Saturday, May 29, 2021

Judges' groups provide scholarship opportunities for aspiring lawyers

While a lot of FWIW readers (most of 'em, at this point in the election cycle) long ago realized their ambitions of becoming lawyers, some readers may know young people just embarking on their law school careers. Some of these may wish to notify some of those about scholarship opportunities offered by the Illinois Judges Foundation and the Alliance of Illinois Judges.

The deadline to apply for the AIJ scholarship is June 4. Any LGBTQ+ law student who will be attending any accredited Illinois law school during the 2021-2022 school year is encouraged to apply. For details, including how to submit an application, visit this page of the AIJ website.

The IJF scholarship application deadline is June 21. Applicants must not be closely related to a judge, must be enrolled in an Illinois law school, with at least one more year to go (incoming first year law students are not eligible), a record of pro bono service, and financial need. For more information, including how to submit an application, visit this page of the IJF website.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Suggestions for the end of the legislative session (besides don't blink)

The legislative session ends Monday, Memorial Day notwithstanding. Much remains to be done. This is par for the course in Illinois, where everything that must be done is done at the very last minute so that no one who doesn't need to know (like, for example, the public) can find out about it.

Relevant to potential Cook County judicial candidates and their supporters, rumors have popped up in the comments here that the March primary will be postponed. Unlike a lot of rumors that surface, or try to, in the comments here, this one may have a basis in fact: In this morning's Politico Illinois Playbook, @ShiaKapos reported, "Lawmakers are expected to propose moving the Illinois 2022 primary to June, according to two sources close to discussions."

But why June?

As Rich Miller reiterated in a post today on Capitol Fax, detailed census numbers aren't likely to be available before August or September of this year. Should this prove to be the case, it may (will?) be necessary to revisit all the new maps to make sure they will survive the inevitable court challenges -- and that would necessitate pushing the entire election calendar back as a result.

Stuff will happen fast in Springfield over the next few days. The links in this post can help readers stay current. (If you're not on Twitter, hold your nose and plunge in. You can also follow me there at @JackLeyhane.) Search on the hastag #twill to keep up on Illinois political news.

I will not be trying to keep up with developments here in real time -- but, when the dust settles, we'll be looking at what remains.

Tickets (and sponsorships) now available for July 30 Illinois Judges Foundation Golf Outing

Tickets are now available for the Illinois Judges Foundation Golf Outing, to be held on Friday, July 30, 2021 at the Odyssey Golf Club, 19110 S. Ridgeland, Tinley Park.

Lunch will be served at noon. Golfers tee off at 1:00 p.m. (shotgun start) with an awards dinner to follow at 6:00 p.m.

Tickets for golf (including use of a golf cart), lunch, dinner, and drinks are $150 each. Tickets for the dinner only are $50 apiece. Tickets for either option can be obtained from this page of the IJF website.

But, wait---as they said in the Ginsu knives commercial---there's more! There are sponsorships available, too. Here's the list:

  • Hole Sponsor - $200.00

  • Beverage Cart Sponsor - $1,000.00

  • Logo/Name on Golf Ball Gift - $1,500.00 (includes 2 golf/dinner tickets)

  • Logo/Name on Golf Towel Gift - $1,500.00 (includes 2 golf/dinner tickets)

  • Logo/Name on Divot Repair Gift - $1,000.00 (includes 2 golf/dinner tickets)

  • Silver Sponsorship – $1,000.00 (includes 2 golf/dinner tickets)

  • Gold Sponsorship – $2,000.00 (includes 4 golf/dinner tickets)

  • Platinum Sponsorship – $3,000.00 (includes 4 golf/dinner tickets)

There is a June 25 deadline for the gift sponsorships (to allow time for printing). All other sponsorships must be finalized by July 9.

To obtain a sponsorship, or for questions concerning sponsorships, email IJF Auxiliary Board Member Dawn Gonzalez.

Campaign website goes live for Judge Sanjay Tailor, virtual campaign launch and meet and greet announced for June 1

A campaign website has been launched in support of Judge Sanjay Tailor's bid to secure election to the countywide vacancy to which he was appointed last December. The first link in the preceding sentence will take you to Judge Tailor's new website. A link will be added in due course to the candidate list in the Sidebar here, once that is set up (the websites are starting to accumulate).

The Tailor campaign has also announced a virtual campaign launch and meet and greet for Tuesday, June 1, at 5:00 p.m.

Event organizers promise video remarks from Cong. Raja Krishnamoorti, and the opportunity to meet and greet special guests including Robert Berliner, James Figliulo, Hon. Diane Larsen (ret.), Beatriz Martorello, Cynthia Morgan, Kallolini Tailor, Steven Pugh, Caesar Tabet, and Sandra Yamate.

Donations can be made through the campaign website, but donations are not required to attend this virtual, public event.

The meeting room can be accessed at The Meeting ID is 238 289 6623 and the Passcode is hdGyb9.

Judge Tailor currently serves as Presiding Judge of the County Division. His lengthy campaign biography highlights his experience in a variety of judicial assignments and his political experience prior to his becoming an Associate Judge in 2003.

Supreme Court drops temperature check requirement, gives local courts options to dispense with masks

Another sign that the 'new normal' is coalescing around us: Yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court amended this March 17, 2020 Order, itself amended by this August 27, 2020 Order. This link will take you to the new Order; here is a link to the Court's press release about the Order.

The headline here gives away the gist of yesterday's Order -- temperature checks will not be required for courthouse entry but (as should come as no surprise) people with "flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, or shortness of breath (excluding such symptoms caused by chronic conditions)" are still asked to stay away.

With regard to masks, the rule still states:

Masks or face coverings should be worn at all times while in the courthouse unless the person is (1) otherwise instructed by court personnel; (2) under the age of 2; or (3) incapacitated, having trouble breathing, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. If available, masks should be provided to individuals who do not have them.

However, the following sentence has been added:

Pursuant to current CDC guidance, courts may choose not to apply the provisions of this paragraph F concerning masking to persons who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and are two weeks past their final vaccine injection.

My guess is that Cook County will be the absolute last Illinois county to make that choice. But what do I know? As long as nobody fibs about their vaccination statuts, letting the unvaccinated go maskless should work just fine. *Sigh*

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

CWB Chicago reports First Municipal District to fully reopen by August 2

CWB Chicago is reporting on Twitter within the past hour that First Municipal District Presiding Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr. has ordered judges in the First Municipal District to have in-person hearings at least twice a week starting July 5 and to "100% in person beginning August 2."

A memo has been sent to the judges. CWB has a screen grab of a portion of it. I have no further information, at this point, beyond what CWB is reporting.

More, presumably, to come.

A new Supreme Court map? Maybe....

We'll start with the map, because that's what everyone will want to see, and my thanks to @FrankCalabrese for providing this to FWIW. This map shows, according to Mr. Calabrese, how the Democratic Party proposes to redraw the state's judicial map. (I have not been able to find a bill reducing this proposal to writing, but that only means I couldn't find it, not that one has not been drafted and filed. I will update if necessary.)

There has been some loose talk in the media and on the Intertubes that the Illinois judicial map has not been updated for 50 years. This is only sorta, kinda true. There have been a couple of bills passed tinkering with Illinois judicial districts in the last 30 years, but these have foundered on the shoals of unconstitutionality.

So let's start with the 1970 Constitution.

Article VI, Section 2 divides the state into five Judicial Districts. "The First Judicial District consists of Cook County. The remainder of the State shall be divided into four Judicial Districts of substantially equal population, each of which shall be compact and composed of contiguous counties." (Emphasis supplied.)

Article VI, Section 3 specifies that three Supreme Court Justices will be elected from the First Judicial District and one each from the other four.

Article VI, Section 7(a) declares Cook County---already the First Judicial District---to be its own Judicial Circuit. The rest of the state is divided into Judicial Circuits consisting of one or more counties. Over the course of my professional lifetime, most of the counties adjoining County Cook have gotten their own separate circuit courts. The Circuit Court of McHenry County, once part of the 19th Circuit (with Lake County), became the 22nd Circuit. The 12th Judicial Circuit is now only Will County; the 16th has been reduced to just Kane County. Single-county circuits make it easier to draw new Judicial Districts, inasmuch as no circuit can be divided among Judicial Districts.

This is because Article VI, Section 6 provides, in pertinent part, "Appeals from final judgments of a Circuit Court are a matter of right to the Appellate Court in the Judicial District in which the Circuit Court is located...."

In People ex rel. Chicago Bar Assn. v. State Board of Elections, 136 Ill.2d 513 (1990), the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the General Assembly's first attempt to divide Cook County into 15 subcircuits. The subcircuit proposal fell because, in the court's opinion, it was 'inextricably bound' to another provision of the statute in question, namely, the division of the Appellate Court within the First Judicial District into five appellate subdistricts. This proposal was found unconstitutional because the "Illinois Constitution does restrict and limit the power of the legislature to further divide judicial districts for the election of appellate judges" (136 Ill.2d at 525).

The General Assembly took the hint and soon thereafter passed subcircuit legislation without trying to tinker with the Appellate Court and the rest is history. Meanwhile, People ex rel. Chicago Bar Assn. certainly stands for the proposition "that the delegates to the constitutional convention intended that appellate court judges be elected from their respective districts at large, that Cook County be viewed as one judicial district and that the legislature could determine the boundaries of the other four judicial districts" (136 Ill.2d at 530).

And so it can -- but it is not free to do so any old way it chooses. The Legislature subsequently passed the Judicial Redistricting Act of 1997, which, once again, tried to divide the First Judicial District, this time into Districts 1A, 1B, and 1C. It also redrew the lines for the Second through Fifth Judicial Districts, dividing a number of judicial circuits between Judicial Districts. For these reasons, the Act was declared unconstitutional in Cincinnati Insurance Co. v. Chapman, 181 Ill.2d 65 (1998).

Perhaps the key passage on this latter point is found at 181 Ill.2d at 79:

It is the combination of sections 6 and 7 [of Article VI] which renders unconstitutional the splitting of a judicial circuit amongst different districts. Section 6 requires that appeals from judgments of the circuit court be heard "in the Judicial District in which the Circuit Court is located." Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 6. However, the Constitution limits each judicial circuit to only one "circuit court," even though a circuit may be comprised of multiple counties, throughout which various circuit courthouses may be situated. In order to comply with the constitutional requirement that appeals from a circuit court must be heard by the appellate court in the judicial district in which the circuit court is located, the entire "judicial circuit" from which the single circuit court is created must likewise be contained wholly within a single judicial district.

The challenge to the mapmaker comes thus into view.

The three Justices elected from Cook County may be safely presumed to be Democrats for the foreseeable future. But how to find a reliable fourth vote?

Mapmakers drawing legislative districts are not constrained by county lines. Dependable portions of Chicago and suburban Cook County can be tapped as necessary to create as many safely Democratic suburban districts as possible in the expectation of indefinitely preserving the permanent Democratic supermajority. But, for judicial purposes, the Constitution puts Cook County behind a wall, untouched and untouchable for the mapmaker looking to find a 4th Democratic vote on the Supreme Court.

Some of you, perhaps, may marvel at this: Is not Illinois a Bluer-than-Blue state?

Without Cook County, however, and even with the evolution of some of the collar counties from dependable red to increasingly purple, the answer is no. Democratic precincts are widely scattered, clustered together, perhaps, but too far apart from each other if only four districts can be drawn.

The hyperpartisan estrangement which has afflicted the rest of our country has not left Illinois untouched. Most FWIW readers, safely in Cook County, have seen the virtual extinction of viable Republican candidates within a generation. But beyond the collar counties, in the vast majority of Illinois' 102 counties, the exact opposite phenomenon has occurred.

There will be two seats on the Supreme Court up for grabs in 2022. Under the current map, it is the Third District seat which would be open (Justice Robert L. Carter, appointed after Justice Tom Kilbride was defeated for retention, has announced that he will not be a candidate for the seat). Justice Michael J. Burke would have been expected to seek election to the Second District seat to which he was appointed upon the retirement of Justice Robert R. Thomas. But this proposal likely moves Burke into the Third District.

As the Second and Third Judicial Districts are presently constituted, both races would be rated, at the very least, as 'leans Republican'. The question for the mapmakers is, given the constitutional limitations on their cartographic creativity, whether either or both of these seats can be made at least competitive. In a non-presidential election year, will this map "work"?

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Alliance bar group seeks warm bodies for this week's judicial candidate evaluation session

I debated long and hard about whether to report on this.

And, for reasons I shall explain, I am not here revealing the name of the Alliance bar group in question.

But this is the third time it's happened---that an Alliance bar group sends an urgent solicitation for anyone willing to spend around three hours or so---with the minimal time committment broken down as follows: Reviewing candidate materials (15-20 minutes), participating via Zoom in the evaluation meeting (c. two hours), and drafting and uploading the evaluation (approximately 30 minutes).

What other qualifications will any volunteers be required to satisfy before they get a direct, and perhaps decisive, say in whether a man or woman gets a chance at judicial service? Aside from a willingness to burn three hours of time?

Apparently... no other qualifications at all. No specific courtroom experience is required. No training. No screening to determine if Volunteer A is the best bosom buddy of Candidate B, or perhaps her sworn adversary, ever since that playground incident in first grade. No screening to determine if Volunteer A hates and loathes all judges, or persons wishing to serve as judges, or whether Volunteer A expects all judges to profess, or at least reliably parrot, whatever political slogans that Volunteer A finds appropriate. Just be sure to log in 15 minutes early so as not to get locked out of the process.

Did I mention that these evaluators, hailed in off the streets like the wedding guests in the Gospel of Matthew, will hold in their hands the fate of whatever unfortunate candidates are brought before the camera for an interview this coming Wednesday night? Because the failure to secure the unanimous approval of each and every one of the 13 members of the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening issuing evaluations will be fatal to a candidate's associate judge prospects. Or chances of being slated by the Democratic Party. Or endorsed by the Tribune (if the Tribune has not already been dismembered by March 2022).

And I know I have mentioned this already, but this is the Internet, and repitition is often necessary: This is the third time this has happened.

That I know about.

From this one group.

And now we get to why I will not name the group: There may be other bar groups in the same predicament. This one, at least, is being candid and forthright about its critical shortage of evaluators.

There will be those who decry my publishing this post. Don't I realize that I am undermining confidence in the peer evaluation process by so doing?

Yes, yes, I do. And I am very unhappy about it.

I have nothing better to offer than peer review. No real alternative. And this post will give aid and comfort to those who insist that peer review is only a popularity contest, or a scam, or a cynical way to perfume a partisan political process. Or to those who would "just run" and avoid peer evaluation no matter what. I profoundly dislike giving the naysayers this ammunition.

If anyone were to ask me---which you may be assured no one has---I would suggest that any group who finds itself short of trained, experienced evaluators for any given candidate session simply abstain from participation. For this session. Perhaps for the entire AJ process, or for the upcoming primary. Work instead to build up numbers, and give the new recruits some training and some appropriate criteria by which to judge the men and women who want to serve on the bench.

So what if Candidate A is screened by only six or seven of the 13 Alliance members, while Candidate B, evaluated on a different date, gets ratings from 10? Just as long as the evaluations are meaningful and thoughtful and based on something other than the White Sox having played a day game Wednesday so the night is free for someone to take a stab at playing evaluator!

I suspect that a lot of bar groups are hurting right now because of the COVID-19 closures. Not only were many lawyers denied the opportunity to make a living, those that were making a living weren't necessarily---weren't probably---making it where they ordinarily did. And, even without commuting time, seemingly everything has taken longer to do in the last 15 months than it ever did. A lot of extracurriculars have suffered. (Recall, if you will, that the CBA scaled back its evaluation reports for the 2020 retention election because of Covid. Even the biggest groups had numbers problems.)

It's OK, I believe, to acknowledge that, thanks to the coronavirus, bar groups are not operating at heretofore accustomed strentgths. We always knew some groups had more evaluators than other -- long before Covid there were occasional documented instances of persons at Alliance hearings covering for more than one Alliance group. I think fair-minded people can agree that this is a weakness in the system which can only be addressed through recruitment and training. But pretending that a group can still function as an evaluating group when it has to dragoon evaluators in with 11th hour emails does more harm to the process than good.

Because you know, if I know about something, others know about it, too. Even if I chose to sit on the story.

Which I no longer can.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

It's Just a Bill: SB1608 would create lots of new subcircuit vacancies

With apologies to Rich Miller and the folks who made Schoolhouse Rock.

SB1608 would increase the number of Cook County subcircuit judgeships from 165 to 270 by eliminating 94 countywide and 11 associate judge positions as they come open. (Full text of the bill here.)

So, with the subcircuit boundaries being redrawn this year, this could be a very big deal.

If it passes.

What are the odds?

Well, at the moment, the bill has only one sponsor. That's a bad sign.

But that one sponsor is Asst. Majority Leader/Senate President Pro Tempore Bill Cunningham of Beverly. So there's at least some juice behind this proposal.

Given the blinding rapidity with which a proposal can be swept into law in the final minutes of the legislative session, the sluggish movement of the bill in the Senate so far means absolutely nothing.

So we'll see.

Don't blink.

Pam Saindon announces 2022 judicial campaign; campaign website launched

Another day, another announcement....

Pam Saindon, a Principal Attorney with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, has announced plans to seek a Cook County judgeship in the 2022 Democratic Primary. That's a link to her new campaign site in the preceding sentence; this link will also be added to the candidate Sidebar when I get that set up.

Licensed to practice in Illinois since 1995, according to ARDC, Saindon began her legal career as a law clerk for Appellate Court Justice William Cousins, Jr. and, later, for Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman.

Saindon thereafter worked for the Chicago Housing Authority, according to her campaign website, moving to the MWRD in 2012, first in the Employment, Environmental and Real Estate Divisions and, currently, in the User Charge and Enforcement Division. Saindon has also taught legal writing at UIC John Marshall Law School for the past nine years. Indeed, her students appear prominently in her campaign announcement video:

Before becoming a lawyer, Saindon's campaign website says that she was "a teacher in Japan, a kindergarten teacher, and a mental health specialist serving the Englewood community."

While Saindon has previously applied for the position of Cook County Associate Judge, this is her first bid for election to the bench.

Saindon is also a graduate of Mother McAuley High School, the alma mater of so many judicial candidates in recent years.

A tip of the hat to the anonymous reader (I'm sure some of you must have names) who provided the information in my comment queue.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Diana López to make judicial bid; campaign website launched

Family law practitioner Diana López has announced plans to run for the Cook County Circuit Court in the 2022 Democratic Primary. That's a link to her new campaign site in the preceding sentence; when a candidate Sidebar is added to this site, this will be included there as well.

A member of the Illinois Bar since 2001, according to ARDC, López practices with the López Law Group. Her campaign website indicates that she set up this practice in 2010, after leaving the firm of Monteagudo, López & Díaz, LLC. She began her career with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, working in the Child Support Enforcement Division and Child Protection Division from 2001 to 2004.

This would appear to be López's first attempt at being elected to the bench; she is in the most recent pool of applicants for the office of Associate Judge.

Her campaign website notes an extensive record of volunteer service, but López's site highlights work for the "National Immigrant Justice Center, the Chicago Bar Association, and Greenlight Family Services." In 2018, López joined the advisory board of the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center of DePaul University Law School. She has also been an adjunct professor at DePaul, teaching a course in adoption law.

Hat Tip to the Anonymous (aren't they all?) FWIW reader who left a link for this site in my comment queue.

Decalogue Society officer installation and judicial reception set for June 29

It will be a virtual event.

One of these days we will get to promote live and in-person events again, and hopefully soon, but at present, the annual installation events are seemingly all online.

The Decalogue Society will have its 87th Annual Installation event online on Tuesday, June 29, starting with a networking opportunity at 5:30 p.m.

Mara Ruff will be installed as President and the new Executive Committee and Board of Managers will all take their oaths in a ceremony at 6:00 p.m. Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr. will receive the Decalogue's Charles E. Freeman Judicial Merit Award at 6:20 p.m. before another networking opportunity concludes the evening.

Tickets are $50 for non-members and $36 for members. Judges and new admittees (2020 and 2021) will be admitted free of charge. Persons who join the Decalogue for the regular membership rate of $140 will also get free access to the program.

And sponsorships are available: Bronze - $150 (plus one event ticket), Silver - $300 (two tickets), Gold - $600 (4 tickets), or Platinum - $1,200 (8 tickets). Each level of sponsorship also comes with advertising opportunities, in the program book, and during the event. To get more details about the opportunities provided at different sponsorship levels, email For tickets, or to purchase sponsorships, click here.

Fix this, Tony, quickly -- before you lose the clubhouse -- and what should be a very special season, too

Photo credit: Jordan Johnson - USA TODAY Sports

There's a lot of ground to cover this morning, but we have to start with baseball. Because the Sox game starts at noon today and we need to fix this ASAP.

It all started two nights ago, when Yermín Mercedes, the hero of a feel-good Disney movie which will surely go into production soon, turned a 15-4 rout of the Minnesota Twins into a 16-4 rout by clouting a home run in the top of the 9th inning. He hit it off a Twins utility man, Willans Astudillo, on the mound only because the Twins did not want to further tax their already beleaguered bullpen.

Astudillo's pitches were so slow that the official speed gun could not record all of them. The eephus pitch that Mercedes demolished clocked in at a stately Sunday drive pace of 47.1 mph.

It is an article of faith among baseball afficianados (and physicists too, for that matter) that the harder a ball is thrown, the further it can be hit. A softly thrown lob shouldn't get hit very far or very fast. But Mercedes hit the ball 429 feet, to the deepest part of Target Field. According to the official MLB statistics, the ball reached an exit velocity of 109.3 mph. By comparison, Nick Madrigal's first career homer, earlier that evening, achieved an exit velocity of 99.9 mph -- off a 90.6 mph J.A. Happ fastball. Danny Mendick's subsequent grandslam, hit off an 85 mph slider from Derek Law, had an exit velocity of 102.6 mph.

Mercedes' blow was immediately controversial. White Sox announcers Jason Benetti and Steve Stone chuckled that Mercedes would probably lose half his salary in "kangaroo court" for "swinging 3-0 on Astudillo." The Minnesota announcers were not chuckling; they were incensed.

So too -- strangely -- was White Sox Manager Tony La Russa.

OK, I get it: Mercedes swung despite being given a 'take' sign. And maybe, listening to La Russa, it wasn't just a sign, it was a shout, because he could see the killer gleam in Mercedes' eye. Something like that, anyway.

I thought -- I hoped -- that maybe La Russa was talking about "consequences" for Mercedes in an effort to spread a healing balm on troubled waters, forestalling any possible Minnesota retaliation against the most suprising star of this young season.

But, then, last night, retaliation came: Twins reliever Tyler Duffey threw behind Mercedes in the 7th inning, or threw at Mercedes' behind and missed. Either way, he was promptly ejected, as he should have been.

And, after the game, which the Sox ultimately lost, and looked bad in so doing, Hall of Fame Manager Tony La Russa said he did not have a problem with how the Twins handled the retaliation. Maybe, I'm guessing, because they did not throw at Mercedes' head.

Now I'm really worried about retaliation.

Not about the Sox throwing at a Twins player today. Or further nonsense from the Twins. I'm worried that the Sox clubhouse will retaliate against La Russa. I'm worried that they will start treating him like a crabby old man who tells the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn. If they haven't already done so, they will begin to ignore, and maybe even defy him. I'm worried that he will escalate from there. And what could and should be a glorious White Sox season may go swirling down the drain.

Admittedly, I am a lifelong Chicago sports fan. As such, I am always worried about everything. But this, it seems to me, is potentially very serious.

Now, if you've come with me this far, you may say, Jack, you're out of your lane again. There are no judges in this story. Not even any lawyers.

But, friends, Mr. La Russa is (was, anyway) a lawyer. When he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014, I wrote about how Phil Zukowsky and I covered the story of La Russa's passing the Florida bar exam for Loyola Law School's Blackacre back in 1979. La Russa was the "boy wonder" manager of the White Sox then. I was younger, too.

So, speaking lawyer-to-lawyer here, Tony, let me say you have to fix this. Fix this now. Start a peace circle. Sing Kumbaya. Hug it out. I offer my services as mediator, if it would help. Howard Ankin has probably offered his services, too. Actually, the line of willing mediators would probably go around Guaranteed Rate Field more than once.

Whatever you do, do something soon. Otherwise, you will not only wind up as the 'heavy' in Yermín Mercedes' Disney movie, you'll jeopardize this magical season.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Illinois Bar Foundation announces matching gift opportunity

The Illinois Bar Foundation is raising money to help lawyers in need---something it has done since it was founded in 1951---but the need today may be greater than ever, as COVID-19 has rocked the legal profession, in many cases denying, or at least drastically reducing, the opportunity for some lawyers to earn a living.

The Year of Never-Ending Pandemic, now finally seeming to subside, has had, in the IBF's words, a "catastrophic effect... on our colleagues, particularly those working as solo practitioners or in small practices."

Some of us---most of us, hopefully---who have been impacted by COVID closures will, eventually, claw our way back to profitability. But some of us will need a helping hand along the way. Dollars donated to the IBF's COVID-19 Lawyers Care Relief Fund during the month of May will be matched by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers as indicated in the graphic above. And, yes, that is a link, in the preceding sentence, to an IBF donation page.

And here's another link: this one brings up the COVID-19 Lawyers Care Relif Fund page of the IBF website, from which lawyers who need a hand can apply for assistance.

The IBF says that it has noticed that the "vast majority of our recipients work with lower-income clients, providing much-needed legal services to an underserved population and creating a ripple effect of aid to the community at large. Providing support to our colleagues in need and making legal aid accessible to everyone, particularly those of limited means, is at the very core of what we do."

Online forms are great. How-to websites and call centers are very nice, too. But for now and for the foreseeable future, access to justice in this State means access to lawyers. Big firm pro bono efforts and law school clinics are well-intentioned, but none of these, or all of these put together, cannot possibly reach all of our fellow citizens who need timely, practical legal advice. If you have weathered the COVID storm safely, consider helping out those less fortunate. And they will help others in turn.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Illinois Supreme Court launches Illinois Court Help

The Illinois Supreme Court today announced the Illinois Court Help site.

And, yes, although the site appears to be aimed at the increasing numbers of pro se litigants, if you read through the announcement, it is apparently understood that lawyers may also have occasion to call or visit the site.

Here is the Court's announcement, in its entirety:

Illinois Court Help was launched today in order to connect people to the resources and information they need to go to court in Illinois. It is the first personalized court information service offered by the Illinois Courts and one of the latest innovations created during the COVID-19 pandemic to make the courts and information more accessible.

People can call or text 833-411-1121 to connect with a trained court guide who can provide up-to-date Illinois court information and answers to specific questions about the court process. Illinois Court Help guides will also connect people to the resources they need to go to court, from filing forms to accessing legal aid. Initial hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with expanded hours to come over the next few months.

“Illinois Court Help really is a gamechanger for people who, due to economic hardship, must represent themselves in court and have had access to in-person assistance restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke said. “This easy-to-use service closes the information gap and helps people go to court with more confidence.”

COVID-19 has made going to court for in-person information and assistance a challenge due to social distancing restrictions. This comes at a time when more lower income residents are facing eviction and other legal issues and cannot afford a lawyer to help them navigate the court system.

Nationally, an estimated three out of every five people in all civil legal cases go to court without a lawyer, according to the Self-Represented Litigants Network. Here in Illinois, half of all family law cases and 56% of domestic violence cases had at least one person representing themselves in 2020. At the same time, less than a quarter of Illinois courts have dedicated self-help staff to assist people representing themselves.

Illinois Court Help guides will provide step-by-step instructions on how to file court documents and explain how to appear in court on Zoom. Users will also be able to access one set of easy-to-read forms that can be used in any Illinois court. Lawyers who practice in multiple Illinois counties can find courthouse information. The new service will not provide legal advice but allows for guides to connect people to legal aid and other community services.

This service builds on other innovative changes instituted in response to COVID-19 to improve people’s access to the court system.

“Just as people now attend court hearings through Zoom, Illinois Court Help allows people to find the court information they need no matter where they are,” said Justice Mary K. Rochford, Chair of the Illinois Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission. “By guiding people through the court process through an emphasis on customer service, Illinois Court Help has the added benefit of reducing court delays and helping our courts operate more smoothly and efficiently.”

More information on Illinois Court Help can be found by going to

Alliance of Illinois Judges announces virtual Annual Meeting and Pride Parade

Let's start with the parade -- because this is time-sensitive.

Following the June 23 virtual Annual Meeting, the Alliance of Illinois Judges will host a virtual Pride Parade with "floats" (their quotes, not mine) and entries from bench and bar associations. And this is the time-sensitive part: The AIJ is asking any organization that wants to enter the virtual parade to contact them by tomorrow, May 18. Details and instructions for recording and submitting your entries will be provided by June 4.

The AIJ promises entrants that they can win the admiration of their peers as well as bragging rights by entering the parade. Additionally, the AIJ says (and, again, their quotes, not mine), "'Major Awards' are at stake, like 'Dancing Queen', 'Love Wins', 'Broadway Bound', 'Over the Rainbow', 'True Colors', and 'Glitter Glam.'" The AIJ also offers the services of its "creative team" for any group struggling to envision the perfect float.

Before the virtual Pride Parade, the AIJ will install its slate of officers for 2021-22. They are:

  • President - Hon. Linda J. Pauel
  • Vice-President - Hon. Cecilia A. Horan
  • Treasurer - Hon. Judith Rice
  • Secretary - Hon. Jill Rose Quinn
  • Board Director - Hon. Robert Harris
  • Board Director - Hon. Abbey Romanek
  • First Past President - Hon. Mary Cay Marubio
  • Second Past President - Hon. Mary S. Trew

Also at the June 23 installation meeting, the AIJ will confer these awards:

Community Leadership Award - Ray J. Koenig III
For extraordinary contributions to the LGBTQ+
community and to the legal profession

Alliance Award - International
Association of LGBTQ+ Judges

For extraordinary contributions toward advancing civility, respect, equality, and access to justice for the LGBTQ+ community

Honorary Membership - Hon. Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez
In recognition of her contribution to Coming Out Stories

Honorary Membership - Hon. Sara J. Smolenski
In recognition of her contribution to Coming Out Stories

Tickets for the Annual Meeting (and parade) (which will, in turn, be followed by a social hour on Remo) are not yet available. When available, tickets may be obtained on this page AIJ website.

Friday, May 07, 2021

FAQs about FWIW -- and how you can use this site to help your campaign

This is a post I revise and trot out at least once in every election cycle. This post is specifically addressed to persons thinking of running for judge in Cook County in 2022, their friends, business associates, and relations. Knowing this stuff will help you can take advantage of this site and maximize your visibility.

That said, if using this site is your media strategy, get another strategy. But, just as corn flakes can be part of a balanced breakfast, this site can be part of a solid campaign effort. ("Solid" meaning that it may not happen for you this time, but if you run well, you can build for the future.)

(P.S., A lot of this stuff is already addressed in the this site's Sidebar, so if you forget something, you can find it there.)

  1. This is a non-partisan site. I want to cover all candidates running for judge in Cook County. Because Democratic candidates have historically enjoyed such tremendous success in this county, most of the posts here will be about candidates in the Democratic primary. But I will gladly cover any Republican candidates, too. If a candidate has a website, I will link to it and post another link in the Sidebar.
  2. This site does not make endorsements. I realize no one cares who I would vote for. I reserve the right to talk about what I look for in judges, and what I have seen in 40+ years of practice -- in general terms -- in future posts.

    In past election cycles I have given candidates the opportunity to make their own case (click here to bring up posts written by judicial candidates in prior campaigns). I plan to do this again; expect an announcement around the first of the year.

    I believe the best candidates will distinguish themselves when as much information about all candidates as possible is presented for the voters' consideration. In addition to bar evaluations, I will report newspaper endorsements (if they're made) or community group or union endorsements (when I can verify them). All of this stuff will be collected in Organizing the Data posts (explained more, below) as the primary date comes closer.
  3. I want to publicize candidates' events. I'm happy to put up information about candidate fundraisers. I will cheerfully publicize other candidate events as well. (Organizers of candidate forums are strongly encouraged to contact me so I can promote their events, too.) If a candidate wants to promote a speaking engagement or a morning handing out flyers at the 95th Street Red Line Station or the Jefferson Park Blue Line Station, I'll run that, too. I will try and include photographs if the candidate or his or her campaign provides them. I make no promises or warranties in this regard, however; sometimes, real life may intervene and I won't be able to keep up with the flow of items.

    Please note: I can't possibly find out about all candidate events on my own. That means I rely on candidate requests for publicity. Every campaign cycle it's the same: I'll hear from some campaigns ten times or more; there will probably be others that I'll never hear from once. That does not mean I'm playing favorites; I'm merely responding to the email I receive.

    Pay attention to this one in particular: I generally will not report a candidate's bar ratings until the CBA and the Alliance release their findings. This will not happen until late in the primary season, after every candidate has had the opportunity to be evaluated. I wish these groups had a rolling release policy for their ratings -- but they don't. I hear complaints from judicial campaigns in every election cycle about this. But the bar associations believe that the mass release of candidate ratings, around the time that early voting begins, helps to maximize the impact of those ratings on the voting public. Meanwhile, candidates can, and do, post bar ratings on their campaign websites as soon as they get some favorable ratings to talk about. And I will link to the websites. So, for now, look there.
  4. Judicial candidates and committees do not pay for posts appearing on this site. I do not book the Google ads that appear on this page, and you may sometimes see candidate ads in those spaces, but I personally do not accept candidate ads. (I do accept ads from persons or companies looking to offer products or services to judicial candidates; see this post or the site Sidebar for additional information.)

    In this very early stage of the election cycle, judicial election posts on FWIW are read primarily by candidates, their supporters, persons who are thinking about running for judge in the future, and persons who hope to provide goods or services to candidates. A lot of judges tell me that they visit here regularly; so do persons affiliated with the various bar association judicial evaluation committees. As the primary date draws closer, this site will be increasingly visited by citizens trying to make informed voting decisions. The information that I have collected here, post by post, will be 'packaged' for the voters. Candidates may want to look at past Organizing the Data posts to get a feel for the kind of information has been collected and posted in the past. I'm always looking to enhance the functionality of this site and I reserve the right to make any improvements within my abilities.
  5. I am a lawyer, not a professional journalist. However, since nearly all professional journalists insist on ignoring judicial elections, I do the best I can. Having run for judge twice myself (in 1994 and 1996) I appreciate just how little opportunity judicial candidates have to get their credentials before the public. I do try to present candidates in the best possible light, at least in my initial post about any given campaign. However, I reserve the right to fact-check information provided, to add information I've discovered on my own, to combine or even ignore duplicative releases. In short, I reserve the right to edit my own page.
  6. Comments on this site are 'moderated.' This means I read any comment that anyone cares to leave and I decide whether or not it will get posted. I do not automatically exclude anonymous comments, but I'd greatly prefer you leave a name. I will, however, block "attack" comments, especially from anonymous commenters.

    I understand that we are here on the Internet and there is an expectation, for better or worse, that all Internet commentary should be freewheeling and even pungent. But I disagree and this is my site. I also reserve the right to be inconsistent on this.

One final suggestion: Use this site as a force-multiplier. I will often put up a Tweet about a post I run here. Occasionally, I put links on Facebook or LinkedIn as well. But that's me plugging my site. If I put up a post about your campaign, you will want to tweet it out, too, or put it on Facebook, or Bill Belichick's "Snapface" or "Instachat," and encourage your friends and family to do so, too. If you don't know how, ask your kids. Good luck, everyone.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

It begins: First candidate announcement seen, first caps blown

Let's begin with a statement that will be obvious to most FWIW readers, but which is offered for the benefit of those who may be new here: The 2022 primary system isn't really starting now. It started, at the latest, on November 3, 2020, when the polls closed at 7:00 p.m. For months and months already judicial hopefuls have been making such rounds as they can in the COVID-19 era, hatching plans and schemes, forming and abandoning alliances, seeking support from friends and familly, and public officials alike. They have been seeking, and perhaps paying for, advice from political masterminds (most of them self-appointed) and all without most people knowing anything about it.

They are starting to emerge now, the earliest declared candidates hoping to preempt others' less well-formed plans.

And I do not mean to suggest that Dan Balanoff's Facebook announcement (screengrab below) is necessarily the first public announcement of a Cook County judicial candiacy for 2022. It just happened to burble up, via the inscrutable algorithms of Mr. Zuckerberg's terrible invention, through the flotsam and jetsam of my Facebook newsfeed, at a time when I was online to see it.

There will be others. Many others, presumably. Don't count on me to find them all, or even most of them. Stop back tomorrow when I'll review how judicial candidates and their supporters can best take advantage of this site.

Meanwhile, in other news, contribution caps are officially 'blown' for Judge Rena Marie Van Tine's forthcoming election bid. Van Tine, a long-serving associate judge, was appointed to the countywide Leeming vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court this past February. According to the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) website, Van Tine's campaign committee has received $400,000 in loans from a family member, a quarter million on St. Patrick's Day and another $150,000 on March 29. Her campaign has also received over $100,000 in donations from another individual.

Some of that money has already been spent on a campaign website. (When I find enough candidate websites, I will start a list in the blog Sidebar, as I've done in previous campaign cycles.)

Ordinarily, there are limits on what an individual, corporation, or PAC can donate to any Illinois candidate (for the forthcoming election cycle, the individual limit is $6,000; for more, click here). These limits are the "caps" of which we speak here. But there is an exception set out in §9-8.5(h) of the Illinois Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/9-8.5(h). This provision states:

Self-funding candidates. If a public official, a candidate, or the public official’s or candidate’s immediate family contributes or loans to the public official’s or candidate’s political committee or to other political committees that transfer funds to the public official’s or candidate’s political committee or makes independent expenditures for the benefit of the public official’s or candidate’s campaign during the 12 months prior to an election in an aggregate amount of more than (i) $250,000 for statewide office or (ii) $100,000 for all other elective offices, then the public official or candidate shall file with the State Board of Elections, within one day, a Notification of Self-funding that shall detail each contribution or loan made by the public official, the candidate, or the public official’s or candidate’s immediate family. Within 2 business days after the filing of a Notification of Self-funding, the notification shall be posted on the Board’s website and the Board shall give official notice of the filing to each candidate for the same office as the public official or candidate making the filing, including the public official or candidate filing the Notification of Self-funding. Notice shall be sent via first class mail to the candidate and the treasurer of the candidate’s committee. Notice shall also be sent by e-mail to the candidate and the treasurer of the candidate’s committee if the candidate and the treasurer, as applicable, have provided the Board with an e-mail address. Upon posting of the notice on the Board’s website, all candidates for that office, including the public official or candidate who filed a Notification of Self-funding, shall be permitted to accept contributions in excess of any contribution limits imposed by subsection (b). If a public official or candidate filed a Notification of Self-funding during an election cycle that includes a general primary election or consolidated primary election and that public official or candidate is nominated, all candidates for that office, including the nominee who filed the notification of self-funding, shall be permitted to accept contributions in excess of any contribution limit imposed by subsection (b) for the subsequent election cycle. For the purposes of this subsection, “immediate family” means the spouse, parent, or child of a public official or candidate.

Now, of course, any candidate who chooses to file against Judge Van Tine will also have the privilege of accepting unlimited funds from any legal donor, if such persons or corporations can be found. And like every candidate, he or she would be able, if he or she is able, to put in as much of his or her own money besides. There have been instances of one self-funded judicial candidate squaring off against another self-funded candidate. There was at least one such contest in the 2020 primary season. The problem there, of course, is that, when two lavishly-funded candidates square off, one must lose. And only the winning candidate, and the losing candidate's consultants (assuming they collect on their bills), can be happy then.

My thanks to the FWIW reader (surprisingly named "Anonymous") who alrerted me to the lifting of the caps in Judge Van Tine's campaign.

Annual fundraiser for Women Everywhere Chicago set for Thursday, May 13

This year's annual Women Everywhere: Partners in Service fundraising reception will be held virtually on May 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

MSNBC analyst Jill Wine-Banks will be the keynote speaker at the event. Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans will also be a guest speaker. The organization will bestow service and leadership awards on retired Judge Kathleen Panozzo and the late Judge Diane Gordon Cannon. There will be a silent auction and a performance by Hubbard Street Dance.

Tickets for the event are $50 each and may be obtained by clicking here. A link to the event will be provided to all ticket purchasers 24 hours before the event begins.

Proceeds from this event go directly to fund the 2021-2022 scholarship program.

Women Everywhere: Partners In Service Project (WE) bills itself as "a non-profit organization driven by the volunteer efforts and goodwill of attorneys, judges, bar associations and others in the Chicagoland legal community. WE volunteers are dedicated to creating opportunities for women and children in need through education and community service. WE hosted young women virtually this year for education days, providing a prospective into the legal profession. WE again will offer scholarships to college-bound young girls."

Supreme Court issues trio of new election law cases

State Rep. Thaddeus Jones (D-29th) picked up another job title recently -- Mayor of Calumet City. The ABC7 story about Jones' swearing-in, posted May 1, is embedded above.

But Jones' mayoral bid was nearly derailed before it started. The Illinois Supreme Court filed an opinion reinstating Jones' candidacy on March 11.

That case, Jones v. Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the City of Calumet City, 2021 IL 126974, is one of three election law cases handed down recently by the Illnois Supreme Court.

The other two cases are Elam v. Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the Village of Riverdale, 2021 IL 127080 (issued April 21), and Corbin v. Schroeder, 2021 IL 127052 (issued April 27).

None of these cases involves judicial elections -- but, given the relatively small number of election law cases, it seems a dead-certain cinch that citations to these cases will find their way into pleadings and decisions when judicial nominating petitions are challenged in the election season now getting underway.

The Jones case arose because, last November, voters in Calumet City approved a referendum holding "that candidates could not seek the office of mayor while simultaneously holding an elected, paid state office." Before the referendum results were certified, Rep. Jones filed mayoral nominating petitions.

The timing was close: Jones filed his petitions on November 16; the referendum results were certified on November 24. The day after the referendum results were certified, on November 25, a challenge was filed to Jones' candidacy.

The argument was that the referendum took effect on November 3, when the final votes were cast in the election. The local electoral board agreed, and ordered Jones off the ballot. The Circuit Court agreed -- but the Appellate Court reversed and ordered Jones reinstated. The Supreme Court's opinion affirms the Appellate Court (2021 IL 126974, ¶14):

“Where the legislature has provided for the method of declaring the results of an election, the election is not complete until that is done.” Palmer v. Illinois Liquor Control Comm’n, 77 Ill.App.3d 725, 730 (1979). The Election Code governs in extensive detail not just the method of declaring the results of an election but the conduct of the election in general. 10 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq. (West 2018). Relevant here, the Election Code requires a canvass of votes take place after voting is complete in order to account for and review the validity of all ballots cast. See id. §§ 22-1 to 22-18. The election authority must then certify and declare the results. See id. §§ 17-1 to 17-100. Here, the results of the referendum were certified on November 24, 2020. That is the legal effective date of the referendum. Holding otherwise would cause instability and confusion, as it would create a period of time where the results of the election are legally effective yet unknown to the public. The legislature provided in the Election Code a prophylactic for this uncertainty: certification and declaration of the results. At that time, the election is decided and legally effective. Consequently, Jones was eligible to run for mayor at the time he filed his nomination papers.

The Elam case is a cautionary tale about petition circulators. Adonis Elam Sr. wanted to run for Riverdale trustee as an independent candidate. The good people of Riverdale elect their officials on a partisan basis but, just as (in theory anyway) with judges, an individual can bypass the primary and file as an independent -- if that person accumulates sufficient petition signatures.

Elam filed 26 pages of signatures on December 21, 2020. But objections were filed, the contention being "that three individuals who circulated Elam’s nomination papers for signatures as an independent candidate in the 2021 consolidated general election violated statutory law by previously circulating nomination papers on behalf of a Democratic candidate in the 2021 consolidated primary election." The case turned on the interpretation of §10-4 of the Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/10-4. (2021 IL 127080, ¶4.)

Specifically, in the Supreme Court's view, the relevant provision of §10-4 was this (2021 IL 127080, ¶12):

“[N]o person shall circulate or certify petitions for candidates of more than one political party, or for an independent candidate or candidates in addition to one political party, to be voted upon at the next primary or general election, or for such candidates and parties with respect to the same political subdivision at the next consolidated election.”

After striking all the signatures collected by the three circulators who had previously passed paper for Democratic candidates (for which candidates, and where, the opinion does not say), Elam was left with a total of nine signatures. The local election board knocked him off the ballot, and the Circuit and Appellate Courts affirmed. The Supreme Court made it unanimous.

The Supreme Court was not piling on. Rather, the court used the Elam case to resolve a conflict between two appellate districts, deciding to overturn Sandefur v. Cunningham Township Officers Electoral Board, 2013 IL App (4th) 130127. (2021 IL 127080, ¶30.)

The Corbin case concerned the propriety of the decision of the Village of Glendale Heights to allow two candidates for village president on the ballot although they had far fewer signatures than were actually required. The candidates, one of whom was the long-time incumbent, relied on the Village Clerk to tell them about the signature requirements -- and the Clerk testified that (2021 IL 127052, ¶12):

[She] misinterpreted what she read in the [ISBE] handbook. That misinterpretation was colored by the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulty of obtaining signatures. In [the Clerk's] mind, the low percentage was “because a lot of people were not answering their doors because of COVID.” [The Clerk] stated, “I honestly thought it was because of COVID and reducing the point of contact. Everything has changed in the past year. Nothing is the same. And it made sense that you would require fewer signatures and have fewer points of contact.” She acknowledged that neither the Governor, the State Board of Elections, the Du Page County Election Commission, nor anyone else ever informed her that the statutorily required number of signatures had been reduced because of the pandemic.

The candidates testified that the Clerk was "phenomenal" and "one of the most stand-up people at the Village." The incumbent Village President was surprised that the signature requirements were so much lower than they had been in her prior election bids but the COVID explanation made sense to her.

And there were court-ordered modifications made to signature requirements for some Illinois candidates in some cases last year -- I wrote about it here -- but there was no general relaxation of signature requirements because of the pandemic.

The local electoral board nevertheless overruled the objections to the candidates' petitions, and the Circuit and Appellate Court's affirmed this determination. The Supreme Court smmarized the Appellate Court's reasoning at 2021 IL 127052, ¶27:

[The Appellate Court agreed] with the Board that “the COVID-19 pandemic is an exceptional circumstance,” as evidenced by the Governor’s executive orders that “affected procedures in virtually all aspects of life.” 2021 IL App (2d) 210085-U, ¶28; 2021 IL App (2d) 210086-U, ¶28. The appellate court conceded that “there was no change” to section 10-3 [of the Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/10-3] and that “[the Clerk] mistakenly consulted the requirements for a different type of candidacy.” 2021 IL App (2d) 210085-U, ¶28; 2021 IL App (2d) 210086-U, ¶28. The critical inquiry was not why [the Clerk] made a mistake but why the candidates relied on it and whether that reliance was, under the extraordinary circumstances, reasonable. 2021 IL App (2d) 210085-U, ¶28; 2021 IL App (2d) 210086-U, ¶28. The court concluded that the Board’s finding that the candidates’ reliance was reasonable was not against manifest weight of the evidence. 2021 IL App (2d) 210085-U, ¶28; 2021 IL App (2d) 210086-U, ¶28.

The Supreme Court reversed, in a 4-2 decision.

The Supreme Court viewed the "issue in this case [as] purely legal---namely, whether the percentages in section 10-3 may be diluted by statements from a municipal election official, so that candidates may obtain ballot access with fewer than the statutorily mandated number of signatures" (2021 IL 127052, ¶33). Framed that way, there could be but one outcome: The Supreme Court refused, it said, to replace the "mandatory, objective direction of the legislature with something more discretionary and subjective" (2021 IL 127052, ¶45).

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Guest Post: What a fair subcircuit map might look like

In a recent post, Frank Calabrese looked at how the Cook County judicial subcircuits had been drawn and offered some ideas about what a new map might look like.

Now he's offering a specific map -- and explaining why he's drawn it as he has....

by Frank Calabrese

I have been drawing the Cook County subcircuits, curious what a “fair” map might look like. I drew a map with four guiding principles. 1) exactly equal population, 2) maximize minority representation, 3) cohesive communities, and 4) easily understood boundaries. One principle I did not use when drawing my map was clout. The result of my map is this:

The population of each subcircuit is almost exactly 346,500, with a population deviation under 0.1%. To create a map with equal subcircuit population, people from populous subcircuits, especially the 8th subcircuit and 15th subcircuit, must be transferred to less populous subcircuits, the 1st, 2nd, and 5th subcircuits. This is achieved by shrinking the 8th subcircuit considerably and having the 5th subcircuit absorb the South Loop from the 8th subcircuit. The 1st and 2nd subcircuits absorb the south suburban portion of the 15th subcircuit.

I also try to maximize minority representation. I do this by drawing the 6th subcircuit to be as Latino as possible, changing it from a white majority district into a Latino majority district. This is achieved by moving it west. My proposed 6th subcircuit is entirely west of Western Avenue and ends at Harlem Avenue. I draw the 7th subcircuit to be as Black as possible by removing white areas like the West Loop, Berwyn, and River Forest, and replacing them with Black areas like Maywood, Bellwood, and Broadview. I maintain the Black 1st, 2nd, and 5th subcircuits to be at least 70% Black each by incorporating Black precincts currently in the 3rd and 15th subcircuits.

I also try to make the subcircuits make sense from a community standpoint. I try to make the 9th Subcircuit a cohesive community by removing working class suburbs and focusing it on Evanston, Skokie, and Rogers Park to create a liberal subcircuit that would be friendly to Jewish candidates. The current 11th subcircuit is an odd marriage of highly educated Oak Park and working-class Chicago neighborhoods and the 10th subcircuit is an odd marriage of highly educated and liberal 47th Ward and conservative 41st Ward. I create an 11th subcircuit that is focused on the northwest side of Chicago and surrounding suburbs, a subcircuit that would be friendly to Labor interests. I drew the 10th subcircuit to focus on the northside of Chicago, an area that is highly educated and affluent. I also incorporate Oak Park into more similar suburbs, such as LaGrange Park, Riverside, and River Forest.

Lastly, I drew boundaries along major highways, so that voters can easily understand the boundaries. Here is a Google Maps version of my proposed subcircuit map:

I enjoy making maps, and any feedback is appreciated.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Illinois Judicial Council promotes Navigating the Courts Program tomorrow evening

The Illinois Judicial Council is promoting a program to be put on by the Chicago Metropolitan Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women entitled "Navigating the Courts - What You Should Know Before You Go."

The program, which will begin at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow, May 4, will be streamed on Facebook Live.

According to the promotional materials, judges will be on hand to explain how "to successfully navigate the virtual court system in traffic, pretrial (bond), criminal, evictions, and mortgage foreclosure divisions."

Ron Blomberg headlines virtual Jewish sports program on May 25

Ron Blomberg hit only five home runs in just 61 games with the 1978 Chicago White Sox, but one of these came on Opening Day, when it was hoped (by White Sox fans and underfunded owner Bill Veeck alike) that Blomberg would make us all forget about the departed Richie Zisk. I remember the home run in particular because I'd just made some wiseacre remark about Blomberg to Phil Zukowsky when the ball was struck -- seemingly right at me. And, no, I didn't come up with the ball. says Steve Stone started that game for the White Sox, going seven innings, but not figuring in the decision. I didn't remember that.

Anyway, the Decalogue Society and the Jewish Judges Association of Illinois is bringing in Ron Blomberg (baseball's first DH, whose success with the Yankees prompted Veeck to anoint him as the 1978 Rent-A-Player) for a virtual program on Tuesday, May 25, at 7:00 p.m. Also on the program are Appellate Court Justice Robert E. Gordon and Greg Harris, the creator of the 24" x 36" iconic artwork, "Jews in Baseball," liberally sampled above.

Everyone attending the Zoom presentation will receive a $150 discount certificate to buy the artwork.

Door prizes with a gauranteed value of $25 will be given to all attendees -- 40 copies of Ron Blomberg's latest book -- and framed pictures of players for everyone else.

Tickets for the event are $10 each. To register, visit the Decalogue site or click here.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Polish Constitution Day lecture Monday, May 3

Monday, May 3 is the start of Well-Being Week in Law. It is also World Press Freedom Day (this year's theme: Information as a Public Good).

Monday is also Polish Constitution Day -- and, while there's no parade, the Advocates Society announces there will be a lecture, at noon, by Professor Lech Garlicki, formerly of the University of Warsaw, the Polish Constitutional Court, and the European Court of Human Rights, entitled, "The Polish Constitution of 1791: Lessons for Today."

Admission is free, but registration is required. To register, email

Marriage Court reopens downtown, via Zoom, and in-person

Yet another sign that perhaps, just perhaps---slowly, haltingly, but inexorably---things are starting to return to normal. This press release was issued yesterday by the Office of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans:

Marriage and civil union ceremonies at Cook County’s downtown Marriage and Civil Union Court (Marriage Court) may be performed via Zoom videoconference, as well as in person, starting next week, according to a court order issued on Friday.

Except for court holidays, Zoom teleconference ceremonies shall be scheduled Mondays and Tuesdays between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. every 15 minutes and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon., according to the order issued on Friday by the Hon. Diann K. Marsalek, Acting Presiding Judge of Marriage Court and of the Traffic Division. The couple shall present the marriage or civil union license issued by the Cook County Clerk together with the required $10 fee for the ceremony to the marriage clerk in the Cook County Building, 118 N. Clark St., Lower Level, Chicago at least 48 hours in advance of the Zoom ceremony.

In-person ceremonies shall be held Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9:00 a.m. and noon and 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.; on Fridays between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.; and on Saturdays between 9:00 a.m. and noon. In-person ceremonies have been held throughout the pandemic.

A valid marriage license or civil union license must first be obtained by the couple from the Cook County Clerk. Couples should call the marriage clerk at (312) 603-4550 to schedule the ceremony, and must tell the clerk whether they want it conducted by Zoom teleconference, telephone, or in person. All ceremonies must be scheduled in advance with the clerk. Marriage or civil union ceremonies for which a member of the couple is in active military service shall be scheduled on an expedited basis. If a couple needs the assistance of an interpreter for the ceremony, they must request interpreter services when making the appointment. Ceremonies will be limited to 20 per day.

For in-person celebrations, all persons entering Marriage Court at 118 N. Clark Street, Lower Level, must use the LaSalle Street or Clark Street entrance. Dates are currently booked through May, but the marriage clerk is taking appointments through July. The clerk is not scheduling Cultural Center ceremonies.

Due to social distancing precautions, only the couple and two guests are permitted to be physically present during an in-person ceremony, and only 16 individuals are allowed to enter the lower level for Marriage Court at any given time. All individuals must wear masks at all times in Marriage Court.

The Circuit Court of Cook County has conducted multiple other kinds of civil and criminal proceedings by Zoom teleconference as a precaution during the coronavirus pandemic. Zoom marriage ceremonies already have been performed at other courthouses, including the Maywood Courthouse and in other counties.

Happy Law Day, U.S.A... and other various alternatives

We didn't put up decorations this year, but today is Law Day, U.S.A. The theme for Law Day 2021, according to the American Bar Association, is "Advancing the Rule of Law Now." The ABA says the theme reminds us that "we the people share the responsibility to promote the rule of law, defend liberty, and pursue justice."

President Biden, in his Law Day message, urges "my fellow Americans to join me in recommitting ourselves to promoting and advancing the rule of law and delivering freedom and equality for all."

Today, of course, is also May Day, which, depending on how you use the term, is either a traditional Celtic holiday, also known as Beltane, or (so Wikipedia says) the International Workers' Day chosen by "the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago." On the Catholic calendar, today is the Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker.

Truth to tell, the Catholic feast and Law Day are both Cold War responses to the popularity of May Day. Not the pagan, Celtic May Day -- the other one.

Well-Being Week in Law starts Monday.