Cook County voters select candidates for 11 circuit judge vacancies, 16 judicial subcircuit bench posts

By Jonathan Bilyk | Mar 16, 2016

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the winners of the Democratic nomination in the Seventh Judicial Subcircuit and the Republican nomination in the 12th Subcircuit. In fact, Patricia Spratt won the Democratic nomination in the Seventh Subcircuit and Steven Kozicki won the Republican nomination in the 12th. 

Cook County voters began the process of electing permanent replacements for 11 departed circuit judges and 16 judges assigned to 10 of Cook County’s judicial subcircuits, casting ballots in the county’s primary election on Tuesday, March 15.

The elections were to fill vacancies left in the county’s judiciary following the departure of various judges in the Cook County Circuit Court, or to empanel judges in newly created judicial posts.

All election results were unofficial tallies posted March 15 by the Cook County Clerk’s Office and the Chicago Board of Elections.

On the Democratic ballot, running uncontested were: John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., to fill the vacancy of Circuit Judge Paul P. Biebel Jr.; Brendan A. O’Brien, the vacancy of Circuit Judge Noreen Valeria Love; and Maureen O’Donoghue Hannon, the vacancy of Circuit Judge Patrick W. O’Brien.

In contested Democratic balloting, Rossana Patricia Fernandez topped Scott Edward Lipinski in the race to replace Circuit Judge Richard J. Elrod. Fernandez, who was appointed to replace Elrod last year, pending the next election, received 560,403 votes to Lipinski’s 278,427. Fernandez, a former personal injury lawyer, had received a “highly recommended” grade from the Illinois Civil Justice League and was rated as “qualified” by the Illinois State Bar Association.

In the race to fill the vacancy of Circuit Judge Thomas L. Hogan, Allison C. Conlon defeated Michael I. O’Malley. Conlon, a former partner at the firms of Wildman Harrold and Barnes & Thornburg, who was appointed to replace Hogan in 2015, pending the next election, received 454,915 votes to 387,218 for O’Malley. The ICJL gave Conlon a “highly recommended” designation, while she was considered “qualified” by ISBA.

In the contest to replace Circuit Judge Michael J. Howlett Jr., Aleksandra “Alex” Gillespie bested Thomas Maloney Cushing, receiving 526,804 votes to 290,106 for Cushing. Gillespie, a former First Chair prosecutor with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, has served as an appointed judge since 2014. Gillespie was found to be “qualified” by ISBA.

To replace Circuit Judge Marilyn F. Johnson, voters selected Carolyn J. Gallagher, giving her 285,462 votes compared to 166,676 votes awarded to second-place finisher Mark A. Lyon. Candidates Bonnie Carol McGrath, Sean S. Chaudhuri and Gregory Raymond LaPapa finished third-fifth, respectively. Gallagher, who practices law in a commercial, real estate and appellate litigation solo practice, was “highly recommended” by the ICJL and was rated “qualified” by ISBA.

In the contest to replace Circuit Judge Themis N. Karnezis, Mary Kathleen McHugh defeated opponents Devlin School and Brian J. O’Hara. McHugh, a partner at the firm of Parrillo Weiss LLC, specializing in personal injury and subrogation, according to ISBA, secured 400,535 votes, vs. 268,019 votes given to Schoop, who had served as an appointed judge in that post since August 2015. Schoop had received a grade of “highly recommended” from the ICJL. Both McHugh and Schoop were considered qualified by ISBA.

In the race to fill the vacancy of Circuit Judge Stuart Palmer, Susana L. Ortiz, staff attorney at the Kent College of Law Legal Clinic, edged opponents Pat Heneghan and Deidre Baumann. Ortiz won 393,404 votes, while Heneghan amassed 306,753, and Baumann, 133,130. Heneghan, an equity partner at the firm of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, had garnered a grade of “highly qualified” from ISBA and was recommended by the ICJL. Ortiz was rated “qualified” by ISBA.

In the contest to replace Circuit Judge Susan Ruscitti Grussel, Daniel Patrick Duffy, who had served as judge since he was appointed to the bench in 2014, defeated challengers Monica M. Torres-Linares and William S. Wojcik. Duffy secured 350,642 votes, compared to 287,135 for Torres-Linares. Wojcik collected 111,857 votes. Duffy was “highly recommended” by the ICJL, and was considered “qualified” by ISBA.

And, in the race to replace Circuit Judge Richard F. Walsh, Patrick Joseph Powers defeated opponent Frederick Bates, winning 424,625 votes to 379,036 for Bates. Powers is a sole practitioner who specializes in domestic relations, real estate and criminal defense, according to ISBA. Bates, who also has experience as an administrative law judge and as chair of the Illinois Civil Service Commission, had served as a judge since he was appointed to the Cook County bench in 2015. Both Powers and Bates were recommended by the ICJL and were considered “qualified” by ISBA.

In Cook County’s judicial subcircuits, winners of contested races included: In the First Subcircuit, Jesse Outlaw and Rhonda Crawford; in the Second Subcircuit, D. Renee Jackson; in the Seventh Subcircuit, Patricia "Pat" Spratt; in the Ninth Subcircuit, Jerry Esrig; in the 10th Subcircuit, Eve Marie Reilly; in the 11th Subcircuit, Catherine Ann Schneider; and in the 12th Subcircuit, Marguerite Anne Quinn, Janet Cronin Mahoney and James Edward Hanlon Jr.

Those running uncontested in the March 15 Democratic primary for judicial subcircuits included: In the Fourth Subcircuit, Edward J. King; in the Seventh Subcircuit, Marianne Jackson; in the 11th Subcircuit, William B. Sullivan; and in the 14th Subcircuit, Matthew Link.

On the Republican side, the party fielded no candidates for the circuit judge vacancies.

However, voters in the 12th Judicial Subcircuit selected Steven Kozicki, and voters in the 13th Subcircuit chose Kevin Michael O’Donnell to advance to the November general election. Running uncontested in the 12th Subcircuit were Thomas William Flannigan, James Leonard Allegretti and David Studenroth.

Republicans fielded candidates in no other judicial subcircuit races.

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