Cook County Circuit Court Judge Candidates Ranked by 3 Bar Associations

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Beyond voting for the next president and weighing in on whether the state should move to a graduated income tax, voters will soon be tasked with electing Cook County Circuit Court judges. 

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

More voter resources: 2020 Voter Guide to the General Election

To help voters navigate the options, the Chicago Bar Association, Chicago Council of Lawyers and Illinois State Bar Association have screened and ranked candidates based on their qualifications. 

Judicial retention

Judges who are elected to the Cook County Circuit Court have to stand for retention every six years and must receive at least 60% of the vote to be retained. All of the 62 judges seeking retention within Cook County received unanimous support from the bar associations except for the following circuit court judges:

— Patricia Manila Martin (whose name appears on the ballot even though she’s not seeking retention)
— Mauricio Araujo
— Jackie Marie Portman-Brown
— John J. Mahoney
— Diana Rosario

Judicial candidates

The three bar associations also screened and ranked each of the 39 judicial candidates. Find out how they evaluated the judges, below, or jump directly to their recommendations. We also created a printer-friendly list you can take into the ballot box with you. (Click here for that.)

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.”

Note: Some judges received mixed ratings. 

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

— P. Scott Neville Jr. – Illinois Supreme Court, Freeman vacancy
— Michael B. Hyman – Illinois Appellate Court, 1st District, Neville Jr. vacancy
— Sharon O. Johnson – Illinois Appellate Court, 1st District, Simon vacancy
— Kelly Marie McCarthy – Cook County Circuit Court, Coghlan vacancy
— Laura Ayala-Gonzalez – Cook County Circuit Court, Ford vacancy
— Celestia L. Mays – Cook County Circuit Court, Funderburk vacancy
— Levander "Van" Smith, Jr. – Cook County Circuit Court, Larsen vacancy
— Chris Stacey – Cook County Circuit Court, Mason vacancy
— Teresa Molina – Cook County Circuit Court, McCarthy vacancy
— Sheree Desiree Henry – Cook County Circuit Court, Murphy Gorman vacancy
— Elizabeth Anne Walsh – Cook County Circuit Court, O’Brien vacancy
— Lynn Weaver Boyle – Cook County Circuit Court, Patti vacancy
— Lorraine Mary Murphy – Cook County Circuit Court, Roti vacancy
— Jill Rose Quinn – Cook County Circuit Court, K. Sheehan vacancy
— Tyria B. Walton – 1st Subcircuit, Crawford vacancy
— Sondra Nicole Denmark – 2nd Subcircuit, "A" vacancy
— Daniel Edward Maloney – 3rd Subcircuit, Filan vacancy
— Regina Ann Mescall– 3rd Subcircuit, Flynn vacancy
— Erin Haggerty Antonietti – 3rd Subcircuit, Murphy vacancy
— Jamie Guerra Dickler  – 6th Subcircuit, Nega vacancy
— Eileen Marie O’Connor  – 6th Subcircuit, Pantle vacancy
— Pamela Reaves-Harris – 7th Subcircuit, Jackson vacancy
— Jonathan Clark Green – 8th Subcircuit, Fleming vacancy
— Michael A. Forti – 8th Subcircuit, Gubin vacancy
— Thomas M. Cushing – 9th Subcircuit, Axelrood vacancy
— Julie Bess Aimen – 9th Subcircuit, Luckman vacancy
— John G. Mulroe – 10th Subcircuit, Allen vacancy
— Maire Aileen Dempsey – 10th Subcircuit, McGing vacancy
— Mary Catherine Marubio – 10th Subcircuit, O’Brien vacancy
— Patricia M. Fallon – 12th Subcircuit, Hanlon vacancy
— Frank R. DiFranco – 12th Subcircuit, Hanlon vacancy
— Susanne Michelle Groebner – 13th Subcircuit, Kulys Hoffman vacancy
— Gary William Seyring – 13th Subcircuit, Kulys Hoffman vacancy
— Gerardo Tristan, Jr. – 14th Subcircuit, Bertucci vacancy
— Nichole C. Patton – 15th Subcircuit, Griffin vacancy

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

... by all three bar associations:

— Tiesha L. Smith – Cook County Circuit Court, Bellows vacancy
— Krista D. Butler – 1st Subcircuit, Brooks vacancy

... by any of the three bar associations:

— Maura McMahon Zeller – Cook County Circuit Court, C. Sheehan vacancy
— Perla Tirado – 14th Subcircuit, Lacy vacancy

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