Monday, November 25, 2019

Six challengers file to unseat Justice Neville

Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr. sits on the Illinois Supreme Court now, appointed by that court to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Charles E. Freeman. Neville's bid to remain on the Supreme Court has won the endorsement of the Cook County Democratic Party.

Neville's petitions were the first received this morning at the Illinois State Board of Elections office in Springfield.

Six other candidates also filed petitions this morning for the Freeman vacancy.

Next up to the counter was Daniel Epstein, a former associate with Jenner & Block. He has been licensed to practice law in Illinois for only four years, since 2015, according to ARDC.

According to his campaign bio, Epstein had a career in "policy, politics, and government" before becoming a lawyer, working in the British House of Commons in 2005 on anti-bullying legislation and crafting "campaign strategy to combat a rising white nationalist party." He also worked in Washington, D.C. as the director of government relations "for a global provider of early childhood education," advocating "for subsidies and tax credits so that families could send their kids to high quality child care regardless of wealth."

But the truth of the matter is, though a prior career may make any candidate a better-rounded, more interesting person, neither the Chicago Bar Association nor any member of the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening is likely to find Epstein remotely qualified for the Supreme Court. The bar groups demand 10 or even 12 years working as an attorney before a candidate would be considered for the Circuit Court. Every bar group says it has more stringent requirements for Appellate Court or Supreme Court hopefuls.

Epstein's campaign generated some early buzz when the candidate contributed $285,000 to his own campaign, thereby 'blowing' the contribution caps (the limitations on what individuals and businesses may give candidates) in this race. And Epstein has generated a following among self-proclaimed progressives. To cite just one example, Epstein's website boasts the endorsement of Jon Loevy of Loevy & Loevy.

Illinois Appellate Court Justice Shelly A. Harris was a special education teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, putting himself through law school at night, according to his campaign bio.

After more than 30 years as an attorney, working first for Legal Aid, then in divorce and domestic relations matters, and finally in personal injury and medical malpractice cases, Harris was appointed to the Circuit Court bench. In 2010, Harris was appointed to the Appellate Court (one quarter of the 24 justices of the First District Appellate Court are Circuit Court judges sitting pursuant to Supreme Court appointment). Harris ran for, and won, an elected seat on the appellate bench in the 2014 election.

Appellate Court Justice Margaret Stanton McBride also filed her nominating petitions this morning.

McBride has served on the Appellate Court since 1998. She began her judicial career in 1987, winning election to the Circuit Court in 1990. McBride has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1976. She spent most of her legal career, prior to her elevation to the bench, as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney.

Appellate Court Justice Cynthia Y. Cobbs has also filed for the Freeman vacancy.

Elected to the Circuit Court in 2014, Cobbs was assigned to the Appellate Court in January 2015.

Cobbs began her judicial career in 2011, when the Illinois Supreme Court appointed her to a countywide vacancy. She was thereafter appointed to a different vacancy in late 2012. It was to that latter vacancy that she was subsequently elected.

Cobbs started her legal career in 1989 as a law clerk, and later chief law clerk, to Supreme Court Justice Charles E. Freeman. She joined the AOIC in 1997, becoming Chief Legal Counsel for the Administrative Office within two years. Cobbs was initially appointed Director of the AOIC in March 2002. Cobbs served under five Chief Justices, the second longest tenure in that office since it was established in 1960.

Class action litigator Clint Krislov has no campaign website yet (none that I could find, anyway) but he does have a Facebook campaign page.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1974, Krislov practices with Krislov & Associates, Ltd., or Krislov Law, as the website calls the firm. The website describes the firm as "class Action lawyers asserting consumer, investor and taxpayer rights, whistleblower and public interest cases." I believe this is his first run for judicial office, though he applied for associate judge in 2017.

Appellate Court Justice Jesse G. Reyes was the seventh and last candidate in line for this vacancy when the doors to the ISBE opened this morning.

Justice Reyes was elected to the Appellate Court in 2012. He was appointed an associate judge in 1997, winning election as a circuit judge in 2008.

Before becoming a judge, Reyes worked in private practice, doing personal injury and worker's compensation cases. He then moved to the City of Chicago’s Corporation Counsel Office before joining the law department of the Chicago Board of Education.

Because each of these candidates was in line when the doors opened this morning at the ISBE, they are all eligible for a lottery to determine ballot order.

A slew of Cook County judicial candidates filed nominating petitions this morning

Candidate filing began this morning for the March 2020 Primary election and all those waiting in line to file at 8:00 a.m. when the doors opened are deemed to have filed at the exact same moment.

That means -- petition challenges and candidate withdrawals for any other reasons notwithstanding -- that the seven candidates for the 1st District Supreme Court vacancy and the six candidates for the two 1st District Appellate Court vacancies who were in line when the doors opened this morning all have an equal chance at the top ballot position in their race.

The top ballot line does confer some statistical advantage according to experts; in a crowded field, it may make the difference between victory and defeat.

Family business prevents me from delving further into the candidate filings at the moment. I will catch up as soon as possible.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Campaign website under construction, Dec. 9 kickoff even for Judge Tom Cushing

The updating of the campaign website is not yet complete -- and there is still some proofreading and polishing to be done on the updated portions -- but the renovations clearly are underway as of this writing, so I've added Judge Thomas M. Cushing's campaign website to the blog Sidebar.

In the meantime, Cushing's campaign has announced a campaign kickoff on Monday, December 9, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Firehouse Grill, 750 Chicago Avenue, Evanston. There is no set ticket price, but, unsurprisingly, donations are appreciated -- and the campaign website is sufficiently updated that contributions can be accepted though the site.

County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty, Committeeman Eamon Kelly, and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart are the listed hosts for this event.

For more information about the event, or to reserve your place, email Abby at amwrausch@gmail.com.

Cushing was appointed to a countywide vacancy earlier this year. He ran for a countywide vacancy in 2016 and a 9th Subcircuit vacancy in 2014.

More on Interfaith Illinois -- a little more, anyway


As the Bible says, ask and ye shall receive.

That seems an apt way to start an updated post about Interfaith Illinois, a group that was among the sponsors of breakfast meet and greet this morning for Cook County judicial candidate Marcia O'Brien Conway. The photos accompanying this post came from that event.

In a post yesterday, I noted that I could not find a current website or Facebook page for Interfaith Illinois. I couldn't find any indication that it functions as a PAC per the Illinois State Board of Elections website, nor is there a listing for any Interfaith Illinois, Inc. on the Secretary of State's website. I asked if FWIW readers could supply any information about the group.

A reader was quick to send me this link to an article on the West Suburban Journal website, from the 2018 election, showing Interfaith Illinois as a sponsor of a meet and greet with then-gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker.

Bishop Dr. Claude Porter was cited in the non-bylined post as the "chairman of Interfaith Illinois, Inc." Porter is also the Chairman of the Proviso Leyden Council for Community Action, Inc., an organization he founded in 1968, according to this September 11, 2019 interview by Mike Sandrolini on the PositivelyProviso.com website.

The Proviso Leyden Council for Community Action (PLCCA) does have a current website -- but it quite clearly states that a new one is coming soon -- and the listed email address no longer works either. (I had hoped to reach Bishop Dr. Porter via an email to PLCCA, asking whether Interfaith Illinois might be sponsoring other judicial candidate meet and greets in the future -- but the email bounced back.)

I will provide additional information when and if I stumble across it.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Conway free breakfast meet and greet tomorrow

This appears to be the kind of event that I say I will publicize -- but I very seldom get the chance to do so.

Marcia O'Brien Conway is appearing at a breakfast meet and greet tomorrow morning, Saturday, November 23, at 9:30 a.m., at the Greater Rock Missionary Baptist Church, 718 S. Independence.

Persons interested in attending are asked to email info@marciaobrienconway.com to RSVP or to obtain more information. I reproduce a poster touting the event herewith.


This appears to be an event designed to give actual voters a chance to meet a real candidate and to hear her perspective, at least, about what judges do and their importance in our system.

Voter education.

And let me take this opportunity to remind readers that I am pleased to do more than give notice of candidate fundraisers. I will publicize meet and greets like this one for any candidate who asks. I would particularly like to publicize candidate forums where multiple candidates, especially competing candidates, are invited to appear. Please give me as much advance notice as you can because, due to work or family concerns, I can not always put up events immediately. Church groups, school groups, garden clubs, and neighborhood associations, please copy.

However... in looking at this poster, I was struck by the logo in the lower right-hand corner: Interfaith Illinois.

If this were a full-time, professional venture instead of an often haphazard amateur service project, I would be able, perhaps, to tell you what Interfaith Illinois is.

A lot of groups with significant-sounding names pop up during election season like dandelions in the Spring. Some come back for another cycle or two; many burst on the scene only once and then fade away.

A little Internet sleuthing today shows a website that may be related -- but it hasn't been updated in a half dozen years or so. There is a Facebook page, too, and it uses the same logo as on this poster -- but the last entries on this page are from 2014. I couldn't find a corporate listing for Interfaith Illinois on the Secretary of State's website and I could not find any political action committee with that name on the ISBE website.

Professional researchers like Frank Calabrese might scoff at the limitations of my detective skills. I can live with that.

I'm reaching out to the Conway campaign this morning to see if they can provide any more information about Interfaith Illinois. I'll update this post as necessary if I hear anything back. Meanwhile, if any of you smart readers out there can enlighten me on this, please send me an email at jackleyhane@yahoo.com or leave a comment. If I can run this one down, I will update.

Thanks.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

No new Cook County Judicial vacancies in last ISBE list of judicial vacancies for the regular filing period

No new Cook County Judicial vacancies are included in the list of judicial vacancies posted today by the Illinois State Board of Elections on its website.

The list, linked above, covers all vacancies posted through November 10. Filing for these vacancies begins Monday in Springfield and ends on December 2.

There will be a Special Judicial Filing Period, from December 16 to December 23, for any judicial vacancies occurring between November 11 and December 2.

That's a very small window.

Vacancies occurring after December 2 will no be filled, except by temporary appointment, until 2022.

A vacancy occurs when a judge gives notice of an intent to leave office -- regardless of the judge's planned departure date. To illustrate: A judge plans to retire on March 31, 2020, but sends in the required notice today. The vacancy exists for the Special Judicial Filing Period. However, if a judge plans to retire on December 31, but does not send in the required notice until December 3, that vacancy will not be filled in the 2020 election. Even though the second judge leaves office before the first judge, the first judge's vacancy is filled during the upcoming election, but the second judge's vacancy will not be filled until the 2022 election.

At this point, none of the persons slated this past Summer as alternates by the Cook County Democratic Party have a vacancy for which they are endorsed. That could change if vacancies open up during the dates covered by the Special Judicial Filing Period -- but only for those alternates who have not, in the meantime, filed to run against a slated candidate. (One or more alternates may emerge as subcircuit candidates, with Democratic Party support from the committeemen in that subcircuit -- but that remains to be seen.)

Meanwhile, according to anonymous comments left in my comment queue, about a quarter of the sitting judges in Cook County are rumored to have put in their papers, including just about everyone on the Appellate Court not already running for the Supreme Court. The reason I am not posting these comments is that I have no reason to believe that any of them are true. I will take the risk that one of these speculations may ultimately prove to be true. If any new vacancies are confirmed, I will try to get that information posted promptly.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Former Judge Elizabeth Karkula seeks return to the bench as a write-in candidate for Associate Judge

Former Judge Elizabeth Karkula is asking her former colleagues to return her to the bench via a write-in campaign for Cook County Associate Judge.

Like 162 other disappointed applicants, including several former judges, Karkula was left off the 2019 Short List from which the next class of associate judges will presumably be chosen.

The key word in the preceding sentence is "presumably."

The electors -- the full Cook County Circuit judges -- are not technically bound by the Short List. Although the overwhelming majority of associate judges are chosen from the finalists' lists, the circuit judges can vote for anyone who applied for the job -- and, in 2014, and again in 2016, the judges went outside the those Short Lists and selected a write-in. However, in 2014 and 2016, the write-ins chosen were currently serving judges who'd lost in their respective primary elections.

Elizabeth Karkula's appointment expired in December of last year. She was appointed to a countywide vacancy in early 2016.

Before her appointment to the bench, from 2009-2016, Karkula was a solo practitioner. From 2004-2009 she served as general counsel and corporate secretary of Geovique Specialties Holdings Corporation (f/k/a Velsicol Chemical Holdings Corporation). She has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1987, according to ARDC.

For more about this year's 30 Short List finalists see here, here, or here.

Fundraiser Friday for Yolanda Harris Sayre... at a locaton to be unmasked

"Unmasking Justice" is the name and theme of a fundraiser to be given by supporters of the judicial campaign of Yolanda Harris Sayre on Friday, November 22, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. at a "masked South Loop location."

Where exactly?

Organizers won't tell you -- until you buy a ticket.

Tickets are $75 each, but sponsorships are available ($100 - Donor, $250 - Friend, $500 - Supporter, $1,000 - Sponsor, $2,500 - Host, $5,000 - Co-Chair). Food will be provided, and "signature cocktails." Sounds will be provided by J. Imani. Tickets are available at this link.

Costumes are not required for this Masquerade Gala -- "just a sharp outfit and masks are optional," according to the organizers.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

ASA Jacqueline Griffin seeks judicial vacancy

Found on the Internet, the campaign website of Jacqueline Griffin. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence; a link has been added to the blog Sidebar.

Licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2005, according to ARDC, Griffin has spent her career in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. According to her campaign bio, Griffin currently serves as a trial specialist in the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Unit within the Felony Trial Division.

A native South Sider, now living in Bridgeport with her husband and two children, Griffin attended Mother McAuley High School. An FWIW source advises that Griffin is circulating for the countywide Funderburk vacancy.

Diversity Scholarship Foundation Unity Dinner set for December 3



The 2019 Diversity Scholarship Foundation Unity Dinner and is set for Tuesday, December 3 in the Grand Ballroom of the Chicago Hilton, 720 South Michigan Avenue. The Cocktail Reception begins at 5:00 p.m.; the dinner and program follows at 6:00 p.m. U.S. Dist. Ct. Chief Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer will be honored with the Foundation's Unity Award Recipient at the event.

Since 2006, the Diversity Scholarship Foundation has provided scholarships and opportunities to law students of diverse backgrounds. The annual Unity Dinner serves as the main fundraiser for these scholarships.

A main component of the Unity Dinner is the ceremonial swearing-in of bar presidents. Bar presidents from organizations across the Seventh Circuit are provided with the opportunity to participate in reciting the “Oath of Unity” in which they pledge to promote diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. The bar presidents also participate in a “Parade of Bar Presidents” where they are introduced and congratulated for their efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion.

Individual tickets for the dinner are $150 each; tables of 10 are available for $1,500. To order tickets, click here.

December 4 fundraiser set for Marcia O'Brien Conway

Supporters of Marcia O'Brien Conway's judicial campaign are planning a fundraiser for their candidate on Wednesday, December 4, from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m., at the offices of Wise Morrissey LLC, 161 N. Clark Street, 12th Floor.

Tickets for the event are $100 each, although government employees will be admitted for $50. Sponsorships are also available (Pewter - $250, Bronze - $500, Silver - $1,000, Gold - $2,500, Platinum - $5,800).

For more information, or to secure tickets, email rsvp@1833group.com.

James Patrick Crawley announces 10th Subcircuit bid

Chicago attorney James Patrick Crawley has announced his candidacy for Cook County Circuit Court Judge in the 10th Judicial Subcircuit.

Licensed in Illinois since 1990, according to ARDC, Crawley has nearly 30 years of experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in complex tort cases that resulted in catastrophic injury or death. He is currently an attorney with Kennedy & Associates, PC in Chicago where he primarily handles wrongful death, trucking and product liability litigation. Crawley has been a member of the trial bar for the U.S. Northern District of Illinois since 1990 and was sworn-in to practice before the United States Supreme Court in 2005.

Crawley is a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago and Saint Louis University School of Law where he served on the editorial staff of the Saint Louis University Public Law Review. Crawley interned for United States Senator Paul Simon and Justice Myron H. Bright of the United States 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Crawley to its Judicial Evaluation and Performance Committee. Crawley also serves on the Commission for Access to Justice subcommittee charged with redesigning uniform statewide forms for use by pro se litigants. In recent years, he has participated in the Supreme Court’s mentoring program and as a volunteer peer counselor for the Lawyers Assistance Program. He was one of the founding board members of AIDS Care, Inc., one of the first residential living facilities in Chicago for people with AIDS, he also served on the board of directors for Jane Addams Hull House. For several years, he served on the LGBT Citizens Advisory Committee to the Chicago Police Department.

Crawley previously sought a countywide judicial vacancy in 2014 at which time he was found "qualified" or "recommended" by all screening bar association. He has applied on multiple occasions to be a Cook County Associate Judge.

Crawley is currently circulating petitions for two vacancies in the 10th Judicial Subcircuit. While he has also circulated petitions for a countywide vacancy, Crawley tells FWIW that his "primary focus" is on the 10th Subcircuit.

Crawley resides in Jefferson Park neighborhood with his spouse and two dogs.

Frank R. DiFranco plans 12th Subcircuit run

Park Ridge attorney Frank R. DiFranco is running for the 12th Subcircuit vacancy in the March 2020 Primary. That's a link to the campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1987, according to ARDC, DiFranco began his legal career as an Assistant Cook County State's Attorney. In 1994, DiFranco founded DiFranco & Associates, P.C. and has practiced there since. According to his campaign bio, DiFranco has served as a member of the board of the Standing Tall Foundation, a charitable organization that provides scholarships to students in need, from grade school through college.

DiFranco resides in Park Ridge with his wife and three children, according his campaign bio.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Timothy Patrick Carter plans judicial bid

Found on the Internet, the campaign website of Timothy Patrick Carter. That's a link to the site in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar.

Licensed in Illinois since 1995, according to ARDC, Carter currently practices with the firm of Carter & Opdycke.

Both Carter's campaign website and his firm website stress his lengthy experience in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office (he served as an ASA from 1995 to 2012, spending the bulk of that time, according to his campaign bio, in the Felony Trial Division).

A lifelong resident of the Chicago area, according to his campaign bio, Carter lives in Northfield with his wife and four children. He is a founding member and past president of the Northfield Bar Association.

Fundraiser Wednesday for Jill Rose Quinn

Supporters of Jill Rose Quinn's countywide judicial campaign have scheduled a fundraiser for their candidate on Wednesday, November 20, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Chicago offices of Hinshaw & Culbertson, 151 N. Franklin Street, 25th Floor.

Sponsors note that November 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance, honoring those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence and discrimination. Quinn is the first transgender judicial candidate in Illinois.

Tickets for the event are $100 each, but sponsorships are available (Silver - $250, Gold - $500, Platinum - $1,000). For more information about the event, or to procure tickets, email Thom Karmik at tkarmik@gmail.com. Tickets are also available at this link.

Wednesday fundraiser for Eileen O'Connor

Supporters of Eileen O'Connor's 6th Subcircuit judicial bid have planned a fundraiser for their candidate on Wednesday, November 20, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., at Stock and Ledger, 70 W. Madison.

The Committee sponsoring Wednesday's event includes Gerry Bekkerman, Margaret Battersby Black, Mike Bonamarte, Mark Brennan, Brad Cosgrove, Ben Crane, David Gubbins, Chris Hurley, Shawn Kasserman, Sarah King, Gera-Lind Kolarik, Rick Levin, Steve M. Levin, Steven R. Levin, Mark McKenna, Brian Murphy, Bob Napleton, Chris Norem, Conrad Nowak, Kevin O'Reilly, Paul O'Toole, Joe Parente, Robert Phillips, Antonio Romanucci, Carl Salvato, and Pat Salvi II.

Tickets are priced at $100 each, but sponsorships are available (Bronze - $250, Silver - $500, Gold - $1,000). For more information, or to secure tickets, email rsvp@1833group.com.

Fundraiser tomorrow for Chris Stacey

Jay Edelson and 47th Ward Committeeman Paul Rosenfeld are the listed hosts for a reception tomorrow evening, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Edelson PC, 350 N. LaSalle Street, 14th Floor, for countywide judicial candidate Chris Stacey.

Tickets for the event are $150 -- but sponsorships (for $250, $500, $1,000, $2,500, or $5,000) are also available.

For more information, or to reserve tickets, email cindy.lou.stacey@gmail.com or call (773) 991-4113.

Fundraiser tomorrow for Judge Levander "Van" Smith, Jr.

Assistant State Senate Majority Leader Don Harmon is listed as the host for a fundraiser tomorrow evening in support of the countywide judicial campaign of Judge Levander "Van" Smith, Jr.

The event will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, November 19, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., at Stock and Ledger, 70 W. Madison.

Tickets are priced at $100 each, but sponsorships are available (Bronze - $500, Silver - $1,000, Gold - $2,500, Platinum - $5,000). For more information, or to secure tickets, email rsvp@1833group.com.

Friday, November 15, 2019

December 4 fundraiser set for Audrey Cosgrove

Supporters of Audrey Victoria Cosgrove's countywide judicial bid have scheduled a fundraiser for their candidate on Wednesday, December 4, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the offices of Foremost Strategy, 1439 W. Ardmore Ave.

Forty-eighth Ward Committeewoman Carol Ronen is listed as the host of the event. A weekend getaway in New Buffalo, Michigan will be auctioned off during the course of the evening.

Tickets for the event are $150 each, but sponsorships are available (Supporter - $250, Sponsor - $500, Chairman - $1,000). For more information about this event email john@foremoststrategy.com. Tickets are available at this link.

Fundraiser Monday for Brad Trowbridge

Supporters of Bradley R. Trowbridge's 8th Subcircuit campaign are planning a fundraiser for their candidate on Monday, November 18, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St.

Listed as Friends of Bradley R. Trowbridge for this event are Hon. Carol Ronen; Rick Garcia; Rocco Claps; Hon. Kevin Morrison; Ramesh Ariyanayakam; Bradley Baloff; Stella Black; Jorge Diaz; Ralph Fasano; Edward Gisiger; Helen Gutierrez; Art Johnston and Jose (Pepe} Pena; Mark Liberson and Rodney Becker; Dr. Michael Macken; Matthew Moeller; Reed & Centracchio; Mark Tisdahl; Walczak and Hernandez, PC; Denice Wolf Markham; The Women's Divorce Law Group; Adam Miel Zebelian; John Zmuda and Jhonmar Castillo; Ellen Meyers; and Jackie Richter.

Tickets are $50 each. Sponsorships are available (Supporter - $100, Advocate - $250). For more information about this event email john@foremoststrategy.com. Tickets are available at this link.

Looking more closely at the Short List finalists - Part 1

In this first part of a three-part series, FWIW begins its look at the finalists for Cook County Associate Judge. For Part 2 of this series, scroll down or click here. For Part 3, scroll down or click here. I will update this post over the next few days as new information becomes available.

Amee Elizabeth Alonso is a sole practitioner with offices in Chicago's Loop. She was licensed in Illinois in 1994. Alonso was briefly a candidate for a countywide vacancy in the March primary; she withdrew from the race before the end of 2017. Her husband is U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Luis Alonso. Alonso was a Short List finalist in 2018.

Marina E. Ammendola was appointed to the Circuit Court by the Illinois Supreme Court in February 2017. She was an unsuccessful candidate for a 14th Subcircuit vacancy in the March 2018 primary. Late last year Ammendola was reappointed by the Supreme Court to a different countywide vacancy.

A former school teacher, Ammendola has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1989. Ammendola made the Chicago newspapers at the turn of the century when she represented Ald. Ed Burke and his wife, now-Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke, in the "Baby T" custody case. Before setting up her own practice in 2001, Ammendola worked for Patricia C. Bobb & Associates. She was a Short List finalist in 2018.

Frank John Andreou is a partner with the firm of Andreou & Casson. He has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1995, according to ARDC.

Andreou was a candidate for a 12th Subcircuit vacancy in the 2016 Primary. He is presently the sixth alternate (of 10) slated by the Cook County Democratic Party for any late-opening countywide judicial vacancies.

Laura Ayala-Gonzalez is the Democratic Party's slated candidate for the countywide Ford vacancy. She was not previously a Short List finalist, although she did apply in 2017 as well as 2018.

Licensed in Illinois since 2003, according to ARDC, Ayala-Gonzalez has spent her legal career in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, currently serving as a Supervisor in the Felony Trial Division of that office. Ayala-Gonzalez came to the Chicago area (Melrose Park) as a six-year old and became the first person in her family to finish high school, graduate from college, and obtain a law degree. She has been a co-leader of the Government Lawyers Program with the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, a member of the Diversity Scholarship Foundation, and a mentor to the Lyons Township High School Mock Trial Team.

Fredrick Hayze Bates is presently serving as a Circuit Court Judge pursuant to an appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court to a 1st Subcircuit vacancy. He was previously appointed to a 2nd Subcircuit vacancy and a countywide vacancy.

Before receiving these appointments, Bates served for 15 years as an administrative law judge. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1983, Bates is a former President of the Cook County Bar Association. He has also served as Chairman of Illinois Civil Service Commission.

Aileen Bhandari is a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. She has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2002, according to ARDC.

A first time Short List finalist, Bhandari is the incoming President of the South Asian Bar Association. She is also a candidate for the countywide Coghlan vacancy.

Prior to his appointment to the bench in December 2018, Lloyd James Brooks was a founding partner of the Matteson-based Consumer Legal Group. He has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2000, according to ARDC. Brooks is also a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter.

Brooks has been slated by the Cook County Democratic Party for the countywide vacancy he now holds by appointment. He was a Short List finalist in 2018.

Jennifer Frances Coleman has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1995, according to ARDC. An Assistant Cook County State's Attorney, Coleman currently serves as Chief Deputy in that office, according to her LinkedIn page.


John Abbrey Fairman practices with the Homewood firm of Lee & Fairman, LLP. He has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2004. Fairman is a former President of the Cook County Bar Association.

Michael Angelo Forti is currently serving as a Cook County Circuit Court judge pursuant to Supreme Court assignment to an8th Subcircuit vacancy. Forti received this appointment late last year, just prior to the expiration of his original appointment, also to an 8th Subcircuit vacancy.

Forti wasslated by the Cook County Democratic Party for a countywide vacancy in 2012; he was a Short List finalist in 2014.

Beforehis first benh appointment, Forti was Chief Counsel and Ethics Officer for the Illinois Department of Transportation. He worked for the Chicago Corporation Counsel's office from 1994-2012, serving as Deputy Corporation Counsel from 1999-2012. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1980, Forti began his legal career with Bell, Boyd & Lloyd LLC (now K&L Gates, LLP), rising from associate to equity partner by the time of his departure in 1994.

Looking more closely at the Short List finalists - Part 2

In this second part of a three-part series, FWIW continues to look at the finalists for Cook County Associate Judge. For Part 1 of this series, scroll up or click here. For Part 3, scroll down or click here. I will update this post over the next few days as new information becomes available.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed John S. Fotopoulos to a countywide vacancy in August 2017. Although he was a candidate for a 15th Subcircuit vacancy in the 2014 primary, Fotopoulos did not file for any vacancy in the March 2018 primary. He was, however, a Short List finalist in 2018.

A sole practitioner with offices in Orland Park at the time of his appointment, Fotopoulos reopened an Orland Park office after leaving the bench in December 2018. According to the ARDC website, Fotopoulos's new office is operated as a "division" of Kralovec Jambois & Schwartz. Fotopoulos has been licensed in Illinois since 2000.

Ruth Isabel Gudino is a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. She has been licensed in Illinois since 1995.

Michael James Hogan Jr.is a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. He has been licensed in Illinois since 1999. A Short List finalist in 2018, Hogan is the son of former Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hogan.

Edward James Maloney is also a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. He has been licensed in Illinois since 1989. He sought a countywide judicial vacancy in the 2012 primary.

That's three ASA's in a row -- and very sketchy information about each of them. Judges and lawyers reading this won't fall into this trap, but others happening across this post may think these candidates automatically less interesting or accomplished than some of the others who command longer entries in these posts. I certainly do not mean to create that impression.

Many ASA's, public defenders, and police officers choose not to share a lot of information on social media out of concern that such information could be misused by persons with evil intentions. That leaves less information for me to 'scrape' from social media sites for these persons. I have a picture of Maloney from the 2012 campaign -- when one stands for election a certain amount of privacy must be sacrificed -- but that picture, by definition, is at least seven years old. I try to use more recent photos.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Celestia Laurene Mays to the countywide Funderburk vacancy in November 2018 (though she did not assume her judicial duties until this past January). This past August, the Cook County Democratic Party slated Judge Mays for the vacancy she now holds.

Licensed as an attorney in 1990, according to ARDC, Mays is a former President of the Cook County Bar Association. Before her appointment to the bench, Mays operated her own firm, concentrating in the areas of family law, probate, and residential real estate. She was briefly a candidate for a 5th Subcircuit vacancy in the 2016 election cycle, but withdrew before the primary. Mays was a Short List finalist in 2018.

Katherine Angela O'Dell is a partner with the firm of Amari & Locallo, handling real estate tax assessment matters for commercial, industrial, apartment, and residential property owners. A former Assistant State's Attorney in the Real Estate Tax Department of the Civil Division of that office, O'Dell has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2000. She is a former President of the Justinian Society of Lawyers. O'Dell was a candidate for a 10th Subcircuit vacancy in the 2014 election cycle.

Monique LeneƩ Patterson is a Cook County Assistant Public Defender. She has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1998, according to ARDC.

Jennifer Joyce Payne is the Chief Litigation Officer and the Director of the Children and Families Practice Group of Legal Aid Chicago. She provides legal education for the Chicago Battered Women's Network and was the 1995 Recipient of Legal Aid Chicago's Equal Justice Award. In 2007, Payne received the Jerold S. Solovy Equal Justice Award. She has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1990.

Diane Marie Pezanoski is a Deputy Corporation Counsel in the City of Chicago Department of Law. She has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1985, according to ARDC.

Pezanoski was a Short List finalist in 2018. She is one of 10 alternates slated by the Cook County Democratic Party for any late-opening countywide judicial vacancies (she's 8th on the list -- and, so far, no new countywide vacancies have been posted).

Paul William Plotnick is a Skokie practitioner. Licensed in Illinois since 1974, Plotnick was a Chicago Public School teacher and an Assistant Cook County Public Defender before setting up his own practice. He is a military veteran, having retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of Staff Sergeant, according to his Avvo profile.

Looking more closely at the Short List finalists - Part 3

In this last of a three-part series, FWIW takes a look at the remaining finalists for Cook County Associate Judge. For Part 1 of this series, scroll up or click here. For Part 2, scroll up or click here. I will update this post over the next few days as new information becomes available.

Leo Steven Rakowski is a partner with K & R Family Legal Services, LLP in Northbrook. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1990, Rakowski is a former President of the Advocates Society and serves as a director of the Polish American Association.

Rakowski has also volunteered as an attorney and director of the Amicus Poloniae Legal Clinic, receiving its 2008 Distinguished Service Award. He has also served as general counsel and volunteer with Chicagoland Golden Gloves Charity. He was a Short List finalist in 2018.

Geri Pinzur Rosenberg is a Chief Attorney in the Torts Division of the Chicago Transit Authority. Licensed to practice in Illinois since 2003, according to ARDC, Rosenberg has spent her legal career with the CTA.

Rosenberg received the Illinois Jury Verdict Reporter’s Trial Lawyer Excellence Award in 2014. In 2016, she received the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award. Rosenberg has participated in the WBAI's mentorship program for several years and has been active with Women Everywhere: Partners in Service Project.

Curtis Bennett Ross is a family law practitioner, practicing from the Loop Law Offices of Curtis Bennett Ross, LLC. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1980, according to ARDC, Ross is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Ross is a former President of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. He was a Short List finalist in 2018.

Eric Michael Sauceda is a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. He has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1999, according to ARDC. The Cook County Democratic Party slated Sauceda as its fourth alternate -- meaning that if four new countywide vacancies open up, Sauceda will be the Party's candidate for that fourth vacancy. (As of this juncture, no new countywide vacancies have opened up.)

Rouhy J. Shalabi practices law with the Oak Lawn firm of Rouhy J. Shalabi & Associates. He has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1981.

Shalabi is a founding member and former President of the Arab-American Bar Association. He was the first Arab-American Commissioner of the City of Chicago Park District and the first Arab-American appointed to the Board of Commissioners, Chicago Commission on Human Relations. Shalabi also served as the first President of the City of Chicago Advisory Council on Arab Affairs.

John Anthony Simon is a partner in the Chicago office of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. Licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1985, according to ARDC, Simon spent seven years as an Assistant Illinois Attorney General before joining Drinker Biddle. He began his legal career as a law clerk to Chancery Judge Richard L. Curry.

While still with the AG's office, Simon argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Association, 505 U.S. 88 (1992).

Judge Levander Smith Jr. was a finalist in the 2018 Associate Judge selection process. Essentially, Smith was a finalist twice in 2018 since he tied for the 17th and final spot available in that class and was forced into a runoff.

Smith has since been appointed to the countywide Larsen vacancy and is the Cook County Democratic Party's slated candidate for that position.

Before his appointment, Smith was an attorney with the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services. He has been licensed in Illinois since 1993. He has also been licensed to practice law in Missouri.

In fact, Smith began his legal career with DCFS, working Downstate. He then worked as a prosecutor in St. Louis County. After a stint with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Smith moved to the Missouri Attorney General's Office. He then rejoined DCFS in 2011. Smith previously applied for an associate judgeship in far Downstate St. Clair County in 2013 and 2015.

Theresa Marie Smith is a Chicago Assistant Corporation Counsel. She has been licensed in Illinois since 1999.

Judge Daniel Owen Tiernan was appointed to the Lacy vacancy in the 14th Subcircuit this past February.

Before receiving his judicial appointment, Tiernan was a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney from 1995 to 2007. He left that office to become for Delgado & Tiernan, PC. 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. He has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1995, according to ARDC.

Judge Tyria Beatrice Walton was appointed to a 1st Subcircuit vacancy just this past June.

Before her appointment, Walton served as a Cook County Assistant Public Defender. She has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1997. Walton has volunteered with the NAACP Chicago Southside Branch , R.A.G.E. Resident Association of Greater Englewood, and the 6th Ward as a Block Club President.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

November 13 fundraiser set for Kristen Marie Lyons

Supporters of Kristen Marie Lyons's 7th Subcircuit campaign are planning a downtown fundraiser on Wednesday, November 13, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., at Latinicity, 108 N. State St., 3rd Floor.

Tickets for this event are $100 apiece, but government employees will be admitted for $50 and judges and associate judge candidates on the Short List will be admitted for $30 each. Sponsorships are also available (Supporter - $250, Advocate - $500, Sponsor - $1,000). For more information about this event, or to order tickets, email lyons4judge@gmail.com or call (773) 610-9352. Tickets may also be obtained via PayPal.

November 19 fundraiser set for Deidre Baumann

Supporters of Deidre Baumann's judicial campaign are planning a fundraiser for their candidate on Monday, November 19, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., at the Erie Cafe, 536 W. Erie St.

Tickets for the event are $250 apiece. Sponsorships are available ($500 - Co-Sponsor, $1,000 - Sponsor, $2,500 - Chair/ Host). For more information about the event, or to order tickets, call (708) 620-0428. Tickets are also available at this link.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Jon Stromsta to make 10th Subcircuit run; campaign kickoff tonight

Jon Stromsta is planning a run for a 10th Subcircuit judicial vacancy. That's a link to his campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar. There is also a campaign Facebook page.

On that campaign Facebook page this morning is an announcement that Stromsta has just been endorsed by the Democratic Party committeemen of the 10th Subcircuit for the McGing vacancy.

And Stromsta's Campaign Kickoff is set for tonight, November 6, at Gideon Welles, 4500 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Tickets for the event are $40 apiece. Sponsorships are available (Supporter - $250, Bronze - $500, Silver - $1,000, Gold - $2,500, or Platinum - $5,800). For more information about the event, or to order tickets, contact Rachel at (312) 882-1759 or Rachel@HogeStrategies.com. Tickets are also available at this link.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1985, according to ARDC, Stromsta is currently a partner with Enterprise Law Group LLP.

According to his campaign bio, Stromsta began his legal career as a law clerk for United States District Judge Harold Baker of the Central District of Illinois. He then moved to Ross & Hardies (now part of McGuireWoods LLC), becoming a partner in 1991. At Ross & Hardies, Stromsta represented businesses and individuals in commercial, tort, employment, intellectual property and criminal defense matters in Chicago and across the nation. He provided pro bono representation to clients in death penalty cases.​

Stromsta also served as in-house counsel to the Teamsters’ Central States Funds, before joining the Office of the State Appellate Defender in Chicago, where he served in the Capital Litigation Division and the Post-Conviction Unit, according to his campaign bio. He has also practiced with David Pasulka & Associates, PC (formerly Pasulka & White, LLC), practicing family law. He has been with Enterprise Law Group, LLP since 2010.

Stromsta and his wife have lived in Chicago's 47th Ward for 25 years, according to his campaign bio. Their daughter Rachel attended Northside College Prep and recently graduated from Macalester college. Stromsta has served on the Boards of Directors of the Ravenswood Community Council and the Ravenswood-Lake View Historical Association. He has been a member of the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce and has been active in the 47th Ward Democratic Organization.

Stromsta was briefly a candidate for a 10th Subcircuit vacancy in the 2018 election cycle (he was named third alternate by the 10th Subcircuit committeemen at that time) but chose not to file.

Thomas J. Condon Jr. to make bid for Flynn vacancy in 3rd Subcircuit

Thomas J. Condon Jr. is planning a bid for the Flynn vacancy in the 3rd Subcircuit. That's a link to Condon's campaign website in the preceding sentence; a link has also been added to the blog Sidebar. There is also a campaign Facebook page.

Licensed in Illinois since 2002, according to ARDC, Condon practices with the firm of Chicago firm of Peterson, Johnson & Murray - Chicago LLC.

Condon's campaign bio notes that he is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep as well as DePaul University College of Law. He worked full-time for Waste Management, Inc. while attending law school, according to his campaign bio, becoming an attorney for the City of Chicago Department of Buildings after graduation. His firm bio adds that, before joining his present firm, he was Director of Fast Track Demolition for the Building Department.

Jill Rose Quinn campaign claims national endorsement

The Jill Rose Quinn campaign is touting an endorsement received from the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

Quinn is the Cook County Democratic Party's endorsed candidate for the countywide Kevin Sheehan vacancy. If elected, Quinn would be the first openly transgender person elected judge in Illinois.

In a press release issued last week, the Quinn campaign quoted former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, now President and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, as saying, "LGBTQ Victory Fund is pleased to endorse Jill Rose Quinn for Cook County Circuit Court Judge. Jill understands that it is critical for our community, our democracy and our nation that all people receive equal justice under the law and that our court system is fair to all sides."

The mission of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, according to its website, is "to change the face and voice of America’s politics and achieve equality for LGBTQ Americans by increasing the number of openly LGBTQ officials at all levels of government."

As of this posting, Quinn's endorsement does not yet appear on the LGBTQ Victory Fund website. The only local judicial candidate currently listed on the site is Michael Weaver.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Thirty on the official Short List for 15 Associate Judge vacancies

This Short List is different.

No recent has list had so many carryovers from prior lists -- no consolation, of course, to a number of disappointed finalists from 2018 and prior who were left off this list.

Let's start with the carryovers. There are 11, 10 from the 2018 list.
  1. Amee Elizabeth Alonso
  2. Marina E. Ammendola
  3. Lloyd James Brooks
  4. Michael Angelo Forti (on 2014 list)
  5. John S. Fotopoulos
  6. Michael James Hogan Jr.
  7. Celestia Laurene Mays
  8. Diane Marie Pezanoski
  9. Leo Steven Rakowski
  10. Curtis Bennett Ross
  11. Levander Smith Jr.
Five of the 26 finalists on the 2016 list were carryovers from the 2014 selection. Two were selected.

Only two of the 34 finalists on the 2018 list were carryovers from the 2016 selection. Both were selected.

Then there's the fact that four candidates on this list are slated by the Cook County Democratic Party for countywide vacancies. Three of these four are already serving as judges (and all three were AJ finalists in 2018, too).

These are Judges Celestia L. Mays (appointed to, and slated for, the countywide Funderburk vacancy), Levander Smith, Jr. (appointed to, and slated for, the countywide Larsen vacancy), and Lloyd James Brooks (appointed to, and slated for, the O'Brien vacancy). Laura Ayala-Gonzalez is not yet a judge, but she is the Democratic Party's slated candidate for the countywide Ford vacancy.

The primary isn't until next March. Filing has not yet opened for these seats. Is this a commentary on the electability of these candidates in particular? Or is this the Circuit Court's way of signaling that Democratic Party slating generally no longer provides enough of an advantage for a favored candidate? Why are soft landings already being sought for candidates who have not yet even launched?

Other currently sitting judges on the Short List are Marina E. Ammendola (countywide Kevin Sheehan vacancy), Fredrick H. Bates (1st Subcircuit, Brooks vacancy), Tyria B. Walton (1st Subcircuit, Crawford vacancy), and Daniel O. Tiernan (14th Subcircuit, Lacy vacancy). One former judge, John S. Fotopoulos, is also on the Short List.

For last night's post I was able to confirm that at least one of the eight countywide alternates pre-slated by the Democratic Party, for vacancies that had, as of August, yet to open (and, as of tonight, still haven't opened) was on the Short List. Actually, there are three. In addition to Frank John Andreou, there are Diane Marie Pezanoski, and Eric Michael Sauceda.

Actually, putting alternates on the Short List makes sense, assuming some level of cooperation between the Democratic Party and the Circuit Court Nominating Committee: Making associates out of alternates should reduce the number of promises that might need to be remembered when the 2022 season starts up (that won't be until March 18, 2020).

In formally announcing the 2019 Short List, the Chief Judge's office noted that of the 212 applicants for this class, 18 withdrew from the process before interviews began. The Nominating Committee interviewed the remaining 194 applicants. One withdrew following the interview, leaving 163 of us sitting forlornly by their phones yesterday for the call that never came. The 30 applicants who did move on to the Short List are:
  1. Amee Elizabeth Alonso
  2. Marina E. Ammendola
  3. Frank John Andreou
  4. Laura Ayala-Gonzalez
  5. Fredrick Hayze Bates
  6. Aileen Bhandari
  7. Lloyd James Brooks
  8. Jennifer Frances Coleman
  9. John Abbrey Fairman
  10. Michael Angelo Forti
  11. John S. Fotopoulos
  12. Ruth Isabel Gudino
  13. Michael James Hogan Jr.
  14. Edward James Maloney
  15. Celestia Laurene Mays
  16. Katherine Angela O'Dell
  17. Monique LeneƩ Patterson
  18. Jennifer Joyce Payne
  19. Diane Marie Pezanoski
  20. Paul William Plotnick
  21. Leo Steven Rakowski
  22. Geri Pinzur Rosenberg
  23. Curtis Bennett Ross
  24. Eric Michael Sauceda
  25. Rouhy J. Shalabi
  26. John Anthony Simon
  27. Levander Smith Jr.
  28. Theresa Marie Smith
  29. Daniel Owen Tiernan
  30. Tyria Beatrice Walton
Here's what happens next: The Chief Judge notifies the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts of the names of the candidates selected by the Committee and requests the Director to begin the balloting process.

Within 14 days after the Chief Judge’s notification, the Director will mail a secret ballot with the names of each candidate to each of the roughly 250 Cook County circuit judges eligible to vote.

The judges will vote for one candidate for each vacancy to be filled. The judges must return the ballots to the Director within 14 days of the date the ballots were distributed. The Director then counts the ballots which are accompanied by a signed card, tabulates the results and certifies them to the Chief Judge – at all times maintaining the secrecy of the ballots.

It is my understanding that the circuit judges are free to vote for any applicant, whether on the short list or not. In the 2014 selection process, for example, the circuit judges elected a write-in candidate -- a sitting judge who had been bypassed by the Nominating Committee.

In 2016, the circuit judges also elected a write-in candidate, also a sitting judge who had been bypassed.

There was no successful write-in candidate in the 2018 selection process, but there was a tie for the 17th and final vacancy in that class.

The press release issued late this afternoon by the Chief Judge's office announces three different meet and greets for finalists on November 12, 13, and 14, at the Daley Center, the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, and the Cook County Juvenile Center. Other events will be scheduled at the other suburban courthouses to "further minimize disruption of court proceedings." But the finalists will also be trudging through the back hallways of all the county courthouses in the next few weeks, trying to personally lobby as many voting judges as they can.

For the record, the members of this year's Nominating Committee were Hon. Timothy C. Evans, Chief Judge; Hon. Mary Ellen Coghlan, Justice, Illinois Appellate Court; Hon. Grace G. Dickler, Presiding Judge, Domestic Relations Division; Hon. James P. Flannery Jr., Presiding Judge, Law Division; Hon. Sophia H. Hall, Administrative Presiding Judge, Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Resource Section; Hon. Moshe Jacobius, Presiding Judge, Chancery Division; Hon. Raymond L. Jagielski, Presiding Judge, Fifth Municipal District; Hon. LeRoy K. Martin Jr., Presiding Judge, Criminal Division; Hon. Sharon M. Sullivan, Presiding Judge, County Division; Hon. Shelley Sutker-Dermer, Presiding Judge, Second Municipal District; and Hon. E. Kenneth Wright Jr., Presiding Judge, First Municipal District.