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From the Illinois Civil Justice League

Complete election information about the judicial candidates running in the March 18, 2014, primary election in Illinois is available at



It’s Time To Change Judicial Selection Process

From ICJL President Ed Murnane

It is becoming a familiar story – even a boring, tiresome story.

Every year in December, the American Tort Reform Association issues a report calling attention to the worst judicial jurisdictions in the U.S. – jurisdictions which ATRA determines are “judicial hellholes.”

As a former member of the ATRA board of directors – chairman of the board, even – I know the review that leads to the ranking is thorough and fair and honest.

The “judicial hellhole” description may seem strong, even harsh, but it is accurate. The description is assigned to those legal jurisdictions in the United States in which fairness and common sense do not prevail. These are jurisdictions in which balance – and supposedly justice – are determined by judges (and maybe, but rarely, by juries) after listening to the pleadings of both sides.

Illinois is a perennial home of one, usually two, and sometimes even three “hellholes.” Madison and St. Clair counties have winning streaks going; they are almost always in the top ten, as they were this year (ranked sixth, jointly). Cook County, that legal cesspool at the opposite end of I-55, is on the “watch” list this year, which means it is not a full-blown hellhole but close enough among the thousands of legal jurisdictions in the United States to make the ATRA news release.

The quality of courts – and the fairness of courts – is primarily determined by the quality and the fairness of the judges. If the judge is “bought” or “crooked,” chances are the judgments in his or her courtroom will be suspect. If a good, honest and clean judge is practicing in a “suspect” jurisdiction, his or her performance can be viewed as tainted too, regardless of whether the judge was a choir boy or flower girl in earlier years.

The quality and integrity and fairness and honesty – and probably many other descriptive words – of judges is largely determined by who the judge is, and how he or she is selected and placed in that seat of supposed wisdom and fairness.

Read the entire commentary…

News Update

Harris Spends $1 Million For Appellate Judge Post — Five Times The Salary

From the Chicago Sun-Times

Landing a position on the Illinois appeals court now comes with a bigger price tag, newly released campaign finance reports show.

Sheldon “Shelly” Harris, whose ads blanketed TV for two weeks during the March primary, spent nearly $1 million — 14 times more than his closest competitor — in his successful bid for the state’s appellate court in the first district.

Another first district appellate candidate, John Simon, spent $660,000 for a different vacancy and went on to win his bid.

Both Simon and Harris spent more than two of the four GOP gubernatorial candidates combined, according to campaign filing reports made available on Tuesday.

Reports on Tuesday also showed that GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner, who prevailed in a four-way race, raised more than $9 million in the first three months of the year — spending the bulk of it — including at least $5.8 million on ads. For his part, Gov. Pat Quinn, facing no formidable Democratic primary challenge, raised just shy of $5 million in the first three months of the year, enabling him to bulk up before his battle against Rauner with more than $8.8 million in the bank.

While the robust dollar figures are typical in a governor’s race, they’re unusual in appellate court contests.

“It was the first time in our knowledge that anyone had spent that kind of money for an appellate court spot,” Harris opponent former Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) told the Sun-Times Tuesday.

“I don’t know how you come back from that. If this becomes the bar now that you have to go on TV to run for appellate court, it’s really going to narrow the stream of the type of people who seek the position. It will become an elite body and an elite body that would be determined by the size of your war chest.”

Read more in our daily News Update…