Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Limited tickets still available for HLAI holiday party on December 2

The HLAI (and HLAI Charities) Holiday Party is set for this Friday, December 2, from 5:30 to 7:30p.m., in the Cava Room, above Moe's Cantina, 155 W. Kinzie.

Limited tickets are still available for this event. Tickets are $75 each for HLAI members, $100 for non-members (law students will be admitted for $55) and can be purchased by clicking here. All attendees are asked to bring an unwrapped toy or gift card (minimum $20 value) to benefit the children of Mujeres Latinas en Acción & Legal Aid Society. Proceeds from this event will fund HLAI Charities Scholarships.

Who will tell the Speaker that "Blue Christmas" is a sad song?

I wouldn't wish a Blue Christmas on anyone... but this is America, doggone it, and, if that's what he wants to do, the Speaker is free to wish a lonely, miserable Christmas on his many foll... what?... oh. It has just been called to my attention that "blue" in this context is a reference to the Speaker's political party and is not meant in any way to suggest that the Speaker wishes any quantum of sadness, large or small, on anyone during this holiday season.

Readers will hopefully note a very positive feature of the above and foregoing invitation: There is a strong financial incentive to bring a toy to this seasonal soirée. Tickets are $250 apiece -- but persons who pledge to bring a toy to be donated to local organizations can purchase tickets for the heavily discounted price of just $100 each.

To purchase tickets for this event (with or without a toy), or to purchase a sponsorship for this event, click here.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

FWIW didn't get the story wrong: Circuit Court Judge Freddrenna M. Lyle has been assigned to duty on the Appellate Court

And Judge Lyle will assume Justice Cunningham's case load when she arrives (Justice Joy V. Cunningham, you will recall, having been appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court).

However, owing to what the Supreme Court describes as a "clerical error," the Supreme Court entered a "Corrected Order" this past Friday indicating that Judge Lyle is being assigned "to the position currently held by the Honorable Cynthia Y. Cobbs, who is being reassigned to the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District."

Which means... depending on what is meant by a separate order also entered Friday... that Justice Cobbs, a Circuit Court judge already serving by assignment to the Appellate Court, is now in the 'up or out' slot. Probably.

Here's where the potential confusion comes from: Justice Cobbs has not been appointed to the Appellate Court. Rather, the order states that Justice Cobbs "is reassigned to duty in the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, to the position currently held by the Honorable Joy V. Cunningham, who is being appointed to the Supreme Court of Illinois." So she has been put in Cunningham's slot, but keeps her own caseload.

In contrast, in 2020, the Supreme Court expressly appointed Justice Robert E. Gordon, like Justice Cobbs a Circuit Court judge serving on the Appellate Court by appointment, to the vacancy of Justice Shelvin Louise Marie Hall.

However, because Friday's order expressly provides that Justice Cobbs' new 'assignment' will terminate on December 2, 2024, I believe that the intention of Friday's order is that Justice Cobbs would have to run for, and win, the Cunningham seat (or some other) on the Appellate Court in order to remain on that bench. On the other hand, because she has not been appointed to the Cunningham vacancy, in the event that she is unsuccessful in her potential bid for the Cunningham vacancy, or if she chooses not to run, Cobbs would remain a judge of the Circuit Court after the expiration date of last week's reassignment (December 2, 2024).

If memory serves (and, because the Supreme Court website has since been updated, I can no longer pull up the 2018 order to double-check), the language in this order is similar to that employed in the older order reassigning Justice Hyman to a specific Appellate Court vacancy, with a definite end date: Justice Hyman ran for that vacany and won in 2020, but if he had fallen short, he would have remained on the Circuit Court bench. As it was, Hyman's Circuit Court seat came open when he won election to the Appellate Court and was filled in this most recent election cycle.

Advocates Society Holiday Party set for December 16

The Advocates Society, the Association of Polish-American Attorneys, will hold its Holiday Party on Friday, December 16, starting with a short meeting at 6:30 p.m., at the Copernicus Annex at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago.

Dinner will follow the short meeting, according to the event organizers, and festive games will follow dinner. This will be a family-friendly event, the Advocates assert, with festive attire suggested. Tickets are $30 per person, but accompanied children 16 and under will be admitted at no charge. To register for this event, click here.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Transitioning to Life as a Judicial Law Clerk: December 8 CLE from DSF and ISBA

There was a time when the opportunity to serve as a judicial law clerk came only at the beginning of one's legal career. That has apparently changed.

The Illinois State Bar Association Diversity Leadership Council and the Diversity Scholarship Foundation will present a free CLE program on Thursday, December 8, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., at the JW Marriott Hotel, 151 W. Adams. This program, entitled "It's Never Too Late: Transitioning to Life as a Judicial Law Clerk," will take place during the ISBA/IJA Joint Midyear Meeting.

Speaking at the program will be Enrique Abraham, of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office; Jonathan B. Amarilio, of Taft Stettinius and Hollister LLP; U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman, of the Northern District of Illinois; Illinois Appellate Court Justice Jesse G. Reyes; and Ryan Suniga, Law Clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Jorge L. Alonso, of the Northern District of Illinois. Jerrod L. Williams, a Law Clerk, in the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, will serve as moderator. Bianca B. Brown, of the Chicago Transit Authority, is the program coordinator.

While the program is free, registration is required. This can be accomplished at this page of the ISBA website.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Northwest Suburban Bar Association Holiday Party set for December 7

Tickets are available at this link for the Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Annual Holiday Party, to be held on Wednesday, December 7, starting at 5:00 p.m., at Maggiano's Little Italy, 1901 E. Woodfield Dr., Schaumburg.

The NWSBA will honor retired Judge James A. Geocaris with its Lifetime Achievement Award at this event. The NWSBA will also confer its Public Service Award on Judge Steven A. Kozicki. Tickets cost $100 per person; the price includes dinner and an open bar.

Questions about the event should be directed to Kaitlyn Gallagher at Persons or groups wishing to sponsor this event should contact Julie Barth at

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Tickets now available for Illinois Latino Judge Association Holiday Fiesta

The Illinois Latino Judges Association Holiday Fiesta will take place on Thursday, December 8, from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m., at Mi Tierra Restaurant, 2528 S. Kedzie, Chicago.

Tickets are $75 apiece and are available at this link.

Guest Post: Approaching a new retention normal?

Today FWIW is again honored to present a 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

Despite the current level of political turmoil throughout our country, last Tuesday’s election concluded one of the quietest judicial retention cycles on record. Nationally there were 692 state court judges seeking noncompetitive retention in eighteen different states. Pending some unreported results in Kansas and Indiana, 689 of the judges appear to have been retained. The lone exceptions were in Maricopa County, Arizona, where three trial court judges with less-than-perfect marks from the state’s judicial performance commission were on the verge of defeat, albeit with many thousands of ballots still to count.

Here in Cook County, the voting indicated that the surge in interest in the retention part of the ballot that began in 2018 and grew in 2020 is starting to fade. This is not at all unexpected. The same happened during the Operation Greylord elections of the 1980s, and has happened in other jurisdictions as well. But while the post-Greylord voting was largely the same as the pre-Greylord voting, in this instance future retention elections are likely to settle into a somewhat different normal compared to the past.

Ballots are still being counted in both city and suburbs, but the retention numbers are complete enough to allow for a sufficient examination of the results:
  • The reported voter turnout of 41% is the lowest for any November election since the adoption of judicial retention in 1964. Conversely, the median participation rate for the retention judges on the ballot was 76%, the highest level ever. Since it typically is the most regular and dedicated voters who complete the retention part of the ballot, the two figures in combination is not a surprise.
  • The baseline approval rate for the 61 judges on the retention ballot, controlling for all positive and negative variables, was a historically typical 75.3 percent. This is exactly the same figure as in 2020 and just below the 75.4 percent level in 2018. (There in fact were 62 judges listed on the ballot, but unfortunately both the city and county election agencies did not report vote totals for the retiring Daniel Pierce.)
  • Among the bar association ratings, the Illinois State Bar Association’s were by far the most influential at roughly eight percent of the vote, compared to roughly five percent for all of the other bars combined. In recent years the ISBA ratings have been reported more frequently by suburban media, so their growing influence is to be expected, and in fact was measured as growing in 2018 and 2020. However, in this election they were predominant among the bar groups even in the city. The eight percent figure may be a bit of an overstatement, due to the small overall number of negative ratings by the bars and the consequent difficulty in estimating their impact, but the trend is undeniable.

  • The two social media guides from progressive activists that were detectable in the 2018 and 2020 voting were once again detectable here. The “Girl I Guess” guide was used by roughly 4.8 percent of the voters, while the “Cheat Sheet” guide circulated by the Chicago Votes group was used by roughly 1.6 percent. As expected, both were much more influential in the city than in the suburbs.

  • Unlike the primaries, where name cues are highly influential and often determinative, name cues are of little significance in retention voting and were not a major influence here. Female judges did 1.8 percent better than males, and among the three most important race/ethnicity categories (Irish, Black, Hispanic), none was worth more than 1 percent.

  • Overall roughly 200,000 voters made use of information from one of the above-named information sources to cast a mixture of yes and no votes. This is double the historically typical figure of 100,000, but only a fraction of the 400,000 in 2018 and the 520,000 in 2020. However, while the number is smaller than in the two previous elections, it occurred with no help whatsoever from either of the major metropolitan newspapers, The Sun-Times and Tribune both not only declined to offer any retention recommendations of their own, but did not even report any of the bar association ratings for informational purposes.
One final point, something that drew surprisingly little pre-election attention but cannot be ignored:
This was the county Democratic party’s mailer for the election, showing a full retreat from the aggressive position taken by the party in 2018 and 2020 regarding retention candidates. There is no mention on the party’s website of having done the sort of investigating that it claimed to have done in 2018 and 2020, so this appears to be simply a reversion to the party’s previous long-running practice of simply recommending yes votes on the full retention class. And while this may have surprised many observers, history teaches us that it should have surprised no one.

In 1887, 1921, 1953, 1984 and again in 2020 the local political powers-that-be suffered headline-generating embarrassments in judicial elections, because they forgot the lessons of the past and were repudiated by the electorate for trying to overly influence the process of judicial selection. It’s a remarkably cyclical pattern that repeats every thirty-something years, and proves the old adage of those who forget history being doomed to repeat it. This mailer may well be evidence of another cycle coming to a close.

Looking forward, if the Sun-Times and Tribune, which were significant drivers of retention votes in the past, continue to shun the retention candidates in the future, then future elections will continue to see the combination of the internet, social media and smartphones play the primary role in retention voting as they apparently did here. The mixture of information-based votes will be more political and less profession-oriented — especially considering that the bar community shows no interest in strategies to increase the use of its ratings, and seems oddly accepting of its lessening influence. This will likely occur regardless of the choices made by the county Democratic party.

When the results are official the ward and township numbers are final, I’ll share some detail from the analysis at that level. For now I’ll just add the usual fine print about how the figures cited above are statistical estimates with margins of error, but that on the whole they “fit” the retention results very well and describe the voting patterns accurately.

Judge Freddrenna M. Lyle assigned to Appellate Court

Updated 11/18/22 to add link to Supreme Court press release

In an order entered yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court assigned Circuit Court Judge Freddrenna M. Lyle to duty on the First District of the Illinois Appellate Court. The Supreme Court's press release about the appointment is available here.

Pursuant to the order, Judge Lyle will take up her new duties when Justice Joy V. Cunningham officially joins the Illinois Supreme Court on December 1. Judge Lyle will also assume Justice Cunningham's caseload on the Appellate Court.

Justice Cunningham has been appointed to the Supreme Court, which means that, if she wishes to remain on that Court, she will have to seek election to that office in 2024. Judge Lyle has been assigned to the Appellate Court, which means that she will not necessarily have to seek the Cunningham vacancy on the Appellate Court in 2024 in order to remain in that assignment.

Judge Lyle, a former Chicago alderperson, was first elected to the Circuit Court in 2016. She was retained in the recent election (winning a "Well Qualified" rating from the Chicago Council of Lawyers in the process).

But Lyle began her judicial service in late 2011, when the Illinois Supreme Court appointed her to a 2nd Subcircuit vacancy. She did not run for that judgeship; instead, in 2012, she received a new appointment, this time to a 7th Subcircuit vacancy. She did not run for that vacancy either.

In 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Lyle to a 5th Subcircuit vacancy. This was the vacancy to which she was elected -- without opposition -- in 2016.

The Cook County Democratic Party slated Judge Lyle for an Appellate Court vacancy in the 2014 election cycle. Judge Lyle's "Qualified" rating from the Chicago Bar Association was rescinded on the eve of the primary (because the CBA felt that its rating was being touted as an endorsement in some of Judge Lyle's radio commercials), only to be reinstated after the primary, after Judge Lyle's bid for the Appellate Court had come up short.

Tickets now available for Diversity Scholarship Foundation's Annual Unity Gala

The Diversity Scholarship Foundation will hold its Annual Unity Gala on Tuesday, December 6, starting at 5:00 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Chicago Hilton, 720 S. Michigan Ave.

As in past years, the event will feature all bar presidents taking an Oath of Diversity. Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans will administer the oath at this year's ceremony.

Newly installed Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis will receive the DSF's Unity Award, while the chair of her judicial screening commmittee, former Judge Patrica Brown Holmes, will receive the Justice Laura Liu Access to Justice Award at the gala. The DSF will also recognize Vivian R. Khalaf, Judge Matthew W. Jannusch, David W. Inlander, Manish K. Mehta, Angel M. Traub, and H. Patrick Morris as Advocates for Diversity.

Persons receiving the DSF scholarships will also be recognized at the event.

Tickets for the Gala are $150 each (a table of 10 is $1,500) and are available by clicking this link.

The deadline for sponsorships has passed, but interested persons or groups who missed the deadline should email as soon as possible. (The sponsorship brochure can be accessed here.) There is also an ad book for the event, with ads starting at $175. Click here for ad book information.

Friday, November 11, 2022

CBA Young Lawyers Section promotes Dear Santa Letters Program

The CBA YLS is again working with Chicago Public Schools and Direct Effect Charities to help fulfill the holiday wishes of needy Chicago school kids. Lawyers can click on this link to complete a form and request as many letters as they can answer.

The expectation is that responding lawyers will spend $25 or $30 to purchase some or even a few items on each letter writer's list. Packages will be sent directly to each child's school.

For those too busy responding to discovery requests to shop even on line, donations may be made to Direct Effects Charities via Zelle (at 312-296-5311) to help defray the program's administrative costs.

No word yet on whether a Dear Santa program has been set up to fulfill the holiday hopes of deserving lawyers....

Thursday, November 10, 2022

WBAI, HLAI Leadership Dinner set for November 15

The Women's Bar Association of Illinois and the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois will hold their Second Annual Leadership Dinner on Tuesday, November 15, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Dentons, 233 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 5900.

The event is intended to celebrate Latina lawyers and Latin American heritage and to allow the leaders and members of the two bar groups to meet in a casual setting and develop social and professional network connections. The dinner will feature "'Antojitos de América Latina,' flavorful small plates of from several Latin American countries including México, Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba and Perú." An open bar reception with "signature cocktails from around Latin America" will follow.

Tickets are $55 each for members, $65 each for non-members, and are available at this link.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Something to consider for those who think the 60% + 1 judicial retention bar too low

Would anyone seriously call Pritzker's margin over Bailey a squeaker? A close call? A cliffhanger?

Maybe "landslide" would be used only by those with a rooting interest -- but it does not seem at all hyperbolic to say that Gov. Pritzker enjoyed a "comfortable" or "double-digit" margin over State Sen. Bailey, at 54.2% to 43.1%. The election had been called by every major news outlet before the election judges had a chance to get home.

But if J.B. Pritzker were a Cook County judge seeking retention, he would have been kicked out of office with "only" a 54.2% favorable vote.

It was a Democratic sweep last night in Illinois, but outside of races for Cook County offices where the Republicans cobbled together a ticket only after the primary, very few winners got 60% of the vote. If 60% + 1 were the standard, every lopsided Democratic statewide winner, not just Pritzker, would have gone down to defeat.

But, just as sure as sunrise, there will be those who lament that the judicial retention standard is too lenient, a virtual guarantee of lifetime employment for those fortunate enough to serve in the judiciary.

But, in reality, it's darned hard for a candidate to get the approval of more than six out of every 10 voters. It's an achievement. Just look at the numbers.

The maps won

In this data-driven age, as long as the politicians get to select their own voters by drawing the maps, the maps will pretty much always win. Election outcomes are essentially determined at the redistricting stage.

Statewide, some 54% or 55% of the voters supported the Democratic Party's sweep of statewide offices (I believe Comptroller Susan Mendoza may have led the ticket with something like 57% of the vote). If legislative maps were proportinately drawn, Democrats should expect to receive 64 seats in the 118-member Illinois House and 32 or 33 seats in the Illinois Senate -- a comfortable majority, but not veto-proof. But, thanks to the superb cartographic skills of the Democratic Party's map-makers, Democrats will again enjoy supermajorities in both houses.

With proportionate maps, there might have been as many as seven or even eight Republicans sent to the U.S. House from Illinois. But with the maps we have, with what look like straws snaking into Cook County's seemingly inexhaustible fund of Democratic votes from all directions, there will be perhaps three Republicans in Illinois' 17-member delegation.

In Texas or North Carolina this would be denounced as gerrymandering. Here...? I guess here you'd best just call it good politics.

But the Democratic Party's mapmakers faced a real challenge this year.

When Tom Kilbride's Supreme Court retention bid failed in 2020, the possibility of a 4-3 Republican majority on the Illinois Supreme Court became more than theoretical. While Cook County has long been a Democratic bastion, and while the collar counties have been turning and trending Blue and Bluer for several election cycles, the rest of the State has turned more correspondingly Red. Republican victories in the then-existing Second and Third Judicial Districts seemed likely.

So the Illinois Democratic Party had to redraw the Supreme Court districts.

But the 1970 Illinois Constitution posed some significant obstacles for the map-makers: Cook County IS the First Judicial District, according to the Constitution. It cannot be broken up into chunks, even for the noble purpose of protecting a Democratic majority on the Illinois Supreme Court.

There was only one option: The collar counties had to be shuffled in a way to maximize the Democratic Party's chances. In 2018 Pritzker won the counties comprising both the new Second Judicial District (DeKalb, Kendall, Kane, Lake, and McHenry Counties) and the new Third Judicial District (Bureau, LaSalle, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, DuPage and Will Counties). Thus, the map-makers thought they had a shot at both new seats.

They may well have been right.

Lake County Judge Elizabeth Rochford defeated former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran to win the new Second Judicial District seat.

And, judging by results posted online this morning by the respective county clerks, it appears that Appellate Court Justice Mary K. O'Brien is going to defeat appointed Supreme Court Justice Michael Burke, albeit by only about 8,000 votes:
And the margin of defeat, if the numbers hold, will have come from DuPage County, where Burke is from.

UPDATE: O'Brien has claimed victory.

Joe Gump wins the one contested Cook County judicial election

In the only contested judicial election on the ballot in Cook County -- in the race for the Groebner vacancy in the far Northwest suburban 13th Subcircuit -- former Assistant Public Defender Joe Gump has defeated Gary William Seyring by roughly 11,000 votes, 55,347 to 44,577, according to returns released late last evening by the Cook County Clerk.

A great many more persons than this were elected to judicial vacancies yesterday... but all were unopposed. No Republicans were on the ballot for any judicial vacancy in Cook County, countywide or subcircuit, except for Seyring. All the other judicial elections were effectively determined in the June primary.

Was there ever really a doubt? All Cook County judges seeking retention were retained

The headline says it all: Every Cook County judge seeking retention, from newly-installed Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis on down, received more than the necessary 60% + 1 "yes" votes, granting each of the retention candidates new terms in office (10-year terms for the Supreme and Appellate Courts, 6-year terms for Circuit Court judges).

Some judges had a harder time than others: Unlike most of his colleagues, Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans did not break the 70% approval barrier in either the City (68.7%) or suburbs (69.91%).

Ann Finley Collins, who received negative evaluations from every bar association because she did not submit to evaluation, fared worse than nearly all of her colleagues, getting a 63.53% yes vote in the City and only a 61% yes vote in the suburbs.

Charles Patrick Burns, who received positive reviews from all bar associations, but was called out by Injustice Watch for a high reversal rate, received a 67.95% yes vote in the City and a 69.9% yes vote in the suburbs.

Rossana P. Fernandez and William H. Hooks received negative evaluations from the Illinois State Bar Association. The Girl I Guess Progressive Voter Guide also recommended a 'no' vote on Fernandez. (That guide also recommended a 'no' vote on Hooks initially -- but subsequently flipped.) But voters returned both, giving Fernandez a 63.39% 'yes' vote in the suburbs and a 62.02 'yes' vote in the City, while Hooks received favorable votes of 64.21% in the suburbs and 68.39% in the City.

In general, City voters were more generous with their 'yes' votes than suburban voters: No retention judge appears to have received an 80% approval rating among suburban voters, while City voters gave Chief Justice Theis an 81.54% approval rating; Appellate Court Justices Maureen E. Connors and Jesse G. Reyes 80.13% and 81.09%, respectively; and 80% or better 'yes' votes to Circuit Court Judges Sophia H. Hall, Clare Elizabeth McWilliams, Linzey D. Jones, Susan Kennedy Sullivan, Eulalia "Evie" De La Rosa, Carolyn J. Gallagher, D. Renee Jackson, Daryl Jones, and Catherin Ann Schneider (82.14%, 80.20%, 80.03%, 80.46%, 80.49%, 80.73%, 81.21%, 80.49%, and 80.15%).

Saturday, November 05, 2022

Welcome judicial retention voters: The it's too late to really be early edition

The actual election is finally (almost) upon us. This is the last weekend for early voting for both Chicago residents and residents of suburban Cook County.

If you've landed here via a web search, you are probably seeking information about the lengthy Cook County judicial retention ballot. What follows are a number of links to recent FWIW posts that should help satisfy your curiousity.

Feel free to share this post (or any of the posts linked herein) with your friends and neighbors by clicking on one of those little buttons at the bottom of the post you wish to share (or in whatever other way you share on social media).

The good news is that the November elections are almost over.... the bad news is that the Chicago mayoral and aldermanic races have already begun.... *Sigh*

But without further adieu, then, links:

Friday, November 04, 2022

Illinois Judges Foundation Annual Reception set for November 10

The Illinois Judges Foundation, the charitable arm of the Illinois Judges Association, will hold its Annual Reception on this coming Thursday, November 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chicago Bar Association, 321 South Plymouth Court.

Honorees at this reception will include new Fourth Judicial District Supreme Court Justice Lisa Holder White; Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr., the Presiding Judge of the First Municipal District of the Circuit Court of Cook County; and retired DuPage County Judge Robert Anderson.

Tickets to attend the event in person are $100 each, but persons may also attend via Zoom for $25. Either way, tickets are available at this link.

Sponsorships are also still available ($500 - Friend, $1,000 - Silver, $2,500 - Gold, $5,000 - Platinum). For more information about sponsorships, click here or contact Michael Bender at Membership opportunities in the Illinois Judges Foundation are also available; for more information about these options, click here.