Friday, December 06, 2019

Six current judicial candidates among the 15 associate judges chosen yesterday

Each of these six individuals who have filed in the Democratic primary is already a sitting Cook County Circuit Court judge.

In alphabetical order, these are Judges Marina E. Ammendola (appointed to, and currently running for, the countywide K. Sheehan vacancy), Fredrick H. Bates (appointed to, and currently running for, the 1st Subcircuit Brooks vacancy), Michael A. Forti (appointed to, and currently running for, the Gubin vacancy in the 8th Subcircuit), Celestina L. Mays (appointed to, and currently running as the Democratic Party's slated candidate for, the countywide Funderburk vacancy), Levander "Van" Smith, Jr. (appointed to, and currently running as the Democratic Party's slated candidate for, the countywide Larsen vacancy), and Daniel O. Tiernan (appointed to, and currently running for, the Lacy vacancy in the 14th Subcircuit).

Each of these judges faces the happy choice of deciding whether to continue their campaign for full circuit judge or whether to withdraw their candidacy now that they have been selected as associated judges.

If each were to continue their campaigns -- and ultimately win election -- a new round of associate judge selection would be automatically triggered. (Per Illinois Supreme Court Rule 39, Cook County is supposed to start a new selection round once there are five associate judge vacancies.)

Not all of the appointed judges on the associate judge short list were selected. Judge Lloyd James Brooks, appointed to, and currently running as the Democratic Party's slated candidate for, the countywide O'Brien vacancy, was passed over by his colleagues, as was Judge Tyria B. Walton. Of course, Judge Walton is presumably not too disappointed by this, inasmuch as she was the only candidate to file for what is being called the Crawford vacancy in the 1st Subcircuit, the seat to which the Supreme Court appointed her. Her path to election is virtually assured.

Another countywide slated candidate, albeit one who is not yet a judge, Laura Ayala-Gonzalez, was also not selected yesterday as an associate judge.

In fact, none of the three Hispanic candidates on this year's Short List made the final cut, a circumstance that the Puerto Rican Bar Association denounced as "disgraceful" in a press release issued last evening. John Seasly, in a post on Injustice Watch, quoted former Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois President Juan Morado, Jr. as saying the judges' failure to choose even one Hispanic associate judge was "a huge disappointment."

Interestingly, according to the Injustice Watch article, only seven of the 193 applicants who remained after the Nominating Committee concluded its interviews were Hispanic. Thirty percent of the applicants were "people of color," according to the Injustice Watch article, about the same percentage as on the Cook County bench in 2018.

Three former Presidents of the Cook County Bar Association were among those chosen in this class of associate judges (Bates, Mays, and John A. Fairman).

There were an unusually high number of persons on this year's Short List (11) who'd been finalists before (10 from last year's class; one, Judge Forti, from the 2014 list). Seven of those 11, including Forti, were successful this year.

Updating to add a link to the Illinois Supreme Court's press release on the new class of associate judges.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

DEVELOPING -- New class of associate judges announced

No ties. No write-ins. More later. Here's the list:
  1. Amee Elizabeth Alonso
  2. Marina E. Ammendola
  3. Frank John Andreou
  4. Fredrick Hayze Bates
  5. John Abbrey Fairman
  6. Michael Angelo Forti
  7. Michael James Hogan Jr.
  8. Celestia Laurene Mays
  9. Jennifer Joyce Payne
  10. Diane Marie Pezanoski
  11. Geri Pinzur Rosenberg
  12. Rouhy J. Shalabi
  13. John Anthony Simon
  14. Levander Smith Jr.
  15. Daniel Owen Tiernan

Whoa! There was a late-breaking vacancy in Cook County after all....

Very late.

On the morning of December 3, you know, after the close of the period from November 22 through December 2 when late-breaking vacancies are to be posted for the Special Judicial Filing Period that starts December 16, I went to the Illinois Board of Election website and looked at, and linked to, the very short list of late judicial vacancies -- both far, far Downstate.

Due diligence, I thought.

But... lookie here, ladies and gents, the ISBE now advises of a third vacancy in my home (10th) subcircuit.

My thanks to an aggrieved, anonymous commenter who complained that s/he saw petitions being circulated at Union Station on December 3 for a vacancy that did not go up on the ISBE website until December 4.

This looks bad. It makes all of us who are engaged in the process, as candidates or even as observers, look bad.

And whoever tried to steal a march on this super-duper late-breaking entry has just handed a gift-wrapped campaign issue to any challengers.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Do signature requirements really chill candidate participation in Cook County judicial primaries?

According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, there are currently 45 candidates seeking one of the 13 countywide vacancies in Cook County. Sixty-three other candidates are vying for one of the 20 Cook County subcircuit vacancies. Some of these hopefuls will withdraw, others may be removed from the ballot after challenges.

This surprises me.

Why? Well, though much has been made about the onerous requirement of 3,322 valid signatures to qualify as a countywide judicial candidate in next year's Democratic primary, there are 3.46 candidates for each countywide vacancy -- and only 3.15 candidates for each subcircuit vacancy. It takes only 1,000 signatures to qualify as a subcircuit candidate. One might think, therefore, that there would be more subcircuit candidates per vacancy than countywide candidates per vacancy. That does not seem to be the case this year.

Since challenges are coming for a number of these hopefuls (or, as one persistent, and usually unpublished, commenter keeps saying, "Winter is coming") these ratios may be different when the dust settles.

So I decided to look at recent history to compare candidate numbers.

According to the ISBE, there were 26 candidates seeking one of 10 countywide vacancies in the 2018 Primary -- 2.6 candidates per vacancy. Eighty-four candidates sought one of 29 subcircuit vacancies in 2018 -- 2.89 candidates per vacancy. Subcircuit filing requirements were the same in 2018 as in this cycle, but there were 3,758 signatures required to run countywide in the 2018 Democratic primary.

That's actually worse than this year.

Signature requirements were much less in 2016 -- there was a very low turnout in the 2014 general election; it took only 2,233 signatures to reach the Democratic primary ballot in 2016.

So... logically... there should have been lots more judicial candidates in 2016, at least countywide, right?


Only 25 candidates pursued 11 countywide vacancies in 2016, 2.27 candidates per vacancy. Fifty-six candidates sought 22 subcircuit vacancies in 2016, or 2.54 candidates per subcircuit vacancy.

It took 3,263 signatures to qualify for the Democratic primary as a countywide judicial candidate in Cook County in 2014. Only 21 candidates qualified as candidates for one of the 11 countywide vacancies that year, 1.91 candidates per vacancy. Forty-seven hopefuls sought one of 15 Cook County subcircuit vacancies that year, 3.13 candidates per vacancy.

In 2012, a countywide judicial candidate needed 2,403 signatures to qualify for the Democratic primary. Thirty-two candidates qualified to run for 11 countywide vacancies that year (2.91 candidates per vacancy), while 70 candidates filed for one of the 23 subcircuit vacancies (3.04 candidates per vacancy).

Signature requirements were usually lower in presidential primary years -- because requirements are based on the number of votes cast for the countywide Democratic judicial candidate receiving the highest number of votes in the preceding general election. In Illinois, as elsewhere, turnout is usually lower in non-presidential years than in presidential years. So the high number of signatures required this year is high compared to numbers required in 2016 and 2012, but this year's qualifying number is by no means unprecedented.

So, apparently, at least in recent history, just as in the numbers so far for 2020, there is no great difference in the number of countywide candidates per vacancy vis a vis the number of subcircuit candidates per vacancy. The largest discrepancy was in 2014, a year in which the Cook County Democratic Party did a remarkable job of staving off challengers to about half of its countywide ticket and carrying five of the six contested races.

Signature requirements do not seem to keep wannabes from entering countywide judicial contests.

Conversely, despite lower signature requirements, subcircuit vacancies are not more attractive to candidates than countywide ones. I do not know why this seems to be true. Do you?

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Congratulations to the unopposed....

Barring something completely unforeseen, Judge Lynn Weaver Boyle (pictured at left) will be sworn in to the countywide Patti vacancy on the first Monday in December 2020, the vacancy in which she now serves pursuant to Supreme Court appointment.

No one filed to run against Weaver Boyle in the Democratic Primary; no Republican filed for any countywide vacancy.

Weaver Boyle is the only countywide judicial candidate with an uncontested path to election next year. Pending ballot withdrawals or challenges, there are contests in every other countywide judicial race.

There are also three subcircuit judicial appointees who also have no opponent in March.

Judge Tyria B. Walton is unopposed in the 1st Subcircuit, for what is being called the Crawford vacancy. By way of contrast, three candidates filed against Judge Fredrick H. Bates for the Brooks vacancy in the 1st Subcircuit, including former Judge Litricia Payne.

In the 3rd Subcircuit, eight candidates filed for the Flynn vacancy and two for the Murphy vacancy. No one, however, filed for the Filan vacancy, where Judge Daniel Edward Maloney now sits pursuant to Supreme Court appointment.

Judge John G. Mulroe has an uncontested path to fill the 10th Subcircuit Allen vacancy that he now holds by appointment.

No Republican filed for any of these subcircuit vacancies.

Of the four Republicans who filed in Subcircuits 12, 13, and 15, Frank R. DiFranco has an uncontested path to the Republican nomination in the 12th Subcircuit -- but he will presumably face the winner of a three-way contest for the Democratic nomination. Judge Patricia M. Fallon currently fills this vacancy by appointment.

In the 15th Subcircuit, La Vetta D. Williams will be unopposed in the Republican primary for the 15th Subcircuit vacancy now filled by Judge Nichole C. Patton. Judge Patton drew one primary opponent, so Williams will have to face either Patton or Heather Mulligan Begley next November.

Let me explain... No, there is too much. Let me sum up....

So much has happened... and hasn't happened....

I suppose the headline is supposed to be that Appellate Court Justice Nathaniel R. Howse filed for the Supreme Court vacancy, late yesterday afternoon, just as the filing deadline for the regular judicial filing period closed. John Seasly has a post up this morning on Injustice Watch, "Diversity at stake in competitive Illinois Supreme Court race."

But there are a couple of other headlines from yesterday that may be as significant.

First, there are no new Cook County judicial vacancies. Despite a bevy of rumors, some of them quite gruesome, the Illinois State Board of Elections has posted no new Cook County judicial vacancies for the special judicial filing period later this month. No one seriously expected vacancies to open up for each of the 10 alternates pre-selected by the Cook County Democratic Party -- but the call never came for any of them.

And, second, while there are eight candidates preparing to slug it out for the Democratic nomination for the Freeman vacancy on the Illinois Supreme Court, not one Republican filed for that vacancy.

I realize that seven other candidates have very different outcomes in mind... but, in a crowded field, assuming all the candidates who filed remain on the ballot, there is a chance that a candidate who has been licensed as an attorney for only four years might be the Democratic Party's nominee for the Illinois Supreme Court. This is not to suggest or imply anything against Mr. Epstein personally... I've met him... and he seems like a perfectly nice person. And he has a very interesting background and some carefully-formed ideas about the justice system, whether you agree with them or not. But four years experience as an attorney? If nominated and elected, Justice Epstein would almost certainly have clerks who have longer legal experience. One would have thought that the Republicans would have scrounged up a candidate somehow... just in case Epstein emerges as the Democratic nominee.

But, no.

And, once again, no Republican filed for either Cook County Appellate Court vacancy, or any countywide vacancy.

Only four Republicans filed for three subcircuit vacancies, Frank R. DiFranco in the 12th Subcircuit, Gary William Seyring and Angel Garcia in the 13th Subcircuit (the one and only judicial race in which Republican primary voters will have a choice of judicial candidates), and La Vetta D. Williams in the 15th Subcircuit.

The two-party system, however healthy it may be in other parts of this fair land of ours, is dead as a doornail in Cook County. (And, yet, how many local candidates will try and make it seem as if they are running against Donald J. Trump?)

Getting back to work....

Posts will resume here today.

Family matters have overwhelmed my time of late, but I expect, or at least hope, to be able to get back to work -- and blogging, too -- as quickly as possible.