3 Bar Associations Rank Cook County Circuit Court Judge Candidates

Next month, voters will be tasked with electing Cook County Circuit Judges in addition to casting a ballot in the general election, including the heated gubernatorial race.

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Why is this important? Judges make decisions on topics that affect people’s daily lives, including education, health care, housing, employment, discrimination and civil rights.

“Judges have an enormous amount of power. Think about the types of cases they preside over,” said Gerry Saltarelli, who chaired the judicial evaluation committee of the Chicago Bar Association. “They make decisions that are very important. They should be good people and voters should exercise some intelligence when voting.”

There are 61 judges running for retention, including one for the Illinois Supreme Court and one for the Illinois Appellate Court. Judges who are elected to the Cook County Circuit court have to stand for retention every six years.

In order to be retained, a judge must receive at least 60 percent of the vote. If a judge does not receive 60 percent of the vote he or she will be out of a position, said Saltarelli. “Although, I don’t know if that’s ever happened.”

To help voters navigate the options, the Chicago Bar Association, Chicago Council of Lawyers and Illinois State Bar Association have evaluated whether sitting judges seeking retention within Cook County should remain in his or her present office. All of those judges received unanimous support from the bar associations except for the following circuit court judges:

  • Kathy M. Flanagan
  • James M. Vargas
  • Maura Slattery Boyle
  • Matthew E. Coghlan
  • Andrea M. Schleifer
  • Lionel Jean-Baptiste
  • Lisa Ann Marino

The three bar associations have also screened and ranked each of the 44 judicial candidates. Those who receive the most votes in their respective races will be elected. 

The Chicago Bar Association evaluated judges based on integrity, legal knowledge, legal ability, professional experience, judicial temperament, diligence, punctuality and health factors. Candidates were ranked as “highly qualified,” “qualified,” or “not recommended.”

The Chicago Council of Lawyers evaluated a candidate’s ability to serve on the relevant court in the following categories: fairness (including sensitivity to diversity and bias), legal knowledge and skills (competence), integrity, experience, diligence, impartiality, judicial temperament, respect for the rule of law, independence from political and institutional influences, professional conduct, character and community service.   

Based on CCL evaluations, candidates were rated as “qualified,” “well qualified,” “highly qualified” and “not qualified.” Candidates who did not participate in the evaluation process were rated as “not recommended.”

The Illinois State Bar Association conducted a detailed background investigation and an in-person interview of each candidate. Candidates were rated “qualified,” “highly qualified” or “not qualified.”

(Get a printer-friendly version of the list here.)

Note: Some judges received mixed ratings. Not all judges who are running are listed.

Ranked ‘Not Qualified’ or ‘Not Recommended’ ...

... by all three bar associations:

  • Shannon P. O'Malley – 13th Subcircuit, Lawrence vacancy
  • Beatriz A. Frausto-Sandoval – 14th Subcircuit, Garcia vacancy

... by any of the three bar associations:

  • Peter Michael Gonzalez – Cook County Circuit Court, McGinnis vacancy
  • Arthur Wesley Willis – 2nd Subcircuit, Turner vacancy 
  • Marian Emily Perkins – 5th Subcircuit, Jones vacancy
  • Linda Perez – 6th Subcircuit, Cepero vacancy
  • Daniel Patrick Fitzgerald – 13th Subcircuit, Lawrence vacancy
  • Christine Svenson – 13th Subcircuit, O'Donnell vacancy
  • Karla Marie Fiaoni – 15th Subcircuit, Zelezinski vacancy

Ranked ‘Qualified’ or higher by all three bar associations:  

  • Kathryn Maloney Vahey – Cook County Circuit Court, Brewer vacancy
  • Kathleen Theresa Lanahan – Cook County Circuit Court, Clay vacancy
  • Tom Sam Sianis – Cook County Circuit Court, Dooling vacancy
  • Rosa Maria Silva– Cook County Circuit Court, Egan vacancy
  • Thomas F. McGuire – Cook County Circuit Court, Dunford vacancy
  • Preston Jones Jr. – Cook County Circuit Court, Flanagan vacancy
  • Cecilia Anne Horan – Cook County Circuit Court, Hartigan vacancy
  • Clare Quish – Cook County Circuit Court, Jordan vacancy
  • John Joseph "Jack" Hagerty – Cook County Circuit Court, Rooney vacancy
  • Erika Orr – 1st Subcircuit, Hambright, Jr. vacancy
  • Tiana Ellis Blakely – 2nd Subcircuit, Lampkin vacancy
  • Adrienne Elaine Davis – 2nd Subcircuit, Laws vacancy
  • Toya T. Harvey – 2nd Subcircuit, Rhodes vacancy
  • Ieshia Gray – 2nd Subcircuit, Turner Jr. vacancy
  • Debra A. Seaton – 2nd Subcircuit, Willis vacancy
  • Kevin Patrick Cunningham – 3rd Subcircuit, Delehanty vacancy
  • David R. Navarro – 4th Subcircuit, Davy vacancy
  • Elizabeth Ciaccia-Lezza – 4th Subcircuit, Riley vacancy
  • H. Yvonne Coleman – 5th Subcircuit, Banks vacancy
  • Robert Harris – 5th Subcircuit, Washington, II vacancy
  • Kent Delgado – 6th Subcircuit, Chevere vacancy
  • Andrea Michelle Webber – 6th Subcircuit, Cooke vacancy
  • James "Jamie" Shapiro – 8th Subcircuit, Fabri vacancy
  • Lindsay Huge – 8th Subcircuit, Liu vacancy
  • Jeanne Marie Wrenn – 8th Subcircuit, Pethers vacancy
  • Stephanie Saltouros – 10th Subcircuit, O'Neill Burke vacancy
  • Colleen Reardon Daly – 10th Subcircuit, Suriano vacancy
  • Joanne F. Rosado – 11th Subcircuit, Kennedy vacancy
  • David Studenroth – 12th Subcircuit, Maki vacancy
  • Joel Chupack – 12th Subcircuit, Maki vacancy
  • Gary W. Seyring – 13th Subcircuit, Crane vacancy
  • Ketki "Kay" Steffen – 13th Subcircuit, Crane vacancy
  • Samuel J. Betar III – 13th Subcircuit, O'Donnell vacancy
  • Michael B. Barrett – 15th Subcircuit, Scully Jr. vacancy
  • Scott McKenna – 15th Subcircuit, Zelezinski vacancy

​Note: This story was first published Oct. 15, 2018. It has been updated.

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