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HomeIllinois NewsICJL releases rating of judges running for retention/election; four candidates rejected

ICJL releases rating of judges running for retention/election; four candidates rejected



Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 1.19.11 PMFour judges inspire new category: Judges Behaving Badly

ELMHURST – In an effort to better educate voters about choices for judge, the Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL) today released the ratings of judges  running for retention in the November 6th General Election. Judges running for retention require 60 percent of voter approval.

The ICJL retention recommendations are a part of the most complete and comprehensive voter education initiative of its kind, designed to assist voters in making informed decisions about the judicial candidates on their ballot. The initiative called Judges: Good and Bad-You Can’t Afford to be Indifferent can be found at illinoisjudges.net.

The ICJL judicial ratings reveal that a good number of judges have earned the voters’ trust and deserve to be retained in November. “That good news, however, is mitigated by three judges who are recommended for NO Retention,” according to John Pastuovic, President of the Illinois Civil Justice League. “These three judges have exhibited behavior and judgement so egregious and outside of what should be expected of a judge, that the ICJL has created an entirely new category for them called ‘Judges Behaving Badly.’ These judges should absolutely not be retained.” he continued. “Finally, one former Will County judicial candidate who is now running for judicial election in Cook County should be rejected by voters for his blatant efforts to game the system.” Pastuovic continued.

These four judges recommended for NO Retention/No Election are:

Jeffrey O’Connor – 14th Circuit, Whiteside County

In 2014, Judge O’Connor fell asleep during a trial where the accused was charged with murdering four people. While a jury later convicted the defendant of the slayings, the defendant sought a new trial based on the judge’s nap. In fact, the defense team said the judge repeatedly fell asleep during the murder trial. In 2017, a divided Illinois Appellate Court panel rejected the request for a new trial on the grounds that the judge was not dozing through crucial evidence or motions.

The fact remains that Judge O’Conner’s actions embarrassed the court and gave the defendant an opportunity to an appeal he should never have had.

Patrick O’Shea – 18th Circuit, DuPage County

According to a complaint filed on October 25th by the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board, Judge O’Shea attempted to retaliate against two female court employees who made “substantiated” claims of sexual harassment against him. The complaint, lodged by Illinois’ Judicial Inquiry Board revealed that investigators, found “credible and substantiated complaints” that Judge O’Shea acted in a manner that “met the definition of sexual harassment” as defined by Illinois Supreme Court rules.

Additionally, Judge O’Shea remains on administrative duties after he was acquitted of reckless conduct charges by a Kane County judge, who found that O’Shea, “accidentally fired a bullet from his revolver through his wall and into a neighbor's apartment, but that his actions did not meet reckless conduct requirements because his neighbors were not home and, therefore, not in danger.” Since then, Judge O’Shea has sought to have the records of the case expunged.

Beatriz Santiago – Municipal District 3, Cook County

Judge Santiago was censured by the Illinois Courts Commission in 2016 for knowingly deceiving her mortgage lender about where she lives. Medill Watchdog and WGN-TV caught her claiming residence at her parent’s house for purposes of running in a Cook County subcircuit while subsequently claiming the mortgaged house as her primary residence. The Illinois Courts Commission unanimously concluded that “one could reasonably characterize her actions as reckless.”

Shannon P. O’Malley (formerly known as Phillip Spiwak) – 13th Subcircuit, Cook County

Prior to the March Primary Election, the ICJL invited judicial candidates and judges running in the Primary Election to submit answers to questions about their careers and candidacies in their own words which were then published in unedited form on illinoisjudges.net. In addition to providing this information to voters, the ICJL also evaluated the questionnaire answers as well as numerous other factors and considered the judges and judicial candidates for ratings of Highly Recommended, Recommended, or Not Recommended,” Pastuovic continued.

While voters had many good candidates to choose from in the Primary Election, the ICJL was compelled to draw the voters’ attention to one candidate whose actions disqualify him to serve. Former Will County Republican judicial candidate Shannon P. O’Malley, a Schaumburg attorney formerly known as Phillip Spiwak, won the Primary Election and is on the November ballot running as a Democrat in the Thirteenth Subcircuit. “In a blatant attempt to improve his electoral prospects, O’Malley is deceiving voters by changing his party affiliation and his perceived ethnic origin,” said Pastuovic. “In our opinion, his cynical attempt to game the electoral process disqualifies him for any office, particularly that of judge,” he concluded. O’Malley aka Spiwak is Not Recommended.

The ICJL’s complete ratings for judges and judicial candidates are as follows:

For Appellate Court Judge

Fourth District – Pope Vacancy: Thomas Harris, Jr. (R) – Highly Recommended

Fifth District – Goldenhersh Vacancy:  David Overstreet (R) – Highly Recommended

For Downstate Circuit Judge

1st Circuit (Circuitwide): Amanda Byassee Gott (R) – Recommended

1st Circuit (Circuitwide): John Sanders (R) – Recommended

3rd Circuit (Circuitwide): Sarah Smith (D) – Highly Recommended

3rd Circuit (Madison): David Dugan (R) – Highly Recommended

6th Circuit (Moultrie County): Jeremy Richey (R) – Recommended

12th Circuit (Circuitwide): Vincent Cornelius (D) – Recommended

12th Circuit (Circuitwide): Ben Braun (R) – Recommended

18th Circuit (Circuitwide): Linda Davenport (D) – Recommended
18th Circuit (Circuitwide): Jeff MacKay (R) – Highly Recommended

20th Circuit (Circuitwide): Heinz Rudolf (D) – Recommended

20th Circuit (Circuitwide): John O’Gara (D) –Recommended
20th Circuit (Circuitwide): Paul Evans (R) – Highly Recommended

22th Circuit (1st Subcircuit): Tiffany Davis (R) – Recommended

For Cook County Subcircuit Judge

O’Neill Burke Vacancy–10th Subcircuit: Stephanie Saltouros (D) – Recommended

Crane Vacancy – 13th Subcircuit: Ketki “Kay” Steffen (D) – Recommended

Lawrence Vacancy – 13th Subcircuit: Daniel Fitzgerald (R) – Highly Recommended
Lawrence Vacancy – 13th Subcircuit: Shannon O’Malley (D) – NOT Recommended

O’Donnell Vacancy – 13th Subcircuit: Christine Svenson (R) – Recommended

For Retention – Supreme & Appellate

Supreme Court (Cook County): Anne Burke – YES to Retain

Appellate Court (Cook County): Margaret Stanton McBride – No Position

Appellate Court (2nd District): Robert McLaren – No Position

For Retention – Downstate

First Circuit:  Brad Bleyer – YES to Retain; Mark Boie – YES to Retain

Second Circuit: Eric Dirnbeck – YES to Retain;  T. Scott Webb – YES to Retain; Christopher Weber – YES to Retain; Jo Beth Weber – YES to Retain

Third Circuit: Dave Hylla – YES to Retain; Kyle Napp – YES to Retain

Fourth Circuit: Daniel Hartigan – YES to Retain; Kimberly Koester – YES to Retain

Fifth Circuit: Brien O’Brien – YES to Retain

Tenth Circuit:Paul Gilfillan – No Position; Kate Gorman – YES to Retain

Eleventh Circuit: Paul Lawrence – No Position; Rebecca Simmons-Foley – YES to Retain

Thirteenth Circuit:Troy Holland – YES on Retention

Fourteenth Circuit:Jeffrey O’Connor – NO on Retention; Mark VandeWiele – YES to Retain

Sixteenth Circuit: Donald Hudson – YES to Retain

Seventeenth Circuit: Brendan Maher – YES to Retain

Eighteenth Circuit:Patrick O’Shea – NO on Retention

Twentieth Circuit:Zina Cruse – No Position; Daniel Emge – YES on Retention; Andrew Gleeson – No Position

For Retention – Cook County

Cook (Chancery Division):                  Moshe Jacobius – YES on Retention
Cook (Juvenile Justice Division):          Stuart Lubin – YES on Retention
Cook (Municipal – Rolling Meadows):  Martin Agran – YES on Retention
Cook (Law Division):                           Ronald Bartkowicz – YES on Retention
Cook (Law Division):                           James Varga – YES on Retention
Cook (Law Division):                           Marcia Maras – YES on Retention
Cook (Criminal Division):                    Maura Slattery Boyle – No Position
Cook (Municipal – District 5):             Joan O’Brien – YES on Retention
Cook (Juvenile Justice Division):          Colleen Sheehan – YES on Retention
Cook (Chancery Division):                  Daniel Brennan – YES on Retention
Cook (Domestic Relations Division):   Grace Dickler – YES on Retention
Cook (Domestic Relations Division):   Ellen Flannigan – YES on Retention
Cook (Municipal – District 3):             Jill Marisie – YES on Retention
Cook (Criminal Division):                    Mike McHale – No Position
Cook (Municipal – District 5):             Thomas Murphy – YES on Retention
Cook (Domestic Relations Division):   Mary Roberts – YES on Retention
Cook (Chancery Division):                  Celia Gamrath – YES on Retention
Cook (Municipal – District 6):             Tommy Brewer – YES on Retention
Cook (Chancery Division):                  Thomas Allen – YES on Retention
Cook (Criminal Division):                    Erica Reddick – YES on Retention
Cook (Probate Division):                     Aicha MacCarthy – YES on Retention
Cook (Domestic Relations Division):   Lionel Jean-Baptiste – YES on Retention
Cook (Domestic Relations Division):   Regina Scannicchio – YES on Retention
Cook (Municipal – District 1 – Traffic):          Diann Marsalek – YES on Retention
Cook (Law Division):                           Larry Axelrood – No Position
Cook (Municipal – Division 6):                        Carl Boyd – YES on Retention
Cook (Probate Division):                     Daniel Degnan – YES on Retention
Cook (Law Division):                           John Ehrlich – YES on Retention
Cook (Municipal – Division 5):                        Elizabeth Hayes – YES on Retention
Cook (Municipal – Division 3):                        Martin Kelley – YES on Retention
Cook (Child Protection Division):       Kimberly Lewis – YES on Retention
Cook (Municipal–Division 1 – Felony):           Edward Maloney – YES on Retention
Cook (Chancery Division):                  Lisa Marino – No Position
Cook (Juvenile Justice Division):          Cynthia Ramirez – YES on Retention
Cook (Municipal – District 3):             Beatriz Santiago – NO on Retention

For more information, visit illinoisjudges.net.


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  1. Vote NO on retention of Kane Count Judge John Barsanti.
    When he ran for States Attorney, he told an assembly of GOP precinct committeemen “I always wanted to be States Attorney.”
    When asked directly by ME if he was using this as a stepping-stone to a judgeship, he said NO! and repeated “I only want to be a states attorney.”
    I thus classify him as a LIAR and do not recommend his retention as a judge in this district.

  2. Experienced political workers realize that in the Cook County area, candidates with an Irishy name are almost guaranteed 15% of the vote. If these judicial candidates can run on their own identification, it would be interesting to see how many votes Fast Eddy Burke’s judge-wife would get if she had the name Shalonda Kenyatta Sims.
    Look at the recommended Cook County retention list…mostly Irish, Hispanic, Jewish and Italian names, with only one definite NO. BTW where’s the name of David Studenroth? Does being a Republican disqualify him from even being mentioned?
    I don’t live in Shannon’s district, but if I did I would vote for him without any hesitation. I served on a screening committee for judicial candidates and hardly anybody knew what the candidates were about, relying on “a lawyer friend of mine said he’s OK.” All these judicial endorsements most of the time mean NOTHING, a useless exercise to pretend every thing is doing just fine.