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A new twist

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* When it comes to gaming the electoral system, nobody does it “better” than judges

A hearing officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections on Monday laid out the procedure for how he will review challenges to the candidacies of three St. Clair County judges.

The three circuit judges — John Baricevic, Robert Haida and Robert LeChien — have filed paperwork to retire in December 2016, but also are seeking to run as candidates in the November 2016 regular election. Normally, circuit judges are up for a retention vote every six years, where they’re required to get “yes” votes from at least 60 percent of voters. By running as candidates in a regular election, the three would need to receive only a simple majority of votes over any challenger. […]

After Monday’s conference, Cook said the tactic being employed by the three judges should be prohibited, because it will lead to other judges doing the same.

“The whole retention process will be avoided,” Cook said.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anon - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:57 am:

    I bet they think they’re clever.

  2. - The Captain - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:01 am:

    I may be in the minority but I favor this move. We have two standards for electing judges, one where they need 60% who favor their retention and a different one where they just need to be the leading vote getter in the race. However well intentioned that double standard is it still creates an unequal methodology for deciding who should or shouldn’t be on the bench. It’s a little uncomfortable that these three judges are acting in their own self interest but I tend to think that if I was in their shoes I’d probably consider the same. Their actions will probably lead to some change in the election law and I simply hope that we settle on one consistent standard for how we elect and retain judges.

  3. - Streator Curmudgeon - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:05 am:

    If they’re “retiring” then being elected as “new” judges, does that mean they will lose all seniority/experience pay increases, or is every judge in Illinois paid the same, regardless of years on the bench?

  4. - Mama - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:09 am:

    “Normally, circuit judges are up for a retention vote every six years, where they’re required to get “yes” votes from at least 60 percent of voters.”
    Are judges the only candidate which needs 60% of the votes? If yes, it is not right that they need a higher percentage of the votes than the governor’s office.

  5. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:10 am:

    I’m not sure I entirely understand the “scheme” here. Hardly anyone loses retention — isn’t it much harder to run a campaign against other candidates than the yes/no retention process??

    What am i missing here?

  6. - Mama - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:14 am:

    “After Monday’s conference, Cook said the tactic being employed by the three judges should be prohibited, because it will lead to other judges doing the same.”
    The point is all judges should be treated equally.

  7. - Bigtwich - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:18 am:

    “Are judges the only candidate which needs 60% of the votes?”

    When they run for retention there are no opponents, just their name and the question shall they be retained.

  8. - buffalo bill - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:21 am:

    Baricevic knows his prospects are poor based on his last time on the ballot …

    The lowest recorded retention percentage - other than Maag in 2004 - came in 2010, when St. Clair County Chief Judge Baricevic was retained by a margin of 62.49 percent (65,252 votes).

  9. - Judge Cooked - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:25 am:

    Captain: Your assessment (and others in the media coverage) is basically correct, as they are saying there’s a 60% vs 50% +1 standard. But, with the crazy system of not allowing party-slating for judicial races (which I think is a case law-created phenomenon), judges can effectively reduce the 60% retention standard to getting elected by just their own vote (through lack of competition). Granted, it requires inepitude by the local opposition party, but that is not impossible and maybe probable in some of these highly partisan places like St. Clair County. I know a lawyer who was once almost bankrupted after opposing a politically popular judge. He was basically almost blacklisted by the legal community.

    So, the prevailing wisdom is that the 2 systems were by constitutional design. But, in practice, it could easily become a “file for 50+1,” but then “pray no one files and you automatically get retained.” That was certainly not the constitutional framers’ design on the system.

    By the way, if these 3 get kicked off, the GOP challengers would only face independent or third-party competition (likely). Maybe clarifying that party-slating should be allowed in judicial contests is the solution if the 2-system arrangement is legal?

  10. - illini - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:27 am:

    Southern Illinois and St. Clair politics at its best! Or should I say normal.

    And the rest of the commenters are always critical of what happens North of I-80.

    This is metro-east politics. Those of us who live in the area should not be, and are not, at all surprised.

  11. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:28 am:

    Just Observing:

    The “scheme” is that if no one files against them, or if they knock off the opponent’s petitions, there is no party-slating for judicial races. So, there is great likelihood that they run unopposed and automatically win.

  12. - Dudeman - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:30 am:

    Damn lawyers. This tactic alone should be reason to not retain them. But I generally vote not to retain all judges.

  13. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:32 am:

    Removing the ban on party-slating of judicial contests would need to happen if there is going to be an “alternate system” of retaining judges. If these the judicial election system is not going to held to a higher standard, then these contests should not be any different than other electoral contests.

  14. - buffalo bill - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:35 am:

    The apple does not fall far from the tree

  15. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:36 am:

    And, in this particular case, two of them intentionally ran for the other’s seat. So, Candidate A is running for the B Vacancy and Candidate B is running for the A Vacancy, proving they knew they would be challenged for running for their “own” vacancy. This is all politics and self-preservation. And, it’s not as if the St. Clair County courthouse has been in the news lately.

  16. - Stones - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:42 am:

    I believe if they start in tier I, retire and then are reelected they remain tier I unless I am mistaken.

  17. - Blago's Luxurious Grey Mane - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:48 am:

    The St. Clair County Dem machine is expert at survival. The place is a cesspool when it comes to ethics.

  18. - Joe cannon - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:55 am:

    Stones is correct

  19. - CrookCounty60827 - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 12:20 pm:

    So the lawyers wrote laws, and the judges interpreted them accordingly. Rather hard to become morally outraged over a completely legal act that deprives no one of their vote.

  20. - Agricola - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 1:19 pm:

    Hmm, judges who read the law and know how to interpret it. We’ll have none of that!!

  21. - downstater - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 2:19 pm:

    ==I’m not sure I entirely understand the “scheme” here. Hardly anyone loses retention — isn’t it much harder to run a campaign against other candidates than the yes/no retention process??

    What am i missing here?==

    What you’re missing is that it’s St. Clair County. Where the corrupt system in place by the Democrat machine allows them to easily get 51% (thanks in most part to the East St. Louis Election Commission, which is independent of the St. Clair County election authority), but much more difficult to get 60% for retention.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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