreme Court is, and as rare as openings on that court are, the Appellate Court is far more important, light years more important, as a practical matter, in any given case, civil or criminal.

Every case can be reviewed in the Appellate Court. Every final judgment in a civil case is reviewable as of right pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 301. But in civil cases, in any given term, the Supreme Court will consider perhaps one in a hundred cases where review is sought from decisions of the Appellate Court. I don't know the precise figures for criminal cases, but I understand them to be similar.

There are a few cases that can be appealed directly to the Supreme Court, and there are a few actions that can be initiated in the Supreme Court, but these are as rare as hen's teeth -- or openings on the Supreme Court.

So the Appellate Court is important. In the overwhelming majority of cases, it is the practical court of last resort.

But, consistent with the way this election season is shaping up, the Supreme Court hopefuls' presentations to the Cook County Democratic Party Committeemen yesterday at the IBEW consumed all the scheduled time for the Appellate Court candidates to present their credentials and then some.

Scheduled to start at 11:00, the Appellate Court hopefuls did not begin their presentations until 12:30.

Associate Judge William S. Boyd was first up. Currently sitting in Domestic Relations, Boyd was a candidate for the Appellate Court once before, in the 2012 primary, garnering strong ratings and endorsements from the Tribune and the Chicago Federation of Labor in that effort. But he was not endorsed by the Party in that race.

Boyd's presentation to the committee focused on his many civic and charitable activities, and several Committeemen promptly rose to provide confirmation and affirmation of these endeavors for their peers.

None of the Appellate Court candidates have ratings from the Alliance yet; most indicated their interviews are set for September. However, the Chicago Bar Association has completed its ratings of Appellate Court candidates. As far as I know, the CBA has not released these publicly. This is consistent with the practice of all bar groups -- both CBA and Alliance members alike -- of holding the public release of their ratings until shortly before the primary when all ratings for all candidates are complete. The bar groups believe that this maximizes the impact of their ratings.

However, candidates are free to disclose their ratings publicly once they are received. So all the candidates could and did tell the Committeemen how the CBA had rated them. Judge Boyd told the group that the CBA had found him Qualified.

He also told the Committee that he would not run against the party if he were slated as an alternate. Boyd was the Party's fourth alternate for an Appellate Court vacancy in 2014.

Judge Carolyn Gallagher was next up. First elected to the Cook County Circuit Court in 2016, with support from the CFL but without Democratic Party slating, Judge Gallagher now sits in Probate. Gallagher reported that she has received a Highly Qualified rating from the CBA. In her 2016 race, Gallagher's extensive appellate practice experience was noted by the bar groups that issued written findings.

One committeeman challenged Judge Gallagher for sending a three-page letter via email to every committeeman detailing what he characterized as a dispute between Gallagher and a political consultant. Neither this committeeman nor Judge Gallagher named the consultant, but the committeman questioned whether this letter reflected well on Judge Gallagher's judicial temperament.

Gallagher had two responses. First, she said she was advised to send this letter by committeemen with whom she had consulted (and this was confirmed by one or more committeemen). Second, she characterized the matter not as a 'dispute' but as an attack on her integrity and reputation, suggesting that she could not let these allegations go unrebutted.

I am reluctant to report this uncomfortable exchange because I know nothing of the particulars. I've not seen the letter in question and I don't know who the consultant is or what charges he or she has leveled. However (and this is why I am mentioning it), I can confirm that Judge Gallagher is a frequent target of venomous comments left on this blog. A lot of negative comments are received here, and disposed of without seeing the light of day, about a great many judges. Judges (whose job it is to make decisions) will necessarily disappoint some people. But the comments about Judge Gallagher, launched from the safety of anonymity, are more frequent and often more vicious than the norm. Somebody out there really does not like Judge Gallagher.

Justice John C. Griffin was next. Appointed to the Appellate Court 15 months ago by the Illinois Supreme Court, Griffin was quick to advise the Committee that he was the only candidate for the Appellate Court who would be out of a job if he does not win his seat. He reported to the Committee that he has been found Highly Qualified for this race by the CBA.

Committeemen responding to Griffin's presentation noted the strong support that he has received from labor groups and south suburban committeemen in particular also noted Griffin's community involvement and visibility.

Former Circuit Court Judge Russell Hartigan followed Griffin. FWIW reported Hartigan's interest in returning to the bench earlier this year, but his website, at the time, did not specify that he was looking to run for the Appellate Court (as you can see, it does now).

Hartigan was appointed to the Circuit Court in 2010 and elected in 2012, with Party support. He stressed his Party credentials before the Committeemen yesterday, including prior service as Berwyn Township Committeeman and President of Lyons Township Democratic Organization. He reminded committeemen that he had previously sought elevation to the Appellate Court, in the 2014 primary cycle, but stepped aside at the Party's request in favor of now-Jusitice David Ellis. He explained that he left the bench because of family health issues.

Hartigan told the Committee that he was rated Highly Qualified for this race by the CBA and that he would be willing to seek slating as an alternate.

Appellate Court Justice Michael B. Hyman was the next to present his credentials. He explained to the Committee that he is a Circuit Court judge who had been assigned to the Appellate Court. (Six of the First District Appellate Court's sitting justices are Circuit Court judges serving by assignment.) However, when Justice Neville was appointed to the Supreme Court, Justice Hyman, as the most senior of the assigned judges, was moved into the Neville vacancy. To remain on the Appellate Court he must be elected in his own right; otherwise, his assignment will terminate and he will be returned to the Circuit Court.

Appointed to the Circuit Court on the recommendation of the late Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann G. McMorrow, Hyman was elected to the Circuit bench in 2008 (with Party support) and retained in 2014. He reminded the Committeemen that he had been nominated for the Party's 2008 endorsement by the late Appellate Court R. Eugene Pincham. He holds a Highly Qualified rating from the CBA.

A number of committeemen from across the county were quick to speak on Justice Hyman's behalf. Ald. and Committeeman David Moore (17th) said he could not remember getting so many phone calls, from so many different persons, in every community, lobbying on Hyman's behalf.

Circuit Court Judge Sandra Ramos spoke next. First elected to the Circuit Court bench in 2010, as the Democratic Party's endorsed candidate, Ramos was, until recently, a candidate for the Supreme Court. Presently assigned to the Law Division, Judge Ramos had to present out of order because she was needed back at the Daley Center to preside over a trial.

FWIW recently had a chance to speak with someone senior in Ramos's campaign about why Ramos made the decision to switch her focus from the Supreme Court vacancy to the Appellate Court. According to the campaign official, both public and private factors figured in the decision. By getting out of the Supreme Court race, she avoided causing a split among Hispanic elected officials and community leaders over whether to support her or Justice Jesse Reyes. But, besides that, Judge Ramos's father passed away earlier this year (her mother has been gone a couple of years) and Ramos has additional responsibilities wrapping up her father's affairs.

Before the Committee, Ramos added still one more factor: The paucity of Hispanics elected to the appellate bench. As a number of committeemen said, in response to her presentation, a Party that embraces diversity needs to find ways to bring more Hispanics into reviewing court positions.

Ramos has been rated Qualified by the CBA.

The last to present was Circuit Court Judge Sharon Johnson. Currently sitting as a Domestic Relations judge in Markham, Judge Johnson was first elected to the court in 2010. She ran for election to the Appellate Court in 2014 -- and some of the committeemen questioned her about that race, in which she ran against the Party's candidate.

She received some bad advice back then, Johnson said, but she learned from that experience. She was asking for support now and was willing to accept slating as an alternate.

Johnson's presentation to the group stressed her leadership credentials since joining the judiciary. A former Chair of the Illinois Judicial Council, Johnson has also served as a mentor to other judges. A number of committeemen praised her community involvement as well.

Bloggers and other non-essential personnel were ejected from the room at this point so the committeemen could discuss their choices in executive session.

In the end, Justices Hyman and Griffin were recommended for slating. Judge Boyd was recommended as the first alternate. Sandra Ramos was chosen as a second alternate and Sharon Johnson as a third.

The Party's Appellate Court Committee was chaired by New Trier Township Committeeman Dean Maragos. Ald. and Committeeman Pat Dowell (3rd) was Vice-Chair.

It is my understanding that these recommendations must be accepted by the Cook County Central Committee (all 50 ward and township committeemen) and that this vote will occur later today.

Readers may wonder what slating as an alternate may mean.

It means that -- if the candidate does not file against a slated candidate in the meantime -- should an additional vacancy open up, the first alternate will automatically become the Party's endorsed candidate. If a second vacancy opens up, the second alternate will become the Party's candidate -- and so forth. Late vacancies do sometimes occur, even on the Appellate Court.

But there are no guarantees.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Justice Neville responds to NBC5 story on allegedly improper homeowner's exemptions; Assessor responds to Justice Neville

At this morning's slatemaking meeting, some Cook County Democratic Committeemen were interested in Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr.'s response to the recent story aired by NBC5 concerning a homeowner's exemption being granted on his late mother's property, where he does not live, but which was quitclaimed to him in 2004, according to the NBC5 story.

Everyone in Cook County is entitled to a homeowner's exemption on the home where they actually live.

This week's NBC5 story is not the first time that allegations have been made about prominent persons claiming homeowner's exemptions on more than one property.

Justice Neville told the committeemen there were "no irregularities." In fact, he told the group, the Cook County Assessor's Office reported to his committee just last night that its investigation showed no irregularities concerning exemptions on the property. Pressed for more information by another questioner, Justice Neville said he did not think he could expand on what the Assessor's Office said.

What did the Assessor's Office say?

Well, of course, no one told me, the blogger in the back of the spacious room at the IBEW Local 134 Headquarters on S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

So I reached out to Deputy Assessor and Chief Communications Officer Scott Smith who advised in an email as follows:
With the approval of the Local Records Commission, various records, including Homeowners’ Exemption applications from the year 2000, were destroyed by the Assessor’s Office. Our electronic records indicate whether a property received a homeowner’s exemption, but they do not reflect the name of the applicant. Therefore, we do not have the name of the person who filed for the exemption on this property in 2000. [Justice Neville's] name is on the deed so he’s ultimately responsible for repayment of the erroneous exemption and has been in contact with our office about doing so.
I did not get the chance to hear all the Supreme Court candidates' presentations, but according to the schedule I saw, in addition to Justice Neville, first-time candidate Daniel Epstein and Appellate Court Justices Cynthia Cobbs, Shelly Harris, Nathaniel Howse, Margaret McBride, and Jesse Reyes all made their pleas for the support of the Democratic Party.

The Party's choice remains in limbo this evening. While Justice Neville did command a majority of the committeemen's weighted vote on the Party's Supreme Court Subcommittee, the margin was slim, according to one committeeman with whom I spoke. The Party's final choice in this matter will be made tomorrow.

Caps are off in one Circuit Court race... maybe

A number of readers have pointed out that a prospective Circuit Court candidate recently received a $155,000 loan from her father, thereby eliminating contribution limits in any race in which she becomes a candidate.

I reached out to the prospective candidate -- who told me she is not a candidate... not yet, anyway.

It seems the vacancy she hopes to seek hasn't actually yet come open. Under the circumstances, she's asked me not to mention her by name. While a lot of readers know who I'm talking about here already, there's no reason not to honor that request.

But there are two reasons to run this post anyway.

First, some have speculated that caps might be lifted in all Circuit Court races on account of this one donation.

That does not appear to be the case.

The issue came up during the 2016 primary cycle, in late April 2015, to be precise, when Richard C. Cooke loaned his nascent judicial campaign $500,000. Application of Section 9.8-5(h) of the Election Code is easy when there is only one office up for election. There is only one Mayor of Chicago, one Governor of Illinois. In this election cycle, there is only one Supreme Court vacancy in the First District. But where there are multiple vacancies on the Circuit Court, as there are in every election cycle, the language of the statute is less helpful.

I quote now from my June 6, 2016 post on the subject:
Section 9.8-5(h) is not entirely clear, acknowledged Ken Menzel, General Counsel of the Illinois State Board of Elections. In a telephone conversation with FWIW yesterday, Menzel explained that there would have been less of a problem if the loan had come much later in the election cycle. Right now judicial candidates are, theoretically, potential candidates for many possible vacancies. However, [ISBE General Counsel Ken] Menzel pointed our that regulations were recently adopted (on May 19, in fact) that may provide guidance. Menzel cited FWIW to Title 26 of the Illinois Administrative Code, Section 100.75. Section 100.75(j)(2) states that, "'Candidate for the same office' shall be determined by candidate petition filings. Prior to the actual filing of petitions for a particular office, a candidate for that office wishing to receive official notice of a Self-Funding Notification from the Board must inform the Board in writing of his or her intention to seek nomination or election to the office in question."

At this point -- since Cooke has not declared for any specific vacancy and petitions can not yet be legally circulated -- it is probably safe to say that campaign finance caps * * * remain in place for all judicial campaign committees except Cooke's -- and he's not looking for more money. "That's almost certainly the legislative intent," one prominent election law attorney told me, though he would not comment for the record because of the possibility that this issue might be settled in the courts.
Prospective judicial candidates should consult their own election law attorneys on this subject for any clarification that may be required. I am not offering any sort of legal opinion or advice here.

The second takeaway from this story is a more general one, and one that arises in every election cycle that I've looked at over the past 12 years: Judges who are rumored to be retiring -- even strongly rumored -- to the point where it becomes common knowledge that Judge So-and-so is about to step down -- sometimes don't actually retire.

And, generally speaking, promises of future conduct are not actionable.

In the case of this particular candidate, I've heard the same rumor she has. And usually any rumor that reaches me has to be pretty widespread. So maybe the caps will come off in the race for that one vacancy, if it occurs. Maybe the candidate will look at another vacancy -- in which case the caps would be off there instead.

But not generally.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Who Sits Where -- Slating Week Edition

Along with the other countywide offices up for slating this week, the Cook County Democratic Party slatemakers will choose candidates for the countywide judicial vacancies. Subcircuit slating will occur afterwards, if at all, sometimes with public notice (I'll try to get out the word on those) and sometimes without (I'll try and get the word out on those, too, but my success rate is much lower).

What follows is the list of all Cook County judicial vacancies that have been published by the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The list below shows which vacancies have been filled by Supreme Court appointment. Some of these appointees will be slated by the Cook County Democratic Party; others will not.

And always remember this: There is SLATING and there is slating and the difference is not always apparent. Except in hindsight.

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. Mary Anne Mason -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. James P. McCarthy -- Teresa Molina
Vacancy of the Hon. Joyce Marie Murphy Gorman -- Sheree D. Henry
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. Thomas D. Roti -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Colleen F. Sheehan -- Unfilled
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. Rhonda Crawford2 -- 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. Larry Axelrood -- Unfilled
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 -- Patricia M. Fallon

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 Supreme Court's order appointing Justice Hyman to this vacancy provides 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. There is no Hyman vacancy on the Circuit Court.

2 The late Rhonda Crawford won the Democratic Party's nomination for this vacancy in the 2016 primary but never took office. I do not know why the ISBE has designated this as the Crawford vacancy. I have asked for clarification on this, and if I get it, I will report it.

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.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Yolanda Harris Sayre announces plans to seek election to the Circuit Court

There's no campaign website yet, but there is a Facebook page supporting the 2020 judicial campaign of Chicago Police Department attorney Yolanda Harris Sayre.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1995 according to ARDC, Sayre was among those presenting her credentials to the Cook County Democratic Party for 'pre-screening' this past June.

Dan Balanoff to make 8th Subcircuit judicial bid

Dan Balanoff, the grandson of former Cook County Circuit Court Judge Miriam Balanoff, has announced plans to seek an 8th Subcircuit judicial seat.

That's a link to Balanoff's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Balanoff has already had a write-up on Politico, in a piece that mentions that Dan Balanoff's father is Cook County Circuit Court Judge Robert Balanoff and "his uncles are progressive political consultant Clem Balanoff and SEIU President Tom Balanoff."

Licensed as an attorney since 2007, according to ARDC, Balanoff is the principal of Balanoff & Associates, with an office on South Ewing Street on the Southeast Side. His campaign bio stresses that he has lived in Lincoln Park for the past decade, and has served on the Lincoln Park High School LSC.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

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One of the first hurdles for every campaign is the petition process. Gathering signatures is a time consuming and expensive process, and you need to verify they are registered voters after you collect them. Then you need to do it all over again to review the petition signatures your opponents have filed. 

But fear not, the process has entered the 21st century! Enter Petition Review, the first software package geared exclusively to the process of verifying petition signatures. Our easy to use web-based tool allows your campaign to verify petition signatures any time, anywhere. 

First you can check your own signatures as you collect them to ensure you have more than the minimum required, all while building a valuable database of voters who have signed your petition.

Then after filing, use Petition Review to verify your opponent’s petition signatures. The software is built with speed and accuracy in mind, allowing you to quickly review all of the filed signatures with much less effort than going to the Board of Elections. Best of all, if your opponent is below the minimum number of required signatures then Petition Review will create all the exhibits you need to object to each signature.

Petition Review has been used over 5 years to review 750+ petitions, resulting in over 75 successful objections. Click here to see some of our successful past users (

But don’t just take it from us. Here are some testimonials from knowledgeable campaign consultants:

Sean Tenner, President of KNI Communications
Petition Review has been incredibly helpful over the past several election cycles in helping clients quickly and efficiently review their petitions. It is a simple, user-friendly and valuable tool in ensuring the most important element of any campaign -- getting on the ballot - gets done right!“
Frank Calabrese, Judicial Campaign Consultant
“Last December, my team had 4 days to analyze Dorothy Brown's 24,000 signatures that she submitted for the mayoral ballot. By using Petition Review’s software, we were able to quickly file an objection that ultimately found that Brown submitted 900 signatures below the minimum, and she was removed from the ballot. Analyzing such a high number of signatures in such a short time was only possible with Petition Review. In 2018, I was able to file petitions for five judicial candidates without any objections filed against them, since I used Petition Review to verify their signatures before they were filed. With so many candidates running for judge this year, the key to victory will first be getting on the ballot, and second, removing your opponents from the ballot. Petition Review is an essential tool to victory.“
To sign up or get more information about Petition Review email - please include whether you are running countywide or subcircuit, and if possible, what vacancy.

August 22 fundraiser for Patricia M. Fallon

Supporters of newly installed Judge Patricia M. Fallon's candidacy have scheduled a fundraiser for their candidate on Thursday, August 22, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the offices of Wise, Morrissey LLC, 161 N. Clark St., 12th floor.

Tickets are $100, but government employees will be admitted for $50. Sponsorships are available ($250 - Bronze, $500 - Silver, $1,000 - Gold).

For more information, or to reserve tickets, email

Fallon was appointed to the Hanlon vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit; she took office July 26.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Jonathan Clark Green announces 8th Subcircuit bid, August 14 fundraiser

Jonathan Clark Green has launched a bid for an 8th Subcircuit vacancy. That's a link to his new campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has been added to the blog Sidebar as well (yes, the candidate website Sidebar is back as of today).

Green's supporters have also planned a campaign kickoff event for their candidate on Wednesday, August 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Old Crow Smokehouse, 149 W. Kinzie Street.

Tickets for the event are $100 each (with discounted $50 tickets available for government or nonprofit employees). Sponsorships are also available ($250 - Sponsor, $500 - Host, $1,000 Chair). Free Validated Parking will be available from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Mart Parc Wells, 401 N. Wells Street. Todd Smith and Daniel Fusco are the co-hosts for this event.

For more information, or to reserve tickets, email