Theis announces open application process for two at-large vacancies, an apparent first in Cook County

By Bethany Krajelis | Oct 28, 2014

In what is believed to mark the first time in Cook County, attorneys interested in being considered for two countywide seats behind the bench can apply.

Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis announced today she will use an open application process for a pair of at-large vacancies on the Cook County Circuit Court that will be filled by appointment following her recommendation to the high court.

Theis uses this process to make recommendations for county subcircuit seats, but a news release from the high court says“[i]t is believed to be the first time an open application process has been used in the Supreme Court appointment for at-large judicial vacancies in Cook County.”

Typically, when there is a vacancy on the Cook County bench, one of the three Supreme Court justices based here in Chicago make a recommendation to his or her colleagues that results in an appointment.

This time, however, Theis will make her recommendation to the Supreme Court after the open application process, which will require applicants to “undergo a thorough screening and evaluation process,” according to the court’s release.

The deadline to submit applications is Nov. 24; the same deadline Theis gave today in announcing she is also accepting applications for vacancy in the 11th Judicial Subcircuit.

Applicants for the at-large and subcircuit vacancies must be attorneys in good standing and licensed to practice in Illinois. Those applying for the countywide seats must be Cook County residents and those applying for the subcircuit vacancy must live in the 11th Judicial subcircuit.

All applicants will be evaluated by the Chicago Bar Association and the Alliance of Bar Associations –the 11 bar groups in Cook County -- before facing further review from a special screening committee co-chaired by retired judges Wayne R. Andersen and Michael J. Gallagher, of Chicago’s federal court and the state’s appellate court, respectively.

The at-large vacancies were created by the April death of Circuit Judge Richard J. Elrod and the upcoming retirement of Circuit Judge Thomas Hogan. The subcircuit vacancy was created by the September retirement of Circuit Judge Susan F. Zwick.

The attorneys appointed to fill these three vacancies will serve until Dec. 5, 2016, when the seats will be filled by the winners of the November 2016 election.

More information on the application process can be found in the “Latest News” scroll on the Supreme Court’s website, where applications can be requested.

Applications may be submitted by mail to: Supreme Court of Illinois, Attention: Ms. Laurie Marino, 160 N. LaSalle Street, Suite N2013, Chicago, IL 60601. They also can be submitted electronically to

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