Bethany Krajelis Apr. 29, 2014, 4:35pm

Cook County’s circuit judges have selected 13 new associates judges, one of whom secured enough votes to win as write-in candidate, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts announced today.

In a letter sent today, AOIC Director Michael Tardy gave Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans the thumbs up to prepare an order appointing the 13 --three currently sitting judges and 10 attorneys-- to the position of associate judge pursuant to the results of the recent election.

The newly-selected associate judges are: Gregory Emmett Ahern Jr.; Shauna Louise Boliker; Karen J. Bowes; Matthew James Carmody; James Robert Carroll; Melissa Ann Durkin; Michael James Hood; Kevin Thomas Lee; Alfredo Maldonado; Michael Francis Otto; Linda Johanna Pauel; Steven Jay Rosenblum; and Peter John Vilkelis.

Vilkelis is one of the three sitting judges and the write-in candidate who scored enough votes from his fellow circuit judges to win one of the 13 available associate judgeships even though his name didn't appear on the list of 26 finalists.

Appointed to the bench in 2011, Vilkelis lost his bid to fill a countywide seat (Maureen Connors vacancy) in the primary election to Kristal Rivers, an assistant attorney general who was slated by the Cook County Democratic Party.

He is currently assigned to the Child Protection Division of the Juvenile Court and did not immediately return a phone call today seeking comment about his success as a write-in candidate, which appears to be a rather rare feat in Cook County.

Evans in March certified the names of 26 finalists for the 13 judgeships to the AOIC, which sent out secret ballots to 257 circuit judges and tallied the votes up following the ballots' Friday due date.

The list of finalists, according to the AOIC's news release, had been narrowed down from a total of 277 applicants, many of whom were interviewed by an 11-member nominating committee that included the chief judge.

Besides Vilkelis, biographies provided by the AOIC in its news release show that two other sitting judges -- Gregory Emmett Ahern Jr. and Michael Francis Otto-- received enough votes in the election to be secure appointments as associate judges.

Otto, like Vilkelis, failed to garner enough support in the March primary to win a countywide seat (Lee Preston vacancy). Appointed to the court in 2012, Otto lost the race to Northfield attorney Abbey Fishman Romanek.

Ahern, who was appointed a judge in 2012, did not run in the primary election, even though it appears he had plans to at one point given the existence of an “Ahern for Judge” website that sought support in 2014 Democratic primary.

The other 10 soon-to-be associate judges will join the bench from a variety of legal positions, the majority of which are for state or county agencies.

According to the AOIC, Boilker and Rosenblum are currently affiliated with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office; Durkin works at the Chicago Transit Authority; Hood at the Illinois Department of Collections; Pauel practices with the City of Chicago Law Department; and Maldonado works at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office.

In addition, the AOIC release shows that Bowes and Carmody are currently in private practice; Carroll practices at Much Shelist P.C.; and Lee works at Greene and Letts.

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