WBEZ | judges http://www.wbez.org/tags/judges Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Poll: Before heading into the booth, voters research President and Mayor, but not Ward Committeeman http://www.wbez.org/news/poll-heading-booth-voters-research-president-and-mayor-not-ward-committeeman-103658 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F66227515&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;color=ffe12b" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>A couple of weeks ago,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-dont-voters-research-judges-103350"> WBEZ polled its audience</a> to figure out whether they&#39;re blindly heading into the voting booth without a care in the world, or whether they actually pay attention to who is running for particular offices in federal, state and local elections. Below are the results of this self-reported data from over 1,000 WBEZ readers (many of whom are also members).</p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/spreadsheet/tq?key=0AoAq-yszkAfjdEhWV2Npb2tWZEF3TldKUGVZQmJyTEE&transpose=0&headers=1&range=A1%3AE35&gid=2&pub=1","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"bold":true,"color":"#000","fontSize":16},"vAxes":[{"title":"","useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":"pretty","viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":"pretty","viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"title":"Which of these elected offices do you research before voting?","booleanRole":"certainty","legendTextStyle":{"color":"#222","fontSize":"10"},"animation":{"duration":500},"legend":"right","hAxis":{"title":"Elected office title","useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":null,"textStyle":{"color":"#222","fontSize":"7"},"viewWindow":null,"maxValue":null},"tooltip":{},"isStacked":false,"width":602,"height":280},"state":{},"view":{},"chartType":"ColumnChart","chartName":"Chart 2"} </script><p>Unsurprisingly, President and Vice President come out on top as an office that respondants felt the most informed about. But the numbers dropped sharply for positions like Metropolitan Reclamation Board Commissioner (on Tuesday&#39;s ballot in Cook County) and Ward Committeeman. You can click on the columns above to see exactly what percent of people out of the 1,345 voters say they research specific offices.</p><p>In my last post, I remarked that many people don&#39;t do much research for less-well known offices, like judges. This might be anecdotal, but if this year is any indication, that may be changing: Dan Sinker created <a href="http://www.mobilejudges.com/">mobilejudges.com</a>, which voters can use when they&#39;re in the voting booth, on their smart phones. There have also been a number of other pieces published by varying media outlets to inform voters before it&#39;s too late, like<a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/politics/2012/11/judicial_retention_and_bar_association_ratings.html"> this piece from Craig Newman at the<em> Sun-Time</em>s</a>, or the flyer I got in the mail urging me to retain certain judges, seen below.</p><p>Despite growing amounts of information, it&#39;s hard to tell if this will make much of a difference: On Monday&#39;s&nbsp;<em>Morning Shift</em>, WBEZ listeners learned that the last time a judge was <em>not </em>retained in Cook County was in 1990; in fact, &quot;Virtually all judges are retained with every election,&quot; said Malcolm Rich of the Chicago Council of Lawyers and Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/judges flyer.JPG" style="float: right; height: 402px; width: 300px; " title="A flyer sent out by the Cook County Democratic Party." />What are the top reasons judges aren&#39;t retained? They&#39;re late to the bench, rude, unaccomodating, and &quot;some of the judges simply don&#39;t have knowledge of the law,&quot; Rich said.</p><p>It&#39;s also difficult to tell how much stock we should put into looking at these rankings. Just seeing a YES/NO ranking according to the Judicial Performance Commission of Cook County fails to indicate to us exactly why, according to a bunch of anonymous attorneys, these judges should not get a chance to judge another day. To get a better picture, you can read full written evaluations of each judge according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://voteforjudges.org/State_Judicial_Evaluations_for_November_2012_final.pdf">Chicago Council of Lawyers Evaluation Report</a>. As Rich explains, many judges are not suggested for retention because they&#39;re criticized for being&nbsp;&quot;inflexible&quot;, &quot;hostile&quot; or &quot;imperious.&quot;</p><p>So once we get people researching, what&#39;s the next step? Looking closer at these judicial evalutions, deciding if we can trust them, and figuring out what we can do to make the process even better.</p></p> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 11:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/poll-heading-booth-voters-research-president-and-mayor-not-ward-committeeman-103658 Why don't voters research judges? http://www.wbez.org/news/why-dont-voters-research-judges-103350 <p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ballot%20edit.jpg" style="height: 548px; width: 620px; " title="Judges on the Chicago ballot in the 2010 general election (Flickr/Shawn Calvert)" /></p><table align="left" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="margin-bottom: 15px; width: 310px; "><tbody><tr><td><script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8" src="http://static.polldaddy.com/p/6634617.js"></script><noscript><a href="http://polldaddy.com/poll/6634617/">Which of these elected offices do you research before voting?</a></noscript></td></tr></tbody></table><p>The first time I snuck into the voting booth with my Mom as a kid, the thing I noticed right away was how <em>long </em>we were in there. It seemed to take forever for her to pull all those levers (this was in New York, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/04/nyregion/04machines.html">which had old school voting for a long time</a>). I remember thinking that it really shouldn&rsquo;t be such a drawn out process; after all, weren&rsquo;t we just there to vote for the new Mayor?<br /><br />It wasn&rsquo;t until (what I now view as) embarrassingly late in my education that I realized there was a lot more on that ballot than just the Mayor or the President. In the 2012&nbsp;<a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/ElectionInformation/OfficesUpForElection.aspx?ID=33">Illinois general election</a>, you&rsquo;ve got big ticket offices like President, Congress, State Representative and State Senator. For those races, you&rsquo;ve probably at least heard the name of one person running for office.<br /><br />But what about the down ballot offices, like Regional Superintendent of Schools, Water Reclamation Board, and my personal favorite, Trustee to the Levee and Sanitation District?</p><p><em><strong>A spotlight on judges</strong></em></p><p>The elected spots that most often slip through the cracks are the judges--what can feel like, looking at the ballot, to be hundreds and hundreds of judges.&nbsp;Filling vacancies, retaining judges, all of that has to happen for state supreme court, for appellate court and subcircuit court. Which means that you&rsquo;re not necessarily pitting one person against another; you&rsquo;re voting to see if someone should still be a judge. A <a href="http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=200052">Medill article from earlier this year noted that</a> on a Democratic ballot from 2008 in Cook County, just over 70 percent of voters voted to fill a vacancy in a circuit court judgeship race.</p><p>None of this is news to anyone who has voted. What might be surprising is the prevalence of people, educated and not, who vote without paying attention to these judges--despite how relatively simple it is to figure out who should be reelected.&nbsp;</p><p><em><strong>How to get more information</strong></em><br /><br />The nonpartisan website <a href="http://voteforjudges.org/">VoteforJudges.org</a> is a favorite site of mine, one that I discovered in college when I realized I&rsquo;d have to vote for a lot of positions I hadn&#39;t been forced to pay attention to by newsmedia. Vote for Judges provides links to reports on judges from the Judicial Performance Commission of Cook County, Chicago Bar Association, Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening. The former has fully written evaluations of judges, while the latter organizations rank people along the lines of Qualified and Not-Qualified, Recommended or Not Recommended. The Alliance shows recommendations from organizations like the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago&nbsp;Area (AABA), Black Women&rsquo;s Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago (BWLA) and&nbsp;Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago (LAGBAC), among others.</p><p>Judges are in a position to have a huge impact on the laws that our other elected officials spend a great deal of time pontificating about, but they remain generally nameless to the public at large, except those that end up presiding over high-profile cases. Names that become popular are usually associated with trials like that of former Governor Rod Blagojevich&#39;s (Judge Zagel), or Judge Locallo, the subject of the book <a href="http://books.google.com/books/about/Courtroom_302.html?id=nZJPBxjI270C"><em>Courtroom 302</em></a>.</p><p>But because most people aren&#39;t being inundated with the details of these &quot;races&quot; to retain or fill a judgeship, many don&#39;t know what to do when they get in the voting booth. They also can&#39;t use voting along party lines as a fallback because the judges you see on your ballot all align with your particular party.&nbsp;</p><p>So what do people do when they don&rsquo;t know anything about their judges? Well, in the words of one friend who shared Vote for Judges on Facebook, they stare &ldquo;blankly at the page on Nov 6th.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The bottom line is there is a no one-stop shopping when it comes to finding this information. You have to dig for it,&rdquo; Travis Akin director of the watchdog group Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch told Illinois Watchdog for their piece <a href="http://watchdog.org/59562/il-judicial-elections-require-voters-to-research-and-follow-the-money/">&ldquo;Judicial elections require voters to research and follow the money.&rdquo; </a>&nbsp;&ldquo;And while we challenge people to do their homework, we&rsquo;re very much aware that not a whole lot of people are going to do that before they go to the polls.&rdquo;<br /><br />From mere crowdsourcing I&#39;ve done, a major way the people who vote at all for judges end up voting based simply off of names, via an implied race or sex. If you think more women and minorities should be elected, voting for people with names that appear female or Hispanic is a way to get that to happen (or, if you don&#39;t, to make it stop happening). To elaborate on how this doesn&#39;t help protect the interests of voters would be a big waste of words, so let&#39;s just leave that as a voting tactic that should probably be avoided.</p><p><em><strong>Tell us: do you do research?</strong></em></p><p>Voting for judges proves that in today&#39;s voting economy, though much coverage during elections surrounds whether people vote at all (<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/early-voting-begins-monday-illinois-103290">especially in Chicago</a>), what the media often pays less attention to is what voters are doing when they get in there--besides, of course, votes that occur down party lines for big tickets.</p><p>So we&#39;d like you to tell us: for what races do you do research? Fill out the poll in this post, which includes most everyone you&#39;ll see at one point or another on the ballot in Chicago, per <a href="http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/elections/deo/Documents/CookCountyDirectoryofElectedOfficials2011.pdf">this list by the Cook County Clerk</a>. And for the coming election, you can also look up exactly who (and what &ldquo;Public Questions&rdquo;) will be on your ballot at the <a href="http://www.chicagoelections.com/">Chicago Elections</a> website.</p></p> Wed, 24 Oct 2012 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-dont-voters-research-judges-103350 Illinois justices won’t use recall power for reappointments http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-justices-won%E2%80%99t-use-recall-power-reappointments-91087 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-26/IL Supreme Court_Flickr_Randy von Liski.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Justices on the Illinois Supreme Court say they'll stop using their recall power to reappoint Cook County judges who have lost their elections.</p><p>A court spokesman <a href="http://trib.in/pK7kDb">tells the <em>Chicago Tribune</em></a> that the justices reached that decision privately months ago.</p><p>The <em>Tribune </em>reported Friday that the Supreme Court has reappointed 18 judges to the Cook County Circuit Court bench since 2000 after voters rejected them. Those judges include 13 currently hearing cases.</p><p>The <em>Tribune</em> says the court promised to end the practice nearly 20 years ago but didn't.</p><p>Malcolm Rich is executive director of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, and he pushed to change the practice in 1993. Rich says it isn't authorized by the Illinois Constitution and he's hoping the court follows through this time.</p></p> Fri, 26 Aug 2011 15:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-justices-won%E2%80%99t-use-recall-power-reappointments-91087 Judicial candidate chaos reined in http://www.wbez.org/story/judicial-candidate-chaos-reined-89304 <p><p>A bill Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed aims to limit the chaotic nature of judicial candidate filings in Cook County.</p><p>Under the new law (Senate Bill 1586), candidates for judge will no longer be allowed to file for multiple races. Historically, the dozens of judicial candidates who run for office collect signatures and file in several races – a subcircuit, a countywide district, an appellate seat and so on – and then withdraw from all but one during the final stretch of the filing period.</p><p>The multiple filings allow them to size up their competition before committing to a race. Candidates may, for example, try to avoid a race with a female candidate who has an Irish surname. Studies have shown greater success on the ballot for that sub-group.</p><p>“Running for judge became more of a politically based game than a merit-based game,” Evergreen Park-based elections attorney Burt Odelson said. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The new law forces candidates to take their races more seriously, elections officials said. They will be permitted to file for only two races, and then narrow their decision to one.</p><p>Lawmakers approved the change last month during a special meeting in Springfield to address unfinished budget matters. They approved money for ongoing construction projects and voted on the elections bill.</p><p>The elections measure also caps for the first time signatures General Assembly candidates must collect to appear on the ballot. House of Representative candidates must collect 500 but no more than 1,500 signatures while Senate candidates must collect 1,000 but no more than 3,000.</p><p>The change makes it more difficult for candidates to insulate themselves from a ballot challenge by turning in signatures well above the minimum amount. The new rules will force them to collect signatures from eligible voters in their districts, rather than throwing thousands of “bad” signatures on petition sheets, which become too expensive to challenge.&nbsp;</p><p>Kristen McQueary covers state government for WBEZ and the <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/">Chicago News Cooperative. </a></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 18 Jul 2011 15:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/judicial-candidate-chaos-reined-89304 The Election File Voting Guide: Should I ‘retain’ these judges, or boot them? http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/election-file-voting-guide-should-i-%E2%80%98retain%E2%80%99-these-judges-or-boot-them <p><p><title></title></p><div>Among the long list of elected officials Illinois voters will be asked to select this year are the judges. Yeah &ndash; we know &ndash; many of you skip over this part of the ballot. But there are <a href="http://blogs.vocalo.org/shudzik/2010/02/%E2%80%98the-election-file%E2%80%99-voting-guide-do-i-really-have-to-vote-for-judges/13655" title="http://blogs.vocalo.org/shudzik/2010/02/%E2%80%98the-election-file%E2%80%99-voting-guide-do-i-really-have-to-vote-for-judges/13655">good reasons not to do that</a>.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>First, the basics: you will be asked to elect judges to fill vacancies (although in Cook County, at least, most of those are uncontested races), and you will be asked whether to &ldquo;retain&rdquo; judges already on the bench.</div><p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<img height="225" width="300" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-October/2010-10-25/seal web.jpg" alt="" /></p><div><b>Doing your homework on retention judges</b></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>To keep their jobs, judges need to win 60-percent of the vote on November 2nd. Sixty-eight judges are seeking retention, though the ballot will show you 69. That&rsquo;s because one judge originally planning to seek retention is no longer doing so: Supreme Court Justice Thomas Fitzgerald, <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=44411" title="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=44411">who is retiring</a>.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>So without knowing a whole lot about these judges and their records, how do you decide whether to vote YES or NO on retention? The Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice maintains a website, <a href="http://www.voteforjudges.org/" title="http://www.voteforjudges.org/">VoteForJudges.org</a>, which compiles scorecards put out by various bar associations. Here&rsquo;s a quick rundown of the recommendations for Cook County judges: <br /><blockquote><ul type="disc" style="margin-top: 0in;"><li><a href="http://www.voteforjudges.org/" title="http://www.voteforjudges.org/">Judicial Performance Commission</a>: Recommends all judges be retained, except for Dorothy F. Jones, Jeffrey Lawrence and Susan J. McDunn.</li><li><a href="http://www.chicagobar.org/AM/NavigationMenu/Home/Files/2010NovemberFullBooklet.pdf" title="http://www.chicagobar.org/AM/NavigationMenu/Home/Files/2010NovemberFullBooklet.pdf">Chicago Bar Association</a>: Finds these judges NOT qualified for retention:&nbsp; Dorothy F. Jones, Susan J. McDunn, William D. O&rsquo;Neal, and Jim Ryan.</li><li><a href="http://www.voteforjudges.org/judicial_evaluation_report_for_the_CCL_2010.pdf" title="http://www.voteforjudges.org/judicial_evaluation_report_for_the_CCL_2010.pdf">Chicago Council of Lawyers</a>: Finds the following judges NOT qualified for retention: Laurence J. Dunford, Dorothy F. Jones, Jeffrey Lawrence, Susan J. McDunn, Patrick T. Murphy, William D. O&rsquo;Neal, Jim Ryan and John D. Turner, Jr.</li><li><strong><span style="font-weight: normal;"><a href="http://www.voteforjudges.org/2010_General_Election.pdf" title="http://www.voteforjudges.org/2010_General_Election.pdf">Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening</a>: A combination chart of ratings from eleven bar associations.</span></strong></li></ul></blockquote></div> <div>And the newspapers&rsquo; editorial boards have also weighed-in:&nbsp;<blockquote><ul type="disc" style="margin-top: 0in;"><li><i><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-cookjudges-20101008,0,2374404.story" title="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-cookjudges-20101008,0,2374404.story">Chicago Tribune</a></i>: Endorsed all Cook County judges for retention except for Dorothy F. Jones, Susan J. McDunn, William D. O&rsquo;Neal and Jim Ryan.</li><li><i><a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/elections/endorsements/2818030,CST-EDT-edit20.article" title="http://www.suntimes.com/news/elections/endorsements/2818030,CST-EDT-edit20.article">Chicago Sun-Times</a></i>: Endorsed all Cook judges for retention except for Dorothy F. Jones, Susan J. McDunn and Jim Ryan.</li></ul></blockquote></div><p>On Friday and over the weekend, I called the <a title="http://www.cookcountycourt.org/about/index.html" href="http://www.cookcountycourt.org/about/index.html" mce_href="http://www.cookcountycourt.org/about/index.html">chambers</a> of each judge who got an unfavorable recommendation, and left a&nbsp;message. Calling me back first was Patrick T. Murphy, who received a &quot;not qualified&quot; rating from the Chicago Council of Lawyers. Ironically, &quot;the only bar association I belong to is the Chicago Council of Lawyers,&quot; Murphy told me. &quot;I have enormous respect for them.&quot;</p> <p>The council wrote of Murphy, &quot;Some say that he fails to follow the law, ruling in a way that he believes is correct.&quot; Murphy says he considers the second half of that sentence to be &quot;a great compliment,&quot; and notes that Illinois divorce law allows him the latitude to consider a number of factors when ruling on a case. He says he doesn't understand the poor rating from the council, but thinks it originated with some disgruntled divorce attorneys.</p><p><b> </b></p> <p><b>UPDATE:</b> Likewise, Judge Laurence Dunford blames his &quot;not qualified&quot; rating from the Chicago Council of Lawyers on lawyers who didn't get their way. Dunford says he has a &quot;difficult&quot; assignment as a supervising judge that requires him to move cases along quickly. &quot;Lawyers sometimes allow cases to be put on the back-burner and don&rsquo;t like it when a judge calls them task.&quot; He guesses the attorneys who complained about him&nbsp; &quot;were upset because I did not give them what they wanted. I don&rsquo;t know. But my obligation is to have cases go to trial&hellip;and sometimes that creates conflicts with lawyers.&quot;</p><p><strong>All judges likely to keep their jobs</strong></p><p>Worth noting: despite the efforts of the bar associations to defeat judges they say are unfit for the bench, sitting judges rarely lose. Here is the Appleseed Fund for Justice&rsquo;s Malcolm Rich:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div>&ldquo;Since the 1960s, there have been 14 judges that have not been retained in Cook County. So in general, judges are always &ndash; or nearly always &ndash; retained. Because in Cook County while there have been 14 that have not been retained throughout the history of our retention process, there have been no judges that have been not retained since 1990.&rdquo;</div></blockquote> <div><b>A political action committee, of sorts, for judges</b></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>And at least one group wants to keep that streak alive. Every judge seeking retention in Cook County has the support <span style="color: navy;">of </span>the <a href="http://www.cookcountyjudges.com/index.html" title="http://www.cookcountyjudges.com/index.html">Committee for Retention of Judges in Cook County</a>. Of course, the very purpose of the group is to retain these judges, and those up for retention have (nearly) all contributed $1000 to it this year. So bragging about that endorsement is a bit like Pat Quinn boasting that he has the complete support of the group Taxpayers for Quinn.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;"><img height="200" width="138" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-October/2010-10-25/edwashington.jpg" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Judge Ed Washington II chairs the public relations committee of the judge&rsquo;s committee. Here he is explaining why Cook County voters should retain all the judges on the ballot this year:</div> <blockquote><div>&quot;We seek the voters out there to retain all the judges because we look at the tested and collective experience of all these judges. And we feel that we have been committed to doing a good job. The circuit court of Cook County takes about 2.4-million filings a year. And the judges that are up for retention have been doing that job for at least one term, if not some of them two or three six-year terms. And we&rsquo;ve been evaluated by a lot of groups, we make decisions that are very important and we&rsquo;re dedicated to our work. And in order to have an independent and fair and impartial judiciary, we need the people&rsquo;s support.&quot;</div></blockquote> <div>I pointed out to Washington that not all of those groups that have evaluated Cook County&rsquo;s judges have found them all to be good enough to keep on the job. I asked him why voters should listen to a group funded in part by the judges themselves, instead of the bar associations.</div> <blockquote><div>&ldquo;I think people should check out a number of sources &ndash; and whatever sources that they are comfortable with - in making their decision to vote on judges. I don&rsquo;t advocate that you don&rsquo;t look and make your own informed decision. But if you consider the type of work we do, the number of cases that we have and how the courts have functioned over time, there&rsquo;s no way you&rsquo;re going to have an independent judiciary with integrity and they&rsquo;re not going to be some decisions at some point that either some people or some entities or organizations disagree with.&rdquo;</div></blockquote><div>Washington&rsquo;s group is funded, as I mentioned, by the judges themselves. But it also accepts outside donations, the majority of which come from lawyers and law firms. Washington denies that presents any conflict of interest. (Others, like the <a href="http://www.ilcampaign.org/issues/public-financing" title="http://www.ilcampaign.org/issues/public-financing">Illinois Campaign for <span style="color: windowtext; text-decoration: none;"><span title="http://www.ilcampaign.org/issues/public-financing">Political</span></span> Reform</a>, disagree, and call for public funding of judicial elections.)</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Elections contests that aren&rsquo;t (for the most part) contested</b></div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div>In addition to judges seeking to be retained, voters will be asked about judges looking to be elected for the first time, and those going for a promotion. Across Cook County, there are 24 of these judges running in the general election. All but one is uncontested, because the GOP and Green Party basically sit out these elections. The exception is a circuit court vacancy, in which Maureen Masterson Pulia, a Republican, is running against Democrat Daniel J. Gallagher. Most bar associations find both candidates to be qualified, though the <i><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-cookjudges-20101008,0,2374404.story" title="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-cookjudges-20101008,0,2374404.story">Tribune<span title="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-cookjudges-20101008,0,2374404.story"><span style="font-style: normal;"> favors Gallagher</span></span></a></i>.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div style="text-align: center;"><img height="210" width="150" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-October/2010-10-25/Pucinskiweb.jpg" alt="" title="" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The other 23 races were, in essence, decided back in February. Take, for example, former Cook County Clerk of Court Aurelia Pucinski, who&rsquo;s been a judge since 2004. She wanted to move up the ladder, and in February won the Democratic nomination for an appellate court vacancy. Pucincki was not the favorite candidate of most bar groups. The Chicago Bar association, in its primary election scorecard, wrote, &ldquo;Judge Pucinski is well regarded for her diligence and work ethic, but lacks the depth and breadth of legal knowledge to serve as an Appellate Court Justice.&rdquo; Nonetheless, Pucinski &ndash; who&rsquo;s the daughter of the late Congressman Roman Pucinski &ndash; won the five-person primary. And with no Republican or Green Party nominee seeking the seat on the November ballot, Pucinski&rsquo;s going to win. Once again, Marlcolm Rich:</div> <blockquote><div>&ldquo;There is very little [for a voter] to do. Judge Pucinski will be elected to the Illinois Appellate Court because of the system that we have. And we only hope that she can become a better appellate justice than the bar groups think that she will be. But the bottom line is that in all these uncontested races &ndash; judicial races &ndash; those judges that you see, qualified or not qualified, will become judges.&rdquo;</div></blockquote> <div>For her part, Pucinksi insists she's ready for the promotion.</div><blockquote><div>&quot;In those reports from the bar groups, they all complimented my work ethic, and gave me high praise for my work ethic - everyone knows that I am a hard worker - and for knowing the law. So I am confident that I can do the job. I look forward to it. I like the give-and-take of trial work, but I like the brainiac part - the research and writing part of it - too. And I am very excited about the opportunity to serve this community at the appellate court.&quot;</div></blockquote><div>And even though she doesn't have a general election opponent, Pucinski says she's still been out campaigning. 'I've been pretty aggressive in this campaign for someone who doesn't have opposition, because I want people to know that I'm really, sincerely, asking for their vote.&quot;</div></p> Tue, 26 Oct 2010 18:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/election-file-voting-guide-should-i-%E2%80%98retain%E2%80%99-these-judges-or-boot-them Nearly 70 Judges Seek Retention in Cook County http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-appleseed-fund-justice/retention-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2010-October/2010-10-25/seal web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Voters next week in Illinois will be asked whether they want to re-hire a bunch of judges, including 68 in Cook County.</p><p>After a judge is first elected, he or she never again has to face an opponent.</p><p>&quot;At the end of each term, a judge has to run essentially against himself or herself,&quot; says Malcolm Rich with the <a href="http://www.chicagoappleseed.org/">Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice</a>, which tries to educate voters about judicial elections. He explains they are often as simple as, &quot;Shall Judge X be retained as a judge?&quot;<br /><br />Judges need 60-percent approval from voters to stay on the bench. In Cook County they almost always get it. According to Rich, &quot;There have been no judges that have not been retained since 1990.&quot;<br /><br />Judge Ed Washington wants that streak to continue. He is on <a href="http://www.cookcountyjudges.com/index.html">a committee</a> - funded mostly by lawyers, law firms and the judges themselves - that's trying to retain all Cook County judges. Washington says they're all experienced, and cautions voters, &quot;You don't want to make an error - if you will - as an electorate - and get rid of a good judge just based on a single issue.&quot;<br /><br /><a href="http://www.voteforjudges.org/">Lawyers groups</a>, though, say there are a handful of bad judges, and are asking voters to remove them from the bench.</p></p> Tue, 26 Oct 2010 17:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-appleseed-fund-justice/retention-0