Friday, October 29, 2021

No new subcircuit map for 2022

In the end, the Powers-That-Be couldn't figure out where to draw the new lines.

So there won't be any new lines, not until next year, and that will be too late for the forthcoming judicial primary.

The General Assembly adjourned yesterday after passing a controversial new Congressional map -- but without redrawing subcircuit boundaries.

New subcircuit boundaries were supposed to happen: P.A. 101-477 added a new subsection a-5 to §2f of the Circuit Courts Act, 705 ILCS 35/2f(a-5), which provided that, in 2021, "the General Assembly shall redraw the boundaries of the subcircuits to reflect the results of the 2020 federal decennial census." Instead, however, tucked away at p. 77 of a 96-page "amendment" to SB0536 (which changed a proposal dealing with use of political committee funds into an election omnibus bill), was just a one-digit change to §2f(a-5) of the Circuit Courts Act: 2021 became 2022.

The horse-trading will presumably continue, somewhere far offstage. Meanwhile, though, the 2022 election will apparently proceed without change to the subcircuit boundaries that have been used since 1992.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Advocates Society's Annual Judges Night next Tuesday

This virtual event is not just a social hour. While there will be informal networking between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. next Tuesday, October 26, the Advocates Society will present an "interactive discussion" with Wisconsin Judge Richard Ginkowski, the host of the ABA Gavel Talks Podcast, entitled, "It's No Joke: Respect for Lawyers and Judges Here and Abroad."

"Even when the jokes stopped," event organizers say, "Polish-American lawyers still feel the effects of decades of discrimination." Participants will be invited to share their experiences. The program will also look at "the crisis of the Polish government’s nonstop assault on a free and independent judiciary."

A $25 suggested donation is requested for registrants, although judges will be admitted on a complimentary basis. For more information about the event, or to register, start at this page of the Advocates website.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Skokie Veterans Treatment Court to hold first post-Pandemic in-person graduation tomorrow

An announcement from the Chief Judge's Office....

The Skokie Veterans Treatment Court, a problem-solving court in the Circuit Court of Cook County, will have its first in-person graduation ceremony since the start of the coronavirus pandemic on Friday. The ceremony will be held at 2:15 p.m. on October 22 in room 201 of the Second Municipal District Courthouse.

Problem-solving courts, also known as specialty or therapeutic courts, seek to help low-level criminal defendants suffering from an underlying mental health, social or substance abuse problem keep from becoming repeat offenders. Problem-solving courts achieve this goal by providing treatment and intensive supervision. The Cook County Circuit Court has a countywide network of problem-solving courts that includes Drug Treatment Courts, Mental Health Treatment Courts, and Veterans Treatment Courts.

Cook County problem-solving courts are designed primarily to assist people who have committed non-violent felony crimes.

The first Cook County Veterans Treatment Court was established in 2009 at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse, and since then, Veterans Courts have been established at all the Circuit Court’s suburban locations.

The Hon. Michael Hood, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, presides over the Skokie Veterans Treatment Court. He said Friday’s ceremony will include four new graduates. Also invited are graduates who had previously attended ceremonies on Zoom.

Judge Hood noted that Veterans Treatment Court accepts participants who suffer from both addiction and mental health issues, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The program takes two years, and provides treatment primarily administered through the Veterans Administration. Participants who successfully complete the program will have their charges dismissed and expunged.

“It’s true rehabilitation,” said Judge Hood, who has run the Skokie Veterans Treatment Court for seven years. “There’s an issue, a mental health or addiction issue, which we address so we can take them out of the cycle of criminal justice. The point is to take them back, make them whole.”

Graduates at the ceremony will be presented with handmade quilts from the Quilts of Valor Foundation.

On posting vacancies -- and not -- and how you, Dear Reader, can help

I've just updated, again, the Who Sits Where post that I put up only the day before yesterday.

Today's addition is the 15th Subcircuit vacancy of Judge Chris Lawler, pictured at right.

The picture is taken from the announcement that ADR Systems made on August 31 about Judge Lawler joining the ADR panel of neutrals. I certainly missed that one.

I can't say I wasn't warned: I've received several anonymous tips during the last several weeks about the Lawler vacancy. But I ignored these, for reasons I shall explain momentarily. This morning I saw an inquiry on an ISBA listserv from a practitioner trying to find out who was hearing the now-retired Judge Lawler's cases on his former motion call. That got me looking.

Why didn't I look sooner? Well, my comment queue is chock-full of rumors about judges retiring -- not just Judge Lawler. For any judge you care to name I probably have at least one anonymous comment about that judge retiring. Often these rumors are embellished with intimations that Judge X is succumbing to some loathsome disease. Or about to be indicted. Or both.

Some of the anonymous persons who submit comments here are very creative.

But not very nice.

I don't print those sorts of comments.

Not everyone who supplies anonymous tips here has an axe to grind. Many, I'm sure, are trying to be helpful. But, without something more to go on than 'Judge Y has retired' I can't necessarily tell who is trying to be helpful and who has some sort of problem.

In the case of Judge Lawler, someone might have told me about his move to ADR. That would have given the comment, anonymity notwithstanding, credibility. And, of course, I could easily verify the information provided... if only it had been provided.

The motto of the old City News Bureau was, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." In the age of the 24/7 news cycle, such caution is apparently quaint. But I'd rather be incomplete than inaccurate. (I will now brace myself for the inevitable anonymous comments that say that I am both. *Sigh*)

But the rest of you, Dear Readers, can help improve this site. I know how few people are going to put their name behind anything -- but if you have an anonymous tip you wish to share, any corroboration you can include will allow me to investigate, on my own, and maybe even get your information out to the world, as you wished it to be, in a more timely fashion. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Trying to avoid the Observer Effect... or... did you get that in writing?

Although Schrödinger’s Cat is only marginally related to any discussion of the
Observer Effect, on the Internet, any observation of kittens pulls in extra eyeballs.

In physics, the Observer Effect is defined as the disturbance of an observed system by the act of observation itself.

In psychology, the Observer Effect, also called the Hawthorne Effect, refers to how persons being observed tend to change their behavior because they are being observed. In other words, the playground bully was a perfect angel when Sister was watching -- but watch out when Sister turned her back!

The political system is ordinarily closed to and, indeed, hostile to, observation. (We don't want nobody nobody sent.) To the extent that they may sometimes make observations of the political system in operation, journalists (including lawyers who function as journalists, or try to) may well cause those observed to alter their behavior.

On a macro level, this is undoubtedly a good thing. As Thomas Jefferson said, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." Despite his many hypocrisies, the man could turn a phrase. Even when he contradicted himself. (Also Jefferson: "Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.")

Whatever. I take it as an article of faith that 'sunshine is the best disinfectant.' (The exact Brandeis quote is, "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.") I sincerely hope that, in some small way, because I have brought attention to the process, this site has contributed to the improvement of the local judiciary.

But, on a micro level, on the individual level, I worry. For over 25 years I wanted to be a judge. I can empathize, very sincerely, with those many lawyers who also wish to be judges, and, necessarily, therefore, also with those who aspire to a temporary appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court. I reserve the right to like some people who are chosen better than others, or even not at all, but, whether I know them or not, whether I've ever heard of them before or not, I can relate to their ambition. So, in general, I don't want something I do or say here to undermine any specific individual aspirant.

But... sometimes news happens. It would be fair game, by any journalistic standard, to report it. But I also know how the Observer Effect can work in politics (and anybody who tells you judicial appointments aren't political is selling you hokum): The premature disclosure of a likely appointment may make said likely appointment extremely unlikely.

So when I heard about a person appearing before the Democratic Party's Pre-Slate Making meeting last week and informing the Party worthies that said person was about to be appointed to one of the vacancies recently posted by Justice Theis, that was fair game. I could have reported that immediately; I didn't need to wait for the anonymous comments to stack up in my comment queue (three, as of this morning) with the same information.

But I didn't do that. Not right away. Instead, armed with the tools acquired in Journalism 101 (whatever the course was actually called at Loyola some 45 years ago) I reached out to the Supreme Court's press officer and sought confirmation concerning the appointment and whether an announcement of the appointment in question was imminent. Maybe I'd even ferret out word about the second appointee.

Alas. Word came back, and promptly, too, that no announcement is imminent regarding the two Theis vacancies.

So I've continued to sit on the story. Even though all sorts of people seem to know about it already. And that public knowledge may or may not trigger the Observer Effect.

Mind you, if I were a Supreme Court Justice and I had indicated to a person prior to the pre-slating meeting that he or she was likely to get my nod for a particular appointment, I would probably have encouraged that person to add his or her name to the list of persons presenting credentials. So word would get out, but I would not be offended. Or, if I wanted to hold off on the announcement for my own purposes, I might have called Jacob Kaplan myself and explained the situation, advising that my person would be adding his or her name to those scheduled to appear but that I didn't want my prospective appointee to mention it. In which case I might be a tad miffed if said prospective appointee spilled the beans and possibly motivated, then, to look elsewhere.

If the Observer Effect submarines anyone here, I have a clear conscience. But, good heavens, what a crazy process we have.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Who Sits Where: Pre-Slating is over and now things really get interesting

Updated December 9, 2021
Updated November 10, 2021
Updated October 21, 2021
Updated October 20, 2021

Herewith, an updated Who Sits Where. My list is no doubt incomplete. But I only include vacancies I can verify. I will update this list as necessary or appropriate.

However incomplete my list may be, it is so far still better than the "Judicial Vacancies" page of the new Supreme Court website: It shows no vacancies at all, not even the two posted recently by Justice Theis (presumably because applications for those vacancies are now closed, because those vacancies were posted during the application period).

Where a vacancy has been filled by an interim Supreme Court appointment, I have provided the identity of the appointee. If history is any guide, there will be several more vacancies opening up in the months to come.

As always, all errors of omission or commission in this list are mine alone and I am grateful for additions and corrections provided.

Appellate Court Vacancy

Vacancy of the Hon. Shelvin Louise Marie Hall -- Robert E. Gordon

Countywide Circuit Court Vacancies

Vacancy of the Hon. Margaret A. Brennan -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Diane Gordon Cannon -- Sanjay T. Tailor
Vacancy of the Hon. Michael B. Hyman -- Tracie R. Porter
Vacancy of the Hon. Pamela M. Leeming -- Rena Marie Van Tine
Vacancy of the Hon. Daniel Lynch -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Kathleen M. McGury -- Ruth I. Gudino
Vacancy of the Hon. Joan M. O'Brien -- Araceli R. De La Cruz
Vacancy of the Hon. Sharon M. Sullivan -- Thomas M. Donnelly

Subcircuit Vacancies

1st Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Sharon O. Johnson -- John Wellington Wilson

4th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Patrick T. Rogers -- Unfilled

5th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Jackie Marie Portman-Brown -- David L. Kelly

6th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Mauricio Araujo -- Unfilled

7th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Patricia Martin -- Unfilled

8th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Robert E. Gordon -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Thomas J. Lipscomb -- Unfilled

9th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Jeanne Cleveland Bernstein -- Unfilled

11th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Dennis M. McGuire -- Unfilled

14th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. James R. Brown -- Unfilled
Vacancy of the Hon. Raymond L. Jagielski -- Unfilled

15th Subcircuit
Vacancy of the Hon. Chris Lawler -- Unfilled

Monday, October 18, 2021

Did the City of Chicago bargain with unions other than the FOP over vaccination mandate?

I'm not taking sides here. But I am looking for context. And what I have read and seen suggests questions that, insofar as I can tell, have not been answsered by the public reporting to date.

Let's start with what I think we can all agree on:

Within a short time after COVID-19 vaccines became widely available, the push began for mandatory vaccinations.

Some public unions have been reported to be in favor of mandates. Some have been reported as not being in favor of mandates.

That's about as much as I think is entirely undisputed.

(Let me also make this full disclosure, so there's no doubt about where I'm coming from: I am as vaccinated as I can be at the present time. When the Moderna booster shot becomes available, and when I am permitted so to do, I will rush out and get that third shot.)

Now, then. Take a deep breath and let's look together at some prior reporting on the issue.

In August, the Chicago Public Schools announced that all employees, including all teachers, would have to be vaccinated by October 15. An article by Maia Spoto, on Chalkbeat Chicago, last updated August 13, entitled, "Chicago says teachers must get vaccinated by Oct. 15 or be ineligible for work," states that the Chicago Teachers Union "welcomed the mandate urged the district to commit to additional safety and recovery measures before schools reopen, such as strengthening and expanding the school vaccination program."

The Chalkbeat Chicago story provided a summary of the then-ongoing negotiations with the CTU over conditions for reopening the schools. It also contained this paragraph about the response of national teachers' unions to vaccination mandates generally:

The leaders of the country’s two national teachers unions have also voiced support for vaccine mandates. The National Education Association’s president called the requirements an “appropriate, responsible, and necessary step” on Thursday, while the American Federation of Teachers’ president personally backed mandates earlier this week. The official position of the AFT, of which the Chicago Teachers Union is an affiliate, is that unions and districts should collaborate on requirements before they are decided.

In September, after President Biden announced a vaccine mandate for federal employees, Ballotpedia ran an article, by Jerrick Adams, entitled "Public-sector union responses to COVID-19 vaccine mandates," providing a roundup of how various public sector unions around the country responded to the President's directive in particular and how other vaccine mandates had been received in several states.

This is a fairly lengthy article, and I urge the skeptical reader to read it in its entirety. But, to summarize, most public sector unions, even those welcoming a mandate, expected to bargain over any implementation. Thus, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler is quoted as saying on September 10 that, while the organization 'commends' President Biden for his actions, "Workers and unions should have a voice in shaping these policies."

American Federation of Government Employees President Everett Kelley was quoted as saying that, while the union has strongly supported vaccination efforts, "we have said that [vaccine mandates] should be negotiated with our bargaining units where appropriate. * * * We expect to bargain over this change prior to implementation, and we urge everyone who is able to get vaccinated as soon as they can do so."

It also turns out the Chicago FOP is not the only law enforcement union that does not welcome vaccine mandates. Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association President Larry Cosme is quoted in Adams's article as saying, "The Biden-Harris Administration’s action to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all federal employees is ill conceived. … This executive order villainizes employees for reasonable concerns and hesitancies and inserts the federal government into individual medical decisions. People should not be made to feel uncomfortable for making a reasonable medical choice."

The state-by-state roundup was similar (Illinois was not included). This paragraph of the California roundup caught my eye in particular:

Some [California] unions, including SEIU Local 1000, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and Cal Fire Local 2881, filed complaints following the mandate. SEIU Local 1000 sent a cease and desist letter to the California Department of Human Resources that said, "This is a change in the terms and working conditions of our represented employees and requires meeting and conferring with the union prior to implementing the change." Tim Edwards, president of Cal Fire Local 2881, said, "We oppose mandating vaccinations and believe the state has a contractual obligation to meet and confer with labor over any possible impacts to the employees."

A September 23 article on Government Executive, by Courtney Bublé, entitled "Will Federal Employee Unions Challenge Biden’s Vaccine Mandate in Court?" answered the question in the headline largely in the negative -- but indicated that unions, even those favoring the mandate, expected to bargain over its implementation, even if the scope of bargaining was limited.

An August article on the website of the Society for Human Resource Management entitled, "Must Employers Bargain with Unions over Mandatory Vaccines?" explained why, in general, unions, even those welcoming vaccine mandates, might nevertheless insist on the right to bargain over their implementation.

Just this past weekend, ABC-7 published a post entitled, "IL Governor JB Pritzker delays COVID vaccine deadline for some state workers." The printed article states, in pertinent part:

Pritzker's administration has reached agreements with several unions representing state workers. But negotiations continue with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 and Teamsters Local 700. AFSCME, which represents some 15,000 state workers affected by the requirement, objected to what it called "rigid mandates."

* * * * * *

Under the agreements reached so far, workers who don't comply with the mandate will face "progressive disciplinary measures" that could result in termination. The agreements provide an alternative COVID-19 testing option only for people with an approved religious or medical objection.

There is no question that it is easier to negotiate with someone who is inclined to agree with you on the subject of the negotiation. One need not be a labor lawyer to know that. It would obviously be far easier for the Mayor to negotiate the implementation of a vaccine mandate with a union that supports vaccination than with one that does not. But it sure seems like our elected officials, probably including the Mayor but certainly including the Governor, have been negotiating implementation of the vaccine mandates with at least some public employee unions.

Another takeaway from all these articles is that, at some point, if negotiations fail, the unilateral implementation of a vaccine mandate may well be upheld, the language of the union contract notwithstanding. However, negotations may have to be given the opportunity to succeed before unilateral action can be taken. (That's not a prediction of likely judicial outcomes based on case by case research, just a conclusion reached after reading published accounts on the subject.)

So the questions I'd be asking my reporters to follow up on, were I the editor of a newspaper with the resources to investigate answers, are as follows:

  1. Did the City of Chicago bargain the implementation of the vaccine mandate with its unions other than the FOP?

  2. If so, what did the other unions agree to?

  3. Were these terms, or similar terms, offered to the FOP?

  4. If not, why not?

Answers to these questions might be helpful in understanding the merits, if any, of the parties' respective positions.

Friday, October 15, 2021

LAP funding changes, mission remains the same

On September 21, 2021, the Illinois Supreme Court adopted Rule 43 and amended Rules 751 and 756, effective January 1, 2022. These were adopted as a result of the repeal of the Lawyers’ Assistance Program Act, which was repealed in order to streamline the process of Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program (LAP) funding. New Rule 43 affirmed the official description, role as provider, fee, and reporting for LAP. LAP’s annual report filed to the Supreme Court will detail the progress of the program, services provided, the number of eligible recipients who received services, the effectiveness of its activities, and any significant problem areas that developed and how they were resolved. The amendments to Rule 751 and 756 streamline the funding of LAP so that LAP is funded directly from the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission which is the body that collects LAP fees included in attorney registration fees.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, LAP has seen an increase in mental health issues, substance use, and financial stressors for judges, lawyers, and law students. Studies showed even before the pandemic that the legal profession had substantially higher rates of mental health and substance use issues than the general population. This has only increased with the pandemic due to increased isolation and less access to supportive services. To address these issues, LAP created HIPAA compliant telehealth services to provide equal access throughout the state to LAP clinicians, and have expanded outreach, assessments, weekly support groups, and consults to legal agencies and firms who need assistance in managing workforce problems.

All services at LAP are free and confidential with immunity under Supreme Court Rule 1.6, allowing more legal professionals to reach out without fear and stigma. LAP and its resources are proactive in minimizing risk and creating a population of legal professionals who can recover and have robust and healthy legal careers and lives. Due to increased outreach, annual volunteer trainings, presentations, CLEs, and the creation of more LAP Locals throughout the state, we have increased self-referral rates from 39% to 71% in less than four years.

As a result of these changes within the legal profession due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Supreme Court approved an increase in funding to LAP from $10 per attorney to $20 per attorney beginning on July 1, 2021. These additional funds will be distributed to LAP directly by the ARDC to continue to provide services to legal professionals throughout the state.

“LAP is grateful for the increased support that the Supreme Court has demonstrated to LAP during these challenging times,” said Dr. Diana Uchiyama, Executive Director of LAP. “This increased partnership will benefit all judges, lawyers and law students in the State of Illinois - now and into the future.”

LAP has been helping judges, Lawyers, and law students since 1980. LAP has a three-fold mission: to protect the interests of clients and others from harm caused by impaired judges and attorneys; to help impaired judges, attorneys, law students, and their families get assistance for alcohol dependency, drug addiction, mental health problems, and or other addictive behaviors in recovery; and to educate the legal community about addiction and mental health.

If you or someone you know needs support with mental health or wellbeing, contact LAP at or by calling (312) 726-6607.

Portillo's fundraiser next Thursday for Chicago Police Memorial Foundation

Anyone buying lunch or dinner at six Portillo's locations on Thursday, October 21, can benefit the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation by showing this flyer before ordering, on paper or on their phone.

Specifically, the CPMF will receive 20% of the proceeds for food orders placed, using the above flyer, between 11:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on the 21st. Not all Portillo's restaurants are participating; the participating locations are in Oak Lawn, Summit, Harwood Heights, Skokie, and in Chicago at 520 W. Taylor St. and 3343 W. Addison St.

In September 2021, the CPMF provided $103,700 in assistance including:

  • $5,000 in Non-Line of Duty Death Assistance,
  • $11,200 in Officers in Need of Assistance,
  • $2,000 in Disability Assistance,
  • $8,500 in Education Assistance, and
  • $75,800 in Gold Star Families Memorial & Park Maintenance.

In addition, the CPMF provided assistance to Gold Star Families, Chicago Police Survivors, and Widows of CPD Officers killed in the line of duty. The toal assistance given so far in 2021 comes to $769,700.

IVI-IPO to have virtual awards dinner next Friday

The Independent Voters of Illinois - Independent Precinct Organization will hold its 77th Independents Day Dinner on Friday, October 22, at 7:00 p.m.

We remain stuck in COVID time, so the event will be virtual, but the IVI-IPO will confer real awards at the event as follows:

  • Legal Eagle Award
    Brian I Hays, Ernesto R. Palomo, Irina Dashevsky, Hugh S. Balsam (Locke Lord LLP)

    Michael L. Shakman, Edward W. Feldman, Mary Eileen Wells (Miller Shakman Levine & Feldman LLP)
  • Leon Despres Award
    Alderwoman Maria Hadden

  • Barbara Merrill-Rudy Lozano Labor Award
    Martese Chism, National Nurses United

  • Harold Washington Award
    Dan Swinney, Manufacturing Renaissance

  • Kit Pfau Voting Rights Award
    CHANGE Illinois

  • Saul Mendelson Social Justice Award
    Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education

  • Barack Obama Young Leadership Award
    Grace Pai, Asian Americans Advancing Justice

  • Labor Lifetime Achievement Award
    Karen Lewis and Chicago Teachers Union

The IVI-IPO will also celebrate the life and legacy of Timuel Black, a "stalwart legacy supporter" of the IVI-IPO, who passed away this week at the age of 102.

Tickets for this virtual event are $35 each for members, $50 for non-members. Sponsorships are also available:

  • Bronze Sponsor - $250
    Includes your name and company, title, or office sought on IVI-IPO website from October 22, 2021 through November 30, 2021; rolling credits at event; and three event tickets.

  • Silver Sponsor - $500
    Includes your name and company, title, or office sought on IVI-IPO website from October 22, 2021 through December 22, 2021; rolling credits at event; and five event tickets.

  • Gold Sponsor - $1,000
    Includes recognition with your name and company, title, or office sought on IVI-IPO website from October 22, 2021 through March 31 2021; video at event; and rolling credits at event; and 10 event tickets.

Tickets and sponsorships can be obtained by clicking here. For more information about the event, or sponsorships at the event, email

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Upcoming Cook County Democratic fundraisers that may be of interest to judicial candidates

I feel a little guilty running this list, like I might be contributing in some way to the delinquency of a judicial candidate or something. If I were in the BGA, I'm afraid I might be drummed out.

On the other hand, the unconnected candidate doesn't always hear about these opportunities to see and be seen. And if the unconnected candidate's spouse is willing to tolerate the diversion of money from their retirement funds, or their childrens' college funds, who am I to deny the unconnected candidate the opportunity to throw away money on the off chance that said unconnected candidate might forge some meaningful connection that may, somehow, some way, ultimately redound to his or her benefit?

So without further hand-wringing, herewith the list (events outside of Cook County have been filtered out of this list):

Campaign Kick Off Fundraiser in Support of Representative Cyril Nichols
Friday, October 22 | 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Black Fire Brigade, 8404 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL
Tickets: $150
Sponsorships: $500 | $1,000 | $2,500
Make checks payable to:
Friends of Cyril Nichols, P.O. Box 528189, Chicago, IL 60652
RSVP to Bernie at

Latinx House Caucus Members Dia de los Muertos Celebration
Tuesday, November 2 | 5:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Moe's Cantina River North, Cava Room, 155 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654
Individual Ticket: $100
Sponsorships: $250 | $500 | $1,500 | $2,500
Make checks payable to:
Community for Dee, P.O. Box 1571, Bolingbrook, IL 60440
Friends for Eva-Dina Delgado, 2441 N St. Louis, Chicago, IL 60647
Friends of Edgar Gonzalez, Jr., 4140 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60632
Friends for Barbara Hernandez, P.O. Box 7263, Aurora, IL 60507
Friends of Aaron Ortiz, P.O. Box 32213, Chicago, IL 60632
United for Delia, P.O. Box 478317, Chicago, IL 60647
Friends of Jaime M. Andrade, P.O. Box 18380, Chicago, IL 60618

Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz and the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Halloween MASK-erade Fundraiser
Thursday, November 4 | 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Carpenters Union Hall, 12 E Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611
Individual Ticket: $250
Sponsorships: $1,000 | $2,500 | $5,000
Make checks payable to:
Friends for Jennifer, P.O. Box 3042, Glenview, IL 60025
RSVP to Bernie at

Representative La Shawn K Ford Virtual Fundraiser
Tuesday, November 9 | 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Individual Ticket: $150
Sponsorships: $500 | $1,500 | $2,500 | $5,000
Make checks payable to:
Citizens to Elect La Shawn K Ford, 912 S Mayfield, Chicago, IL 60644
RSVP to Bernie at
Zoom link will be emailed upon RSVP

Representative Lakesia Collins Karaoke Birthday Fundraiser
Wednesday, November 10 | 5:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Carpenters Union Hall, 12 E. Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611
Community Ticket: $25 | General Ticket: $50
Sponsorships: $500 | $1,000 | $2,500 | $5,000
Purchase a ticket online at:
Make checks payable to:
Friends of Lakesia, 1501 N. Clybourn Ave, Unit D, Chicago, IL 60610

Fundraiser In Support of Leader Marcus C. Evans, Jr.
Thursday, November 11 | 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Gladys' Restaurant, 1225 E 87th St, Chicago, IL 60619
Ticket: $33
Sponsorships: $250 | $500 | $1,500
Purchase a ticket online at:
Make checks payable to:
Citizens for Marcus C Evans, Jr., P.O. Box 641514, Chicago, IL 60664

39 Circuit Court hopefuls signed up to present credentials at pre-slating

Updated to add Cook County Associate Judge Thomas More Donnelly to the list of persons seeking slating for the Circuit Court

You may have noted, in this morning's Politico Illinois Playbook, that some 80 candidates had signed up to present their credentials at the Cook County Democratic Party's Pre-Slating meeting today and tomorrow.

There's lots of folks interested in being the next Secretary of State, of course, and there's always a gaggle of candidates hoping to be chosen for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District -- but more than half of the 80 worthies who were set for interviews today and tomorrow are seeking judicial office: 39 Circuit Court hopefuls and four Appellate Court candidates.

The four Appellate Court hopefuls were:

The 39 Circuit Court hopefuls were:

  • Dan Balanoff,
  • Araceli De La Cruz,
  • Marcia O'Brien Conway,
  • James Murphy,
  • Rocell Cyrus,
  • Ashonta Rice,
  • Natalie Howse,
  • Debjani Desai,
  • Yolanda Sayre,
  • James Gleffe,
  • Jenetia Marshall,
  • Rena Marie Van Tine,
  • Kevin Ochalla,
  • Elizabeth Ryan,
  • Sanjay Tailor,
  • Tracie Porter,
  • Ruth Gudino,
  • Melanie Patrick Neely,
  • Russ Hartigan,
  • Pamela Saidon,
  • Tiffany Brooks,
  • Bradley Trowbridge,
  • Meridth Hammer,
  • John Hourihane,
  • Steven McKenzie,
  • Audrey Cosgrove,
  • Dawn Gonzalez,
  • Thomas Nowinski,
  • Jennifer Callahan,
  • Peter McNamara,
  • Lisa Taylor,
  • Lori Roeper,
  • Michael Weaver,
  • Torrick Ward,
  • Howard Brookins,
  • Nicholas Kantas,
  • Deidre Baumann,
  • Diana Lopez, and
  • Thomas More Donnelly.

The links in certain names above are to prior FWIW articles about their 2022 candidacies. Ald. Brookins made his campaign announcement yesterday on Injustice Watch.

FWIW readers will recognize several names on these lists from prior campaigns. But there are some noteworthy names on the Circuit Court list that were not candidates in recent years. Chief among these is Thomas Nowinski, who was the fifth alternate "slated" by the Party in 2018 and who was the first alternate in 2020. Alternates are effectively pre-slated by the Party for vacancies that may or may not open up after the Party's slating meeting. Sometimes a vacancy or two does open up; three actually did in 2018. But there were none in 2020.

Also on the 2020 alternate list, and on the list of hopefuls presenting credentials this week, were Yolanda Sayre and Ashonta Rice.

Tracie R. Porter, whose appointment to the bench was just announced was set to appear for pre-slating today. Three of the recent finalists in this year's associate judge selection process were scheduled to present to the Party Pre-Slating meeting; one was just sworn in as an associate judge.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Tracie R. Porter appointed to countywide Hyman vacancy

Updated October 14 to add link to Supreme Court press release

Tracie R. Porter, a Chicago attorney practicing as Tracie R. Porter, P.C., has been appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the countywide vacancy created by last year's election of Michael B. Hyman to the Illinois Appellate Court.

The appointment is effective November 12 and terminates on December 5, 2022.

Licensed as an attorney in Illinois since 1994, according to ARDC, Porter has also been serving as President and Chairman of the Board of the Alexander Family Foundation, Inc., an Illinois Not-for-Profit corporation. Porter's LinkedIn profile notes that she has taught in several law schools, including an eight-year stint at Western State College of Law in Irvine, California and shorter stints at Southern Illinois University School of Law and IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. Her firm bio notes that, in addition to her undergraduate and law degrees (from Cornell College and Drake University, respectively), Porter "studied fashion design at the former Art Institute of North Hollywood, CA." She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

The Supreme Court issued a press release concerning the appointment on October 14, 2021.

Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement -- October 28 presentation at the Illinois Holocaust Museum

The Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, the Alliance of Illinois Judges, and the Jewish Judges Association of Illinois are co-sponsoring a presentation at the Illinois Holocaust Museum on Thursday, October 28, starting at 4:00 p.m., entitled "Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement."

The event is offered in connection with a special exhibit at the Holocaust Museum that will run from October 17 through May 8, 2022, and will include a 1.0 credit CLE presentation, starting at 6:00 p.m., by John D'Emilio, a retired Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. D'Emilio recently served as President of the Board of the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives in Chicago. His newest book, Queer Legacies: Stories from Chicago’s LGBTQ Archives, was published in 2020 by the University of Chicago Press.

The presentation will be offered both in person and virtually.

Tickets are $10 apiece for LAGBAC members, $40 for non-members. AIJ and JJA members will be admitted free. Registration is available at this page of the LAGBAC website.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Volunteers sought to tutor Englewood youth

Lawyers Lend-A-Hand is seeking volunteers to tutor students from Englewood. The children are in grades K through 5.

Tutoring will take place on Tuesdays at the Chicago Bar Association from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Children are transported to and from the CBA by school bus. All participants are required to wear masks during tutoring. All volunteers must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Tutoring will focus on reading and writing skills but, program organizers note, "many of our students also are craving a connection with a caring adult during these chaotic times."

For more information about tutoring opportunities, or to sign up for a training session, email LLAH Executive Director Kathryn McCabe at

LLAH was created by the Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Foundation "in dedication to the lasting memory and generosity" of the late Abraham Lincoln Marovitz, a long-serving federal judge. While LLAH is now a separate 501(c)(3) organization, the LLAH website notes that "the CBA has continued its leadership role in Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth, consistent with the CBA’s historic commitment to community service."

October 21 fundraiser set for Lisa Taylor campaign

Supporters of Lisa Taylor's 2022 judicial bid are planning a Campaign Kickoff Fundraiser for Thursday, October 21, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Half Sour Chicago, 755 S. Clark St.

Tickets for this event are $100 each, but sponsorships are available (Supporter - $250, Sponsor - $500, Host - $1,000). For more information about the event, or to reserve tickets, contact Garry Zak at (773) 551-5318 or email

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Did Confederate die-hards start the Great Chicago Fire? New book suggests they did

Currier & Ives lithograph obtained from the Chicago Historical Society

Tomorrow marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Chicago Fire. Although it is an event so important in our civic history that it merits one of the four stars on the Chicago flag, it is also shrouded in myth and mystery.

And maybe this is so for a very good, and hitherto unsuspected, reason: To paraphrase Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, perhaps we can't handle the truth.

That's a conclusion you may come to if you read a new book by Robert P. Hillmann, The Great Chicago Fire: The Southern Rationale.

Full disclosure: I've known Bob Hillmann since we were both history majors at Loyola University in the 1970s and I can vouch for his assertion, in the book, that it was many years in the making.

A goodly portion of the book is devoted to an utter demolition of a number of popular understandings of the fire. Mrs. O'Leary, and her cow, and Peg Leg Sullivan are all exonerated. What is compelling in Hillmann's step-by-step, moment-by-moment account, drawn from original sources, is the conclusion that there was no one Chicago Fire; there were many. And windblown embers or flying, flaming timbers did not kindle these many fires, or certainly not all of them: The immediate eyewitness testimony suggests that many buildings caught fire from within -- and in a pattern that had nothing to do with documented wind patterns.

And, yes, we all know that the Water Tower did not burn... but the nearby Water-Works (which should have supplied water to fight the fires) did. And it was supposed to have been fireproof.

Once you realize that there were not one, but many Chicago Fires that erupted on the evening of October 8, 1871, a number of uncomfortable questions arise.

To ease into this... back when I was representing insurance companies in fire cases I learned that multiple points of origin are indicative of arson. As it is with suspicious residential fires, so it is with burning cities. But... if all of these fires... or even if only some of these files... were set, who were the arsonists? And if the facts, then as now, pointed to arson, why did the authorities gloss over these facts, spreading malarkey about cows and hurricanes instead?

Hillmann's book suggests some new, intriguing, and very unsettling answers.

We all think of the Civil War ending when Lee met Grant at Appamattox Court House in April 1865. That's the way it was taught in school. But Joe Johnston was still in the field when Lee surrendered, as was Kirby Smith. The Juneteenth holiday commemorates the Federal reoccupation of Galveston, Texas (a full two months after Lee handed over his sword). The Rebellion did not end neatly or suddenly; it sputtered out here and there and (based on personal observations during a 2015 driving trip through the South) in some places maybe not at all.

And at least two types of Reconstruction followed. Andrew Johnson's personal Reconstruction policy allowed all the Rebel leaders to remain at large (even Jefferson Davis spent no more than a couple of years in custody). Though the "Radical" Republicans could and did overturn his equally lenient political settlement, requiring, if only for a brief time, the Southern States to allow Black votes and accept Black elected officials, the persons most implacably opposed to Congressional Reconstruction were free to work -- and work together -- to undermine it.

And, as Hillmann's book makes clear, the political and military leaders of the failed Rebellion had more tools at their disposal than sympathetic Democratic politicians and editors in the North. The Confederates had developed an extensive secret service during the war years, operating out of Canada, and arson was a favorite tactic for their covert operators. And Southern arsonists used a particular type of incendiary, referred to as "Greek fire," after the legendary superweapon of the Byzantines. The similarities in properties between these documented Confederate incendiary devices and incendiary devices discovered in Chicago after the Great Fire provides some important circumstantial evidence for Hillmann's hypothesis of Southern involvement.

And that's not the only evidence Hillmann offers -- but you may want to read about it yourself. Among the questions you may ask: What was P.G.T. Beauregard hoping to give President Grant on that train? An olive branch? Or a threat? Both?

We can never know for sure whether the Great Chicago Fire was really a die-hard Confederate werewolf operation. It's an explanation that fits a lot of the facts -- although not all of them, certainly. There were two other massive fires in the Midwest at the same time, one in Peshtigo, Wisconson, and the Great Michigan Fire. By some measures, both of these other fires were worse than the Chicago Fire. But the Southern Rationale checks a good many boxes. Hopefully Hillmann's new book will spark (if I can use that word here) further academic inquiry.

What we do know for sure is that the political will to support Reconstruction began to fade well before the disputed presidential election of 1876. Did the vulnerability of northern cities to organized bands of die-hard Rebel arsonists contribute to that erosion of political will? The abandonment of Reconstruction lead to 90 years of Southern White Supremacist domination in Congress and 90 years before the Reconstruction Amendments acquired any meaningful statutory teeth. The surrender of the promise of Reconstruction, for mere partisan advantage, is a matter of national embareassment, which continues to damage the nation today. If part of the explanation for the failure of the political will to support meaningful Reconstruction was capitulation to terrorist threats---if we shifted the blame for the Fire to poor Mrs. O'Leary's cow to preserve a fragile peace, at the expense of the nation's Black population---our national shame is even greater.

But, as my mother used to say, tell the truth and shame the Devil. The way forward requires looking back honestly. And accurately. And it may require looking South.

Chief Judge Evans forms committee to review practices and proceedings in domestic violence matters

What follows is a press release from the Chief Judge's office, issued yesterday. No word yet on how Orders of Protection can be made bulletproof.

Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans today announced he has entered an order reestablishing the Circuit Court of Cook County Committee on Domestic Violence Court and that he has appointed a veteran Domestic Relations Division judge, Honorable Grace G. Dickler, to serve as the Committee’s Chair.

The Committee, which is in formation, will review practices and procedures governing the hearing of domestic violence matters throughout the court, and review the organization and efficiency of Domestic Violence Division operations at all courthouses where domestic violence matters are heard.

“The first charge I have set for the Committee and its Chair, Judge Dickler, is to re-examine Domestic Violence Division operations to ensure that the Circuit Court of Cook County is providing a safe and secure environment for the hearing of domestic violence matters,” Evans said. “The Committee will then make recommendations to me on whether additional improvements are needed to help protect the safety of victims and the rights of the accused.”

Also, in order to better serve victims of domestic violence, Judge Evans said that, beginning Monday, November 8, petitions for emergency protective orders will be heard by on-call judges outside of the court’s regular business hours on weekdays, weekends and holidays. Members of the Committee on Domestic Violence Court and other stakeholders are working with the Office of the Chief Judge to establish this 24/7 service. The on-call judges will include experienced Domestic Violence Division judges, and all on-call judges will receive special training to hear these matters.

“This court recognizes that petitioners in Domestic Violence cases are often undergoing tremendous stress and may face physical danger, and that they cannot wait for regular business hours to obtain emergency protective orders,” Judge Evans said. “The establishment of these new procedures is intended to make judges available 24/7 to rule on these critical matters.”

Committee members include judges in the Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence and Child Protection Divisions, advocates for domestic violence victims, and representatives of the private bar, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the Clerk of the Circuit Court, and the Cook County Board.

Members of the Circuit Court of Cook County Committee on Domestic Violence Court are as follows:

  • Hon. Grace G. Dickler, Presiding Judge, Domestic Relations Division, Chairperson,

  • Hon. Raúl Vega, Presiding Judge, Domestic Violence Division,

  • Hon. Marina E. Ammendola, Judge, Domestic Violence Division,

  • Hon. Jennifer J. Payne, Judge, Child Protection Division,

  • Hon. Judith C. Rice, Judge, Domestic Relations Division,

  • Benna Crawford, JD, Director, Children and Families Practice Group, Legal Aid Chicago,

  • Margaret Duval, JD, Executive Director, Ascend Justice,

  • Lanetta Haynes Turner, JD, Chief of Staff, Office of the President, Cook County Board of Commissioners,

  • Debora Sims, Commissioner, Cook County Board,

  • Rebecca Levin, MPH, Executive Director, Public Policy, Cook County Sheriff’s Office,

  • Carmen Navarro-Gercone, Executive Clerk of Court Operations & Administration, Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County,

  • Katherine S. Nolan, JD, Staff Attorney, Office of the Chief Judge,

  • Amanda Pyron, MSW, Executive Director, The Network,

  • Donald C. Schiller, JD, Senior Partner, Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck, LLP, amd

  • Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans, ex officio member.

Judge Evans signed the order on Wednesday, October 6. More committee members may be added.

Related: Circuit Court of Cook County considering 24/7 court for emergency orders in domestic violence cases.

Virtual program for CBA's 2021 Justice John Paul Stevens Awards set for Oct. 13

The Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Foundation will confer their annual Justice John Paul Stevens Awards in a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, October 13, at noon.

In the words of the sponsoring organizations, the Stevens Awards celebrate Illinois attorneys who have "demonstrated extraordinary integrity and service to the community throughout their careers."

The recipients of this year's awards are:

  • Karina Ayala-Bermejo, the President and CEO of the Instituo Del Progeso Latino. Licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1998, according to ARDC, Ayala-Bemejo is a former General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Metropolitan Family Services. Before that, Ayala-Bermejo spent seven years as the CBA's Director of Community Services.

  • Anne L. Fredd, a Senior Attorney at Neal & Leroy, LLC. A former President of the Cook County Bar Association and a former member of the CBA Board of Managers, Fredd has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1973, according to ARDC. Her firm biography notes that she has "advised public agencies concerning the development and implementation of regulations and policies to promote business opportunities for minorities and women, equal employment opportunities for minority and female journey workers, apprentices and laborers, and Chicago residents."

  • Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The first woman to serve as Chief Judge of that court, Pallmeyer has served on the Federal bench since 1998. She served as a United States Magistrate Judge in the Northern District from 1991 to 1998. Before that, Pallmeyer was an Administrative Law Judge on the Illinois Human Rights Commission from 1985 to 1991.

  • Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin. Licensed to practice in Illinois since 1973, according to ARDC, Suffredin is of counsel to the firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP. His firm biograophy notes that Suffredin "is known for his broad knowledge of government and politics and has a strong emphasis on government relations work." Suffredin has also served as a lobbyist for the CBA. He announced in May that he will not seek reelection to the Cook County Board.

  • Cook County Associate Judge James E. Snyder. Appointed to the Circuit Court in 2007 by the Illinois Supreme Court, Snyder became an associate judge in 2008. Before becoming a judge, Snyder served as General Counsel of the the Illinois Human Rights Commission. He is a former President of the Alliance of Illinois Judges.

To obtain a link to the awards ceremony, complete this form.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Virtual swearing-in today for new Cook County Associate Judges

From the Chief Judge's Office this morning:

Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans will administer the oath of office to 22 new Circuit Court of Cook County associate judges during a virtual ceremony at 11 a.m. on Monday, October 4. The ceremony can be viewed at

The county’s 249 circuit judges selected the associate judges from a list of 44 finalists, who were chosen from 225 candidates.

The Alliance of Bar Associations and the Chicago Bar Association evaluated the candidates. Each candidate also was interviewed by an 11-member nominating committee, comprised of Judge Evans and 10 presiding judges.

Judge Evans notified Marcia M. Meis, director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, of the finalists on August 10. The Administrative Office conducted the election by secret ballot pursuant to the provisions of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 39, which directs that twice as many candidates be nominated as there are vacancies. The Office announced the winners on September 9.

The 22 judges represent a diverse group, with 11 men and 11 women, and 12 minorities. Judge Evans said he expected that they will be fine additions to the county’s judiciary.

“Having diversity of race, ethnicity and gender is important to our judiciary, since it shows the citizens of Cook County who come before the court that they are well-represented,” Judge Evans said. “In selecting the candidates for this election, my colleagues on the nominating committee and I were guided in our deliberations by a comprehensive approach that sought excellent legal skills, a variety of legal experiences, and racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. We also examined the applicants’ bar ratings, career achievements, and whether they could be fair and impartial adjudicators.”

All the incoming judges received positive bar evaluations. “I am pleased that our circuit judges have made twenty-two excellent choices,” Judge Evans said.

The following is a list of the newly selected Cook County associate judges:

  • Maryam Ahmad
  • Lloyd James Brooks
  • Barbara Lynette Dawkins
  • James Thomas Derico, Jr.
  • Sabra Lynne Ebersole
  • Carl Lauras Evans, Jr.
  • William Nicholas Fahy
  • Barbara Nubia Flores
  • Mitchell Benjamin Goldberg
  • Jasmine Villaflor Hernandez
  • Matthew William Jannusch
  • Martha-Victoria Jimenez
  • Diana Elena Lopez
  • Kerrie Elizabeth Maloney Laytin
  • Thomas A. Morrissey
  • James Bryan Novy
  • Eric Michael Sauceda
  • Theresa Marie Smith Conyers
  • Ankur Srivastava
  • Pamela J. Stratigakis
  • Anthony Charles Swanagan
  • Andreana Ann Turano

Brief biographies of the new associate judges are available in the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts’ September 9 press release.