Circuit Court of Cook County circuit judges to select 10 new associate judges

Released On 08/20/2009

Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans and the Nominating Committee of the Circuit Court of Cook County today announced the names of the 20 candidates chosen to appear on the ballot from which the circuit judges will select ten (10) new associate judges.

The Nominating Committee is made up of the following circuit judges:

Honorable Timothy C. Evans, Chief Judge
Honorable Paul P. Biebel, Jr., Presiding Judge of Criminal Division
Honorable Henry A. Budzinski, Presiding Judge of Probate Division
Honorable Sophia H. Hall, Administrative Presiding Judge of Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Resource Section
Honorable Moshe Jacobius, Presiding Judge of Domestic Relations Division
Honorable Patricia M. Martin, Presiding Judge of Child Protection Division
Honorable Edmund Ponce de León, Presiding Judge of Fourth Municipal District
Honorable Shelley Sutker-Dermer, Presiding Judge of Second Municipal District
Honorable Joseph J. Urso, Presiding Judge of Third Municipal District
Honorable E. Kenneth Wright, Jr., Presiding Judge of First Municipal District

Chief Judge Evans noted the Nominating Committee interviewed 261 applicants over a five-week period and that the selection of the 20 candidates was unanimous. A total of 278 attorneys originally submitted applications for consideration, and 19 applicants withdrew.

At the request of Chief Judge Evans, all applicants were evaluated by The Chicago Bar Association and the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening, which is made up of 10 bar associations. Each bar association issued its own ratings for individual associate judge applicants. Attached are the evaluations of the 20 candidates and a summary of the number of applicants found qualified and not qualified by each bar association.

Current Alliance members are as follows: the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area, the Black Women Lawyers' Association of Greater Chicago, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, the Cook County Bar Association, the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, the Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, and the Women's Bar Association.

Noting the importance of the bar evaluations to the selection process, Chief Judge Evans said, “The Nominating Committee and I are grateful to the member organizations of the Alliance and to The Chicago Bar Association for the extraordinary amount of time and effort that went into issuing ratings for the attorneys who applied in this associate judge process.”

Chief Judge Evans said, "I thank my colleagues on the Committee for the important work they performed for the court's associate judge selection process. The selected candidates reflect the Committee's consideration of legal excellence and variety of legal experience as well as diversity of race, ethnicity and gender. The selection of these candidates ensures the court's continued commitment that litigants coming before the bench can be confident of being treated fairly and justly.

"The Committee also strove to ensure fairness in the selection process itself, not limiting consideration to any single variable, but conducting a comprehensive overview of all aspects of a candidate, including bar ratings and career achievements and the potential of these attorneys to do justice once they are selected as members of the judiciary," said Chief Judge Evans.

The associate judge selection process is governed by Illinois Supreme Court Rule 39 and works as follows: the Nominating Committee must select twice as many qualified candidates as there are vacancies to be filled. The Chief Judge must then notify the Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts of the names of the candidates selected by the Committee and request the Director to begin the balloting process. Within 14 days after the Chief Judge's notification, the Director mails a secret ballot with the names of the candidates to each circuit judge. The judges then vote for one candidate for each vacancy to be filled. The judges must return the ballots to the Director within 14 days of the date the ballots were distributed. The director then counts the ballots, which are accompanied by a signed card, tabulates the results and certifies them to the Chief Judge, at all times maintaining the secrecy of the ballots.

Below is the list of the 20 candidates chosen by the Circuit Court of Cook County Nominating Committee to fill the ten (10) vacancies that was forwarded to Cynthia Y. Cobbs, Esq., Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts:
Carmen Kathleen Aguilar
Thomas M. Battista
Clarence Lewis Burch
Theresa Christine Ceko
LaGuina Clay-Clark
Neil H. Cohen
Stephen James Connolly
William Edward Gomolinski
William Richard Jackson, Jr.
Demetrios George Kottaras
Yehuda P. Lebovits
Lori Gail Levin
Linda Johanna Pauel
Vicki Faye Rogers
Bernard Joseph Sarley
Regina Ann Scannicchio
Andrea M. Schleifer
Richard Denis Schwind
Ketki Shroff Steffen
Jeffrey L. Warnick

During the next few weeks, the candidates will present their credentials to the circuit judges. The Nominating Committee, in an effort to assist the process, has established three receptions as follows:

Monday, August 24, 2009, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Criminal Court Administration Building
Jury Assembly Room
2650 South California Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Richard J. Daley Center
Jury Assembly Room, 17th floor
50 West Washington Street, Chicago, Illinois

Thursday, August 27, 2009, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cook County Juvenile Court Center
The Atrium, 2nd floor
1100 South Hamilton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois





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