Judicial retention - voting does not work!

   The preliminary results from November 2nd, 2004 elections are in, with much legal relief being granted. WHEREFORE, it appears, all the judges in the County of Cook will continue to flourish amidst the busy dispute of their courtrooms. That includes the judges who drew a great deal of negative publicity in popular press and those found incompetent even by some bar associations. Mind you though, when lawyers' organizations blacklist a judge, they may have certain ulterior motives. Many a plaintiff and defendant in Civil Court, have observed that judge's primary objective and responsibility is to help the lawyers in the case to procure the legal fees equal to the litigants' assets combined plus some. Therefore, any judge lacking the propensity to further such meritorious cause, may bring a wrath of other lawyers upon His/Her Honor. There may also be some political motives, of which us, plain mortals, may never learn.

   At any rate, our modest campaign "Vote NO to retain a judge", did not exhibit any significant effect upon the election results. Admittedly, it started too late and was not nearly strong enough to be equal to the task. However, other similar campaigns, including those by Illinois and Chicago Bar associations, supported by articles in the Chicago Sun Times did not succeed either.
   So, where do those "yes" votes to retain a judge (between 850,000 and over a 1,000,000 of them in Cook County) come from? Are there so many people who actually know that the judges they vote for are worthy? Or, perhaps, our "democracy" fails due to a simple lack of common sense in the system? On November 2nd, at my polling place, I heard a man asking a question: "What if I don't vote on some of the candidates, like judges? Will that invalidate my ballot?" The answer to that is: "NO, YOUR BALLOT IS STILL VALID, EVEN IF YOU DID NOT VOTE ON SOME OF THE CANDIDATES!" Yet, how many people feared not voting on some candidates would invalidate their ballots, but were too shy to ask? In Cook County - probably, hundreds of thousands.

   The intentions behind putting judges' retention question on our ballots, must have been good. (Illinois Constitution ARTICLE VI Section 12(d).) Yet, isn't it "back to the drawing board time"? Shouldn't we revisit and re-examine the "three-fifths" criteria? What if we put some dummy non-existent judges' names on the ballot, and checked how many votes they won? While general elections with public voting seem to be essential to our democracy, we must keep in mind: PUBLIC VOTE IS DUMB! It can not be used as a substitute for knowledge, common sense, the very necessary safeguard procedures, and work by our elected officials to ensure judicial accountability. Alas, such accountability practically does not exist. Our judicial system is largely used to nourish greed of unscrupulous lawyers and to serve somebody's political ends.

   Circuit court judges' retention elections results spreadsheets: 1) in original ballot order; 2) sorted by total vote; 3) sorted by % of the total "yes" vote.
(Source: Chicago Board of Elections   Cook County Election Department.)

UPDATE: Final 2004 Cook County Judge retention results spreadsheets
(Source: Illinois State Board of Elections)

Below is a short summary table for the judges we have mentioned before and those with other negative publicity:

Circuit Court
Overall Votes Place (out of 71)
by %YES
Average for all circuit court retainee judges 908,792 268,073 1,176,865 77.21% N/A
Timothy C. Evans 972,922 247,954 1,220,876 79.69% 6
Daniel J. Sullivan 918,422 250,481 1,168,903 78.57% 20
Allen S. Goldberg 887,774 279,026 1,166,800 76.09% 55
Bernetta D. Bush 884,892 300,705 1,185,597 74.64% 66
Dennis James Morrissey 861,870 316,103 1,177,973 73.17% 68
William D. O'Neal 826,112 355,032 1,181,144 69.94% 69
Dorothy F. Jones 832,145 413,765 1,245,910 66.79% 70
Susan Jeanine McDunn 777,456 405,816 1,183,272 65.70% 71

Copyright 2004 by Vic Timoff

home page