Courthouse

Judicial Elections 2016 – #KnowYourGovernment

We will be covering Chicago’s down ballot races all week leading up to the election on November 8th. Keep an eye on our site to learn more about what you’re voting for!

Judicial Races


Overview

Judicial Election 2016 - Cheat Sheet
Download our handy cheat sheet – save on your phone or print to bring into the booth!

There are judges on the ballot for the state-level Illinois Appellate Court, and the county-level Cook County Circuit Court.

Illinois Appellate Court

  • The intermediate court in Illinois – it hears appeals from verdicts reached at the trial level (circuit courts throughout the state). Its decisions, in turn, can be appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.
  • Judges serve 10 year terms; incumbents run in nonpartisan retention elections, and can be elected for subsequent 10 year terms.
  • Candidates on the 2016 ballot are running for retention only.
  • A 60% “yes” vote keeps them in office.

Cook County Circuit Court

  • The trial-level courts throughout Cook County; may hear trials on anything from traffic cases to child custody hearings to criminal cases.
  • Serve six year terms; incumbents run in nonpartisan retention elections, and can be elected for subsequent six-year terms.
  • There are a handful of contested races on the 2016 ballot – these judges need a simple majority to win.
  • Judges up for retention need 60% “yes” votes to stay in office.

judgeWhy is it important?

  • Judges rule on cases that can affect our lives for years to come.
  • It’s hard to remove a bad judge from the bench.
  • Cook County voters haven’t removed a sitting judge since 1990, though there have been many outrageously incompetent or derelict judges.
  • Many voters don’t bother to vote for judges, and others vote based on gender or ethnically identifiable names or by political party affiliation.1

Judges with Poor Ratings

To provide some guidance on the long list of names that will be unfamiliar to most, here we’ve focused only on the races most worthy of note: 1) contested races, 2) judges who received ratings of “Not Qualified”/”Not Recommended” by the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screenings, or 3) have opted not to participate in the review process. (Participating bar associations and additional resources are listed at the end of this post.)
All Cook County judicial candidates NOT mentioned below received approvals from all bar associations – you can download their full review here.

Things to note:

  • Candidates who received a “Not Recommended” (NR) rating for not participating in the review process should be noted – some choose not to seek the bar associations’ recommendation because a) they’re not qualified, so they won’t get it, or b) they’ve been clouted onto the ballot, so they don’t need it. Or both.2
  • Appellate Court judge Joy Virginia Cunningham (running for retention) received unanimous “Yes” recommendations from all 11 bar associations. Appellate candidates Eileen O’Neill Burke and Bertina E. Lampkin (running uncontested) both received ratings of “Qualified” or better from all 11 bar associations.
  • Candidates with clearly more favorable ratings are highlighted in bold green.
  • Negatively reviewed candidates who are running unopposed are included FYI.

 

Contested Races – Cook County Circuit Court

1st Subcircuit (Hopkins vacancy)

Rhonda Crawford (D) Maryam Ahmad (D)
(*write-in candidate)
  • Unanimously “Not Recommended” by 11 local bar associations after refusing to participate in their candidate evaluation process.
  • Fired from her position as a law clerk in the Circuit Courts after she put on judicial robes and sat on the bench for three cases in the Markham courthouse.
  • Endorsed as a write-in candidate by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board and the Chicago Bar Association
  • Received favorable ratings from bar associations in the Democratic primary election

12th Subcircuit (Kazmierski vacancy)

Marguerite Anne Quinn (D) Thomas William Flannigan (R)
  • “Qualified” or higher rating from all 11 bar associations
  • Endorsed by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board
  • “Not Qualified” rating from 2 of 11 bar associations
  • “Not Recommended” by 4 of 11 (Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area, Decalogue Society of Lawyers, Illinois State Bar
    Association, Women’s Bar
    Association of Illinois)

12th Subcircuit (Mathein vacancy)

Janet Cronin Mahoney (D) James Leonard Allegretti (R)
  • “Not Qualified” rating from 2 of 11 bar associations (Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, Illinois State Bar
    Association)
  • “Not Recommended” by 2 of 11 (Cook County Bar Association, Decalogue Society of Lawyers)
  • “Qualified” or higher rating from all 11 bar associations
  • Endorsed by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board

12th Subcircuit (Tristano vacancy)

Carrie Hamilton (D) David Studenroth (R)
  • “Qualified/Recommended” or higher rating from all 11 bar associations, including “Highly Recommended” rating from the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago
  • Endorsed by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board:
    Judge Carrie Hamilton, of Winnetka, was appointed to this vacant seat in July 2015 by the Illinois Supreme Court. Before that, she spent 14 years in the U.S. attorney’s office, serving in the Public Corruption and Organized Crime section, where she helped prosecute former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, business tycoon Tony Rezko and other high-profile defendants. She is endorsed over longtime attorney David Studenroth, of Glenview, a former prosecutor who now focuses on criminal defense cases.”
  • “Qualified/Recommended” or higher rating from all 11 bar associations, including “Highly Recommended” rating from Decalogue Society of Lawyers and Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois

12th Subcircuit (additional judgeship A)

James Edward Hanlon, Jr. (D) Steven A. Kozicki (R)
  • “Qualified/Recommended” rating from all 11 bar associations, including “Highly Recommended” rating from the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois
  • Endorsed by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board in Democratic Primary

 

  • “Qualified/Recommended” rating from all 11 bar associations
  • Endorsed by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board in General election and Republican Primary:
    Both candidates in this race won our endorsement in their respective primaries. James Edward Hanlon, of Northbrook, is a highly regarded commercial litigator who has spent his career in private practice. Steven A. Kozicki, of Prospect Heights, has more varied courtroom experience — he worked as a prosecutor and a public defender before going into private practice; he currently handles criminal, civil and immigration matters.”

13th Subcircuit (Fecarotta vacancy)

Ketki “Kay” Steffen (D) Kevin Michael O’Donnell (R)
  • “Qualified/Recommended” rating or higher from all 11 bar associations, including “Highly Qualified” rating from Hellenic Bar Association and Illinois State Bar Association, “Highly Recommended” by Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago
  • Endorsed by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board
  • “Not Qualified/Recommended” rating from 8 of 11 bar associations

Running Unopposed

Matthew Link (14th Subcircuit – Murphy vacancy)
-“Not Recommended” by 11 of 11

Brendan A. O’Brien (Love vacancy)  
-“Not Recommended” by 1 of 11 bar associations (Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago)

Daniel P. Duffy (Grussel vacancy)
-“Not Qualified” rating from 2 of 11 (Chicago Council of Lawyers, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois)
-“Not Recommended” by 1 of 11 (Women’s Bar Association of Illinois)

 Renee Jackson (2nd Subcircuit – Savage vacancy)
-“Not Recommended” by 11 of 11

Daryl Jones (5th Subcircuit – Williams-Hayes vacancy)
“Not Qualified” rating from 1 of 11 (Illinois State Bar Association)


Retention Votes – Cook County Circuit Court

  • Irwin J. Solganick – “No” from Cook County Bar Association
  • William Maki – “No” from Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago
  • Nicholas R. Ford – “No” from Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago; “No” from Romanucci & Blandin (police misconduct attorneys)
    Circuit Judge Nicholas Ford is refusing to take himself off the Jackie Wilson case, even though Ford could be called as a witness and has links to several key actors in the police torture scandal involving former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.” (Romanucci & Blandin)
    Chicago Sun-Times Editorial: Change judges in case of Burge-era torture claim
    Appeals court reversals mar record of Cook County judge up for retention Nov. 8
  • Daniel Joseph Lynch – “No” from Chicago Council of Lawyers, Illinois State Bar Association
  • Laurence J. Dunford – “No” from  Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago
  • Jeanne R. Cleveland Bernstein – “No” from Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago
  • Daniel Malone – “No” from  Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago
  • Bonita Coleman – “No” from Chicago Council of Lawyers
  • Sandra G. Ramos – “No” from  Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago

 

Research Notes:

 

References:

1. Cook County needs merit selection of judges: http://chicago.suntimes.com/opinion/editorial-cook-county-needs-merit-selection-of-judges/
2. Chicago Tribune endorsements in Cook County judicial races: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-judges-endorsements-cook-county-retention-edit-20161013-story.html

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