A judicial scorecard released this month in advance of the Tuesday, March 15, primary indicates Cook County voters have a number of highly qualified candidates seeking a seat on the bench in the county’s courtrooms.
However, the report released by the Illinois Civil Justice League does not square entirely with recommendations promulgated by the state bar association.
“We are pleased to report that voters, particularly in Cook County, will have the opportunity to vote for a number of candidates who will bring a high level of knowledge and experience to the bench,” said ICJL president John Pastuovic.
In all, the ICJL delivered grades of either “recommended” or “highly recommended” to 18 judicial candidates – all Democrats - on the March 15 ballot. Potential grades also included “not recommended” or “no position.”
The ICJL said its report and rankings are based on a combination of answers to questionnaires submitted to all judicial candidates, as well as “judicial and career records, media accounts, bar ratings, campaign contributions and other sources of information about each judge and judicial candidate to establish individual ratings.”
The rankings come as part of the ICJL's initiative titled, "Judges: Good and Bad - You Can't Afford to be Indifferent," available at illinoisjudges.net.
Under the ICJL criteria, “no position” grades are given to candidates who either don’t return ICJL questionnaires or “their candidacy left the ICJL insufficient information to assign a rating,” the report said.
Cook County judicial candidates earning “highly recommended” rankings included:
Rossana Patricia Fernandez, seeking election to replace Judge Richard J. Elrod;
Alison Conlon, seeking to replace Judge Thomas L. Hogan;
Carolyn Gallagher, seeking to replace Judge Marilyn F. Johnson;
Devlin Schoop, seeking to replace Judge Themis N. Karnezis;
Daniel Patrick Duffy, seeking to replace Judge Susan Ruscitti Grussel; and
Rick Cenar, seeking to replace Judge Garritt E. Howard in the county’s 10th Judicial Subcircuit.
The full list of ICJL Cook County judicial candidate recommendations include:
For Cook County Circuit Judge
Biebel Vacancy: Fitzgerald Lyke (D) – Recommended
Elrod Vacancy: Rossana Patricia Fernandez (D) – Highly Recommended
Hogan Vacancy: Alison Conlon (D) – Highly Recommended
Johnson Vacancy: Carolyn Gallagher (D) – Highly Recommended
Karnezis Vacancy: Devlin Schoop (D) – Highly Recommended
O’Brien Vacancy: Maureen O’Donoghue Hannon (D) – Recommended
Palmer Vacancy: Pat Heneghan (D) – Recommended
Ruscitti Grussel Vacancy: Daniel Patrick Duffy (D) – Highly Recommended
Walsh Vacancy: Frederick Bates (D) – Recommended
Walsh Vacancy: Patrick Powers (D) – Recommended
For Cook County Subcircuit Judge
Brim Vacancy – 1st Subcircuit: Maryam Ahmad (D) – Recommended
Savage Vacancy – 2nd Subcircuit: Chelsey Robinson (D) – Recommended
Eadie-Daniels Vacancy – 5th Subcircuit: Leonard Murray (D) – Recommended
Santiago Vacancy – 6th Subcircuit: Richard Cooke (D) – No Position
Rivkin-Carothers Vacancy – 7th Subcircuit: Rose Silva (D) – Recommended
Rivkin-Carothers Vacancy – 7th Subcircuit: Mable Taylor (D) – Recommended
Howard Vacancy – 10th Subcircuit: Colleen Reardon Daly (D) – Recommended
Howard Vacancy – 10th Subcircuit: Rick Cenar (D) – Highly Recommended
Kazmierski Vacancy – 12th Subcircuit: Louis Apostol (D) – Recommended
The ICJL’s rankings differed for some candidates from those published earlier by the Illinois State Bar Association.
In the county’s 2nd Judicial Subcircuit, ISBA found candidate Chelsey Robinson as “not qualified,” saying some reviewers found the legal advisor to the Judge Mathis television program to lack “more recent and complex courtroom litigation” experience. The ICJL, however, included Robinson among those it recommended for election.
ISBA also declined to recommend candidate Mable Taylor in the county’s 7th Judicial Subcircuit, saying Taylor declined to participate in ISBA’s review process, earning her an automatic “not recommended” rating from the state bar. The ICJL, however, recommended Taylor.
According to evaluations posted to the ISBA website, other candidates receiving grades of “not recommended” or “not qualified” from ISBA included:
Gregory Raymond LaPapa; Bonnie Carol McGrath; Brian J. O’Hara; Monica M. Torres-Linares; Rhonda Crawford; D. Renee Jackson; Jameika Mangum; Daryl Jones; Carlos Claudio; Christopher J. Stuart; Jennifer Ballard; Thomas Peter Kougias; James DiChristofano; Thomas William Flannigan; Janet Cronin Mahoney; Adam Scott Mathein; Alex Kaplan; Kevin Michael O’Donnell; and Matthew Link.