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Question of the day

Posted in:

* On election day, I posted this photo of Bruce Rauner casting his ballot

An eagle eyed commenter noted at the time that Rauner had voted against retaining all judges.

* The president of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, John Litchfield, penned an open letter to Rauner about his votes and Jack Leyhane published it

Dear Mr. Rauner,

A photo of you published on November 5, 2014 with your completed ballot indicates that you voted “No” on every judicial candidate for retention to the Cook County bench, according to Republican Judge James G. Riley’s letter to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (published on November 10, 2014, and enclosed here for your reference). I, too, saw the photograph referenced by Judge Riley, and am disappointed to see that it confrrms his account.

This means you voted not to retain even the stars of the bench, the leaders and stand-outs, the innovators and those working to bring peace and resolution to families in our communities. Judges, perhaps more so than any of the elected officials in our state, have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of Illinoisans on a daily basis - whether it be petitioners in bankruptcy, divorce court, or child custody, or defendants in criminal cases or eviction proceedings. The issues our judiciary grapples with are deeply personal to the citizens of our state who deserve only the best on the bench.

Judge Riley’s letter is correct: the 2014 class of retention candidates enjoyed better bar ratings than most previous classes; no 2014 candidate received less than 50% “Yes” recommendations from rating bar associations; and only eight of 73 had any “No” recommendations at all. Prior classes of retention candidates have usually featured at least one or two with 100% negative bar ratings.

* The Question: Do you agree with Bruce Rauner’s decision to vote against retaining all Cook County judges? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

survey solutions

posted by Rich Miller
Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:23 pm


  1. No. Do a little bit of research and knock out the bad ones.

    Doesn’t really matter though. None have failed retention since 1993 I believe?

    Totally broken system that some legislators are starting to take a look at. Will obviously be an uphill battle but currently it’s non-functioning.

    Comment by Anon Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:27 pm

  2. Did Rauner’s Campaign take this picture? Recording someone’s vote like that is bad form.

    Comment by Toure's Latte Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:27 pm

  3. I actually vote against all judge retentions. We shouldn’t elect judges.

    Comment by Timmeh Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:28 pm

  4. ===Recording someone’s vote like that is bad form. ===

    He posed for the photo. Move along.

    Comment by Rich Miller Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:29 pm

  5. Wow, talk about a picture being worth 1,000 words, and in this picture most of those words don’t reflect well on Mr. Rauner.

    Too lazy to do any homework, or does he really believe not a single judge deserved retention? Which is worse?

    Comment by 47th Ward Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:30 pm

  6. The system never removes a judge from the bench by vote.

    So, there’s not any risk that one will vote a qualified judge off the bench. If one hasn’t studied the judicial races, the right vote is to vote “no” on all races.

    Comment by Carl Nyberg Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:30 pm

  7. A Wisconsin lawyer friend pointed out the following: 10 Ill. Comp. Stat 5/29-9 states that “any person who knowingly marks his ballot or casts his vote on a voting machine or voting device so that it can be observed by another person, and any person who knowingly observes another person lawfully marking a ballot or lawfully casting his vote on a voting machine or voting device, shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.”

    Comment by anon Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:32 pm

  8. I think it’s just one little way to “protest” when you feel the state is moving in the wrong direction.

    Comment by Patriot Brewer Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:32 pm

  9. I know that many of you will not agree with me but somehow I always feel that public service should be a service rather than a career. Give the younger fresh faced generations a chance and move on to bigger and better things.

    Comment by Henery Clay Frick Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:33 pm

  10. There are plenty of insiders who recommend retaining the whole slate of judges for self-serving reasons.

    The problem with the system is not the people voting “no” on retaining good judges; the problem is insiders who recommend voting “yes” to retain bad and mediocre judges.

    Comment by Carl Nyberg Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:33 pm

  11. What are you talking about Carl Nyberg? If a judge is not retained, they are out. It is not an advisory vote. What “system” is this that you speak of?

    Comment by girllawyer Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:35 pm

  12. I always vote against retaining judges unless they ask me, in person, to support their retention. I have voted to retain two judges in 30 or so years.

    Comment by 100 Miles West Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:35 pm

  13. If he’s voting against that silly system, sure. I hear he now has quite the platform from which to speak, so if he has some thoughts on it…

    Comment by liandro Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:35 pm

  14. No, that’s a very poor decision by Rauner. There are some very good, very dedicated judges on the bench. If you’re not going to take a bit of time to at least look at the various bar association ratings, which is easy to do online, then just don’t vote on them at all. What Rauner did is the equivalent of a teacher not even looking at a set of exams and giving every student an F because he guesses that a few of them of them probably deserve that grade.

    Comment by OldSmoky2 Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:37 pm

  15. Carl didn’t say it was advisory…I assume he was referring to people/groups that give out recommendations on the various judges.

    Comment by liandro Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:37 pm

  16. anon 12:32 has a point that deserves some attention.

    With mail-in ballots, it’s probably going overboard to make a huge deal about Rauner violating the law.

    But if Rauner doesn’t get any blowback for doing this, is Illinois just going to ignore this law in the future? Not sure we want to go down that road.

    Seems like Rauner should at least apologize, say he was in the wrong and commit to not doing it again.

    Comment by Carl Nyberg Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:37 pm

  17. Low information voter, that guy.

    Comment by Namaste Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:42 pm

  18. I’m with all of the other posters who said it’s important to do your homework on this topic…as with all voting.

    Comment by Belle Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:44 pm

  19. It’s his ballot and he’s entitled to vote however he chooses and doesn’t have to answer to anyone for it.

    Comment by Illannoyed Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:45 pm

  20. No. Vote yes for those you want to retain, No for those you don’t, and blank for those you don’t know.

    If the system is bad - change it or advocate for its change. By the way, this is especially true when you ran for and won the right to lead the system.

    Comment by Archimedes Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:47 pm

  21. If you can’t be bothered at the very least to go online and look at bar association recommendations then you shouldn’t be voting on judicial retention at all.

    Comment by Cheryl44 Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:48 pm

  22. I find it encouraging. How many judges owe their careers to Madigan.

    Comment by Empty Suit Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:50 pm

  23. I live in Adams county and I voted against all retentions. Some of them might have been decent people, but I believe serving as a judge shouldn’t be a career. If I lived in Cook county, I would have done the same thing.

    I also think it was irresponsible of Rauner to violate the law that =anon 12:32= mentioned.

    Comment by Nick Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:51 pm

  24. I realize he was busy during the election season but he should have at least made a cursory attempt to learn who is doing a good job and who is not. Just voting one way or another for the sake of doing it strikes me a lazy and informed.

    Comment by Stones Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:53 pm

  25. Sorry that should have been “uninformed”.

    Comment by Stones Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:54 pm

  26. He clearly can’t be bothered to do his homework! Does not bode well for how he might govern.

    Comment by Anonymous Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:58 pm

  27. Yes he should be prosecuted for showing off his ballot choices on the judicial retention to influence others who were going to the polls. Where’s Anita Alvarez? You can debate the wisdom of his personal selections but the illegality of his attempted influence on voters by waving that ballot is beyond question.

    Comment by anon Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:59 pm

  28. Lisa Madigan could also prosecute him.

    Comment by anon Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:59 pm

  29. It’s not difficult to check out bar ratings for judicial candidates — and if there is a question in your mind, to check out a couple different bar ratings…reflects poorly on a governor-elect that he didn’t bother or that someone didn’t hand him a page of research. I share mine with my husband, and then he makes up his own mind to check further or take my word.

    Comment by augustar Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 12:59 pm

  30. No problem with this vote. I did the same

    Comment by Very Fed Up Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:01 pm

  31. Normally I try and do my homework and review all the bad judges and vote only to kick them out. But this year I fell behind, and actually I did vote -not- to retain all of them.

    I figured there were so many people mindlessly voting to retain them all, if I voted “no” on every single one it might help balance the scales a bit and help the reformers actually trying to kick the few bad apples off the ballot. It’s not like the good hard-working judges were ever in any real danger, realistically, right? I don’t care if not voting to retain them hurts their feelings.

    So it’s not a strategy I’d embrace every year, next year I plan on reserving time to do my homework, but I’d rather vote them all down than vote them all up or leave them all blank.

    Comment by ZC Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:03 pm

  32. I always vote no for all of the judges as a protest against the system. I am hoping that if enough voters do what I do, all of the judges will be voted out. Then maybe a merit selection process will be created that ends this crazy system that basically rewards loyal political insiders with lifelong jobs.

    Comment by AFSCME Steward Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:04 pm

  33. I voted no. He can vote however he wants. It’s his right as a citizen. I just think when people vote no across the board they are doing it just to be a contrarian.

    Comment by Demoralized Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:06 pm

  34. I would never be critical of how someone votes. I may disagree with their decision, but I respect their right to have vote how they want.

    Consider the source. Some groups do not want to be heard and hope to convince people their cause is just. They wish to impose their views on others, if you disagree you are wrong, and they will come after you until you give in.

    Comment by the Patriot Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:09 pm

  35. I also vote no on all judges. The judges are generally always retained even poor ones. There is almost no information on retention unless I can check the web for the dozen or so bar associations in Cook Co.. I did hear a radio ad from a bar association asking for a NO on Flanigan. If I can help remove even one poor judge I will.

    Comment by anon. Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:09 pm

  36. I vote no on every judge retention race, every single time. So me and the Baron agree on that much.

    Comment by John A Logan Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:09 pm

  37. Voted yes. I always vote no on judicial retention.

    Comment by so... Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:12 pm

  38. Soccerdad used to vote no on all judges. It drove me crazy. So these days I create a judicial palmcard and force him to give informed votes.

    Carl is right — it doesn’t make a lot of difference, because they all wind up being retained anyway. But I think it is worthwhile to honor the principle of casting a thoughtful vote.

    Comment by Soccermom Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:14 pm

  39. He was voting against the Cook County Democratic Judicial Slating Committee. If people have a problem with that: it’s too bad.

    Comment by Steve Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:14 pm

  40. I Vote no on all Judges. Finding facts or case history to retain them is almost impossible.

    Comment by Griz Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:17 pm

  41. Sandra Day O’Connor was correct when she slammed our state’s judicial system (if in polite tones). There’s no meritocracy to our judicial elections - you need to be connected to be slated, non-slated judges don’t lose, and worst of all, our judges take money from lawyers and law firms who appear before them. There’s nothing shameful in the least in voting against such a system by voting “no” on all the slated judge - it’s a thoughtful vote against a deeply corrupt system.

    Comment by lake county democrat Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:20 pm

  42. I always vote no on retention. I also vote for the challenger if they have been in the house for 6 years or senate for 12 even if I like them. My own personal term limits.

    Comment by southwest Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:21 pm

  43. Oh, and as to those rating systems purporting to tell you who is qualified and who isn’t:‘integrity’-and-‘distinguished’-career/tue-10282014-743pm

    Comment by lake county democrat Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:22 pm

  44. There is a lot of worthy debate on how we select our judges. I would favor a “Merit Appointment” system if one could pass a vote. It would need to be very transparent. But as long as we are electing judges, they may as well have to run for office instead of the retention system that a significant portion of voters just do not mark.

    Comment by SkeptiCal Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:22 pm

  45. It’s a dumb system. I tried to do research, but failed pretty spectacularly. Trib has their recommendations paywalled, ST didn’t do any judicial endorsements, and keeping track of what Bar association said what about which judge was next to impossible. Retentions came after several pages of electing non-contested judges. At that point, I just wanted to finish.

    I knew absolutely nothing about them. Therefore, I have no problem voting no on every single one. Earn my vote, tell me why you should be re-elected.

    Comment by ChrisB Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:22 pm

  46. I see rauner didn’t vote for any of the republican candidates for county office, oh, that’s right his dirty tricks team had a ‘no candidate strategy!’

    Comment by William j Kelly Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:24 pm

  47. Rauner wants term limits and judges are part of the system. To limit a judges term, you have to vote no. Exactly what Rauner did, no exceptions.

    Comment by DuPage Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:27 pm

  48. It’s interesting to me that posters on this board overwhelmingly vote “no” for retention yet very few Judges ever fall below the minimum 60% for retention. Not quite sure what that tells us but I do find it curious.

    Comment by Stones Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:33 pm

  49. The real “crime” is the retention process. There were 72 judges on the retention ballot in Cook County. No one — not even an atty who spends every working day of their life in a courthouse — can make an informed decision on all of them. That’s why it’s been 24 years since a judge wasn’t retained. A Cook County judge literally has to be indicted to lose his or her job! We should either change the process, or declare it a lifetime job to spare the expense and aggravation of having all those names on the ballot.

    Comment by BC Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:39 pm

  50. Bruce and I are just like peas and carrots here.

    I always vote “no” to retaining judges. It’s an absurd system that promotes political hackdom. And not just in Cook County. No matter where you live in Illinois, you know what I’m talking about.

    Comment by Wordslinger Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:40 pm

  51. Mr. Litchfield has as much right to question the way Rauner voted as anyone else does to question his lifestyle choices. Each person’s choice in a vote is no different that his choice. Funny how those who live in the glass houses are always the first to throw the stones, whether they are of conservative or liberal mindset…

    Comment by Roadbuilder Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:42 pm

  52. Vote however you want BUT he should have requested a Privacy Cover from one of the Election Judges, as they should have been visible or offered when given his ballot.
    And when Obama voted, an Election Judge should have stepped in and requested he refrain from talking while in the voting booth.

    Comment by Product of the 60's Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:43 pm

  53. Even the Chicago Tribune editorial board recommended retaining most of the judges in this election.

    Comment by Enviro Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:44 pm

  54. On of the few areas I agree with Rauner. As someone who deeply cares about the election process, we should NOT be voting on 4 pages of judge retention. It’s ridiculous to expect the electorate to study up on 100 different judges. To those who say “do a little research” just stop, it’s already hard enough to educate voters about statewide and legislative office holders let alone 100 judges. If anything we should adopt some sort of Board of Review system where people could vote on a handful of individuals who can recommend retention. The current system is way out of touch and unrealistic.

    Comment by horse w/ no name Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:46 pm

  55. It is his personal ballot.
    He can vote however he wishes.
    He wasn’t voting publically.
    Elected officials are still allowed to have personal opinions on these things.

    He didn’t publically run against them.
    He privately voted against them.

    That is his right as an American.

    Comment by VanillaMan Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:46 pm

  56. It is a terrible system in which we retain some terrible judges (including my favorite, Cynthia Brim who either two or four years ago was retained despite the fact that she actually was insane. Cynthia had the Democratic Party’s endorsement).

    Yet I still don’t vote against all of them. If I know them, I vote as I see fit. If I don’t, I leave it blank.

    Voting “no” on all of them is lazy. Voting against good judges is not a protest.

    Comment by Gooner Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:47 pm

  57. === If one hasn’t studied the judicial races, the right vote is to vote “no” on all races. ===

    Is this your charge to voters for all races or just judicial races?

    Comment by veritas Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:48 pm

  58. Term limits! I don’t vote to retain unless I personally know them and their record.

    Comment by G.I.Joe Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:49 pm

  59. I agree that it is not a very good system but it is the system we have. We should change it or treat it with the same respect we do any other election. Circuit judges stand for election (theoretically with an opponent from the other party) once and then every 6 years for retention. I suppose it can be a legitimate position to say judges should only serve for one 6 year term though as a lawyer, I think that’s a terrible idea. I suspect the governor-elect’s vote was based not on term limit issues but on the fact that he holds judges in the same level of respect as he does all public employees - which is to say, none.

    Comment by girllawyer Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:53 pm

  60. Oh wow, just noticed who penned the letter. I went to high school with Litchfield.

    Still, 73 retention votes on top of ~16 non-contested judicial elections? No way you can keep that all straight. It’s a dumb system.

    Comment by ChrisB Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:54 pm

  61. Private citizen and private ballot. He can vote however he wants and it’s none of our business.

    Comment by 1776 Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 1:58 pm

  62. “He didn’t publically run against them. He privately voted against them”- vman
    And then Rauner published it on the internet for the world to see.

    Comment by nick Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:01 pm

  63. @ Vanilla Man, when you wave your marked ballot in front of a camera, you are MOST DEFINITELY “voting publically” and ARE NOT “privately voted against them.”

    Republicans are all over the talk shows bringing up scenarios of the union boss looking over the voter’s shoulder. Rauner flashing his ballot is every bit as much a voter fraud problem as shown by the classification as a Class 4 felony eleigible for 1 to 3 years prison time.

    Comment by anon Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:01 pm

  64. Interesting. If the voters reflected the sentiments of this poll directly in their retention vote, no judge would be retained, because the 60% threshold could not be achieved.

    Comment by Conservative Republican Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:04 pm

  65. By “research”, all the pro-voting commentators seem to mean looking up bar association recommendations. But if the bar associations are so definitive, why not have them appoint the judges and be done with it?

    There is simply no way that any reasonably well-informed voter can know enough (or anything!) to evaluate any of these judges — or to evaluate the bar association recommendations — let alone all of them.

    The power brokers in this state set up this system to eliminate accountability. Judging by the very few judges who have ever lost, the brokers have won.

    If everyone joined Rauner in voting no, there would have to be a responsible, responsive merit-based replacement system.

    Comment by gopower63 Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:07 pm

  66. None of those Cook County judges voted for Rauner either, so they are even.

    Comment by Jeff Trigg Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:19 pm

  67. I actually voted to retain some judges and not others, based on what I knew about them. But I only had 4 on my ballot. Still I would think that a Cook County voter could have information on some of the people on the ballot, if not all. I guess I had a hopelessly old-fashioned and out-of-date civics education.

    Comment by jake Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:23 pm

  68. Agree with girllawyer and would take it even further to say it shows Rauner’s contempt for the judicial branch of government along with his well know contempt for the legislative branch. If he didn’t like the current system he could have taken a position on that during the campaign - nevermind, he didn’t take a position on anything in the campaign, why change. All yes or all no votes on retention is something a “low information” voter would do. Anyone who takes the time to follow this blog should have enough time, where-with-all and intelligence to find out the bar association evaluations and vote with at least the same amount of study you would give voting on anything else.

    Comment by West Side the Best Side Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:24 pm

  69. I rarely vote to retain a judge and I am far from a low information voter. I sometimes look up the bar association recommendations to see what they say about poor performing, routinely overturned judges. Always “recommend retention” so if you think you are an informed voter after reading that baloney think again.

    I am sometimes shocked at how little judges know about the law.

    Cops are expected to know search and seizure to the extent that they can guide their own actions while managing a real life incident yet judges can’t decide a search and seizure case without taking it under advisement. I have become quite skeptical of our elected fair and impartial jurists.

    Comment by Freezeup Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:24 pm

  70. Making friends wherever he goes.

    Comment by Aldyth Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:28 pm

  71. Meh. Is my take. At least he didn’t write in Mickey Mouse as a write in candidate.

    Comment by Jorge Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:30 pm

  72. It is a legitimate viewpoint that there should be merit selection of judges, and voting “no” across the board is a legitimate way of expressing disapproval with electing judges.

    Comment by anon Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:34 pm

  73. I voted no- make an informed choice. It is a bad system but that does not relieve of our civic duty.

    Says a lot about our future governors attention span by the way.

    Comment by JS Mill Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:35 pm

  74. BTW, whoever took the picture inside the polling place also committed a crime. Outside of Cook County, there are few enough judge races on the ballot that you can actually get information. In Cook, if we did retentions by subcircuit, it would cut down the size of the ballot considerably. Giving it to the bar associations or “merit panel” is a terrible idea - as Lakecountydemocrat points out, a “good” judge can get slammed by an anonymous panel. Maybe he ruled against one of the members?

    Comment by Put the Fun in unfunded Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:37 pm

  75. When the Ill. Const. 1970 was being voted upon there was a separate vote on judicial structure, Cook voted for merit selection and downstate for election. Both had to vote the same to switch to merit. Downstate people are more likely to know the judicial candidates and there are not 70+ on the ballot. 10 years ago an appellate judge was not retained in 5th District; this year 5th Dist. S.C. Justice was barely retained. But still, little interest in adopting merit selection. With Citizen’s United infecting judicial elections, that is going to be the only solution to election corruption. But voting “no” in retention is no way to achieve that end.

    Comment by D.P.Gumby Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:38 pm

  76. You might not like the system but it is the system. So take a few minutes and look over the various ratings. Voting no on all retentions is just plain lazy.

    Comment by Because I said so..... Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:38 pm

  77. I agree with his decision, too often that position is a rubber stamp. I don’t agree with his decision to pose for a picture with an uncovered ballot. I’ve even been chastised for having the ballot out of the sleeve for what seemed to me to be a couple seconds before I placed it in the scanning machine. Taking a picture of a ballot or posing with it are illegal for very good reasons, and whoever at his voting location allowed this to happen should be chastized. I don’t want us to go back to the days when people sold their vote, even though that clearly wasn’t the intent in this case.

    Comment by AC Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:42 pm

  78. Shaking up establishment in Springfield. Springfield not for sale? Chip how can you claim this when you review the quarterly campaign cash being funneled in to Mr. Rauners choice for IDOT Secretary? Maybe ‘Pay to Preplay. Bruce Better look for yourself on history there.

    Comment by DanFromDundee Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:43 pm

  79. I spend a serious amount of time researching the judges and judicial candidates. I not only look at the bar polls, I read the underlying reasoning behind the ratings.

    If I can do that, someone who wants to run the state can do it, too.

    There is no more excuse for voting AGAINST retaining all judges than there is for voting IN FAVOR of retaining them all. Both are cop-outs.

    Comment by JoanP Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:45 pm

  80. I agree with him. It isn’t to say that all judges deserve to be out, but rather it is really hard to vote out the bad ones. So if there are bad ones, better to vote no on all of them if you don’t have time to do the research, and Rauner has been a little busy.

    Comment by Robert the Bruce Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:52 pm

  81. This is an terrible bonehead move by King Bruce Many of those judges came from firms that donated to his campaign, and, last I checked, the judiciary can rule on the constitutionality of laws passed out of the legislature, (assuming the King gets even one bill passed). As to him doing his homework, good Lord! He’s running for governor! Hasn’t anyone ever heard of ADVISORS!

    Give him another week, and, if no apology, subpoena the photographer and if he posed for the photo, prosecute Rauner and the photographer, because no one, not even a governor, is above the law. I know that because King Bruce’s commercials reminded us of all the Democratic law-breakers that have occupied that office. The real, ‘regular guys’ who wear Carharts and $19 watches don’t get a pass, ever.

    King Bruce will get a lot more accomplished with a dose of humility. In this, King Bruce did NOT demonstrate laziness, he showed his inner hubris.

    Comment by Springfieldish Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 2:54 pm

  82. What we are doing is visually eavesdropping on a private matter. Turning it into a controversy is pathetic.

    Comment by VanillaMan Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 3:03 pm

  83. What a bunch of hypocrites. If this was Quinn, you would be hailing him for being independent of the machine.

    I’m with word and Rauner. Unless I know them and their record, automatic No.

    Comment by Arthur Andersen Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 3:03 pm

  84. There are no many meaningful ways for the small guy to ‘rage against the system’ so I vote no on them all. Anyway, the Bar Association in conjunction with whatever political hierarchy is involved will determine who the Judges are/are not.
    I vote this system of judicial retention is flawed…period.

    Comment by I B Strapped Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 3:12 pm

  85. No. Had the advantage of a little research on some of them. The others I left blank. You can do that if I recall correctly.

    Comment by walker Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 3:16 pm

  86. ===What we are doing is visually eavesdropping on a private matter.===

    Rauner posed for a photo and then OK’d putting that photo on the internet, and now all of a sudden I’m eavesdropping on a private matter?

    I don’t think eavesdropping means what you think it means VanillaMan.

    Comment by 47th Ward Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 3:20 pm

  87. In DuPage, I think there were seven judges we were asked if they should be retained. I only heard of 2 of the judges, and one because he was an all-state swimmer.
    I think most voters who take judges seriously take a copy of the Sun-Times or Tribune with them - not exactly research. This is like when voters cast for the U of I board. They got rid of that process.

    Comment by Bogey Golfer Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 3:32 pm

  88. I thought Litchfield’s letter was excellent. There are all sorts of ways Rauner could express his dissatisfaction with the present system by which judges are chosen, but to just vote no on all of them is juvenile.

    Comment by Ann Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 3:34 pm

  89. It’s absolutely fine with me that he voted this way. I voted no retention for all judges in my county. It is a stupid system and voting not to retain is the only way I have to protest it even though I know my judge vote probably counts for little.

    Comment by Responsa Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 3:36 pm

  90. John Litchfield scolding Rauner in a public open letter is the height of hubris.

    Comment by Responsa Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 3:46 pm

  91. >His right to vote as he likes. Going ‘all No’ seems like the easy way, just like going all Dem or Rep, but it is his vote.

    >In small towns you may know the names of the judges, in large urban areas you may have heard of 1-2. In both, unless the judge has been in the news you know almost nothing about their actual performance.

    >Where is the election judge with the ballot cover? They are obsessive around us.

    >Is there nothing that Rauner does that does not get criticized? I know, the paparazzi come with the turf.

    Comment by zatoichi Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 3:53 pm

  92. I may have voted against retaining all judges once. It was the first time I voted in Cook County many, many years ago, and I had just started working full time and was on my own.

    I’ve learned a few things since then.

    Never did that again.

    Comment by Kasich Walker, Jr. Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 3:58 pm

  93. I’m embarassed the new Governor would be caught in this position of having his ballot photographed and being caught casting a knee-jerk protest vote. But apparently normal rules don’t apply to this guy and the media won’t force him to explain himself any time soon.

    Comment by Bibe Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:04 pm

  94. Jeff Trigg well said

    Comment by Joe Maddon Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:05 pm

  95. I do a lot of research about the judges before voting. Per someone’s comment above, no, you cannot possibly make an informed decision on all of them. But rather than voting no, I simply abstain. An uninformed no vote is as bad as an uniformed yes vote in my opinion. I abstain from a lot of votes - not because I’m uninformed. I abstained from about half the ballot this year. You have to earn a yes or a no vote from me.

    Comment by Advocats Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:12 pm

  96. So 46% of those voting here think it is a good thing to vote no on all judges up for retention? Really? A good thing? Wow.

    Comment by truthteller Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:13 pm

  97. It’s easier in DuPage since there are far fewer. I will vote yes for those I know. I will vote “no” if I know them and they have shown questionable judgement. I won’t vote either way if I don’t know them. The judges here generally come to committeeman meetings and events, so it’s easier to keep track of them. When I lived in Cook, I voted according to the ABA scores in the newspaper and it was a pain in the neck. When I would find that I was recommended to vote for a bad egg, it bugged me. Twice, I voted against all of them. It’s a very quiet and ineffective protest vote. But I felt better.

    Comment by A guy... Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:15 pm

  98. If it’s about none of the county judges having voted for Rauner either, then forget about this admin being the end of the back-scratching era.

    Comment by Kasich Walker, Jr. Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:16 pm

  99. Hey Slinger, I recognize that “peas and carrots” quote about you and Jenny. lol.

    So “Run, Slinger, Run”.

    Comment by A guy... Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:17 pm

  100. I wanted to be the 100th commenter here.

    Comment by phocion Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:18 pm

  101. I’ll bet he would have voted for Karmeier…

    Comment by Jaded Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:29 pm

  102. Geez. “Checkin’ ‘em” [just down home folks talk] out would take work. If it ain’t about me, who cares?

    Comment by sal-says Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:33 pm

  103. As an aside;

    Bad staffing here.

    Take the picture before the circles, call it “Bruce Preparing to Vote”


    Comment by Oswego Willy Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:33 pm

  104. I feel Rauner is entitled to vote “any way that he likes”. There were a lot of voters who voted based on the theory “Throw the incumbents out” and get some new faces in there. The fact that Rauner didn’t try to hide how he voted but was transparent also says that here is a man who truly believes in transparency.

    Comment by Coffee Cup Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:35 pm

  105. Always have and always will vote no for ALL judge retentions.

    They have no business being elected.

    Comment by THEGUN Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:35 pm

  106. Voting no on all judges is shameful and irresponsible. It takes very little effort to find out who are the hard-working, quality women and men and who are the lazy hacks. Bruce treats them exactly the same. Hope no judge who was on the retention ballot is assigned to hear a case important to the Governor. He should happy that , good judges will not be thinking, “hey this guy voted to knock me off the bench, even though newspapers and bar associations say I’m doing a good job.”

    Comment by orzo Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:40 pm

  107. So to those who believe judges should not be elected, what is the alternative? Lifetime appointments? Certainly that can’t be Rauner’s position.

    Comment by Advocats Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:41 pm

  108. In Cook County the Chicago Bar Association and Chicago Council of Lawyers list not only their recommendation, but also a two or three paragraph about each rentention judge - easy to get from their websites. They may say: “Judge Joe Doaks is always late to court/slow to make rulings/bad tempered, But he promises to improve, so we recommend retention.” You can decide of your own that the 6 or 12 or whatevery years he has been on the bench should have gotten him to court on time/ruled faster/treated people better and you cast a no vote. But that is a reasoned decision, not just a knee-jerk one vote fits all. I’m really surprised to see some of the comments today.

    Comment by West Side the Best Side Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:43 pm

  109. I am sure rauner would love to get rid of Florida judges as well.

    Comment by William j Kelly Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:46 pm

  110. While I split my ballot but lean GOP, I am an attorney and serve on one such bar group’s evaluation committee. A LOT of work goes into investigating the judges and candidates, interviewing references (and people they don’t list as references), as well as soliciting comments from the public and people who appear before them. The groups typically provide well-reasoned arguments in their recommendations, and let people be the judge. Since there are few GOP candidates on the ballot in Cook County, the sole remaining alternative is to ensure the people who do get on the bench are competent. I personally won’t vote NO on someone regardless of party without a good reason from the bar groups, or a good reason from my personal experience. It’s tough even for lawyers to vote on all these judges as most haven’t encountered the vast majority of them.

    Comment by Ron Burgundy Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:51 pm

  111. I do the same thing.

    Comment by Johninchicago Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:51 pm

  112. I’ll lay a crisp Lincoln on every one of the commentators here who said they always vote ‘no’ because they don’t believe in the system of elected judges never once, not ever, sent a letter to their legislators asking for judicial appointments over election. And, if you don’t agree, why not just not vote at all? Voting straight no just ‘because’ is the height of dangerous laziness.

    He’s gonna be the governor, folks. And, it’s not like we don’t have the kind of issues that will require deft leadership to resolve. Stupid arrogance falls way outside the realm of deft leadership.

    Comment by Springfieldish Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 4:58 pm

  113. I think that I voted to retain about six judges. There were some real dogs on the bench in Cook County where the judiciary often serves as a consolation prize for failed candidates or as a retirement sweetener for party favorites.

    The bar association ratings are difficult to wade through too and some ratings are marred by bias as various bars have their own agendas when it comes to race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. The public ought to have good and capable jurists period. All of the other things ought to be secondary.

    I think a worse offense than Rauner’s voting “No” are the thousands of voters who vote “Yes” for every judge seeking retention. Cynthia Brim was retained for almost eighteen years despite the fact that she was certifiably nuts. Thankfully, the Judicial Inquiry Board removed her from office.

    Comment by Under Further Review Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 5:11 pm

  114. Sure looks like he chose not to “favor” any of the judges, therefor a no vote for all was the best bet?

    If I know them, then I might vote yes, but then agin, that may be cause for me to vote no.

    Comment by Sunshine Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 5:21 pm

  115. Another ‘yes’ vote for voting all No. I tend to vote no across the board on retention unless I know them and know them to be decent attorneys and people. The bar association recommendations out my way are the epitome of the good ol’ boy group.

    Comment by Anonymous in Aurora Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 5:23 pm

  116. Geez, what’s the problem with executive appointment, legislative approval and terms?

    Comment by Wordslinger Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 5:31 pm

  117. I don’t know what some of you are talking about “researching” judges.

    I covered courts for 10 years as a reporter, with no skin in the game. There were plenty of judges in the circuits I didn’t know.

    Lawyer groups? Who are they? They’re political organizations dominated by players.

    Representative democracy, people. Delegate authority, then hold them accountable.

    Or just let the warlords in your area pick the judges. That’s how it works now.

    Comment by Wordslinger Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 5:37 pm

  118. I always vote ‘no’ on retaining judges and yes, I have spoken to my Senator and Representative about changing the process. I could care less how Governor-elect Rauner, Governor Quinn, President Obama or my brother voted in these contests.

    Comment by jwscott72 Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 5:37 pm

  119. “Geez, what’s the problem with executive appointment, legislative approval and terms?”

    Vacancies. Corporations becoming people.

    Neither method is thrilling. It is what it is. Until it’s changed, you can take it seriously or not.

    Comment by MikeMacD Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 5:56 pm

  120. there are some really great judges on that retention list. not all candidates are created equal. his vote shows a lack of serious citizenship.

    Comment by Amalia Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 6:06 pm

  121. I voted no on retention, always have and always will. However, the judge who asks will get a “yes” unless there’s other issues.

    I have a hard time taking the open letter seriously when they are talking Cook County…Gov Elect did what I’d hope he’d do.

    Comment by jeffie-k Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 6:16 pm

  122. The Governor-elect doesn’t care about the substance; I thought we had already ascertained that. He doesn’t have plans - he has goals. That requires much less homework.

    Comment by Moist von Lipwig Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 6:39 pm

  123. I think he wears his Carhart every time he votes in an election.

    Comment by Filmmaker Prof Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 7:22 pm

  124. How do you spell self-impeaching contradiction?

    “and yes, I have spoken to my Senator and Representative about changing the process. I could care less how Governor-elect Rauner, Governor Quinn, President Obama or my brother voted in these contests.”

    That’s how.

    Comment by Springfieldish Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 7:27 pm

  125. This entire subject matter has to move up several notches to reach the who cares level. Anyone who suggests that they have studied even a handful of the 100 judges is being disingenuous.

    For the Rauner haters . . . at least wait on a decision of substance before belly aching. You LOST. Get over it. Prosecute this matter, grow up.

    Comment by Searchingfortruth Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 7:30 pm

  126. I’m sure someone said my point already, but voting arbitrarily isn’t something I advocate. There are bad judges, BUT throwing out a ton of good ones isn’t going to make the system better.

    Comment by MEP Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 8:00 pm

  127. Find out who the Illinois Bar Association stands behind, and then vote against them. A tad sociopathic perhaps but then again…so is the IBA.

    Comment by Madison Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 8:16 pm

  128. Anyone really searching for truth would know that there were no contested Countywide judicial contests in Cook County and only 2 contested subcircuit spots. There were, as the post noted 73 judges up for retention. That doesn’t add up to 100. Once again, it’s not all that hard to go to the CBA or CCL websites to read the 2 or 3 paragraphs about each judge and make up your own mind - and much less painful than having to listen to campaign ads. I don’t think anyone who has written about really evaluating judges before voting is being in anyway disingenuous. And if this post hasn’t reached your “who cares” level, you’re not being a lazy voter for not reading it.

    Comment by West Side the Best Side Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 8:43 pm

  129. All Judges are bad and deserve to lose their jobs?Not very compassionate on Rauner’s part.

    Comment by Makandadawg Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 8:49 pm

  130. No–typically, the vast majority of Cook County Judges merit retention, with up to a few exceptions each Election Cycle. His vote is not only irresponsible but this choice clearly reveals a person who has shown grotesquely poor judgment by acting in such an extreme manner…a chilling, frightening indication of how this person will likely seek to act as Governor…brrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

    Comment by Just the Way It Is One Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 9:03 pm

  131. West Side - the number of voters who read two or three paragraphs on 73 judges can be counted on one hand. Suggesting that voters actually take the time to do so begs the question “what color is the sky in your world”?

    Save yourself the sanctimonious follow up that the truly enlightened take the time. They don’t. They didn’t go back and re-read all of the classics either. . . .

    Comment by Searchingfortruth Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 9:16 pm

  132. 3 years from now bruce will hate judges

    Comment by foster brooks Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 9:41 pm

  133. Searching - I’m saying the people who take the time to read and follow this blog who studied the judges before voting weren’t bulljiving when they said they did it.(Can’t use the same $2 word twice in one day.) I’m not suggesting the majority of voters in the world read the reviews. If they did the Judicial Inquiry Board would not have to have been the ones to bounce Judge Brim after she got retained. I thought there were more at least partially enlightened among this crowd.Now its time for me to re-read some of the classics - Studs Lonigan by James T. Farrell or maybe some Joseph Wambaugh - classics are in the eye of the beholder.

    Comment by West Side the Best Side Monday, Nov 17, 14 @ 9:45 pm

  134. Retention on Rauner in 4 Years

    Follow his example

    Vote No ( no facts needed) Vote No

    Comment by x ace Tuesday, Nov 18, 14 @ 2:17 am

  135. Q for the experts :

    Isn’t displaying your secret ballot a violation of election law ?

    Cook County venue?

    Motion for Substitution - Denied , Denied ? , But Your Honor ?

    Comment by x ace Tuesday, Nov 18, 14 @ 2:37 am

  136. Thoughtless voting.

    Comment by Observing Tuesday, Nov 18, 14 @ 5:51 am

  137. “Searchingfortruth” I couldn’t have said it better myself. I voted no to retain all judges. Partly because I think it is wrong to have to vote for judges, partly because I don’t think they should be able to make a career out of being a judge and partly because I didn’t have the time to do my research this year. It may be a cop out, but it was my vote to do with what I wish.

    Comment by The KQ Tuesday, Nov 18, 14 @ 9:45 am

  138. Nice x ace! Already thumbing his nose at laws. Seems to be a theme among IL Governors.

    Comment by dubya Tuesday, Nov 18, 14 @ 10:08 am

  139. For years I have made the effort to circulate on social media the helpful one page summary of the bar association evaluations available at and innumerable friends have expressed their thanks and have used that sheet at the polls. What a bunch of crybabies on this blog. Whaa, democracy is HARD. Be glad you have the right to vote.

    Comment by anon Tuesday, Nov 18, 14 @ 11:05 am

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