Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Associate judge candidates celebrate the end of their campaign

Quite often these days I find Facebook to be depressing, offensive, and/or disgusting.

But, this afternoon, I ran across a post that gave me just a little cause for optimism, like Pandora looking at the bottom of the box and finding Hope.

The post apparently went up yesterday, but it only burbled up into my news feed this afternoon. Mr. Zuckerberg took pity on me, I guess.

The picture above, and several others, were posted by Dawn Marie Gonzalez who also wrote, in pertinent part, "Many of the Associate Judge candidates met at the Erie Cafe tonight to celebrate our boot camp gauntlet experience together. Little did we know that Jim Thome would take our group picture with Jerry Reinsdorf!"

As you can see, someone also took a picture of Jim Thome taking the picture.

What makes this Facebook post special is not the presence of celebreties but, rather, the presence of good will and comradeship at the end of a campaign in which 50% of those running will lose. They could have easily fallen upon each other -- but here is evidence that they supported each other instead.

This solidarity is what can make---what should make---judicial campaigns special. Good luck to all of them.

The law isn't always enough -- another vaccination post, triggered by current events

My comment queue now includes a number of blistering denunciations of the Cook County judge who curtailed a mother's visitation rights with her young son, apparently sua sponte, because she was not vaccinated against COVID-19. You won't be seeing those. And I'll refrain from even naming the judge here. For once this is not because I don't know who the judge is; I do. I tweeted about it over the weekend when the order rescinding the first order was entered.

I'm not protecting anybody, or defending anyone either. You already know that story; I'll not pile on.

Instead, I'd like to come at it from another direction.

I saw a post put up by on Facebook one of my cousins this morning. One of my unvaccinated cousins.

Don't be smug. While I am certain that most FWIW readers are fully vaccinated, I am equally certain that there are probably unvaccinated persons among your relations, too, or among your in-laws, and almost certainly among some of your neighbors, whether you know it or not.

Indeed, one of the many sad consequences of this pandemic (albeit not up there with the suspension of civil jury trials in Cook County -- there, I've saved you the trouble of making that comment, Anonymous) is that the vaccination issue is yet another wedge dividing friends and families. As if we didn't have enough of those already.

Anyway, my cousin shared a post from the Fire Chief of the rural Oregon Aurora Fire District. The post in question is on the linked Facebook page; Mr. Zuckerberg either does not permit, or my limited techno-skills do not allow, me to link to the exact post. I've also linked to the district's web page. In short, I'm pretty sure that this is a real letter, from a real fire chief:

This is some pretty overheated, over-the-top rhetoric here ("un-American", "weaponized" government). Not as offensively over-the-top as the remarks recently attributed to FOP President John Catanzara, Jr. about Chicago's forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate but, in a way, that makes Chief Williams' remarks all the more frightening. He seems perfectly willing to jettison his career on this issue.

And it's not just one firefighter in Who-knows-where Oregon that feels this way. From what I've been told, and from what I've read, there are a lot of firefighters in this area that haven't been vaccinated either. And policemen. Even nurses. A significant number of first responders who've been dealing with COVID and its consequences right from the start. You'd think that would be impossible. But, apparently, it's not.

My cousin has a son who is serving in the Marine Corps. If he hasn't been vaccinated yet for COVID, he will be shortly. I don't think he'll throw away his career on this. Persons serving in the armed forces are routinely required to submit to vaccinations of one sort or another before overseas deployments. A great many persons in the police and fire service are military veterans themselves, and therefore familiar with these requirements. You'd think they'd see this vaccination in a similar light. But... evidently not.

On Facebook and Twitter I read post after post from people -- supposedly rational, responsible people -- exulting over the deaths of their unvaccinated fellow humans (a right-wing Florida -- of course he'd be from Florida -- radio host who'd fulminated against vaccination, until his own, ultimately fatal encounter with COVID, being one of the latest examples). There's meanness and ugliness from so many out there.

What this shows me, at least, is the limitations of the law.

Passing a law -- or issuing a mandate -- prohibiting some practice or requiring another is absolutely ineffectual without one of two things: Either there must be broad consensus supporting the law or there must be the threat of force behind it. Force and even violence. Actually, you probably need both for a truly effective law because no matter what overwhelming percentage of persons support the enactment, there will always be someone who will violate it, or try to. But the important thing is this: The more people who agree with the law in the first place, the less onerous enforcement will have to be.

I don't know how a public health issue got made into a partisan political issue. But it happened here. And we're seeing the consequences. Most people in most places have agreed that the vaccine is a reasonable response to the COVID-19 problem. But not enough people anywhere to effectively contain the bug. So... now... enforcement is being ratcheted up: Government employees, at all levels, are being required to take the vaccine. Private employers are being urged to force their employees to do the same. Failure to comply will result in losing one's job. A pretty forceful consequence. And it still may not be enough.

But the law is not going to be enough here. Not without a whole lot of force. Or... alternatively... hopefully... by forging some consensus. Of course, for that, we'll just have to start talking to each other again. Do we still know how?

Supreme Court hires 1st Behavoiral Health Administrator

You probably heard this news over the weekend; it was pretty widely reported.

Here's the Supreme Court's complete press release on this hire. I'll come back when you're finished:

The Illinois Supreme Court has hired Scott Block to serve as the state’s first Statewide Behavioral Health Administrator. Block will serve as the Illinois Judicial Branch’s dedicated mental health voice and resource, committed to furthering local, state, and national behavioral health and justice initiatives that affect the courts. In this capacity, he will act as the project director of the Illinois Supreme Court Mental Health Task Force and provide professional guidance on the Illinois Courts’ response to behavioral health issues that intersect with the justice system.

“We welcome Scott and look forward to his mental health expertise and leadership within the Illinois Judicial Branch,” Chief Justice Anne M. Burke said. “The Illinois Courts have been at the forefront of mental health best practices and this hire raises the bar on what we can accomplish.”

Block previously served as the Executive Director of the McHenry County Mental Health Board and was the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court’s Director of Special Projects prior to that. While working with the court, Block planned, designed, implemented, and led daily Problem-Solving Court operations. After building a solid foundation, the court’s Mental Health Court and Adult Drug Court programs were subsequently awarded AOIC certification, and the Adult Drug Court was recognized by the National Drug Court Institute with “Mentor Court” status.

“We are excited to welcome Scott to the Illinois Judicial Branch. Having worked with Scott on previous and ongoing justice and behavioral health-related issues, it was clear he has many of the skills and relationships needed to achieve our goals,” said Marcia M. Meis, Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. “He will be a key leader in furthering many projects as the intersection of behavioral health and justice continues to grow in priority.”

Block holds several credentials in the behavioral health and justice field, including a certification from the National Center for State Courts as a Court Manager, and a Certification form the Illinois Certification Board as a Criminal Justice Addictions Professional.

“The opportunity to serve the Judicial Branch in this new role is an exciting progression of my career,” Block said. “It is a bittersweet goodbye to the Mental Health Board, as I have enjoyed and appreciated working with such a community-minded and committed Board of Directors, County Board, staff, and network of service providers. At the same time, I am excited to continue my work at the state level.”


I would have run this when I saw it, but I got caught up in the jargon. What is the difference, if any, between mental health and behavioral health? The terms are used interchangeably here. The creative writer distinguishes him- or herself by using multiple words to mean the same thing but, in the law, when different words are used, we are taught to assume they mean something different. We are all too often reminded of the stigma that attaches to persons who seek mental health treatment. Is "behavoiral health" just a bit of linguistic legerdemain meant to soften the blow for those who need mental health treatment (or for those who need to recommend it)?

While my journey down the search engine rabbit hole produced a number of examples of equivalence, I think there is an officially-recognized distinction. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has a short paper online about the integration of behavioral health into health promotion and health care delivery and financing:

The term “behavioral health” in this context means the promotion of mental health, resilience and wellbeing; the treatment of mental and substance use disorders; and the support of those who experience and/or are in recovery from these conditions, along with their families and communities.

The CDC says mental health "includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices."

It appears that the terms are not properly interchangeable, but they certainly overlap. Behavioral health may be the broader term -- a person struggling with obesity, for example, may be eligible for behavioral health services but not in need of mental health treatment. Substance abuse problems may be triggered by mental illness, but not always. Behavioral health treatment would be indicated for any substance abuse problem, perhaps, whether or not triggered by an underlying mental illness.

For more on the disctinction between "behavioral health" and "mental health" turn to this post on Page Two.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Two dead, others injured in shooting outside the Kankakee Courthouse

In theory, this is a link to the Tweet pictured above.

Ben Bradley of WGN-TV reports, in this Tweet, that, per the Kankakee County Sheriff, a number of individuals were shooting at each other between the courthouse and the jail, leaving two dead and others injured. And, apparently, some persons have been apprehended in connection with this incident.

On the passing of Judge Ronald C. Riley

I assume the Illinois Judicial Council will have an announcement when arrangements are finalized. This post may be updated accordingly.

I was saddened to read yesterday, on Facebook, of the passing of former Judge Ronald C. Riley.

At the time of his retirement (in 2008 or early 2009) Judge Riley was Presiding Judge of the Sixth Municipal District. But I had trials before him when he served in the Law Division and, later, in Chancery.

Actually, we never got the first juror sworn in the Law Division trial -- but it's that case that left me with an indelible, and positive, impression of the man.

Judge Riley's chambers in the Law Division had a small table set perpendicular to his desk. He used it as a conference table. And, if I don't remember the geography of the room exactly, I do remember that there would be heck to pay if one failed to push one's chair back under the table when standing up. Riley was (if I recall correctly) a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, and he conducted his courtroom with a brisk, military air.

I recall exactly Judge Riley's remarks when I and my opponent arrived for trial that morning in September 1992. "Gentlemen," he said, "the motion courts are downstairs. The Appellate Court is upstairs. We do trials here."

(In those days, the Appellate Court still occupied the top floors of the Daley Center.)

The reason why this seemingly innocuous, though accurate, remark is so seared in my memory is that I had brought with me a very large stack of motions that I wanted to have addressed before we even thought about impaneling a juror. Mine was a first party business interruption insurance case arising from a truck accident -- and the insured had already received hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation from the carriers that insured the truck driver responsible for the collision. While the case had been pending for nearly six years before it went out to trial, a great many questions of law (concerning policy construction and damages) had yet to be resolved. Not for lack of trying on my part, mind you -- but motion judges seldom got reversed for denying or deferring motions.

Looking back after nearly three decades, I suppose the pile of paper I produced at that moment may have been fairly modest in comparison to the enormous stacks of pretrial motions I have since seen in, say, medical negligence cases. But, for me, at the time, it was a huge bulk of paper, and I felt like I was starting at the bottom of a very deep hole when I produced my pile and pushed it forward.

To my eternal relief, and gratitude, his initial remarks notwithstanding, Judge Riley gave my pile of paper respectful consideration. We were at least two days, and I think three, with an intervening weekend, working through the issues -- and, eventually, the issues were narrowed sufficiently for the parties to reach a settlement. Judge Riley did not negotiate that settlement; that was achieved by one of my partners, working with someone from my opponent's firm, and the adjuster, sitting in the courtroom. Or somewhere. But Judge Riley's willingness to wade into that thicket of paper and make considered decisions, made that resolution possible.

Thank you, sir.

Am Assistamt Attorney General before he was elected to a countywide vacancy in 1988, Judge Riley was a former Chair of the Illinois Judicial Council.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Injustice Watch says Ald. Taliaferro to seek 11th Subcircuit seat in 2022... and that means....?

Injustice Watch and FWIW cover some of the same ground. Our beats partially overlap.

So it's no surprise that, from time to time, that site will scoop FWIW on Cook County judicial election news. As Injustice Watch did yesterday when it ran a post headlined, "Chicago ward boss eyes a seat on the bench in 2022 election."

So a tip of the hat to Kelly Garcia and Amy Quin for that.

Now, with journalistic courtesy having hopefully been satisfied, let us proceed to the questions raised by Ald. Chris Taliaferro's interest in an 11th Subcircuit vacancy.

Subcircuit boundaries are being redrawn for this election cycle (until now, we've been using the same subcircuit map in Cook County for 30 years).

As originally designed, subcircuits were intended to increase the presence of under-represented minorities on the Cook County bench. In 1990 that meant Blacks, Hispanics, and Republicans. It was this unlikely coalition that came together in the General Assembly to create Cook County's current subcircuit map. On the second attempt, at least. (The first attempt to create Cook County subcircuits failed a judicial challenge. See, People ex rel. Chicago Bar Assn. v. State Board of Elections, 136 Ill.2d 513 (1990).)

I'm not sure what coalition of interests will form to redraw those lines, although I'm pretty sure Republicans won't have a seat at the table this time. But, insofar as I know, there's no new map. Yet.

There are proposals out there. Frank Calabrese put out a proposal in this FWIW guest post this past May.

But we've seen remaps at all levels of government before. Ward and district boundaries shift dramatically, sometimes, as do their numeric designations.

In Cook County, bitter experience teaches that those who control the process will know everything they need to know to position themselves to remain in control long before the rest of us are clued in. So... does Ald. Taliaferro's interest in an 11th Subcircuit race signify that is there a "done deal" subcircuit map circulating among those that control the process? In other words, did Ald. Taliaferro spill the beans... or is he engaging in nothing more than wishful thinking?

We'll all find out eventually. If I find out anything sooner, I'll let you know.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Southwest Bar Association and South Suburban Bar Association set September 9 Judges' Night

The Southwest Bar Association and the South Suburban Bar Association will hold a Judges' Night on Thursday, September 9, starting at 5:30 p.m., at the Ridge Country Club, 10522 S. California Ave., Chicago.

The event will honor last year's Jurists of the Year, Judges Colleen Hyland and Kathleen Panozzo. Recently retired Judge Raymond Jagielski, the former Presiding Judge of the 5th Municipal District, will receive the Directors' Award for Leadership.

Tickets are $100 each in advance, $125 at the door (judges, unsurprisingly, will be admitted free, gratis, and for nothing). And sponsorships are available, too: Silver - $300, Gold - $500, or Platinum - $1,000. Silver and gold sponsors receive one event ticket each; platinum sponsors receive two. For more information, or to reserve tickets, email southwestbarassociation@gmail.com or visit this page of the Southwest Bar Association website.

Mask mandates coming back -- and it's easy to see why

The City reimposed an indoor mask mandate yesterday. The Cook County Department of Public Health is following suit effective Monday, August 23.

What a difference a month makes. Here's today's City of Chicago COVID-19 Dashboard:

Compare with values from July 10 to the present as reflected in this chart:

(If you want to see snapshots of the COVID-19 Dashboards from which these figures are taken, look at this post.)

Things are getting worse. Objectively.

In these weekend 'Rona posts, I've been comparing how we here in True Blue, enlighted Chicago and County Cook are faring compared to those Yahoos in the hinterlands that the media makes fun of.

Oddly enough, though, not all of the actual facts fit the established narrative. In this July 31 post I documented how Chicago was actually dragging down Illinois' vaccination numbers.

They still are: The August 21 chart above shows that 54.4% of Chicagoans are fully vaccinated; 59.8% of city residents have received at least one dose. According to this August 20 press release from the Illinois Department of Public Health, more than 60% of Illinoisans are fully vaccinated and over 77% have received at least one dose.

For what it's worth, Illinois' vaccination rate varies from source to source. The Mayo Clinic reports lower numbers for our fair State. According to the Mayo Clinic, only 50.2% of Illinoisans are fully vaccinated, while 64.8% have received at least one dose. I can't explain why there's such a large discrepancy. Here is what the Mayo Clinic says it takes into account in compiling the numbers it reports:

Vaccine data is updated daily. Data is compiled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We also use historical data from The COVID Tracking Project. State population data is from the 2019 census estimates from the United States Census Bureau.

For the sake of comparison, the State of Florida reports 66% of its population is "vaccinated" (report published August 20). The report does not distinguish between persons receiving one vaccination and those fully vaccinated. So I will not speculate as to whether Florida claims a better overall vaccination rate than Illinois, although that is surely one interpretation of the numbers.

But just as in the case of Illinois, the Mayo Clinic figures are less generous for Florida, too: According to the Mayo Clinic only 51% of Florida residents are fully vaccinated. So just a little bit better than Illinois.

Wait... what? Florida?

It gets worse: The fully vaccinated figures are broken down by age groups on the Mayo Clinic website. In the 18-64 age group, 55.4% of Illinoisans are fully vaccinated -- but so are 54.8% of Floridians. We've done a better job vaccinating eligible school-age young people: 13.9% of those under 18 are vaccinated in Illinois, while only 10.8% of Floridians aged 18 and under. But, for Illinois residents 65 and over, 80.3% are fully vaccinated. Not bad, perhaps, but, in Florida, according to the Mayo Clinic, 86.9% of persons 65+ are fully vaccinated. Considering that seniors are the age group that has been vaccine eligible longest, it seems astounding that so many of our most vulnerable fellow citizens remain unvaccinated. And how could we be behind Florida on this?

The popular narrative is not entirely wrong: According to the Mayo Clinic figures, the least fully vaccinated states are Alabama (36.1%), Mississippi (36.6%), Wyoming (37.8%), Idaho (38.3%), Arkansas (39.4%), and Lousiana (tied with West Virginia at 39.4%). But Illinois (at 50.2% fully vaccinated) is only 21st among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, way ahead of states like Alabama, of course, but not as far ahead of Texas (45.9%) as one might imagine. (Austin isn't that big.) And behind Iowa... and, as noted, Florida.

So the numbers are pretty much guaranteed to get worse for the immediate future. And masks are going to be with us... again... for some time to come.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Up on the roof: September 8 fundraiser for Judge Sanjay Tailor

Supporters of Judge Sanjay Tailor's election bid are planning a fundraiser for their candidate on Wednesday, September 8, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., in the rooftop garden atop 161 N. Clark Street.

Co-Chairs for the event are Hon. Diane Larsen (Ret.) and Hon. Rita Novak (Ret.). Event Co-Hosts include Justice Gino L. DiVito (Ret.),Michael I Rothstein, Caesar A. Tabet, and the law firms of Figliulo & Silverman P.C. and Wise Morrissey LLC.

Tickets for the event are $125 apiece (although government or public interest attorneys can purchase tickets for a discounted price of $100). Sponsorships are also available (Bronze - $250, Silver - $400, Gold - $500, or Benefactor - $5,000). Tickets may be purchased on this page of the candidate's campaign website. For more information, or for questions about the event, email info@electjudgetailor.com.

Judge Tailor is currently Acting Presiding Judge of the Circuit Court's County Division. The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Tailor (who had been serving as an Associate Judge) to a countywide vacancy (created by the death of Judge Diane Gordon Cannon) late last year.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Looking more closely at the Short List finalists -- Part IV

Updated August 23, 2021
Updated August 21, 2021
Updated August 19, 2021

In this last of a four-part series, FWIW completes its look at each of the 44 finalists for Cook County Associate Judge. For Part I of this series, click here. Part II can be found at this link, while Part III may be found here. Updates may be posted as new information becomes available.

Parle M. Roe-Taylor is a career Cook County Assistant Public Defender. Currently (since 2019) she serves as Deputy Public Defender for Municipal Operation, Litigation and Support. In that role she is an executive team member to the Public Defender on policy, strategy, and court operations.

Roe-Taylor has also served as Chief of the First Municipal Division and Chief of the Fourth Municipal Division of the Public Defender's Office. She has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1990, according to ARDC.

Pamela Saindon has been a principal attorney with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago since 2012. Since 2018 she has been assigned to the User Change and Ordinance Enforcement Division.

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 worked for the Chicago Housing Authority before moving to the MWRD. Saindon has also taught legal writing at UIC John Marshall Law School for the past nine years. FWIW readers will recall that Saindon had been exploring a possible 2022 run for the bench before she became a Short List finalist.

Eric Michael Sauceda is a career Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. Though presently a supervisor in the office, Sauceda spent more than six years as a lead prosecutor at 26th and California. He has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1999, according to ARDC.

Sauceda is a leader of the "Hispanic resource group" within the SAO and Vice President of Club Guadalupano, a service and scholarship organization in the Northwest suburbs. Sauceda was a finalist in the 2019 selection process.

Theresa Marie Smith Conyers was also a finalist in the 2019 selection process. She has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1999, according to ARDC.

Smith Conyers currently serves as an Assistant Corporation Counsel Suprervisor in the Labor Department of the City of Chicago Department of Law. She also chairs the Training Subommittee for the Department of Law's Committee for Inclusion and Diversity.

Smith Conyers began her legal career as an Assistant Cook County State's Attorney, rising to First Chair in the Special Prosecutions Bureau. As an ASA, Smith Conyers handled financial crimes, public corruption, money laundering, murder, police shootings, and mortgage fraud cases. She left that office in 2017.

Joan Ellen Smuda served as a Cook County Circuit Judge pursuant to appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1995-96. She ran for a 10th Subcircuit vacancy in 2008. Smuda has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1978, according to ARDC.

Smuda worked as an Assistant Illinois Attorney General both before and after serving on the bench. She currently serves as Chief of the Revenue Litigation Bureau in that office. At the outset of her career, Smuda worked for bankruptcy attorney Peter Francis Geraci, leaving to set up her own private practice from 1983 to 1990.

After leaving the bench, and before rejoining the AG's Office, Smuda worked as a Legal Analyst for the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County and, from 1999 to 2001, as legal counsel for the State of Illinois Liquor Control Commission. A former President of the Advocates Society (1989-1990), Smuda also served as President of the National Advocates Society from 2005-2007. From 1999 to 2001, Smuda also served as General Counsel to the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America, the first and only woman appointed to that position in the nearly 150-year history of that fraternal benefit organization.

Ankur Srivastava is an Assistant United States Attorney specializing in public corruption and organized crime cases. Before joining that office Srivastava was a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. He began his legal career with Sidley Austin after graduating from Yale Law School. He has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2005.

Srivastava is a past President of the Asian American Bar Association and of the South Asian Bar Association. He has been an adjunct professor at both Northwestern and DePaul Law Schools.

Pamela J. Stratigakis has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2001 and is employed by Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, according to ARDC.

Stratigakis was a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney from 2003-2019 before moving into private practice. In the State's Attorney's Office, Stratigakis rose to First Chair in the Felony Trial Division. She also served on the Internet Sex Crimes Against Children Task Force and was engaged in what a prior CBA evaluation referred to as "groundbreaking litigation against people involved in Internet sex crimes." She was a candidate for a 9th Subcircuit vacancy in the 2020 primary.

Anthony Charles Swanagan served as a Cook County Circuit Court judge pursuant to Supreme Court appointment in 2017-2018. Licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1987, Swanagan is currently employed as an Assistant Illinois Attorney General, according to ARDC.

Before his bench appointment, Swanagan worked as a career clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Andrea R. Wood of the U.S. District Court. He also clerked for Justice William White in the Illinois Appellate Court, and for Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman of the U.S. District Court. Earlier in his career, Swanagan worked for Jones, Ware & Grenard and served as corporate counsel for Galileo International, Inc.

Andreana Ann Turano is an Assistant Cook County State's Attorney and has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1993, accroding to ARDC.

Turano currently serves as Supervisor in the Second Municipal District of the SAO. A career assistant, Turano was a First Chair in the Felony Trial Division from 2003 to 2012 before becoming Deputy Supervisor in the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Division. She assumed her current role in 2018.

Turano has been an adjunct professor at UIC John Marshall Law School since 2012. She was also a National Faculty Instructor with the National District Attorneys Association from 2015-18. Turano has provided constitutional law instruction since 2017 through the CPS Lawyers in the Classroom Program at Federico Garcia Lorca Elementary School. She has also served as a Mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago.

Scott William Tzinberg practices family law with the Law Offices of Scott Tzinberg. He has been licensed in Illinois since 1996, according to ARDC.

His firm bio notes that Tzinberg was appointed to the Supreme Court Committee on Equality in 2017. He has been active with the UIC/John Marshall Alumni Mentor Program – mentoring law students, exposing them to family law cases, and introducing them to the Court system.

Timothy W. Wright, III is Managing Partner of Operations in the Chicago office of the national firm of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. His firm bio notes that he also practices from the firm's Los Angeles office -- surely the only Short List finalist who can make that claim.

Wright's LinkedIn profile notes that he also holds a Doctor of Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary. Wright served as Special Counsel and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and was the Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development for the City of Chicago under two administrations. He also served as President William Clinton’s first Director of Domestic Policy and in various capacities in the administrations of Presidents Clinton, George H. Bush and George W. Bush. He was Chief of Staff for Congressman Bobby L. Rush. He has served as a Director for the Southern African Economic Development Fund and as a Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. Wright has also served as Chairman of the Sub-Saharan African Advisory Committee of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. He has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1984, according to ARDC.

Looking more closely at the Short List finalists -- Part III

Updated August 18, 2021

In this third of a four-part series, FWIW continues its look at each individual Associate Judge finalist. For Part I of this series, click here; for Part II, click here. Updates may be posted as new information becomes available.

Diana Elena Lopez was already testing the waters for a 2022 judicial run when she was named to the current Short List.

A member of the Illinois Bar since 2001, according to ARDC, López practices family law 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.

Lopez's campaign website notes an extensive record of volunteer service, but 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.

Edward James Maloney was a Short List finalist in 2019. A long-time Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, Maloney now works for the CHA Office of Inspector General, according to ARDC. He was licensed to practice in Illinois in 1989.

Maloney sought a countywide judicial vacancy in the 2012 election cycle. His LinkedIn profile (from which the accompanying photograph was obtained) notes that Maloney has been an instructor in Criminal Law and Procedure in Loyola University Chicago's Criminal Justice Department. He has volunteered as a competetion judge at a number of moot court programs.

Kerrie Elizabeth Maloney Laytin served as a Circuit Court judge pursuant to Supreme Court appointment in 2019-20. The accompanying photo is taken from her 2020 campaign materials.

Before her appointment to the bench Maloney Laytin served for 16 years as Senior Counsel and Assistant Corporation Counsel in the Appeals Division of the City of Chicago’s Law Department. Before that, Maloney Laytin worked as a Staff Attorney at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago (now Legal Aid Chicago).

After graduating from Columbia Law School in 1997, Maloney Laytin had two federal clerkships, one for Carolyn Dineen King, then-Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the other for Judge Robert P. Patterson, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, She has been licensed in Illinois since 2000, according to ARDC.

Thomas A. Morrissey is a personal injury lawyer in LaGrange.

Licensed in Illinois since 1985, Morrissey's firm biography notes that he began his legal career in the Illinois Attorney General's Office, representing state employees in civil cases in state and federal courts. From there, Morrissey moved to Gardner, Carton & Douglas, representing hospitals and and corporations in insurance defense matters. He moved to the plaintiff's side in 1998. Morrissey is a member of the Chicago faculty of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) and has taught trial advocacy in law school.

Scott Norris is a plaintiffs' personal injury and disability lawyer practicing with the firm of Burnes Libman. Licensed to practice in Illinois since 1985, Norris's firm bio says that his current practice is concentrated in premises liability and transportation negligence cases. According to Norris's firm bio, he "has been at the vanguard of the crime victim’s rights movement from its inception, seeking restorative justice for crime victims in the civil justice system."

Norris began his legal career as a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney. He set up his own practice in 1988 handling tort and criminal matters. He joined his current firm in 2001. Norris is a certified mediator through the Center for Conflict Resolution.

James Bryan Novy is a partner with Rock Fusco & Connelly, LLC.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1987, according to ARDC, Novy began his legal career as an Assistant Cook County State's Attorney. Before joining his present firm, Novy handled professional malpractice matters for Weldon-Linne & Vogt. His current practice, according to his firm bio, is in commercial litigation, construction litigation, probate, banking & finance, municipality law and civil rights litigation.

Radusa Ostojic works as house counsel for American Family Insurance and has been licensed in Illinois since 1986. She was a candidate for an 11th Subcircuit vacancy in a very crowded 11th Subcircuit primary in 2010, but withdrew prior to the election.

Gina Angela Piemonte is a Cook County Assistant Public Defender, currently serving (since 2020) as Chief of the Professional Development Division. Before that, Piemonte was Deputy Chief of the Felony Trial Division and, for 15 years prior to that, a member of the Homicide Task Force. She has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1986.

Piemonte worked for two small firms at the outset of her legal career, including one where she practiced family law. She was a volunteer coach for the Philip Corboy Trial Team of Loyola University School of Law from 2001-2004 and a volunteer judge in numerous trial advocacy classes and mock trial competetions. Piemonte was also a volunteer teacher for incarcerated women at the Cook County Jail (through CLAIM) from 2002-2005.

Dartesia Ayanna Pitts works in the Office of Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton. In 2017-2018, she served as President of the Cook County Bar Association. According to a 2018 profile published on Rolling Out Pitts was the youngest woman ever to hold that position. She was licensed to practice law in Illinois in 2005, according to ARDC.

Another 2018 profile, on N'Digo (from which the accompanying photo is taken), mentions Pitts's national television appearances as a legal commentator. Before joining the Lt. Governor's Office, according to her LinkedIn profile, Pitts worked as an attorney for the Cook County Board of Review and, before that, for the firm of Greene & Letts. She had her own practice from 2005-2012.

Mary Anna Planey is a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. She was licensed to practice law in Illinois in 2001, according to ARDC. Her LinkedIn profile says that Planey is a Supervisor in the SAO's Human Trafficking Unit. Since 2018, according to the LinkedIn profile, Planey has been a member of the Board of Directors of an organization called Kids Above All.

Brian Randall Porter has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1996, according to ARDC. My research suggests that he serves as an Administrative Law Judge for the City of Chicago. He may also have served as counsel to the Harvey Park District the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Looking more closely at the Short List finalists -- Part II

Updated August 17, 2021

In this second of a four-part series, FWIW continues its look at each individual Associate Judge finalist. For Part I of this series, scroll down or click here. Updates may be posted as new information becomes available.

Carl Lauras Evans, Jr. has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1993, according to ARDC. He currently practices from the Law Offices of Carl Evans Jr. in Tinley Park where, according to his LinkedIn profile, he handles criminal and traffic matters, real estate, and personal injury litigation.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Evans began his legal career as an Assistant Cook County Public Defender, working in that office from 1994-1998. He has taught trial advocacy and "Lawyering Skills" (which includes legal writing) at the institution formerly known as John Marshall Law School.

William Nicholas Fahy has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1990, according to ARDC. He practices from the Law Offices of William N. Fahy in the West Loop.

Some candidates have sent me photos and biographical information to use with these posts, which is a great help. My goal is for it not to be particularly obvious to the reader which candidates have provided information and which have not.

Whether a finalist has provided materials or not, I consult online sources, including my own archives, for every candidate in the preparation of these posts. However, not every finalist has the same presence online. Often this is dependent on the candidate's chosen field of practice. Mr. Fahy is an example of a finalist who has shared very limited information online. This is by no means a negative.

Barbara Nubia Flores is a Commissioner at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, where she presides in hearings over appeals on administrative review. She previously served as Arbitrator presiding over administrative trials.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2004, according to ARDC, Flores prior experience was in labor and employment law representing clients in both the public and private sectors. She has been the Scholarship Committee Co-Chair of the Diversity Scholarship Foundation and has been a long-time board member of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois.

Athena Frentzas-Bubaris practices with the Park Ridge firm of Frentzas Law LLC. Her firm bio notes that her practice is concentrated in traffic law, including DUI defense and CDL issues.

Licensed as an attorney since 1991, according to ARDC, Frentzas-Bubaris began her legal career as a prosecutor for the Secretary of State, DUI Hearings Division. She served as an Assistant Illinois Attorney General from 1992-1994, according to her firm bio.

Caroline Gale Glennon is a career Assistant Public Defender based in Rolling Meadows. She has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1996, according to ARDC.

Glennon was capital qualified and litigated a death penalty case in 2003. She has been a member of the Public Defender's Homicide Task Force since 2005. Though based in Rolling Meadows (since late 2014), Glennon also handles homicide cases at the Skokie Courthouse.

Glennon has volunteered as a mock trial judge for the North Suburban Bar Association. She is currently the Vice President of the GBS Parent Association Executive Board. Among other activities, she has been active in the GBS Booster Club, Northfield Township Food Pantry drives, the National MS Society, and Feed My Starving Children.

Mitchell Benjamin Goldberg is a partner with the firm of Lawrence Kamin, practicing with the firm's ADR, Litigation and Regulatory Practice Groups. He has appeared in specialized arbitration forums, including FINRA and the NFA. A frequent mediator in commercial disputes, Goldberg also represents financial services clients in regulatory matters involving the SEC, CFTC, Illinois Securities Department, and others.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1999, according to ARDC, Goldberg is a former President of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. He was a Vanguard Award recipient in 2019. Goldberg has also taught securities regulation and litigation at IIT/Kent College of Law.

Dawn Marie Gonzalez is a partner in the firm of Stone & Johnson Chartered. Licensed in Illinois in 1994, according to ARDC, Gonzalez has worked for a number of private firms for most of her career, including a stint as in-house counsel for CNA Insurance from 2015-2017.

A past President of the Women's Bar Association of Illinois (2005-06), Gonzalez was an Executive Committee Member of the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Evaluations from 2004-07. She as served on the Board of Directors of the Community Chest of Oak Park from 2007-2012 and on the Board of Directors of the Madison Street Theater from 2011 to 2019. She has been a member of the Lawyers' Auxiliary Committee of the Illinois Judges Foundation since 2011.

Jasmine Villaflor Hernandez currently serves as a staff attorney in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Chief Counsel, Midwest District. She was an Assistant Cook County State's Attorney before that, from 2012-2019.

From 2009-2012 Hernandez worked in the Office of the Presiding Judge, First Municipal District, as Administrative Supervisor and Compliance Officer. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2008, Hernandez is a former President of the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago (2017-18) and of the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago (2015).

Matthew William Jannusch is a career Assistant Cook County State's Attorney. Licensed in Illinois since 2001, Jannusch has served stints in the Civil Actions Bureau (Child Support Enforcement Division), Special Prosecutions Bureau, and Criminal Prosecutions Bureau.

Jannusch currently serves as Treasurer of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago and on the Junior Board of the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind. He is a founding member and the current President of the Cook County State's ATtorney's LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group.

Lakshmi Elkhanialy Jha is a Cook County Assistant Public Defender, currently serving (since 2013) on the Homicide Task Force. Licensed in Illinois since 2002, according to ARDC, Jha began her legal career as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the the City of Chicago, handling administrative appeals and municipal prosecutions.

A long-time board member of the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Jha served as President of that group in 2019-20. She has also been involved with Women Everywhere and the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund.

Martha Victoria Jimenez has been a Supervisor of Municipal Litigation in the Civil Bureau of the Cook County State's ATtorney's Office since 2019. Before that, Jimenez was Senior Counsel in the City of Chicago Department of Law, Legal Information, Investigations & Prosecutions Division.

Jimenez has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2002, according to ARDC. She began her legal career as an Assistant Cook County State's Attorney before moving into the private sector for a six-year tour with Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman, LLP. Jimenez is also on her second tour of duty as a board member of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, having previously served from 2015-16. She was Chair of the HLAI JEC from 2015-2018 and has been involved with Women Everywhere.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Looking more closely at the Short List finalists -- Part I

In this first of a four-part series, FWIW begins its look at each individual Associate Judge finalist. Updates may be posted as new information becomes available.

David Charles Adams is a partner with the firm of Grund & Leavitt. His firm biography notes that Adams practices "appellate law with an emphasis in civil litigation and matrimonial matters." According to that firm bio, Adams is also an adjunct professor at IIT/Chicago–Kent College of Law, teaching Advanced Pleadings and Motion Practice in Family Law in the LLM program. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1991, according to ARDC, Adams was a candidate for a 9th Subcircuit vacancy in the 2012 election cycle.

Maryam Ahmad currently oversees the operations of the Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Divisions, as Juvenile Justice Bureau Chief for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. A finalist on the 2016 Short List, Ahmad served as a Circuit Court judge, pursuant to a Supreme Court appointment, from 2014 to 2016.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2000, according to ARDC, Ahmad has also served as an Assistant Public Defender and as Sexual Harassment Officer for the City of Chicago. Earlier in her career, while still in law school, Ahmad worked as Special Assistant to the President on Diversity at DePaul University. Before attending law school, Ahmad was Dean of Multicultural Affairs at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Perhaps the only finalist with a master's degree in Shakespearean Studies (from Bucknell University), Ahmad is the Immediate Past President of the Chicago Bar Association. She has also been appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to serve on several committees addressing the court’s response to COVID-19 and in juvenile justice.

Sunil Shashikant Bhave has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2005, according to ARDC, but he actually began his legal career in 2004 in Missouri as an Assistant Public Defender. He served as a law clerk to a Missouri appellate judge and, later, to a United States District Judge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Bhave joined the Illinois Attorney General's Office in 2007, practicing in the Civil Appeals Division. He subsequently moved to the City of Chicago, working as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the Federal Civil Rights Litigation Division, before returning to the Attorney General's Office in 2012 in the General Law Bureau. Bhave is currently the Unit Supervisor of the Civil Prosecutions/Administrative Law Unit of the Attorney General's Office. Bhave was elected to a term on the School Board of the Community Consolidated School District No. 59 in Elk Grove Township from 2015-2019.

Patrick Malone Blanchard currently serves as the first Independent Inspector General for Cook County. His Cook County bio notes that he has served in this capacity since 2008, following "a selection and screening process administered by the Chicago and Cook County Bar Associations and bipartisan committee of the Board of Commissioners of Cook County."

Appointed to a second term in 2014, Blanchard was initially slated to complete his term as Inspector General last year but was, according to a September 18, 2020 Sun-Times article by Rachel Hinton, brought back for a special two-year term while county officials look for his replacement.

Prior to becoming Independent Inspector General for Cook County, Blanchard was an Assistant States Attorney from 1993 to 2008, including service as Division Chief of the Special Litigation Division and held several other supervisory positions within the Civil Actions Bureau. Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1990, Blanchard began his legal career with the firm now known as Clausen Miller PC.

Lloyd James Brooks was appointed to a Circuit Court vacancy by the Illinois Supreme Court and served as a judge from 2018-2020. FWIW pulled the accompanying photo from Brooks' 2020 campaign materials; he did not submit this photo and can not be accused of being presumptive.

Before his judicial appointment, Brooks was a founding partner of the Matteson-based Consumer Legal Group. He currently is listed as the principal of The Brooks Law Firm has been licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 2000, according to ARDC. Brooks is also a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter. He was a Short List finalist in 2018 and 2019.

Richard George Cenar was a long-time Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. Licensed in Illinois since 1986, Cenar is now employed by the Illinois Attorney General's Office, according to ARDC.

Cenar was a candidate for a 10th Subcircuit vacancy in 2016 (the accompanying photo dates to that campaign). He explored another run in 2018 but bowed out when he was not slated.

Scott Richard Clewis practices with the personal injury firm of Clewis & Associates, P.C. and has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2000, according to ARDC.

His firm bio states that Clewis was formerly a partner and shareholder of Clewis & Finn, P.C. Before that, he a partner at Levin & Perconti, and a long-time associate at Salvi Schostok & Pritchard, P.C. Early in his legal career he served as a law clerk for the late U.S. Dist. Judge William J. Hibbler.

Barbara Lynette Dawkins is a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney based in Markham, currently serving in the Felony Trial Division. She has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1998, according to ARDC.

Dawkins has been a Village Trustee in Homewood for the past 12 years. She also serves as President of the Rookie A League of Homewood Baseball and coaches the mock trial team for Rich Township High School. Dawkins is Vice-President of Foundation 153, which provides supplemental educational funding for Homewood Schools.

Gabriel Joseph DeMatteo practices with the Law Offices of Gabriel J. DeMatteo in Lincolnwood and has been licensed in Illinois since 1986.

According to his LinkedIn profile, DeMatteo has operated his own practice since 2003. Before that, DeMatteo served as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney.

James Thomas Derico, Jr. served as a Circuit Court judge from 2019-2020. This photograph dates to the 2020 campaign.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1985, Derico began his career as an associate with Gardner, Carton & Douglas (now Drinker, Biddle & Reath). He subsequently worked in-house for Borg-Warner Corporation and as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago specializing in contracts and commercial law. Derico practiced with Derico & Associates, P.C. from 1992 until his appointment to the bench.

Derico has served on the Illinois Supreme Court Committee for Civil Jury Instructions. He was the recipient of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) Distinguished Service Award in 2009 and 2014.

Sabra Lynne Ebersole operates the Law Office of Sabra Ebersole, practicing, according to the firm website "at the intersection of family law and the criminal justice system."

Licensed in Illinois since 1986, Ebersole began her career in a small general practice, according to her firm bio. She worked for the Cook County Public Guardian's from 1995-1999, before moving to the State's Attorney's Office. From 1999 to 2005, Ebersole handled juvenile cases. She thereafter served in the Criminal Bureau and, in 2009, was assigned to what is now known as the Sex Crimes/Domestic Violence Division. Ebersole set up her own practice in 2015.


Blanchard photo credit: Tom Cruze/Chicago Sun-Times file

For Part II of this four-part series (Evans, Jr. to Jimenez), click here. For Part III (Lopez to Porter), click here. For Part IV (Roe-Taylor to Wright), click here.