Updated: In one of two contested judicial races, Republican attorney leads sitting Cook County judge by about 1,200 votes

By Bethany Krajelis | Nov 5, 2014

As the vast majority of the 100 or so judicial races in Cook County were uncontested or seeking retention, this year's General Election didn’t bring many surprises.

The only two contested judicial races were for the 4th and 12th subcircuits, the latter of which may have produced the closest thing to a shock for Cook County voters and courtwatchers as  unofficial results show a Republican who didn't receive favorable bar group ratings is leading a Democrat who had been appointed to the bench four years earlier.

In the race for the 12th Subcircuit, Republican attorney James Paul Pieczonka received 46,603 votes (50.69 percent) compared to Democrat James L. Kaplan, a currently sitting judge who garnered 45,338 votes (49.31 percent), according to unofficial election results from the Cook County Clerk’s Office last updated Nov. 12

As of 10:25 a.m. Thursday, results show Pieczonka now has 45,739 votes (51.03 percent) and is still leading over Kaplan, who now has 43,885 votes (48.97 percent). The clerk's website says all of the precincts are reporting, but absentee and provisional ballots are still be counted. Election results don't have to be certified to the state board until Dec. 5.

Pieczonka was rated "Not Qualified" and "Not Recommended" in judicial evaluations from the Illinois State Bar Association and Chicago Bar Association, respectively. Kaplan received "Qualified" ratings from both groups.

They are vying to fill the vacancy created by the 2012 death of Judge Edward R. Jordan in the 12th Subcircuit, which is comprised of the county’s far north suburbs including Elk Grove, Northfield, Wheeling, Maine and New Trier.

The only other Cook County contested judicial race in the General Election was in the 4th Subcircuit and it was not nearly as close.

Unofficial county election results show Democrat John J. Mahoney, an assistant Cook County state’s attorney, received 40,904 votes (58.83 percent) to beat his Republican challenger, attorney Ian Brenson, who got 28,628 votes (41.17 percent).

The 4th Subcircuit includes portions of several southwest and west suburbs, including Oak Lawn, Palos Heights, Brookfield, Melrose Park and Northlake, among others. The election was held to fill the vacancy created by the 2012 retirement of Judge Richard J. Billik Jr.

And as expected, it appears all of the nearly two dozen candidates who ran unopposed in the Nov. 4 election secured their positions on the Cook County Circuit Court, as well as three spots on the First District Appellate Court, according to results from the county clerk’s office and unofficial results from the city’s Board of Election Commissioners.

In addition, the results show that dozens of judges who sought retention to either the Chicago-based circuit or appeals courts received more than the 60 percent “yes” votes needed to hold on to their black robes and gavels for anothe­r term.

Editor's Note: This story was updated Nov. 12 to provide the latest updated results in the 12th Subcircuit race.

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