Sunday, October 26, 2014

BENCHED: Bar Associations Rate Judges On The Ballot

Separating the wheat from the chaff.
Image: Parris Blog
With early voting underway, we though we would pass along some information to consider when you come to the frequently-skipped judicial retention section of the ballot.

No Cook County judge has lost a retention vote since 1990.

Not even Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Brim. She was retained by voters in 2012 just seven months after she shoved a sheriff's deputy in a Cook County courthouse. (She was found not guilty in that case by reason of insanity.)

A CWB reader dropped us an email on Saturday:
Every election year, there are judges up for election and retention. Ten different bar associations get together and poll their members about issues with each judge so they can either be recommended or not.
The way retention works is that judges only need 60% yes votes. Leaving the ballot blank is the same as a yes. With people uneducated on this, they go to the voting booth and either vote yes for everyone or leave it blank because they don't know how to vote.
Because of this system, bad judges never get kicked off the bench. The ballot can be daunting because it's so long. All people really need to do is find the few really bad ones and vote no.
You can review the entire list of judicial ratings from all 10 bar associations HERE.

To save you some time, though, we've compiled a list of judges and candidates who received at least one "not recommended," "not qualified," or "do not retain" rating.

You are allowed to take this list into the voting booth.

Sitting judges who received "do not retain" recommendations from at least one bar association:

  • Themis N. Karnezis
  • James L. Rhodes
  • Sheila McGinnis
  • Dennis Michael McGuire
  • Laura Marie Sullivan
  • Joan Powell
  • Pamela Elizabeth Loza
  • Annie O’Donnell

Candidates for judicial vacancies who received at least one grade of "Not Qualified" or "Not Recommended" from local bar associations.

  • Kristal Rivers
  • Patricia O’Brien Sheahan
  • Diana Rosario
  • Steven G. Watkins
  • Terrence J. McGuire
  • John J. Mahoney
  • Judy Rice
  • James Paul Pieczonka

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  1. Thank you SO much for this list! And for ALL you do and provide!

  2. This is a great list. But I have a tendency to vote against all sitting judges just in case the bar associations missed anyone.

  3. Darn. I early voted on Saturday. I wish I had this list.

    This is the first time I early voted. In the past I've always used the Trib's suggestions of who to retain and who to vote Against.

  4. Have somebody write the list on your forearm and wear a long-sleeved shirt to the polls!

    1. You could write it on paper, too. Lists are allowed in the booth.

      Unless you want to go the other route. That's fine, too.

    2. i voted by absentee ballot and took the time to say "no" to all of them. it took a while to attach all the arrows but it was worth it to me.

  5. any chance you could repost this in advance of tomorrow's voting, to give visibility to this important list? great work, as always.

  6. Why don't you ask for police input? Anne O'Donnell is a friend to police, and a harsh judge to criminals. Also I strongly suggest voting AGAINST former gang lawyer rikvin-Carothers, she has never met a criminal who didn't deserve to be let go....

    1. If the FOP or another recognized police organization published a judicial voter's guide, we'd HAPPILY link to it and do a write up.

  7. Replies
    1. Thank you for considering it. We always skipped the judge section, only now learning that doing so simply helps bad judges get on and stay on the bench.

  8. FYI, Anita Rivkin Carrothers is the Gangster Disciple's girl in the courts. You also recognize her last name, she married in the the Carrothers family of indicted Alderman and incompetent, disgraced merit promoted police commander.