Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vote For Qualified Judges

When you cast your vote on November 2 don't forget to vote for judges.

The CBA has evaluated all the candidates running in this election and has found four sitting judges "Not Recommended" for retention.

I urge you to vote "NO" for --

Punch # 243   Dorothy F. Jones
Punch # 255   William D. O'Neal
Punch # 267   Susan Jeanine McDunn
Punch # 335   Jim Ryan 

There are also five candidates seeking election to serve as judges who have been found "Not Qualified" by the CBA.

I urge you to vote "NO" for -

Punch # 85      Aurelia Marie Pucinski  (Running for the O'Malley vacancy
                       in the Appellate Court)

Punch # 95      Sandra G. Ramos (Running for the Riley vacancy
                       in the Circuit Court)

Punch # 97      Sharon Oden-Johnson (Subcircuit 1,
                      Running for the Steele vacancy)     

Punch # 98      Bonita Coleman-John (Subcircuit 1A)

Punch # 97      Steven James (Steve) Bernstein (Subcircuit 9A)  

For the full evaluation and recommendations of all the candidates running for judge in Cook County, click on the link below.  And remember to take these names and punch numbers with you into the voting booth when you cast your vote on Tuesday, November 2.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Visit from the Paris Bar

From left are our host Bob Clifford, Vincent Canu, Jean Castelain, me,
Florence Achache, Helene Bornstein, and Laurent Martinet

This week we had the opportunity to visit with Batonnier Jean Castelain and several of the members of the Council of the Paris Bar, who were in Chicago for a conference hosted by Aon. The delegation, led by M. Castelain who is my counterpart as President, included Mme. Florence Achache, Mme. Helene Bornstein, M. Vincent Canu and M. Laurent Martinet.

CBA First Vice President Bob Clifford and his wife, Joan, welcomed the group, along with the CBA Executive Committee and several representatives of the CBA Young Lawyers’ Section, to their home for dinner. We had an evening of good conversation about our respective organizations, and issues facing lawyers in France and in the U.S.

Jill Eckert McCall, Chair of the CBA's
Young Lawyers Section chats
with Paris lawyer Vincent Canu.

The Paris Bar, like the Chicago Bar, has approximately 22,000 members. But Membership in the Paris Bar, unlike the Chicago Bar, is mandatory. The Batonnier not only serves as leader of the organization for policy purposes, but also oversees all disciplinary actions, client trust funds and disputes between clients and lawyers over fees. The position is a full-time job with a two-year term, really comparable to serving as CEO of a large not-for-profit organization. The position is not without its perks, however. M. Castelain told us that he has a private dining room near his office in the Ministry of Justice in the Palais de Justice on the Ille de la Cite in Paris (not far from the Cathedral de Notre Dame), complete with a private chef! We look forward to visiting M. Castelain’s offices the next time we are in Paris!

One of my initiatives as President has been to expand our relationships with the Bars of other metropolitan cities in the U.S. and abroad, with the hope that we will collaborate in developing educational programming and working on initiatives of common interest. We were honored to be able to show off Chicago to our good friends from Paris, and look forward to working with them in the future.

From left, host Joan Clifford, CBA 2nd Vice President
Aurora Abella-Austriaco, Jean Castelain of the Paris Bar
and host Bob Clifford.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CLE Program on Judicial Selection in Illinois

Prof. Dawn Clark Netsch
On October 5, 2010, the CBA played host to a well-attended and thought-provoking seminar on Judicial Selection in Illinois. The free program, for which three hours of Illinois ethics MCLE credit was available, covered the history of efforts in the state to introduce appointed/merit selection of judges, and featured stimulating panel discussions among current legislators, judges and senior members of the Bar about the best method for selecting judges. Over 270 people attended the program with another 60 accessing it online. It will also be available via archived webcast through

 Professor Dawn Clark Netsch of Northwestern University Law School kicked off the program with a history of the development of Illinois constitutional law on judicial selection.

From left:  State Senator Dale Righter, State Senator Kwame
Raoul, State Representative Elaine Nekritz, State Senator Don
Harmon, State Senator Kirk Dillard, and Commissioner Larry
Suffredin at the podium.
Following Professor Netsch’s lecture, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin moderated a lively panel discussion among State Senator Kirk Dillard, State Senator Kwame Raoul, State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, State Senator Don Harmon, State Senator Dale Righter and State Representative Elaine Nekritz, as well as the Honorable Anthony L. Young. The broad-ranging discussion covered several possible approaches to improving the way we select judges, including public financing of judicial campaigns, legislating minimum qualifications for judicial candidates, whether judicial subcircuits are a help or a hindrance in improving the quality of the judiciary, the role of campaign contributions in judicial elections, and potential non-partisan election of judges. The views expressed on these issues were also wide-ranging. One thing was clear: while there have been many proposals in recent years, it will be an uphill battle to convince the Illinois legislature to change the current method of judicial selection, at least if the goal is to move entirely to an appointive/merit selection procedure.

Left to right: Paula Holderman, Judge Gino DeVito,
Justice Joy V. Cunningham, Judge William Cousins and
moderator Olivia Clarke
The judicial panel discussion that followed was even more lively. The panel, moderated by Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Editor-In-Chief Olivia Clarke, included Professor Ann Lousin of the John Marshall Law School, the Honorable Michael Hymen, retired Justice Gino DiVito, the Honorable Joy Cunningham, retired Justice William Cousins, and ISBA Third Vice President Paula Holderman. There was sharp disagreement among members of the Panel concerning whether diversity is better served by an elective or appointive system. Several of the panelists expressed concern about the role of campaign contributions in judicial elections, and several supported at least moving to a non-partisan election for judiciary positions – but others favored keeping popular elections under the current system.

The program, co-sponsored by the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and CourtCall, Craig & Craig, Dykema, Elite Deposition Services, Goldberg Weisman & Cairo, Hepler Broom LLC, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, The John Marshall Law School, Johnson & Bell Ltd., Jump & Associates PC,  McKenna Storer, Smith Amundsen, and Trial Graphix, hopefully will spur legislative activity to improve our method of selecting judges. The CBA and the ISBA have long supported moving to an appointive/merit selection process.

A crowd of 270 onsite participated in lively discussion with the panelists.