Thursday, July 28, 2022

Things I found out, including things that have been handed to me

From the silver platter department, this 'heat map' of the vote distribution in the race for the Rogers vacancy in the 4th Subcircuit, courtesy of Frank Calabrese:

Following up on last week's story about the appointment of Arlene Y. Coleman-Romeo to a countywide vacancy that I thought was going to be assigned to a new subcircuit under the Judicial Circuits Districting Act of 2022: It will be. It just hasn't happened yet.

In response to a query from FWIW, the Supreme Court's press officer injected a note of caution that I do not believe to be required here (note the use of the word "if"): "The vacancy created by Maras’ retirement will be filled by election in 2024 so if it needs to be allotted to a subcircuit, that allotment will occur closer to the 2024 election. Per statute, the Chief Justice certifies vacancies prior to each election and in that certification indicates which subcircuit each vacancy is allotted to."

The inference here is that the Supreme Court currently has no allocation order (such as was created when the initial 15 subcircuits came into existence in the early 1990s). If there isn't one, however, there will be.

Speaking of vacancies, FWIW hears that the number of Associate Judge vacancies has increased from 10 to 14 at this point and that interviews of the current class of applicants are about to begin. Interviews will be scheduled as bar association ratings are completed for each applicant.

There were 212 applicants in this current round -- but some of these were successful candidates in the recent primary and therefore have no need to pursue one of the AJ vacancies.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Arlene Y. Coleman-Romeo appointed to countywide vacancy

In an order entered yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Arlene Y. Coleman-Romeo to the countywide vacancy created by the recent retirement of Judge Marcia Maras.

The appointment is effective September 16 and terminates on December 2, 2024.

Licensed in Illinois since 1987, according to ARDC, Coleman-Romeo has been engaged in private practice with A. Y. Coleman & Associates.

Coleman-Romeo has previously applied for associate judge, most recently in March of this year.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

So... we're doing THIS again?

The Office of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced today that another three judges and six employees have tested positive for COVID-19. The three judges were last at the Daley Center, according to today's announcement -- which follows yesterday's announcement (accessible at the same link) that five more employees of the Chief Judge's Office had tested positive for the virus, one for the second time.

According to the Chief Judge's announcements, when employees or judges have tested positive more than once, they are counted only once in the total. By this reckoning, 112 judges have tested positive for COVID-19, as have 1,109 employees "working under the auspices of the Office of the Chief Judge," and 209 JTDC residents.

It isn't just courthouse employees who are coming down with the bug-we-liked-to-think-was-gone.

Although he's taking some time off, Rich Miller of found time to Tweet today about Governor J.B. Pritzker's announcement that (despite being vaccinated and "double boosted") he, too, has caught the Covid:
New variants, each more contagious than the previous one, are apparently spreading like wildfire. It appears that new hospitalizations have not yet reached a critical phase, however, suggesting that (a) the new variants aren't as virulent as those that came before, (b) vaccinations have ameliorated the worst effects of the new variants even though the virus is spreading among the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, (c) we're just sick and tired of talking about this disease, and/or (d) some or all of the above.

The Mayo Clinic has a nifty map of Illinois that shows, on a county-by-county basis where, and to what extent, the virus is spreading these days. It has published figures suggesting that there are, on average, over the past seven days, over 1,800 new Covid cases each day in Cook County:

(Mayo is defining "average daily cases" as "the average number of new cases a day for the past seven days. This seven-day rolling average is calculated to smooth out fluctuations in daily case count reporting.")

The virus is apparently not as tired of us as we are of it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Supreme Court announces creation of new Committee on Judicial Security and Safety

The Supreme Court's press release today is reprinted here in full:

The Illinois Supreme Court announced today the creation of the Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Security and Safety (the Committee).

The Order announcing the creation of the Committee is available on the Court website by clicking here.

“The Supreme Court is committed to ensuring the safety of our judges and justices,” Chief Justice Anne M. Burke said. “Threats to the judiciary continue to increase and the Committee will help us address them.”

The Committee is tasked with providing the Court with developments and recommendations related to the judicial threat environment and protective operations, intelligence, and information.

The committee will also coordinate with the Court’s judicial and law enforcement partners to monitor and review current and anticipated future judicial security needs and make appropriate recommendations to the Court.

The Chair of the Committee will be Jim Cimarossa, the Marshal of the Supreme Court of Illinois. Appointed as members of the Committee are First District Appellate Court Justice Mathias W. Delort, Second District Appellate Court Justice George Bridges, Twelfth Circuit Court Judge Susan T. O’Leary, Cook County Circuit Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Twenty-Second Circuit Court Michael J. Chmiel, and the Hon. Mark A. VandeWiele (ret.).

Additional appointed members will include the Executive Director of the Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission (ARDC), a representative of the Illinois State Police, a representative of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, and a representative of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

IJF Golf Outing Set for July 22

The Odyssey Golf Course, 19110 S. Ridgeland, in Tinley Park, is the site for this year's Illinois Judges Foundation Golf Outing.

The event will take place on Friday, July 22, starting with a noon lunch and a 1:00 p.m. shotgun start. An awards dinner will follow at 6:00 p.m. The $150 per person cost includes golf cart rental, lunch, dinner, and drink tickets. Drink tickets may be used at the dinner or on the course. For persons not willing to subject themselves to the humiliation of playing golf before witnesses, or for those who simply can not break away during the day, dinner-only tickets are available for $60 per person. Registration for either option may be accomplished at this page of the IJF website.

Readers may not be surprised to learn that sponsorships are also available for this event:
  • Hole Sponsor - $200.00
  • Silver Sponsor - $500.00
  • Gold Sponsor - $1,000.00
  • Platinum Sponsor - $2,500.00
  • Awards Sponsor - $1,500.00
  • Beverage Cart Sponsor - $1,500.00
  • Lunch Sponsor - $1,500.00
Platinum sponsors get eight free golf tickets (a $1,200 value). Registration for any of these sponsorships can be accomplished via the same page of the IJF website at which tickets are offered. Anyone wanting more information about these sponsorship opportunities should email Dawn Gonzalez.

The Odyssey Golf Course is operated by the Odyssey Golf Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides both the therapeutic and recreational benefits of golf to veterans, active military personnel, and children and adults with special needs. For more about the work of the Odyssey Golf Foundation, click here.

The Illinois Judges Foundation is the charitable arm of the Illinois Judges Association. The IJF funds educational, civic, and scholarship projects which advance the rule of law, the legal profession, and the administration of justice, and encourages judicial participation in these endeavors.

Mitchell won't have to wait until December

The resignation of Justice Shelly Harris from the Illinois Appellate Court becomes effective today, July 6.

Circuit Court Judge Raymond W. Mitchell won the Democratic Party's nomination for the Harris vacancy last week and faces no Republican opponent in November.

Absent a meteor strike or something else totally unexpected, therefore, Mitchell will therefore be sworn in on the first Monday in December as Justice Harris's successor.

But he won't have to wait that long to take up Justice Harris's duties: Last Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court entered an Order, effctive today, appointing Mitchell to the Harris vacancy. (Here's the press release announcing the promotion.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Illinois Latino Judges Association Installation and Awards Ceremony set for July 29

The Illinois Latino Judges Association will hold its annual Installation and Awards Ceremony on Friday, July 29, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at Chicago Kent College of Law, 565 W. Adams.

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans will be a special guest. Refreshments and "delicious Latino fare" will be served. Ticket prices are $25 for members, $50 for non-members, and are availabe at this Eventbrite link.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Dr. Klumpp: Bar ratings more significant than ever in this judicial primary

This morning FWIW is honored to present this Guest Post by Albert J. Klumpp, a generous and frequent contributor to FWIW over the years, a research analyst with a public policy PhD, and the author of several scholarly works analyzing judicial elections.

by Albert J. Klumpp

By all accounts this was supposed to be a boring primary, particularly as it related to judicial candidates. Low turnout and nothing unusual.

Low turnout? Yes, without question. But nothing unusual? Hardly.

Turnout, as FWIW has already noted, was exceptionally low. At roughly 19 percent, it was the second-lowest for a modern-era primary, above only the 2014 primary—which similarly had little of competitive interest at the top of either party’s ballot.
As for the judicial contests, the voters who did turn out did not neglect them. In fact, the ballot dropoff for the twelve countywide judicial contests was the lowest ever, at only 16 percent.
A high participation rate in bottom-of-the-ballot contests is typical in a low-turnout election. With fewer casual voters turning out, the more diligent voters who always turn out and complete the entire ballot comprise a higher percentage of the electorate. But even so, this primary’s voters were singularly attentive to the judicial section of the ballot.

And the choices made by those voters were unlike any seen in a previous primary. Yes, the usual influences were present. Slating, for instance: candidates slated by the county Democratic party saw a boost of roughly 14 percentage points, one of the highest numbers in recent years. This is not a surprise. When turnout is lower, slating usually—not always but usually—is more valuable, since party loyalists who are reliable voters comprise more of the electorate.

The subcircuit contests showed this as well. Of the sixteen subcircuit contests, I was able to identify ten in which one candidate received all or most of the local political support, and nine of those ten candidates were winners.

Gender also played a significant role. Lower-turnout elections tend to see less of a pro-female vote, and this year there were no female candidates at the top of the ballot to attract female voters. Nevertheless, the gender vote in this primary was roughly 17 percentage points, a surprisingly high number. Possibly the timing of the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion ruling was a factor, but this is only speculation.

Neither gender nor slating, though, was the biggest influence on the judicial voting. Nor were name cues. The advantages of Irish, Black and Hispanic surnames were difficult to estimate in this primary because of the small number of candidates, but they clearly were smaller than in previous years. Likewise, ballot position was less influential; the first ballot position seemed to be worth roughly four percentage points, but again this turned out to be difficult to measure due to the low number of candidates.

One other relevant factor was the “Girl I Guess” progressive voter guide that has been a detectable presence in the two most recent November retention elections. It influenced roughly six percent of the vote. This is an impressive achievement for a single individual, but it was not part of any larger grassroots movement that was the primary cause of anyone’s victory or defeat.

So what was the biggest single influence? Amazingly, bar association ratings.

This was a first for any primary in Cook County’s history. Just as with slating, there is a reliable segment of the electorate that votes based on independent evaluations of judicial candidates. Usually the percentage size of this segment reaches double digits, although in the three previous primaries it did not. In this primary, between the Chicago Bar Association’s ratings and those of the Alliance of Bar Associations, candidates who held or shared higher ratings than their opponents gained an advantage of a whopping 29 percentage points.

With one very marginal exception (Paul Joyce had one more HR rating than Michael Weaver), all twelve countywide contests were won by candidates who held or shared the highest bar ratings in their contests. And only three of the sixteen subcircuit winners had lower bar ratings than their opponents. Two of those three were in subcircuits where bar ratings have always had little or no impact (the 1st and the 14th), and the third was the Raines-Welch victory in the 4th, which was dominated by name recognition and a huge campaign fund.

To be clear, the 29 percent figure represents only about 120,000 voters, only a fraction of the number of information-using voters in the 2018 and 2020 retention elections. The high percentage is in part due simply to the low overall turnout. But what makes the figure remarkable is that it was done with no help from either of the major Chicago newspapers. The Tribune and Sun-Times both completely ignored the judicial part of the ballot, providing no endorsements of their own and not even reporting bar association ratings. This was the first time in at least a half-century (and likely much longer) that the Chicago print media offered no voter guidance in a judicial election.

In analyzing the 2018 and 2020 retention elections for FWIW I noted evidence that the Internet and smartphones seemed to be driving an increase in information-based voting on retention judges. This primary further suggests that the ease of access to websites and search engines, even while in the voting booth, is becoming an important influence on judicial voting in Cook County. Of course, this depends on voters being motivated to seek out information in the first place, but in the current climate of concern over criminal justice issues, some voters clearly have the motivation.

Finally, two bits of fine print. One is that all of the percentage figures cited above are statistical estimates with margins of error, but all except for those I indicated as uncertain are formally statistically significant. Two, the analysis does not account for campaign spending totals, which are unavailable at this time. Campaign spending can have a substantial impact on subcircuit contests and may have affected the subcircuit results discussed above, but that analysis will have to wait until the candidates’ campaign finance reports become publicly available.