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 alex@ktenaslaw.com) or Dan (at dan@dclawoffice.com) by May 1st. General questions about the event itself can be directed to southwestbarassociation@gmail.com.

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 jbarth@nwsba.org.

CBA Barristers Big Band Ball set for April 26

The Chicago Bar Association’s Barristers Big Band is hosting their 21st Annual benefit on Friday, April 26, starting at 6:00 p.m., at the Union League Club. This year’s event celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the CBA and honors Maestro David Katz, Founding Music Director, and Conductor of the CBA Symphony. Proceeds from the event benefit the CBA musical ensembles including the CBA Symphony and the CBA Chorus which provide classical musical programs for members of the Bar and the broader Chicago community.

The benefit begins with a reception at 6:00 p.m. with the Big Barristers Band swinging throughout the night. Dancing will being at 7:00 p.m. There will be a silent auction featuring trips, musical performances, wine from the Band Leader’s own cellar, Goodman Theater and Grant Park Concert tickets, sailboat cruises, and much more. All the auction items can be browsed from this link. For persons interested in contributing, but not bidding, donation options are also available at the preceding link.

A group of professional dancers will be on hand to teach smooth dance moves to attendees. All guests, whether newly instructed or long-steeped in terpsichorean traditions, will have the opportunity to display their skills in a dance contest later in the evening.

“The Barristers Ball is the social event of the year for the legal community. We are thrilled to host this wonderful celebration of music for our community as well as commemorate the CBA’s 150th Anniversary and honor our beloved conductor, David Katz,” said John Vishneski, clarinetist, and Band Leader.

After 38 years of leading the CBA Symphony Orchestra and taking it to the heights of performances at Symphony Center and more, founding Music Director David Katz is retiring. He is turning over the reins to Jennifer Huang, who was selected after a year-long conductor search. This Ball is dedicated to celebrating and honoring David Katz’ enormous contributions.

The Barristers Big Band was founded in 2000 by members of The Chicago Bar Association who share a love of big band jazz and want to keep the music of the great big band era alive. Band members come from every walk of the Chicago legal community -- big firm partners, solo practitioners, government lawyers, law students, and (for much of its history) even a sitting federal judge. With a full set of saxes, including a bari, and a powerful brass section, a rhythm section that swings like mad, and numerous vocalists, the Big Barristers Band is ready to provide the best music of the swing era and beyond.

Tickets are $75 per person. To purchase tickets or for more information, click here. For any additional questions, contact Mark Cellini at mcellini@chicagobar.org.

ILCBA to honor Will County judge at April 25 dinner

The Illinois Creditors Bar Association will hold its Alexander P. White Award Dinner on Thursday, April 25, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Erie Cafe, 536 W. Erie St.

The dinner will honor the recipient of the ILCBA's 2024 Alexander P. White Award, Will County Judge Barbara N. Petrungano (pictured at right).

Petrungaro has served in the judiciary since 2005. She was recently assigned to Law Division, after serving many years as Supervising Judge of the Arbitration Division. Licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1991, Petrungaro worked for the Chicago firm of Swanson, Martin & Bell and served as a Will County Assistant State's Attorney before going on the bench.

Tickets for the event are $65 each for ILCBA members or judges, $80 each for non-members. Tickets of 10 are also available for $750. Sponsorships are available (Bronze - $250, Silver - $500, Gold - $1,000). A Bar Sponsorship (for $1,500) may also still be available. Tickets, and further information about sponsorships, are available at this page of the ILCBA website.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Nominations due by tomorrow for CBA YLS Liberty Bell Award

The Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association, as part of its Annual Community Law Week Celebration, is seeking nominees for its Liberty Bell Award. According to the CBA YLS, "This award recognizes a member of the community who has rendered service that strengthens the effectiveness of the American system of freedom under law."

To qualify, the nominee must:
  • be a non-lawyer;
  • have a sense of responsibility for community welfare and public duty under the law;
  • help others to understand and assert their rights under the law;
  • promote and encourage respect for and obedience to the law; and
  • assist the smooth functioning of our system of justice.
The Liberty Bell Award winner will be presented with a commemorative plaque during Law Week 2024 (which runs this year from April 29 to May 3). YLS Chair Martin Gould stated in an email that, "The Liberty Bell Award is an excellent means of promoting the ideals of justice, liberty, and the importance of individual and community responsibility."

Nominations close tomorrow, Friday, April 12.

Nomination forms are available at this link. The form provides instructions for its return.

In addition to the completed form, nominators are asked to provide a cover letter stating why you are nominating this person, including a brief summary of the nominee's qualifications for the Liberty Bell Award. Other supporting materials, such as a résumé, press clippings, or newsletters can also be submitted. Questions about the nominating process can be directed to the Young Lawyers Section by phone, at 312-554-2070, or by email at yls@chicagobar.org.

A dozen new judges appointed today to the Circuit Court of Cook County

In separate Orders entered today, the Illinois Supreme Court filled a dozen vacancies on the Cook County Circuit Court.

With one exception, each of the new judges won the Democratic Party's nomination for the seats to which they have now been appointed. All of these 12 new judges face no opponent in November.

The new judges are:
If you follow the links to the appointment orders, you'll see that James V. Murphy is the exception referred to above. He has been appointed to the countywide Sullivan vacancy. The unopposed candidate for that vacancy, Judge James Murphy-Aguilù, is already serving, pursuant to a temporary Supreme Court appointment, in the Wojkowski vacancy to which James Murphy, no hyphen, will shortly be elected.

Today's appointments add only eight new judges to the bench. Brooks, Chrones, Fairman, and Miller are all currently serving as associate judges. (But their appointments will open up new subcircuit seats. If I am counting correctly, these appointments will create 'converted' subcircuit seats in the 19th, 20th, 16th, and 17th Subcircuits.)

Ten of these appointments are effective April 29. The Miller and Duignan appointments are effective June 11. All of these appointments terminate on December 2, just in time for these appointees to be sworn in as newly elected judges.

The Supreme Court's press release on today's appointments is available here.

Dr. Klumpp: What the data does - and does not - reveal about the 2024 Cook County judicial primary

FWIW is once again pleased to present a Guest Post by Albert J. Klumpp, a PhD in public policy analysis with a national reputation for expertise on judicial races, the author of several scholarly works analyzing judicial elections, and a generous and frequent contributor to FWIW for many years.

by Albert J. Klumpp

As the number of candidates seeking elective judicial vacancies in Cook County continues to dwindle—more on that later—studying the elective process itself becomes more and more difficult. Data analysis, by whichever qualitative or quantitative method, does actually require data. Go figure.

Nevertheless, I’ve finally had a chance to compile the results of our March 19 primary, and have taken the usual run at analyzing those results to provide whatever insight can be gained from them.

Based on the latest available results, roughly 678,000 ballots were cast in the primary, for a total turnout of 21.8%. As illustrated, the number is low:
…but not surprisingly low, given the lack of any substantive high-profile contests in either party for president or governor or senator.

The Democratic voters who did turn out did not neglect the judicial contests on the ballot. As the figure below illustrates, judicial votes cast as a percentage of total voters was the second-highest ever, just behind 2022.
As far as how those voters voted, that question is doubly difficult this year. Not only is the data set small—just seven two-candidate contests on the countywide ballot—but for the most part it was the same candidates who were slated by the party, favored by bar associations, and endorsed by progressive voices like Girl I Guess. And as well, nearly all of those same candidates secured the first ballot position in their contests. All of this overlap means that a statistical analysis will struggle to sort out how much of the vote for those candidates can be attributed to each source. (The jargon term for it is “multicollinearity.”) So unfortunately it simply isn’t possible to provide precise estimates of effect sizes in this primary, even within reasonable margins of error.

What the analysis does show more generally, though, is that the judicial vote was surprisingly different from that of what seemingly was a very similar primary two years ago (low turnout and nothing of significance at the top of the ballot). In this primary the big winner was party slating. Two years ago it was worth roughly 15 percent of the vote, a figure reasonably within historical averages. This year its value was well into the twenties, certainly 25 percentage points and possibly slightly higher.

This is a good example of how the value of a party endorsement does not uniformly rise and fall as turnout falls and rises. Given that the current Chicago mayor is popular with at least one wing of his party, versus two years ago when the mayor had lost support partywide, the shift in slating value is explainable and parallels similar situations in the past.

The Girl I Guess choices mirrored the party’s choices, so without the benefit of exit polling it isn’t possible to measure its influence separate from the party’s. Two years ago I measured its influence at roughly six percent of the vote, among a small electorate. There is no reason to think that the figure this time is different.

The big winner wo years ago was bar ratings, which I measured at a whopping 29 percent of the vote. The figure was difficult to estimate this year but is far lower and almost certainly in the single digits, likely no more than nine percent of the vote. This would be much more in line with historical averages than the 2022 result is. For the moment there is no clear explanation for the difference. Similarly, gender was an important variable two years ago at 17 percent of the vote, but it appears to have been less than half as influential this year. This is more understandable; the absence of women at the top of a ballot typically leads to a smaller advantage for female judicial candidates.

Finally, the tentative estimate for the first ballot position was roughly six percentage points, but its margin of error was too large to be confident of the figure.

Subcircuit contests always provide a useful comparison for conclusions drawn about countywide voting. The observations here do look to be supported by the subcircuit contests in this primary, although just as with the countywide ballot there is a shortage of useful data in the subcircuits (only nine contests and 22 candidates).

Speaking of subcircuits, one major factor that always influences subcircuit contests is campaign spending. A proper look at the numbers on spending will have to wait until the next quarterly campaign finance documents are submitted by candidates in July. But it does appear that, true to form, spending was a major factor in subcircuit contests. An imbalance in campaign funds looks to have helped decide at least four of the nine contests, and possibly five. I will return to this with full data in a future post.

To conclude, and very much not to bury the lead, here is the single most important chart for the 2024 primary:
The overall number of candidates per vacancy this year was 1.53, the lowest in the modern history of judicial contests in Cook County. And as the chart shows, this was not an anomaly but rather the continuation of a long-term trend. The trend was discussed here in FWIW recently and certainly will be discussed again, because obviously it has consequences far more important than my ability or inability to provide vote percentages. It also should raise questions about the wisdom of creating new elective judgeships at a time when filling elective judicial vacancies is becoming a significant problem.

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

CBA 150th Anniversary 5K Run/Walk to benefit the Chicago Bar Foundation

With the primary finally over, regular programming resumes on FWIW. But don't worry: Post-election analyses are in preparation and will be popping up here in the coming days. Meanwhile, this post about running for something besides judge... sort of a change of pace....
The Chicago Bar Association will hold a 5K Run/Walk in commemoration of its 150th Anniversary on Saturday, April 13, at Soldier Field. The run starts at 10:00 a.m. The walk sets of at 10:15 p.m.

Runners will pay for that 15-minute head start: Through April 7 it will cost $40 to register for the run, but only $35 to register for the walk. After April 7, both registration fees will go up. Registrations may be accomplished at this page of the CBA website.

Proceeds of the event will benefit the CBA's charitable arm, the Chicago Bar Foundation.

Jenkins-Wright, Rivera, and Rodriguez selected as new associate judges

This is a new one for me -- putting the names of all the new associate judges in a short headline.

Just the other day, on Facebook, I "liked" a group photograph of a recent AJ class -- it was their anniversary -- and it was a real large group. This is more of a micro-group. But, you know what?

For Kenya Alicia Jenkins-Wright, Antara Nath Rivera, and Federico Martin Rodriguez, the size of the group matters not at all. They emerged from the super-short six-person short list and will soon be sworn in as Cook County Associate Judges.