Update on Associate Judge selection process

Released On 01/25/2018

The Nominating Committee of the Circuit Court of Cook County decided today to reconvene the Associate Judge selection process in April.


The Nominating Committee took this action to avoid overlap with the March primary in which several applicants for Associate Judge are also running for Circuit Judge, and to avoid a scheduling conflict with the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts’ mandatory Education Conferences that judges will attend in February and April.


While Circuit Judges are elected by the public, Associate Judges are appointed by the Circuit Judges in a selection process conducted by the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. For this selection process, Circuit Judges will see 34 names on their ballots and will select 17 candidates. The 17 candidates who receive the most votes will become Associate Judges.


A total of 272 licensed attorneys originally submitted applications for consideration for the 17 Associate Judge vacancies and underwent evaluations by several bar associations. The bar associations’ evaluations concluded in December.


This month, the Nominating Committee interviewed 248 applicants, as 20 withdrew from the process and four did not appear for their interviews. Interviews concluded today, and the Nominating Committee will reconvene in April to select 34 finalists.


All Circuit Judges who will vote in the Associate Judge selection process must attend one of two state-mandated judicial education conferences on February 5-9 and April 9-13. If the Nominating Committee was to move forward with selecting the Associate Judge finalists, the timing of the conference would limit the Circuit Judges’ ability to personally meet with the 34 would-be Associate Judge finalists before the Circuit Judges cast their ballots.


In addition to Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans, the Nominating Committee consists of the following Circuit Judges:

  • Honorable Mary Ellen Coghlan, Presiding Judge, Probate Division
  • Honorable Grace G. Dickler, Presiding Judge, Domestic Relations Division
  • Honorable James P. Flannery Jr., Presiding Judge, Law Division
  • Honorable Sophia H. Hall, Administrative Presiding Judge, Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Resource Section
  • Honorable Moshe Jacobius, Presiding Judge, Chancery Division
  • Honorable Raymond L. Jagielski, Presiding Judge, Fifth Municipal District
  • Honorable LeRoy K. Martin Jr., Presiding Judge, Criminal Division
  • Honorable Sharon M. Sullivan, Presiding Judge, County Division
  • Honorable Shelley Sutker-Dermer, Presiding Judge, Second Municipal District
  • Honorable E. Kenneth Wright Jr., Presiding Judge, First Municipal District

The Associate Judge selection operates under an efficient, collaborative process to select qualified judges to serve on the judiciary.

Circuit Judges have the constitutional authority to fill Associate Judge vacancies and are required to follow the procedures outlined in Rule 39 of the Rules of the Illinois Supreme Court. Under Supreme Court Rule 39, the Nominating Committee must select twice as many qualified candidates as there are vacancies to be filled; in this case, the Nominating Committee will select 34 candidates from which the Circuit Judges will fill the 17 vacancies.

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 Nominating Committee and request the Director to begin the balloting process.  Within 14 days after the Chief Judge’s notification, the Director mails to each Circuit Judge a confidential ballot with the names of each candidate. The Circuit Judges 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 confidentiality of the ballots.

Bar evaluations were issued for all Associate Judge applicants by The Chicago Bar Association and the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening, at the request of Chief Judge Evans.  The Alliance is made up of 11 minority and ethnic bar organizations 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 Hispanic Lawyers 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 of Illinois.

“The bar groups should be commended for their diligent work,” Chief Judge Evans said. “I thank them for their important contributions that assist us in appointing excellent Associate Judges for the Circuit Court of Cook County.”


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