Appellate court judge in Emanuel case has election misstep in his past

January 24, 2011

One of the two Illinois Appellate Court judges who reversed the residency board's decision to keep Rahm Emanuel on the ballot has an election stumble in his past. Judge Thomas E. Hoffman joined Judge Shelvin Hall in the majority decision. The dissenting judge was Judge Bertina Lampkin.

The Chicago Council of Laywers evaluates judges up for retention. The legal organization keeps extensive records and biographies of state and federal judges.

This is from their web site, under the 2009 Judicial directory for Judge Thomas E. Hoffman: 

As an Appellate Court Justice, he is considered to be fair, intelligent, and hard working. He is always prepared and has issued two dissents in the last year, an unusual but praiseworthy practice as an appellate justice. He has greatly reduced the case backlog in his division of the Appellate Court. In the March 1994 primary, the Council rated Judge Hoffman highly qualified for election to the Appellate Court. After that rating, just before the primary election, Judge Hoffman paid for his name to appear with other candidates on an election flier urging voters to vote for real Democrats and to avoid voting for LaRouche party candidates. The clear implication of this flier was that the opponents of the candidates listed on it were LaRouche party candidates. The flier would be understood by most voters to mean that Judge Hoffman’s opponents were LaRouche party members and would be understood by many voters to impugn those candidates. Unfortunately, Judge Hoffman and the other judicial candidates listed on this flier had no LaRouche party opponents. The flier was deceptive and likely to mislead voters. Judge Hoffman has indicated to us that it was a mistake that he now regrets to participate in paying for the distribution of this flier, that he did it in the heat of an election campaign, and that it was a means, otherwise not possible, to get his name before the voters.

The Council finds this incident to be significant in two ways. First, it is an example of how selecting judges by election is likely to lead to campaign behavior that can damage the reputation for integrity of candidates and courts. Second, we conclude, regretfully, that under pressure in an election campaign Judge Hoffman participated in an election device likely to mislead voters. We cannot continue to rate him highly qualified given these circumstances. We find him qualified for election to the Appellate Court.

This is the Chicago Council of Laywers evaluation of Shelvin Hall: 

Judge Shelvin Hall was appointed to the Appellate Court in 1999, and presently sits in the First District, First Division. She was appointed as a Circuit Court Judge in 1991 and served in the Domestic Relations and Law Divisions of the Circuit Court. Prior to her election to the bench, Justice Hall was an attorney and General Counsel with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Judge Shelvin Hall is considered to be a diligent, hard-working Appellate Court judge with a very good temperament. She is exceptionally active in community affairs. Most 11 lawyers say that she is active in oral argument and that her written decisions are well-reasoned. There are some lawyers who question the clarity and consistency of her rulings. On balance the Council finds her Qualified for retention to the Appellate Court.

And finally, the Chicago Council of Lawyers evaluation of Bertina Lampkin:

Judge Lampkin is considered to have good legal ability and is reported to be an exceptionally hard-working jurist.  Her written materials include approximately 100 opinions from cases she heard at 26th street, including findings on post-conviction petitions and motions to quash and suppress. Additionally, she has been on the Supreme Court criminal pattern jury instructions committee for fifteen years, the last five as chair of the committee. In that position, she was responsible for writing the new death penalty instructions and the instructions for specific specialized jury verdict required by the Apprendi case. She has taught for the last several years in the area of death penalty litigation and creates her own seminar materials. She has also taught in the new judge classes and written practice guides for new judges.  Judge Lampkin has demonstrated that she meets the higher standards that the Council uses in evaluating candidates for the Appellate Court.  The Council finds Judge Lampkin Qualified for the Appellate Court.

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