Thursday, May 30, 2024

CBA Symphony Orchestra and Chorus to perfrom Saturday, June 1

Sure... you thought that the big shindig at the train station meant an end to all those 150th anniversary celebrations from the Chicago Bar Association, didn't you?

Well... as they used to say in the Ginsu knives commercial... "Wait! There's more!"
The CBA Symphony Orchestra and Chorus are throwing a 150th birthday concert this Saturday evening, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., at St. James Episcopal Cathedral, 65 E. Huron Street.

Pre-concert tickets are $15 ($10 for law students or young people, 18 or under). Program notes and pre-sale tickets are available at this link. Tickets will be available at the door, too, but for $20 apiece ($15 for students).

79 Cook County jurists file for retention

Two Appellate Court justices and 77 Cook County Circuit Court judges filed for retention this year, according to records released by the Illinois Secretary of State and obtained by FWIW.

Appellate Court Justices David W. Ellis and Thomas E. Hoffman have indicated that they will ask voters for new 10-year terms. The 77 Circuit Court judges who filed for retention (seeking new six-year terms) include 21 countywide Circuit Court judges and 56 subcircuit judges.

If history is any guide, a few judges who file for retention will withdraw from the ballot prior to the November election; indeed, one, Judge Thomas W. Murphy, already has. (His July retirement will create a 3rd Subcircuit vacancy in 2026).

The retention ballot is a straight 'yes' or 'no' proposition. For each judge seeking retention, voters are asked, 'shall judge X be retained in office?' To be retained in office, a judge must receive 'yes' votes from more than 60% of those voting on the question (or, as it sometimes phrased, 60% + 1). This requirement applies to judges of all Illinois courts, including justices of the Appellate and Supreme Courts.

This year's retention class is somewhat larger than those in recent years. For comparison sake, there were 58 Circuit Court judges filing for retention in 2022 (although there was a Supreme Court justice and six Appellate Court justices filing for retention then, too). In 2020, 64 Circuit Court judges (and two Appellate Court justices) filed for retention. In 2018, there were 61 Circuit Court judges (and one Suprme Court justice and one Appellate Court justice) who filed for retention.

Most of the Cook County judges up for retention were first elected in subcircuits. However, these judges, just like those initially elected countywide, must face the entire county electorate on the retention ballot. Generally, the longest serving judges are at the top of the ballot, the newest judges (those elected six years ago) are at the bottom. Judges with equivalent lengths of service (6 years, 12 years, 18 years, etc.) are listed in alphabetical order... some judges have longer service times because of Supreme Court appointments prior to their elections... but they are listed with the group according to the year they were first elected. Here, subject to correction as may (likely) be necessary, is a list of the judges filing for retention in expected ballot order (there are only 76 names because Judge Thomas Murphy's name has already been removed):
  1. Kathy M. Flanagan
  2. Martin B. Agran
  3. Ronald F. Bartkowicz
  4. Stuart F. Lubin
  5. James M. Varga
  6. E. Kenneth Wright, Jr.
  7. Maura Slattery Boyle
  8. Maragaret Mary Brosnahan
  9. Daniel Patrick Brennan
  10. Ellen L. Flannigan
  11. Carol M. Howard
  12. Jill C. Marise
  13. Mike McHale
  14. James Patrick Murphy
  15. Ramon Ocasio, III
  16. Mary Colleen Roberts
  17. Carl Anthony Walker
  18. Carl B. Boyd
  19. Tommy Brewer
  20. Michael R. Clancy
  21. Daniel B. Degnan
  22. John H. Ehrlich
  23. Terry Gallagher
  24. William G. Gamboney
  25. Celia Louise Gamrath
  26. Elizabeth Mary Hayes
  27. Lionel Jean-Baptiste
  28. Martin C. Kelley
  29. Kimberly D. Lewis
  30. Aicha Marie MacCarthy
  31. Lisa Ann Marino
  32. Diann Karen Marsalek
  33. Michael Tully Mullen
  34. Karen Lynn O'Malley
  35. Paul S. Pavlus
  36. Cynthia Ramirez
  37. Erica L. Reddick
  38. Beatriz Santiago
  39. Regina Ann Scannicchio
  40. Michael B. Barrett
  41. Tianna Ellis Blakely
  42. Joel Chupack
  43. Elizabeth Ciaccia-Lezza
  44. H. Yvonne Coleman
  45. Kevin Patrick Cunningham
  46. Colleen Reardon Daly
  47. Adrienne Elaine Davis
  48. Kent Delgado
  49. Beatriz A. Frausto-Sandoval
  50. Peter Michael Gonzalez
  51. Ieshia Gray
  52. Jack Hagerty
  53. Robert Harris
  54. Toya T. Harvey
  55. Cecilia Anne Horan
  56. Lindsay Huge
  57. Preston Jones, Jr.
  58. Kathaleen Theresa Lanahan
  59. Thomas F. McGuire
  60. Scott McKenna
  61. David R. Navarro
  62. Shannon O'Malley
  63. Erika Orr
  64. Linda Perez
  65. Marian Emily Perkins
  66. Clare Joyce Quish
  67. Joanne F. Rosado
  68. Stephnanie Saltouros
  69. Debra A. Seaton
  70. James "Jamie" Shapiro
  71. Tom Sam Sianis
  72. Rosa Maria Silva
  73. Kathryn Maloney Vahey
  74. Andrea Michelle Webber
  75. Arthur Wesley Willis
  76. Jeanne Marie Wrenn

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Tonight: John Hock fundraiser in Niles

Most Cook County judicial elections are essentially over. But not all.

Voters in two subcircuits still have judicial choices to make in November. One of these subcircuits is the 18th, where Democratic nominees John Hock will face off against Republican Lynn Terese Palac.

And, thus, Hock's campaign continues.

Hock's supporters are holding a fundraiser tonight, Tuesday, May 28, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at D'Agostino's Pizza, 7530 W. Oakton, Niles. Tickets are $50 each (kids admitted for $25). Sponsorships are available: Friend - $250, Supporter - $500, Sponsor - $1,000. For any questions, or to RSVP, email

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Matthew Taylor judicial campaign launches Facebook campaign page

Matt Taylor is the Republican nominee for the Schleifer vacancy in the 12th Subcircuit; he was unopposed in the March Republican primary.

Licensed to practice law in Illinois since 2004, according to ARDC, Taylor's LinkedIn page notes that he became a lawyer after first serving as a police officer (from 1994). He currently practices as M. J. Taylor Law, LLC, with an office in Palatine.

Taylor's campaign now has a campaign Facebook page. FWIW has been so far unable to find a campaign website; however, when and if FWIW learns of one, a link will be posted on this site's Sidebar.

Taylor's opponent in November, who was unopposed in the Democratic Primary, is James "Jack" Costello. There are three contested races in the 12th Subcircuit. There are only four contested judicial races in all of Cook County; the only other judicial contest on the November ballot is in the new 18th Subcircuit. All other Cook County judicial races are uncontested in the forthcoming general election.

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Sponsors sought for 2nd Annual Salute to Veterans; tickets now available for June 3 event at Soldier Field

The Decalogue Society and at least 40 bar groups and judges' associations are co-hosting the Second Annual Salute to Veterans in the Legal Profession on Monday, June 3, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Solider Field.

This event recognizes and honors the service and sacrifice of veterans in all branches of the U.S. Military who, in addition to their service to this country, have also dedicated their careers to the legal profession as judges, lawyers, paralegals, law students, and legal administrative staff.

This year's event is intended to build on last year's inaugural Salute, which attracted 350 attendees and over 100 Judges who came out to honor service members who went on to work in the legal profession. The program this year will include speakers (lawyers and judges) who have served or currently serve in each branch of the military, as well as Color Guard, Pipes & Drums, and Rifle Team presentations. Event Challenge Coins will also be presented to all servicemembers. John Vincent, who sings the National Anthem at Cubs home games, will be singing at the event.

Food (heavy hors d'oeuvres) will be provided and there will be an open bar.

Active servicemembers, reservists, and veterans can attend for free with registration. All are encouraged to attend in uniform and provide photos of themselves in service (send pictures by May 20 to for a "digital montage" that will be playing throughout the event).

Tickets for Decalogue members are $125 each; tickets for non-Decalogue members are $150 each.

Sponsorships are also available. Sponsorships include:
  • Silver Sponsor - $500
    Includes 2 event tickets; free underground stadium parking for one vehicle; social media, written and verbal recognition at the event; and a quarter-page ad in the program ad book.

  • Gold Sponsor - $1,000
    Includes 5 event tickets; free underground stadium parking for up to three vehicles; social media, written and verbal recognition at the event; and a half-page ad in the program ad book.

  • Soldier Field Video Board Sponsor - $2,500
    Premier recognition on the Soldier Field video board and a half-page ad in the program ad book. This package does not include any event tickets.

  • Challenge Coin Sponsor - $3,500
    You or your representative will present Challenge Coins to veteran attendees during the program. Includes 8 event tickets; free underground stadium parking for up to four vehicles; social media, written and verbal recognition at the event; and a half-page ad in the program ad book.

  • Platinum Bar Sponsor - $7,500
    Includes speaking opportunity during the event program; recognition on the Soldier Field video board and on on video monitors in the entranceway; signage on bars at the event; 12 event tickets; free underground stadium parking for up to six vehicles; social media, written and verbal recognition at the event, and a full-page ad in the program ad book.

  • Presenting Sponsor - $15,000
    Includes exclusive screen recognition on the Soldier Field video board and on video monitors in the entranceway; speaking opportunity during the program; 20 event tickets; free underground stadium parking for up to 10 vehicles; personalized giveaway; social media, written and verbal recognition at the event; logo on the cover of the program ad book and a full-page ad within.
Even the casual reader will have noticed several references to a program ad book. Program organizers are selling quarter-page ads for $150, half-page ads for $350, and full page 5" x 8" ads for $750. Ads do not include event tickets.

Registration for veterans, reservists, and active servicemembers; event tickets; sponsorships; and ad book ads are all available at this link.

Ticket sales for PRBA's 30th Anniversary Gala close tomorrow, May 10

The Puerto Rican Bar Association's 30th Anniversary Gala will be held Saturday, May 18, from 6:00 p.m. to midnight, at the Fountain Blue, 2300 Mannheim Road, Des Plaines.

All the information you may require about this event is reproduced in the 2-page flyer, below. The key piece of date, per the PRBA's Instagram page, is that ticket sales close tomorrow, May 10. For tickets, click here.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

CBA's 150th Anniversary celebrations conclude with May 10 event at Union Station; tickets still available

If it seems like the Chicago Bar Association has been going on about its 150th Anniversary for some time now, that's because it actuallly has. Special website, special logo (at left)... it's been almost exactly a year since FWIW carried an initial post about the anniversary.

Some readers may be grumbling that this is all too much already. But look at it this way: If you made it to 150, you might want to make a big deal about it, too.

Founded in 1874, CBA has become one of the oldest and most active metropolitan bar associations in the United States. During its 150 years of existence, the CBA has worked diligently to maintain the honor and dignity of the legal profession, cultivate relationships between members, and promote the administration of justice and the public good.

"We take enormous pride in the CBA's legacy of championing justice, building connections, and making an impact in Chicago and throughout Illinois. The CBA continues to lead the legal community by standing for the rule of law, upholding the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, promoting equitable access to justice, and advocating for the just treatment of all people. It has been my honor to lead this organization during this milestone year," said Ray J. Koenig III, CBA President.

CBA members, community and civic leaders, and legal community members will gather on Friday, May 10, at Union Station’s historic great hall for a grand celebration. In addition to the celebration at Union Station, CBA President Ray J. Koenig will throw out the first pitch at the Chicago White Sox game on May 13 and the Chicago Cubs game on May 21. Earlier this month, Mayor Brandon Johnson, and members of the Chicago City Council, including 4th Ward Alderman Lamont J. Robinson (the CBA Building on S. Plymouth Ct. is located in his ward), honored the Association by passing a resolution to recognize the CBA for this special anniversary.

"As I look back on this wonderful year of celebration, I am reminded of all the fabulous events and activities our 150th Anniversary Committee brought forth for our community," said Judge Nichole Patton, a Co-Chair of the CBA’s 150th Anniversary Committee along with former Executive Director Terry Murphy. "From the Community Legal Fair we hosted with over 40 legal resource organizations, to our Know Your Rights Legal Series with the Chicago and Evanston Libraries to our 5K Impact Day Run/Walk and so much more. I am in awe of all we accomplished this year to engage with our members, inform the public and celebrate the legal community."

Since the CBA’s founding in 1874, the practice of law has undergone many changes. Through these changes, the CBA has continued to be a driving force in reshaping the law, advocating for change, and expanding the availability of legal services.

Championing Justice

Throughout its history, the CBA has been a proponent of a unified, fair, and available state and local court system. It has also worked to provide opportunities for all residents of Illinois and Chicago to have access to justice and the courts:
  • The CBA supported legislation that impacted how the courts interpret matters, such as repealing the Torrens System and abolishing the Rule Against Perpetuities and the Rule in Shelley’s Case. Other legislation created new rights that involved families, children, the environment, public health, liens, human rights, real property, alternative dispute resolution, animal rights, mental health and developmental disabilities, aging, housing, insurance, business organization, business transactions, elections, employment, and education.

  • The CBA was the driving force behind the creation of the nation’s first Juvenile and Family Court, a reform that has helped millions of children.

  • The CBA Committee on Defense of Prisoners was established in 1912. Criminal Court judges appointed volunteer members as defense counsel for indigent defendants. The Committee pre-dated the Cook County Public Defender's Office, established in 1930.

  • In 1948, The Chicago Bar Foundation was formed as the charitable arm of The Chicago Bar Association to improve access to justice for people in need and make the legal system fairer and more efficient for everyone. Through the years, the CBF has developed programs dealing with mortgage foreclosure, eviction, consumer credit, divorce, immigration, and other areas where representation of underserved people was needed.

  • The CBA worked tirelessly for the passage of the Judicial Article of 1964, which established a unified court system, with judges reelected on their records without party labels; a Supreme Court with three justices from Cook County and four from downstate; an Appellate Court; and the creation of the Illinois Courts Commission.
Building Connections

With more than 17,000 members, including attorneys from every practice area of law, state and local judiciaries, law students from across Illinois, and non-lawyers working in the legal industry, the CBA is home to Chicago’s impressive legal community:
  • Through more than 300 CLE offerings, mentorship opportunities, and pro-bono projects, the Association provides resources for attorneys of all ages, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate the modern practice of law.

  • With over 100 substantive law committees, CBA members have countless speaking, leadership, and engagement opportunities.

  • The CBA Young Lawyers Section (YLS) encourages young lawyers to collaborate on projects for their community and profession. It provides excellent opportunities for professional growth, community service, and networking to its approximately 9,000 members, which include attorneys in their first ten years of practice and law students.

  • The CBA Law School Ambassador program appoints two to three CBA members to be Ambassadors to the ten Chicago area law schools to engage students at law student activity fairs and serve as a resource for law students’ representatives, law school career directors, and other law school staff.

  • The CBA Leadership Institute is a unique training program that aims to increase leadership skills among excellent lawyers and enhance business development strategies essential for the ever more demanding practice of law. Fourteen young lawyers from Chicago-area law firms participate annually.
Making An Impact

Throughout its history, the CBA has been committed to improving access to justice for people in need, making the legal system fairer and more efficient, and educating the public on our legal system:
  • The CBA has a long history of judicial evaluation, dating from before the turn of the century. To this day, the CBA provides nonpartisan judicial evaluations for candidates seeking to become judges in Cook County, including those seeking a seat on the Illinois Appellate Court and the Circuit Court, as a public service to Cook County voters. The CBA’s judicial ratings, available in English, Spanish, and Polish, are provided to voters so they can cast informed votes for judicial candidates.

  • The CBA provides legal resources, information, and education to the general public through public outreach programs like Law at the Library: a free, monthly, legal information series for Chicago residents in partnership with the Chicago Public Library system; Call-A-Lawyer: A monthly call-in program where the members of the public can call in for free general legal advice and self-help strategies provided by a CBA attorney; and Lawyers in the Classroom: a civic education program where attorney volunteers go into 2nd-8th grade classrooms to help students to understand better the U.S. Constitution, the legal system, and law-related careers.

  • Implemented in January 1940, The CBA’s Lawyer Referral Service was the first of its kind in the United States. It served as a model for referral systems in large cities and continues to serve the public in need of legal advice and representation.
150th Anniversary Celebration

All are invited to join the CBA for the culmination of its 150th Anniversary year at Union Station on May 10. Guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails while mingling and dancing to big band music from the CBA’s Big Barristers Band. A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of a new annual award to CBA Past President and renowned attorney, Robert Clifford. Named in his honor, the Robert A. Clifford Champion of Justice Award will be presented annually to celebrate an outstanding member who champions justice in the Illinois legal community, just as Clifford has done throughout his distinguished career.

"Robert A. Clifford is a Champion of Justice, always embodying the historic underpinnings of our 150-year-old organization," said CBA Immediate Past President Timothy Tomasik. "Bob’s extraordinary professional and charitable accomplishments have benefited the nation, the State of Illinois and Chicago. He is a superior trial lawyer who has always fiercely protected the rule of law by adhering to the highest ethical principles and at all times demonstrated outstanding integrity and character."

Visit here for more information and to purchase tickets:

Sponsors of the CBA 150th Anniversary include Clifford Law Offices; Jenner & Block; Tomasik, Kotin, Kasserman; Tully & Associates; Aronberg Goldghen; CBA Insurance Agency; JAMS; ADR Systems; Elrod Friedman LLP; Katten; Taft; Valentine, Austriaco & Bueschel PC; Holland & Knight; Nijman Franzetti LLP; and Laurel and Joel Bellows | David C. Hilliard.

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Weeping Angels amend Election Code... but why?

In a rational polity, legislatures would not act on anything important without investigation (extensive committee hearings, for example) and deliberation. Important legislation would take time... to ripen, to refine, to polish... to consider consequences. Public input and opinion would be sought or, if necessary, guided and shaped by wise legislative leaders.

That's not how we do things in Illinois, of course.

Not for anything important. When our General Assembly does something important, or at least something it thinks is important, it materializes a statute out of seeming nowhere, in an eyeblink, and zips it through the process before anyone on the Outside has a chance to know it is happening.

That's how we know P.A. 103-0586 must be important. It must be really important because it sprang into existence, fully formed, out of less than nothing, in the course of 48 hours or less -- and was signed by the Governor the very next day.

In fact, P.A. 103-0586 must be really, really important because the Springfield Weeping Angels chose to rush this statute through before the end of the current legislative term.

Those of you familiar with these legislative shenanigans can skip ahead a few paragraphs, when we get to the specifics of what P.A. 103-0586 is trying to accomplish. But, for the rest of you, a brief look at the legislative history of SB2414 may prove entertaining. Or terrifying.

As introduced, SB2414 was apparently a substantive attempt to amend the Children and Family Services Act. It was filed in February 2023, and, in due course, referred to committee. It passed through committee unanimously and, by March 29, 2003, it passed its third and final reading in the State Senate 57-0. Not controversial. Also, not anything that would be on the radar of anyone tasked with monitoring changes to Illinois election law.

SB2414 arrived in the House without apparent incident. But on May 16, 2023, Assistant Majority Leader Robert "Bob" Rita introduced an "amendment" to SB2414. Here is that amendment:
You've heard of "shell bills" perhaps. This is what one looks like. This is what the Weeping Angels seem to need in order to weave their magic.

On account of this brilliant piece of legislative drafting (deleting "and" and then inserting "and" back in -- it sort of makes my heart swell with patriotic pride at the craftsmanship of of it all) the newly 'amended' bill had to go back to committee... where it passed on what looks like a party line vote. Then it was set up for a Second Reading in the House. With legislation, though, it's the third time that's the charm, and the legislative history reveals that SB2414 was set up for its third reading/final action through May 31, 2023.

And then nothing happened.

Except... on May 31, 2023 it was "re-referred" to the Rules Committee. Ready for whenever it might be needed.

Whenever came 11 months and one day later: On May 1, 2024 SB2414 got a new sponsor, Assistant Majority Leader Jay Hoffman, from downstate Belleville, and all new language (via House Floor Amendment No. 2, an amendment filed by the aformentioned Rep. Hoffman). In fact, it got the language it has now. And on May 1, it went back to committee, and back out of committee. Still on May 1, the amendment was adopted on the floor of the House and the newly amended SB2414 passed on its third and final reading, 67-4. Forty abstentions were recorded; apparently the Republican members of the House walked out, rather than vote against the bill.

SB2414 went back to the Senate at this point, where the two "amendments" to the innocuous, not-election-related proposal that it had been when it was last in the State Senate were adopted, in sequence. Senate Republicans apparently boycotted these votes (recorded as 35-3-18). All of this on May 2.

And, as already noted, the Governor signed SB2414, now P.A. 103-0586, on May 3, effective immediately.

In Springfield, don't blink!

So... what does P.A. 103-0586 purport to do?

Well, this is where it gets interesting: Some of it appears to be fairly standard election year theatrics. Some of it appears to be a helpful reform to our very congested election calendar. And the middle part of it -- the one that apparently triggered the Republican boycott -- prevents political parties from putting candidates on the ballot in the general election where no candidate of that party came forward in the primary.

The election year theatrics are found in Articles 2, 3, and 4 of the new law. These articles certify three advisory referendum questions for the statewide November ballot:
  1. Should any candidate appearing on the Illinois ballot for federal, State, or local office be subject to civil penalties if the candidate interferes or attempts to interfere with an election worker's official duties?

  2. Should the Illinois Constitution be amended to create an additional 3% tax on income greater than $1,000,000 for the purpose of dedicating funds raised to property tax relief?

  3. Should all medically appropriate assisted reproductive treatments, including, but not limited to, in vitro fertilization, be covered by any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides coverage for pregnancy benefits, without limitation on the number of treatments?
Nothing binding here... just a means of potentially ginning up turnout from among constituencies that the Democratic majority would like to see at the polls on Election Day. (Just a side note here for our elected leaders: Do you see how easy it would be to put a referendum on the ballot calling for fair election maps drawn by a nonpartisan commission?)

The potentially helpful part of the statute is in the amendments to §§7-11 and 7-12 of the Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/7-11 and 7-12, moving up petition filing dates by 28 days. This would allow more time for election boards to consider challenges to nominating petitions and potentially allow for their disposition prior to the start of early voting. Perhaps, in the next election cycle, we can avoid any necessity to 'halt early voting' whilst appeals proceed on petition challenges.

I believe this will move the entire election calendar up by those same 28 days. Petition signing may begin 28 days sooner, perhaps. But that is my hunch, not yet backed up with research or authoritative opinion. Actual election lawyers are looking into this carefully, I am sure. Persons interested in running for office in 2026 should be paying careful attention to this as well... and, of course, should be consulting an election lawyer sooner rather than later. (At least 28 days sooner, I would say.)

The controversial part of P.A. 103-0586 appears to be the amendments to §7-61 and §8-17 of the Election Code (10 ILCS 5/7-61 and 10 ILCS 5/8-17) and related statutes. Clearly, judging by the partisan outrage, the Legislature did this for somebody specific... or to someone specific. Maybe both. Those of us on the Outside are unlikely to find out the particulars.

Before P.A. 103-0586, where no candidate ran in the primary, or was nominated as a write-in, the leaders of that party could thereafter appoint someone to 'fill in the blank' on the ballot. If you clicked on the news link a few paragraphs above, you may have noticed that this practice was referred to as 'slating.' Apparently.

Obviously, 'slating' Downstate and slating in County Cook are different things.

There were hoops that had to be jumped through by the person so appointed, and apparently these have grown more complicated over time. Entropy increases is a law of physics. When it comes to legislation, it is complexity that increases.

Probably most FWIW readers have never even heard of this practice. Since I've been on this beat, this was done exactly once in a Cook County judicial race, in 2014, in the 4th Subcircuit. I wrote about it then.

But the new act purports to preclude political parties from nominating candidates for election without going through a primary.

The operative language appears to be in §8-17 of the Election Code which, on its face, seems to be about candidates who die on or before the primary. It previously provided, and continues to provide, a procedure for parties to replace a candidate who dies before or after the primary, or declines his or her nomination, or withdraws from the general election.

But §8-17 used to allow this procedure to be used "should the nomination for any other reason become vacant." That language is now stricken by P.A. 103-0586. Further, the second sentence in that second paragraph now reads, "However, if there was no candidate for the nomination of the party in the primary, no candidate of that party for that office may be listed on the ballot at the general election."

So... assuming the law holds up against an expected legal challenge (on the grounds that the rules of the election are being changed in the middle of the election cycle, and not just for the future)... all currently unopposed candidates will remain unopposed (pending, if you really want to be technical, the vanishly small possibility that some independent candidate might somehow qualify for the November ballot).

Again, however, the provisions now amended by P.A. 103-0586 have only been used once in Cook County judicial races in many years. There was a rumor that the Republicans were going to field a candidate in, oddly enough, the 4th Subcircuit, but, from what I heard, the prospective candidate in question decided against running this time... even before the Weeping Angels struck. It seems highly unlikely that all this legislative effort was made to prevent a contest in the 4th Subcircuit.

But you can bet your mortgage this was done for a reason. Probably to help a specific person, presumably an incumbent, or to prevent a specific person from slipping onto the November ballot. But who?

Thursday, May 02, 2024

Tickets now available for ILJA Spring Social

The Illinois Latino Judges Association will hold its Spring Social on Wednesday, May 22, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at Chief O'Neill's, 3471 N. Elston.

Tickets are available for $75 each at this link. Those who understand such things may also use the QR code in the graphic above.

The Advocates will be marching Saturday

The Advocates Society will have a unit in Saturday's Polish Constitution Day Parade.

The parade starts at 11:30 a.m. and moves north, up Columbus Drive, from Balbo to Monroe. Persons wishing to march with the Advocates should gather at 10:30 a.m.

This being the Internet, that's probably about as much detail as I think it prudent to share. But it should be sufficient for those who may be interested.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Thursday: IBF Lawyers Care Reception at Ditka's Oak Brook

The Illinois Bar Foundation will hold a Lawyers Care Reception tomorrow, Thursday, May 2, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Ditka's Oakbrook, 2 Mid America Plaza, #100, Oakbrook Terrace.

The event will honor Michael J. Scalzo, of Scalzo Law Offices, and former Cook County Circuit Court Judge Russell Hartigan "for their many dedicated years of service to the IBF and the Lawyers Care Fund Committee."

Proceeds of the event will benefit the Warren Lupel Lawyers Care Fund, which has provided financial assistance to lawyers and their families in times of crisis since 1951.

Tickets for this event are $75 each. Sponsorships may yet be available (although, at this last minute, one should not expect to get one's name on the event signage or promotional material). Tickets and sponsorship information are available at this page of the IBF website.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Trial of Socrates to be broadcast May 10 on Lakeshore PBS outlet

Quick question before we get to the plug: In this age of streaming, does the word "broadcast" still have meaning?

Partial answer -- and this does start to ease us into the actual topic of this post -- WYIN, the Lakeshore (NWI) PBS outlet which will carry this presentation of The Trial of Socrates on Friday, May 10, at 9:00 p.m., was available on UHF Channel 56 back in analog days, and presumably still is found on 'channel 56' if one uses a digital converter for one's old analog set.

(There will be a brief pause here while the Millennials and Zoomers in the audience go "huh?")

The forthcoming TV program was filmed at Chicago's Harris Theater in 2023, when it was presented by the National Hellenic Museum. John Kapelos portrayed Socrates.

Kapelos is portrayed in the photograph above, on the right, with one of his defense attorneys, Robert Clifford of Clifford Law Offices PC. Also representing Socrates in the trial were Dan K. Webb, of Winston & Strawn LLP, and Sarah King, of Clifford Law Offices PC. The People of Athens were represented by Patrick Collins, of King & Spalding LLP; Tinos Diamantatos, of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP; and Julie Porter, of Salvatore Prescott Porter & Porter, PLLC. Presiding over the trial were Illinois Supreme Court Justice Joy V. Cummingham, U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonzo, and Circuit Court Judges Anthony Kyriakopoulos and Anna H. Demacopoulos. (Demacopoulos retired from the bench after the filming of this trial.) Media personality (and museum trustee) Andrea Darlas served as trustee.

FWIW plugged the event when it was live (and a CLE opportunity) in 2023. Alas, there is no CLE connected with this televised presentation.

The Trial of Socrates will be rebroadcast on Lakeshore PBS on Thursday, June 13, at 9:00 p.m. For more infomration on how to find Lakeshore PBS on your own cable system or streaming devices, click here.

A video trailer for The Trial of Socrates is available for viewing on NHM’s YouTube page. The Trial of Socrates was directed by Brian Kallies and produced by the National Hellenic Museum. The lead sponsors for The Trial of Socrates are The Jaharis Family Foundation, Calamos Investments, and Clifford Law Offices.

CBA to hold Running for Office CLE on May 7

I suppose that, in recent weeks, I have posted more about CLE opportunities here than is perhaps usual. Various groups have asked me to plug one event or another, and I try to accommodate when I can. Admittedly, this may also have something to do with my MCLE compliance deadline fast approaching... and with my still needing a whole boatload of hours.

But, even without prompting or pending deadlines, I almost certainly would have plugged this seminar, entitled "Running for Office," set for Tuesday, May 7, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., at the Chicago Bar Association, 321 S. Plymouth Ct. (Interested persons can opt to attend via webinar.)

Seminars like this do fit the format here.

Organizers say the seminar is geared towards those individuals who will be running for office in 2026 or the subsequent, odd-year consolidated election, and at the attorneys who will be representing them. Topics to be covered include the requirements for getting on the ballot, defending and prosecuting petition challenges, ethical and finance issues relating to campaigns, and an overview of campaign-related communications and avoiding defamation claims.

Here is a list of the topics and speakers:
  • Getting on the Ballot
    Michael C. Dorf, The Law Offices of Michael C. Dorf, LLC,

  • Navigating the Petition Objection Process
    Thomas A. Jaconetty, Law Office of Thomas A. Jaconetty,

  • Campaign Finance Compliance Considerations
    Jordan Andrew, Deputy General Counsel, Illinois State Board of Elections, and

  • Defamation Nation: Taking the Pain Out of Campaigning
    Ryan Jacobson, Amundsen Davis, LLC
    Danessa Watkins, Amundsen Davis, LLC.
Ross D. Secler, of Odelson, Murphey, Frazier & McGrath, Ltd. (and the current Chair of the CBA Election Law Committee) will serve as moderator.

The program will offer 2.75 hours of CLE credit. The cost of the seminar is $95 for CBA members, $185 for nonmembers. There is no charge for persons enrolled in the CBA Advantage Plan. To register, click on this page of the CBA website. Persons registering can select whether to attend IRL or online.

In case you were wondering, the illustration accompanying this post is called "Canvassing for Votes," one of a series of four paintings, collectively entitled "Humors of an Election," by the English painter William Hogarth.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Justinian Society Installation and Awards Dinner May 22; registration and sponsorship deadline is May 15

The Justinian Society of Lawyers will hold its annual Installation and Awards Dinner on Wednesday, May 22 at RPM Events Chicago, 317 N. Clark Street. Weather permitting, the event will start with a cocktail reception on the terrace; rain or shine, dinner will follow at 6:30 p.m.

The new officers to be installed at the dinner are Brian T. Monico - President, Catie R. Locallo - 1st Vice President, Michael R. Bertucci - 2nd Vice President, Judge Jill Cerone-Marisie - 3rd Vice President, Michael R. Grieco - Treasurer, and Sarah M. LeRose - Secretary.

Tickets are $200 each; tables of 10 are available for $2,000 (half-tables for $1,000). A number of sponsorship opportunities remain available. Tickets (including a link to special pricing for members of the judiciary) and information about sponsorships can be obtained from this page of the Justinian website. The deadline to purchase tickets and sponsorships is Wednesday, May 15.

Hispanic bench and bar groups offer Road to the Robe program on May 14

The Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, Region IX of the Hispanic National Bar Association, and the Illinois Latino Judges Association are co-sponsoring a "conversation" and "empowering discussion" with Latina judges about their different journeys to the bench, on Tuesday, May 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Chicago office of Benesch, 71 S. Wacker Drive.

Admission is free for this event, but registration is required. To register, click on this page of the HLAI website.

Friday, April 26, 2024

How will you celebrate Law Day?

Hopefully, all your gifts are wrapped, all your cards are sent, and all your decorations hung. But, whether you're ready or not, next Wednesday, May 1, is Law Day.

If you haven't yet finalized your holiday plans, several local bar associations have suggestions for you.

For example, the Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association will host a Law Day Celebration at Daley Plaza and a virtual presentation on voters’ rights and election protections during Law Week 2024.

The Law Day Celebration will take place Wednesday, May 1st at noon at the Daley Center Plaza. The event will feature speakers including Cook County Circuit Court Judge Nichole Patton, CBA President Ray J. Koenig III, YLS Chair Martin Gould and Chicago Bar Foundation Young Professionals Board President Paul Bateman will share reflections on the American Bar Association Law Week theme, "Voices of Democracy."

The CBA Barristers Big Band will provide lively entertainment and the 2024 Liberty Bell award, recognizing a non-lawyer who works to promote the ideals of justice, liberty, and community responsibility, will be presented.

Unable to come downtown? Or is merely attending a holiday celebration at the Daley Center Plaza too passive for your tastes? The Public Interest Law Initiative is offering an interactive -- and online -- Law Day event:
As you'll note, the flyer indicates that PILI is sponsoring this event with a number of other bar groups, including the Illinois State Bar Association. (I heard about it from the Advocates Society, and they're not even on the flyer.)

Participanting attorneys will receive a half-hour of training on how to answer questions from people seeking advice through the secure Illinois Free Legal Answers website. One half-hour of CLE credit has been applied for in connection with this training.

Thereafter, volunteers will have the opportunity to translate their training into immediate action, participating in a Drop-In Clinic, helping to answer questions posed on the Illinois Free Legal Answers platform with the assistance of more seasoned volunteers.

To register for this event, click on this page of the PILI website.

However you choose to celebrate, Law Day will be over all too soon.

But you can hold onto that Law Day feeling a litte longer, thanks to a Law Day-themed CLE presentation on Friday, May 3.

The CBA will offer an online seminar, "Voices of Democracy – Voters Rights and Election Protections," at noon on that date. Attorneys Clifford Helm, of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, and Meredith Zinanni, of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, will discuss the history of voting rights, the current state of the law in Illinois and Indiana and what challenges and opportunities can be expected in the upcoming election. One hour of CLE credit is available. To register for this session, visit this page of the CBA website.

Guest Post: Sean Tenner puts the 2024 primary into perspective

As part of our continuing evaluation of the recent primary, FWIW is pleased to present this guest post from Sean Tenner, the 46th Ward Democratic Party Committeeperson and the President of KNI Communications.

by Sean Tenner

I appreciate the opportunity provided by Jack to provide my view – in a historical context - on voter turnout figures in the 2024 Cook County Democratic Primary, as well as some thoughts on trends in judicial elections.

I don’t know anyone in our field who thinks that today’s general level of voter participation, or civic engagement writ large, is where it should be for a healthy democracy. It is heartbreaking that, for example, only 613,795 people in the City of Chicago chose to vote in the 2023 Brandon Johnson / Paul Vallas runoff. Chicago has approximately 2.7 million residents and approximately 1,600,000 registered voters. In my experience, nearly all of them have strong opinions about the state of the city, crime, schools, property taxes, homelessness and whomever is serving as Mayor – or running for Mayor.

And in the April 2023 Chicago municipal election – in which only 38.67% of registered voters and 22.73% of all Chicagoans voted – the choices could not have been more clear or the process more accessible. In most wards the ballot had one question on it: Brandon Johnson or Paul Vallas for Mayor; as clear a distinction and ideological choice as one can hope for. In some wards there were Aldermanic run-off elections which should have increased – rather than decreased – turnout. Voters were given the option of voting by mail, voting at any of 50 early voting locations starting over two weeks before election day, or voting in their neighborhood precinct on election day.

Yet, nearly one million Chicago registered voters chose not to vote in this most personal and impactful of elections. And on a global level, the United States falls behind so many countries around the world – including those with far fewer resources and far less developed election infrastructure – in their voter turnout. Something is deeply wrong; and trends such as reverse-partisanship (voters who vote Republican not because they like Republicans, but because they really hate Democrats – and vice-versa), gerrymandering, polarization that discourages moderate voters from participating, and the ceaseless negativity and unpleasantness of modern politics all play a role.

However, I disagreed with characterizations in the media both before, during and after election day, that the 2024 Cook County Democratic Primary turnout was somehow catastrophically low in comparison to similar elections. Would it benefit our society if it was higher? Yes, of course. Should we work to increase it? Yes, absolutely and I am glad there are groups throughout Illinois working to do so as we prepare for the 2024 General Election. But, in a true historical context, it just was not a particularly low turnout and, in some ways, exceeded expectations and projections.

First let’s dispense with the notion that the 2024 Cook County Democratic Primary is comparable to any recent election is which a competitive Presidential race was on the ballot. This is apples and oranges. For many Cook County residents, and many Americans, Presidential races are all they care about. No competitive presidential race (the case in the 2024 primary) equals no trip to the polling place. 2008, 2016 and 2020 had competitive Presidential Primaries on the Cook County Primary Ballot. Even in 2020, during the “COVID Primary” about a million people voted despite all the challenges of that awful time.

Next we must eliminate, for comparison sake, elections where there is a competitive U.S. Senate or gubernatorial primary. Candidates spend millions of dollars on these races, and the airwaves are flooded with commercials. In blue Illinois, Democratic primaries in particular dominate ad spending, news coverage and voter engagement. In 2010 we had the extremely (near-recount) close Dan Hynes vs. Pat Quinn gubernatorial primary and the relatively close David Hoffman vs. Alexi Giannoulias US Senate Primary (among other races). In 2018 we had a surge of Democratic enthusiasm in the anti-Trump blue wave year. The Democratic gubernatorial primary between now-Governor JB Prtizer, then-State Senator Dan Biss, and business leader Chris Kennedy was hotly contested with millions of dollars in ads hitting airwaves and mailboxes across the state. The open Attorney General seat also drew a large field of credible and well-financed candidates, with then State Senator Kwame Raoul emerging victorious over 2nd place finisher, former Governor Pat Quinn.

So that leaves us with three recent primary elections with no competitive Presidential, Senatorial or Gubernatorial races on the ballot: 2012, 2014 and 2022.

The recent 2024 Democratic primary had a higher number of Cook County Democratic primary voters (630,444) than any of these three. This is despite the fact that 2022 (625,622) featured a competitive and expensive statewide primary for Secretary of State, won by Alexi Giannoulias. 2024 featured no competitive statewide constitutional office primaries.

Prior to 2024, 2012 was the last Presidential Primary year without a competitive Democratic nomination contest – President Obama was running unopposed for renomination. There were, however, competitive primaries for Illinois Supreme Court and Clerk of the Circuit Court, along with a slew of Congressional and legislative primaries. Yet only 440,873 voters turned out.

2014 was the year the bottom fell out. Only 285,728 voters turned out, with a suburban turnout percentage of just 7.13% and a city turnout of 13.32%.

So, why was turnout in 2024 higher than in these other years? A few thoughts:
  • Voters understanding the importance of the judiciary in the wake of years of groundbreaking court decisions on issues such as marriage equality / LGBTQ rights, voting rights, guns and abortion. In other words, voters saying to themselves “Even though I don’t get very excited by judicial races, I know how important this stuff is and I should do my research and vote. It really matters now.” A competitive Illinois Supreme Court race surely had an impact.

  • Expansions of early voting and vote by mail options as well as greater public awareness of these options.

  • Get out the vote operations and communications by groups that became extremely energized during the backlash to Trump’s election (for example, Indivisible) and have continued their voter education and turnout work.

  • Personal PAC has always been a major force in voter mobilization – particularly in Democratic primaries – but it grew even more impactful after the Dobbs decision. Its endorsements move people to the polls.

  • Groups like ONE Northside worked hard at a grassroots level to turn out voters for Bring Chicago Home.

  • A crop of new leaders around the county deploying data-driven and innovative voter mobilization tactics.

  • The appearance of progressive voter guides and media outlets such as Injustice Watch and Girl, I Guess which generate more awareness of downballot races and their importance. If people have no clue how to vote in downballot races, they won’t vote. If they are told that their vote truly matters in downballot races and are given easier access to information (such as bar ratings), they will.

  • The ease of finding candidate bar ratings online has, I believe, made voters much more confident in voting all the way to the end of the ballot for Judges. The percentage of voters voting for Judge keeps increasing, as pointed out by Jack and Dr. Klumpp.

  • Finally, the Bring Chicago Home referendum in the city, and the State’s Attorney primary countywide, began to garner more significant voter interest in the closing sprint of the campaign, as evidenced by the large number of late arriving vote by mail ballots.
Every campaign cycle is different. The great thing about politics is that there is always another election coming up. Hopefully the high stakes of the Presidential race lead to a turnout that Cook County can be truly proud of in November.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Advocates offer dinner and CLE Thursday at Copernicus Center

The next meeting of the Advocates Society will be Thursday, April 25, at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave.

Cocktails and dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. For those observing Passover, wine and a kosher dessert will be served. The Advocates general meeting will follow at 7:00 p.m. The CLE presentation, "Best Practices & Developments in Domestic Relations," begins at 7:30 p.m.

Alon Stein will serve as moderator of the panel, which includes Judge Mitchell Goldberg, Judge Scott Tzinberg, Kathy Bojczuk, Steve Rakowski, and Curtis Bennett Ross. One hour of CLE credit has been applied for.

The event is free for Advocates members (although a $15 donation is requested to defray the dinner costs). The price for non-members is $30. Register by Wednesday at this page of the Advocates website.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Lesson learned from the March primary: Voter suppression works

Let me state at the outset that what follows here concerns the primary process gererally, not the judicial primary process specifically. But, to obtain election, judicial candidates must participate in this general process, so it is necessary to talk about this first, before asking what the general process means for judicial hopefuls. We'll get to it. Stay with me for now.

I'm currently reading Patrick Wohl's new book, Down Ballot, a case study of a 1990 suburban legislative Republican primary that was an early proving ground of Personal PAC's political clout and, because of the focus in that race on the abortion issue, one which gained national attention (Amazon link).

Wohl makes a statement early on that I think should be graven in stone: "An unfortunate side effect of the primary system nationwide is that it rewards politicians who serve merely as vacant vessels of the partisan will rather than effective and candid consensus-builders."

It was a truism taught in every Poli Sci 101 course for most of the 20th Century: Candidates seek the support of their party's base in the primaries -- that's where they find their volunteers, their door-knockers, phone-callers, and poll watchers -- but, once the nomination is secured, they lurch rightward or leftward (depending on the party involved), putting their 'consensus-building' skills on display, in order to pick up the uncommitted and non-partisan middle.

Like a lot of things we learned in school (Pluto is a planet, for example, or that dinosaurs were slow, stupid, scaly brutes), this truism is no longer nearly so true.

There are probably a lot of reasons for this, and the relative influence of each factor no doubt varies from locality to locality. But one reason why we nominate and elect ever more "vacant vessels" in this state has to do with the absence of a viable opposing party. We have mapped the two-party system out of existence.

When WE do it, of course, it is good politics; it is only when THEY do it (in exotic places like Alabama, Texas, or North Carolina) that it becomes evil gerrymandering.

In 2014, for example, Republican Bruce Rauner won 50.3% of the vote and was elected Governor of the State of Illinois (carrying every Illinois county except Cook). With a fair, proportionate electoral map, one might have expected the Illinois House to be nearly evenly split. But, thanks to the Democratic Party's superior cartographic skills, Democrats won a 71-vote supermajority in the Illinois House, just more than 60% of the total membership.

And this was no fluke. In 2022, Democratic candidates swept all statewide offices by healthy margins, from a low of 54.28% for Alexi Giannoulias, to a high of 57.08% for Susana Mendoza. With a fair, proportionate map, in such a strong Democratic year, one would have expected Democrats to win somewhere between 64 and 67 seats in the Illinois House. Instead, they won 78 of the available 118 seats, a 66.10% majority. In the State Senate, their majority increased to 67.80%, with 40 seats out of 59. And in Congress? Under the new electoral map, with Cook County sliced into narrow strips like IV-tubes, pumping reliably Democratic votes into the rest of the state, Democrats elected 14 House members, out of a total of 17. Of course, Congress is home to many vacant vessels, of all partisan persuasions.

In Cook County, we are used to the idea that Republicans won't even bother to field countywide judicial candidates. Personally, I think it embarrassing that the Republicans would not even put up a sacrificial lamb candidate for the Illinois Supreme Court, but a party that is about to give us Donald J. Trump as a presidential candidate for the third time must not be very susceptable to embarrassment. Or shame.

But legislative seats also go often uncontested in our fair state. Of the 23 State Senate seats up for election this year, nine are uncontested. A pre-primary analysis by Andrew Adams, of Capital News Illinois, published in the Belleville News Democrat, "Nearly 9 in 10 state-level primaries give Illinois voters no choice in candidates," asserts, "For judicial and state legislative races, 88 percent of primaries are uncontested, the most in the past 20 years. The number of primaries with a single candidate is also, albeit barely, at a two-decade high."

Adams cites John Shaw, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, for the proposition that "Illinois’ primary participation mirrors a national trend and is partially stoked by growing political polarization and state redistricting practices." According to Adams, Shaw thinks the "expectation of candidates to work across the aisle has decreased in recent decades, meaning that parties lean into ideology more."

Without a viable -- and competetitive -- two-party system, the primary becomes the election. And, whereas in happy days of yore, the ability to be a 'consensus-builder' was a good quality for a candidate facing a general election contest, where there is no general election opponent to face, who needs consensus? Compromise has now become a dirty word. If a candidate has appeal beyond the True Believers, this is seen as 'proof' that the candidate with potential cross-party appeal is really a MAGA Republican (not just any old Republican, mind you, but a MAGA Republican) in disguise. (The Downstate equivalent of MAGA Republican might be RINO, but as pejorative as RINO is meant to be, it may not be quite as insulting as MAGA Republican.) And, of course, heaven forfend if persons with money, who would otherwise be inclined, in a world with a viable two-party system, to invest in candidates of that other party, choose instead to invest some of their discretionary income supporting candidates whom they perceive as less antithetical to their interests than perhaps some other candidates.

After all, it is an outrage if THEY 'interfere' in OUR primary... although, obviously, it is perfectly acceptable for US to interfere in THEIRS. See, e.g., Darren Bailey.

You might think that, inasmuch as the primary really is the election, turnout for the primary should be on the upswing.

You might think this, perhaps, if you were from Mars.

Because that's not the way it works in reality, and it never has been. This year is no exception. The Cook County Clerk's Office says that there were 1,600,364 voters registered for this year's primary. Only 287,229 of them, however, bothered to show up at the polls, either on Election Day or before, at one of many early voting sites. Or returned a mail-in ballot. Lord knows, it's never been easier to cast a ballot, even as it appears ever harder to get voters to exercise their franchise.
In Cook County, no one risks death by going out to vote -- not like this Afghan lady in 2014 (photo source) who braved Taliban violence to exercise her franchise. Who knows what retribution she and other Afghan women have had to endure, now that the Taliban is back in power, as a result of simply going out to vote? (Never mind who she might have voted for.) In Cook County, now that patronage is gone, no one even risks their job by voting. And we had an 18% suburban turnout for what really will be the decisive election this year.

Admittedly, the City turnout appears to have been better: 390,697 City residents voted, according to the Chicago Board of Elections, out of a total of 1,509,554 eligible voters. That works out to 25.9%. Make it 26% if you want.

I can't know why there was a better (relatively speaking) turnout in the City than in the suburbs. My guess -- which I would prefer to characterize as considered opinion, or at least as informed speculation -- is that Bring Chicago Home brought some more Chicagoans out than might have come out otherwise. But put the numbers together and you find that 677,926 voters cast ballots in Cook County as a whole, out of a total of 3,109,918 registered voters. That's a 21.8% turnout. Over three in four of your neighbors could not be bothered to vote.


I blame voter suppression.

Voter suppression is supposed to be something that only THEY do. WE might move polling places, or consolidate precincts, but when WE do it, it is merely wise stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

But that's not the only kind of voter suppression.

Now, friends, I know you have never missed an election ever. I would venture to guess that most FWIW readers were student council nerds in high school. I was.

Most FWIW readers know that, in 1994 and 1996, I was thoroughly thumped at the polls in my wildly unsuccessful judicial bids. Before I ran, I'd always gotten a little Christmas-morning-type thrill on election days. I still got that little thrill, even after my losses. It was exciting to participate in the continuing American experiment, to do my sacred duty, and to greet friends and neighbors doing theirs. In recent years, with FWIW, I'd be online almost all day on election days (especially primary days), posting palm cards sent in by readers during the day, and then following the returns with rapt attention at night.

I hated the commercials, of course. I'm no fan of early voting, but I've often said that, if voting early would make my TV stop showing political commercials, I'd be camped out at the Super Site, waiting for it to open on the very first day. Sadly, it doesn't work that way.

Negative commercials are an insidious form of voter suppression. The effects are cumulative.

Smith (or political action committees supporting Smith but absolutely not coordinating with the Smith campaign) don't run attack ads against Jones in order to fire up likely Smith voters; Smith's voters weren't going to defect to Jones in any event. Nor do they pillory Jones in hopes of attracting Jones voters to Smith's banner; Jones voters are unlikely to see any imperfections in their candidate as a reason to support Smith instead. But -- and this is the reason why Smith and Smith-friendly groups attack Jones in the first place -- the incessant drumbeat of accusations, the sly innuendos, the grayed-out and unflattering photos -- all these may persuade some Jones supporters to simply stay home. They'd never vote for Smith... but Jones is not worthy of their support either.

The Smith campaign would call this smart politics; the Jones partisans might see themselves as victims of a voter suppression tactic.

Not that it will stop the Jones campaign (and/or totally not coordinating third parties) from launching attacks on Smith that are at least equally vicious. And equally discouraging to potential Smith voters.

And so it goes, back and forth, forth and back. Election cycles end, candidates come and go, but attack ads go on forever.

There is a danger of projection here.

We do this all the time: Some of us think that people stay home because they are satisfied with how the system is working, and who is being elected, and the policies they initiate. Others think people stay home because they have given up on the system: They are alienated from everyone running, and anyone elected, and hostile to every policy.

I don't like negative ads, so I imagine that three out of four of my neighbors must feel the same way... and that's why they stayed home on the Feast of St. Joseph.

Of course, I can't know that. Not for sure. And I certainly can not, and do not, claim it explains all of those who stayed home.

And there are scholars, apparently, who argue that negative campaign ads may actually stimulate turnout. As Mark Twain said, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. We can prove anything with numbers these days, especially since no one knows math. Inflation really is under control -- just as long as you don't compare receipts on successive trips to the grocery. And the economy is really booming, the empty storefronts everywhere notwithstanding. Who are you going to believe? Scholars? Or your own lying eyes?

I chose to believe that the cumulative effects of all those smears, all that mud, hurled back and forth during every commercial break on every TV program, must depress election turnout. Because -- think for a moment -- what is the alternative? Turnout would have been less than 21.8% without the negative ads? (Statewide, turnout was an abysmal 19.07%.)

The health of our political system depends on an informed, engaged electorate.

As presumably all FWIW readers know, the abbreviation "GOTV" means "Get Out The Vote." This term is not typically used in a League-of-Women's-Voters-let's-get-everybody-out sense, but, rather, in a cynical, Orwellian way, meaning only "Get Out OUR Vote." The "T" is silent. Silenced. Let THEM get out THEIR voters, if they can, we murmur smugly to ourselves. WE will focus on getting out OUR voters... and only those we know we can count on.

That's one truism that seems to have stayed true: The smaller the turnout, the better success rate for the slated candidates. The Democratic Party's countywide slate was almost unanimously successful this year -- and in the one race not carried by the Party, several committeepersons supported the non-slated candidate. The Party has shown that it knows how to win. But does all this winning really indicate a healthy society, when between 3 out of 4 or 4 out of 5 potential voters stay home? I respectfully submit that we ex-student council nerds, who swim in the sewage of Twitter/X, can not maintain the system entirely on our own. And, because of who we are, we will be the last to notice that our system is crumbling around us. As we are led up to the wall to be shot, some of us will still be whining, "but we won the last election!"

And, here, finally, is where lawyers and judges can step up and set a good example. (And, I believe, to continue to set a good example.)

It is not enough to "win." In fact, winning (while it would be nice) isn't even that important.

The old saying, "it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game that counts," should apply to all elections, though it obviously does not. This rule has applied -- mostly -- to Cook County judicial elections through the years I've been paying attention. There have been some exceptions -- I've railed about some very unfortunate mail pieces, for example.

I've told this story in every subsequent election cycle: In 2008, when I first published bar ratings here on FWIW, I got an almost immediate call from a candidate who was quite agitated about a rating that I'd attributed to his opponent. "You wrote she was rated Qualified," he fumed. "She was not rated Qualified!"

"Hold on," I said, as I scrolled through the post and fumbled with the source material on my desk (I'd printed it out so that it would be easier to transcribe), but my agitated caller would not be put off: "Do you see yet?" he demanded. "She was not rated Qualified; she was rated Highly Qualified. You have to fix that!"

Imagine that happening in a race for state representative.

This attitude, though, is what we need in all elections, at all levels, from all candidates. This spirit still largely prevails in judicial elections although -- with the increased money devoted to these campaigns, and the various consultants who now help direct campaigns -- some of the scorched-earth attitudes of candidates further up the ballot has begun to sink down to the judicial races. This must be resisted at all costs, if only out of naked self-interest: The loser today may have to appear before the winner tomorrow.

If judicial campaigns can remain oases of civility and even gentility, maybe these good qualities can rise up on the ballot and into other races as well. Cross-contamination, if you will. Judicial candidates can lead the way -- and thereby un-supress some voters. At least they can try. And when good lawyers realize that our judicial elections are not the cesspools that races for other spots on the ballot are, perhaps more of them will come and enter the lists again, too. We would all benefit from that.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

SWBA and SSBA Judges' Night set for May 9

The Southwest Bar Association and the South Suburban Bar Association will hold a Judges' Night on Thursday, May 9, starting at 5:00 p.m., at Crystal Tree Golf and Country Club, 10700 W. 153rd Street, Orland Park.

The sponsoring organizations plan to honor Judge Linzey D. Jones (of the 5th Municipal District) and Patrick K. Coughlin (of the 6th Municipal District) as their 2024 Judges of the Year.

Tickets are $125 each in advance ($150 at the door). Sitting judges will be admitted free. Tickets can be purchased (and judges can register) at this page of the SWBA website.

Sponsorships are also available (Silver - $300, Gold - $500, or Platinum - $1,000). Platinum and Gold sponsors receive two event tickets each; Silver sponsors receive one. Sponsorships can be obtained from that same link on the SWBA website. Questions about sponsorships should be directed to Alex (at or Dan (at by May 1st. General questions about the event itself can be directed to

Tomorrow at the Harris Theater: Pericles on trial

Democrat or demagogue?

With Pericles, there's a case to be made for either... and both.

The case tomorrow, Wednesday, April 17 at 7:00 p.m., at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St., is an ancient case regarding citizenship, voting rights and Pericles — with audience members casting their votes to decide the final verdict.

The Trial of Pericles is nearly 2,500 years in the making. In 451 B.C., Pericles changed the Athenian Constitution to restrict citizenship to those born to two Athenian parents. He said this action was necessary to protect Athens from foreign influence, while many others saw this as tyrannical because citizens lost their civil liberties, including the right to vote. Some speculated Pericles would have faced trial for his actions had he survived the Great Plague of Athens.

The National Hellenic Museum is presenting this trial tomorrow as part of its continuing exploration of how the ancient Greeks grappled with timeless controversies that continue to shape modern society.

The prosecution team for the Trial of Pericles includes attorneys Katerina Alexopoulos (U.S. Department of Homeland Security), Patrick M. Collins (King & Spalding LLP) and Tinos Diamantatos (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP). Presenting the defense of Pericles will be Sarah F. King (Clifford Law Offices PC), James C. Pullos (Clifford Law Offices PC) and Patrick A. Salvi II (Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard PC).

Judges presiding at the Trial of Pericles are Hon. Anna H. Demacopoulos (Ret. Circuit Court Judge, State of Illinois), Hon. Anthony C. Kyriakopoulos (Circuit Court Judge, State of Illinois) and Hon. Lindsay C. Jenkins (U.S. District Court Judge, Northern District of Illinois).

The April 17 event will be emceed by award-winning Chicago media personality and NHM Trustee Andrea Darlas. Prominent jurors at the Trial include: Justice Eileen O'Neill Burke (Ret.), the Democratic Nominee for Cook County State's Attorney; Steve Cochran, host of the Steve Cochran Show on WLS AM 890; 34th Ward Alderman Bill Conway; Professor Nicholas Doumanis, Professor and Illinois Chair in Hellenic Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago; Themistocles P. Frangos, an officer of the Hellenic Bar Association; Professor Zoi Gavriilidou, Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago; Shia Kapos, Reporter for POLITICO; Cannon Lambert of Karchmar & Lambert, P.C. and Past President of the Cook County Bar Association; Commander Melinda Linas, 14th District Commander of the Chicago Police Department; John C. Sciaccotta of Aronberg Goldgehn, President Elect of the Chicago Bar Association; Kristofer Swanson, Vice President and Practice Leader of Forensic Services at Charles River Associates; and Consul Georgia Tasiopoulou of the Greek Consulate General in Chicago.

The role of Pericles will be played by Paul Lillios, the former Associate Chief Administrative Law Judge of the U.S. Social Security Administration, and the role of Olympia, a non-Athenian wife and mother in Athens serving as a witness for the prosecution, will be played by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Megan Goldish.

Tickets for this event are $100; student tickets available for $50 with proof of ID. Attorneys who attend this event will qualify for 1.5 hours of continuing legal education (CLE); CLE registration will be available at the theater. Tickets are available via this page of the museum website. Questions not resolved by reference to the website can be directed to (312) 655-1234.

Friday, April 12, 2024

NWSBA Judges' Night set for May 1 in Rosemont

The Northwest Suburban Bar Association is holding a Judges' Night dinner on Wednesday, May 1, starting at 5:00 p.m., at Sky on Nine, 6600 Mannheim Rd., Rosemont.

The non-member price for this event will be $275 per person after April 25. Presumably it is somewhat less than that now... but to find out what the price actually is, one must register at this page of the NWSBA website. (Judges can register from a link on the NWSBA homepage.)

Sponsorships may also still be available. For information about sponsorships, email