CBA Record November-December 2021


Judging Our Judges By Tracy Brammeier, YLS Chair

CBA YOUNG LAWYERS SECTION Chair Tracy Brammeier Clifford Law Offices, P.C. First Vice-Chair Daniel Berkowitz Office of the Illinois Attorney General Second Vice-Chair Martin Gould Romanucci & Blandin, LLC Member Service Manager Kenneth Matuszewski Goldberg Segalla LLP Public Service Manager John Risvold The Collins Law Firm, PC Project Officer Gavin Phelps Phelps LLC Project Officer Margaret Mendenhall Casey City of Chicago Department of Law Secretary/Treasurer Kernisha Padilla Blank Rome LLP Co-Editor in Chief YLS Journal Kaitlin King Hart David Carson, LLP Co-Editor in Chief YLS Journal Theodore Kontopoulos BKD LLP Co-Editor YLS Blog Laura Wibberley Barker, Castro, Kuban & Steinback, LLC Co-Editor YLS Blog Alexandra Morelli Barker, Castro, Kuban & Steinback, LLC Health and Wellness Facilitator Alexander Passo

On one hand, opponents remember those they enjoyed having on the other side of a case, often remarking on their professionalism, commitment to integ- rity, and a pleasant attitude. On the other hand, people also remember if you have habitually blown deadlines, acted rudely at depositions, filed misleading motions, or arrived unprepared to court or media- tions. Likewise, lawyers notice which judges can be counted on to thoroughly review materials, to apply the law sagely and impartially, and to politely give young lawyers—indeed, all lawyers—a chance to practice and hone their oral argument skills, as opposed to judges who consis- tently refuse to give reasoned decisions, lose their temper, arrive late to the bench, or do not manage their courtroom in an orderly and efficient manner. Sometimes people speak in generalities and other times they provide specific examples of when a lawyer was exceptionally admirable or deplorable. After gathering this information, we write a report on the judicial candidate for the JEC. JEC members then gather at the CBA for a hearing with the candidate. Each investigator participates in the hearing for the candidate on whom they reported. The committee reviews the report and the lawyer or judge being evaluated appears before the committee to respond to ques- tions based on the investigation. Then, much like a jury, the committee deliberates and takes a vote on its recommendation. After the candidate is informed of the outcome, they can appeal. Prior to each election, the JEC pub- lishes its results on the CBA website. Each judicial candidate is ranked as “Highly Qualified,” “Qualified,” or “Not Rec- ommended.” Many friends and family members tell me they always take the JEC pocket guide with them to the polls and faithfully follow the Committee’s recom- mendations. They also make a point to thank me for the JEC’s work because they

W ith turmoi l surrounding a divided United States Supreme Court, as well as renewed focus on violence in Chicago, it is more impor- tant than ever to maintain our commu- nity’s faith in the integrity of our local courts. Unfortunately, the voting public is frequently overwhelmed by the number of judicial positions on their ballots, and many either blindly choose a candidate or do not vote for judges at all. For the last four years, I have served on the CBA’s Judicial Evaluation Committee (JEC). As an investigator, I partner with fellow committee members to review a currently sitting judge or a new judicial candidate’s career history. We consider practice experience and breadth of knowl- edge, as well as mental and physical fitness. We speak with dozens of persons with whom the candidate has worked through- out his or her years of practice. We even call all references listed on the candidate’s questionnaire. Most importantly, we speak with the candidate’s opponents throughout the years, and, for a currently sitting judge, lawyers who have appeared before them on the bench. As a young lawyer, never forget that your adversaries are the ones in the best position to reflect, with candor, on your integrity, legal knowledge and ability, temperament, diligence, and punctual- ity—each of which is an attribute that the committee evaluates.

Latimer LeVay Fyock LLC Immediate Past Chair Jeffrey Moskowitz Momentum Funding, LLC

34 November/December 2021

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