Sentences Can Be Appealed To The Supreme Court

Updated to reflect corrections made by the Chicago Council of Lawyers to its Report on Judicial Candidates. The Chicago Council of Lawyers has today released its ratings of judicial candidates for the upcoming March primary election. That link will take you to the CCL website, where you can download (as .pdf documents) both the Council’s complete report and a two page sample ballot (issued by the Committee to Elect Qualified Judges but using the Council’s recommendations). In this post, I’ll cover the Council’s ratings in Cook County subcircuit judicial races. For more about the CCL’s judicial evaluation process, see this post or consult the Council’s complete report. I have taken the liberty of making one editorial change in my recital of the Council’s individual ratings: Where the candidate is a sitting judge, I have indicated that in the candidate’s title (e.g., Judge Mary Smith). Sometimes the Council uses that style, other times it uses the prefix “Hon.” and on other occasions omits any title before the candidate’s name.

Note that a candidate who refused to participate in the Council’s evaluation process is automatically found Not Recommended. Nyshana K. Summer did not participate in the judicial evaluation process. The Council finds her Not Recommended for the Circuit Court. Steven G. Watkins was admitted to practice in 1991. Since 2001, he has been a sole practitioner focusing on criminal defense, civil litigation, and real estate work. Between 1991 and 2000, he was the founding partner of a three-lawyer firm. Mr. Watkins reports that he has acted as lead counsel in 10 jury trials in criminal matters, one civil jury trial, “at least” 43 bench trials in criminal matters and four civil bench trials. Mr. Watkins is considered to have a low-key, professional demeanor and is considered a diligent attorney. The Council finds him Qualified for the Circuit Court. Lauren Broughham Glennon did not participate in the judicial evaluation process. The Council finds her Not Recommended for the Circuit Court. Terrence J. McGuire was admitted to practice in 1991. He is a solo practitioner focusing on estate planning, probate, and real estate transactions. He is also an administrative law judge in ordinance enforcement proceedings.

Mr. McGuire is praised for the work that he does. He is reported to have a good temperament as an administrative law judge and manages the calls well. He handles a variety of cases involving county ordinances and his opinions are praised as being well-founded. The Council is concerned, however, that Mr. McGuire has little litigation experience as a lawyer in more complex matters. He has the potential to be a good Circuit Judge, but the Council finds him Not Qualified for the Circuit Court at this time. Brian Stephenson was admitted to practice in 1988. He has been in private practice throughout his career doing insurance defense, other types of civil litigation, and criminal defense. He is praised for his community service. He reports acting as lead counsel in 15 criminal jury cases, 5 civil jury cases, about 50 civil bench trials, and 25 criminal bench trials. Mr. Stephenson is considered to have good legal ability with a professional demeanor. He is respected as a good practitioner who is diligent and well-prepared.

The Council finds him Qualified for the Circuit Court. John J. Mahoney was admitted to practice in 1984. He serves as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney, and currently is the Supervisor of the Public Corruption and Financial Crimes Unit in the Special Prosecutions Bureau. He also supervises the Money Laundering Unit, the Intellectual Crimes Unit, the Mortgage Fraud Unit, and the soon to be formed Insurance Fraud Unit. His former positions include being a lead prosecutor in the Felony Trial Division. Between 1991 and 1997 he was a lawyer with the Peoples Energy Corporation, Office of the General Counsel, practicing before the Illinois Commerce Commission as well as in a variety of divisions of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Mr. Mahoney has had a wide variety of litigation experience in highly complex matters. He has also handled 20 appellate cases as principal counsel. His answers to the judicial evaluation matters were thoughtful. Mr. Mahoney is considered to have very good legal ability with a professional demeanor.

He is especially praised for both his litigation skills and his skill at supervising complex litigation. He is the coauthor of the Illinois statute known as the Illinois Financial Crime Law. The Council finds him Well Qualified for the Circuit Court. James J. Ryan did not participate in the judicial evaluation process. The Council finds him Not Recommended for the Circuit Court. Daniel Peters was admitted to practice in 1991. He was appointed to the bench in 2011 and currently sits in Bridgeview. As a lawyer, Mr. Peters served as a prosecutor for the City of Burbank, and as legal advisor to St. Patricia Parish in Palos Hills. Maureen Masterson Pulia was admitted to practice in 1994. For the past ten year she has been an arbitrator for the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC). From 1994 to 1996 she served as the Director of Access Health. From 1997 to 2003 she served as a staff attorney for the IWCC where she drafted legislation, reviewed briefs, and performed other non-litigation duties.

Ms. Pulia is reported to have good legal ability and temperament. The Council is concerned, however, that her practice has been narrow and that she lacks sufficient litigation experience as a practitioner in complex matters. The Council finds her Not Qualified to serve in the Circuit Court. Martin Reggi was admitted in 1980. He is currently a sole practitioner in a general practice. Between 1980 and 1985 he served as an Assistant State’s Attorney. As lead trial counsel he reports taking 20 criminal cases to a jury trial and about 20 civil and 500 criminal to a bench verdict. Mr. Reggi is considered to be a good practitioner with a good temperament. His recent litigation experience involves a variety of complex legal matters. The Council finds him Qualified for the Circuit Court. John Allegretti has been a lawyer since 1995. He is currently General Counsel to the Office of the Cook County Assessor’s Office. After graduating from law school, he did domestic relations and bankruptcy work in a private firm for two years.

He then served as a hearing officer for the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board. From 2001 to 2005 he served as a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney doing civil rights and tort litigation defense work. Mr. Allegretti is considered to have good legal ability and is praised for being hard-working. He is considered to have a professional, even-tempered demeanor. The Council finds him Qualified for the Circuit Court. Robert Kuzas was admitted to practice in 1989. He is currently a solo practitioner where he focuses on criminal defense, personal injury, and labor relations cases. He has been in private practice throughout his career. Mr. Kuzas has substantial experience in a variety of more complex litigation matters. He is considered to have good legal ability and temperament. He is praised for his litigation skills. He is reported to be exceptionally hard-working and knowledgeable. The Council finds him Qualified for the Circuit Court. Judith Rice is considered to be very smart and has extensive experience as a government official and in the banking sector.

She is reported to have a very good temperament. The Council is concerned, however, that she has little litigation experience – normally a requirement for a judicial candidate. However, she has served as an administrator in exceptionally responsible government positions and seems to have transitioned well into the private business sector. She is reported to be an excellent administrator, an important judicial characteristic. On balance, the Council finds her Qualified for the Circuit Court. Owens J. Shelby did not participate in the judicial evaluation process. The Council finds this Candidate Not Recommended for the Circuit Court. Megan Goldish was admitted to practice in 1997. She is currently an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney, working as a First Chair prosecutor in a felony trial courtroom. She serves as the First Chair in the WINGSS Felony Prostitution Call, a well-respected diversion program. Ms. Goldish has substantial experience in complex litigation, and is involved in substantial pro bono and civic matters.

She is considered to have good legal ability and temperament, and she is praised for being hard-working and knowledgeable. The Council finds her Qualified for the Circuit Court. Nathan Benjamin Myers was admitted to practice in 1985. He is a solo practitioner. My Myers has a variety of experiences as a lawyer, and he is reported to have a good temperament. The Council is concerned, however, that he lacks experience in litigation matters. The Council finds him Not Qualified for the Circuit Court. Anjana Hansen was admitted to practice in 1998. She is a contract attorney with the City of Evanston, conducting administrative hearings in the areas of police, property standards, health, and fire. She has served as the Alderman for the 9th Ward of the City of Evanston. She is a former Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney. She was in part responsible for establishing an administrative hearings unit within the State’s Attorney’s Office, which included educating potential witnesses about the legal requirements. Ms. Hansen is considered to have good legal ability and temperament, and is very active in community activities. The Council finds her Qualified for the Circuit Court.

Thomas Peter Kougias was admitted to practice in 1988. He is currently in private practice doing criminal law defense work. He served as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney for most of his career, leaving the Office in 2012. Mr. Kougias has had substantial litigation experience, but the Council is concerned that he has not distinguished himself as a prosecutor. Many lawyers say that he lacks sufficient trial management skills to become a judge and some lawyers say that he is not always punctual. The Council finds him Not Qualified for the Circuit Court. Monica Ann Forte was admitted to practice in 1994. She has always been in private practice focusing on commercial litigation. She reports handling few trials to verdict but has substantial experience in all aspects of complex litigation. She is considered to have broad experience in a number of civil law areas. She is reported to have good legal ability and a good temperament, even in heated situations.

The Council is concerned that Ms. Forte has little actual trial experience, but she has substantial experience in litigation-oriented activities. On balance, the Council finds her Qualified for the Circuit Court. Hon. Michael Otto was admitted to practice in 1998 He was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to be a judge in 2012. He is currently sitting in the Chancery Division, hearing foreclosure matters. The Council evaluated Judge Otto before he was appointed to the bench. At that time, he was a lawyer with the law firm of Jenner & Block. He was a judicial clerk for about ten years prior to joining Jenner & Block. He was considered to have good legal ability and temperament. As a judge, lawyers report that he is doing a very good job in his current position. The Council finds him Qualified for the Circuit Court. Abbey Romanek has practiced law since 1987. She has served as a Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Medicaid Fraud Division. From 1987 until 2004, she was in private practice first handling criminal defense matters and focusing for the next eleven years on medical malpractice cases.

Ms. Romanek is reported to have good legal ability and temperament. She has had substantial trial and appellate experience in complex civil and criminal law matters. The Council finds her Qualified to serve in the Circuit Court. Michael A. Strom has been in private practice since his admission to the bar in 1977. He is currently has a litigation practice with Strom & Associates. From 1997 to 2011 he was Staff Counsel to CNA while in private practice. He was a lawyer and then a partner with Schaffenegger, Watson & Peterson from 1978 to 1984. Mr. Strom has very good legal ability and has been widely praised for his good temperament. He has extensive experience as a trial lawyer on a variety of challenging cases. He is also involved in numerous community activities such as the Chicago Coalition for Law-Related Education. The Council finds him Well Qualified for the Circuit Court. Brian Edward Alexander was admitted to practice in 1976. He is currently the lead partner in a two-person law firm, and has spent most of his legal career as a sole practitioner.

He reports no jury trial experience but reports more than 100 civil bench trials and 20 criminal bench trials. Much of his practice involves domestic relations matters, but he also practices in the areas of bankruptcy, probate, and commercial law. He is considered to have good legal ability and has substantial litigation experience in a variety of areas. He is praised for being well-prepared and for having a good temperament. The Council finds him Qualified for the Circuit Court. Katherine Angela O’Dell was admitted to practice in 2000. She is a solo practitioner focusing on real estate tax appeals. She has served as an Assistant Cook County State’s attorney where she served in the tax appeals division. She is considered to have good temperament and is praised for being knowledgeable in her very narrow practice area. The Council is concerned, however, that she has little litigation experience outside of real estate tax appeals, and that she has not demonstrated the ability to be able to master other, more complex areas of the law.

The Council finds her Not Qualified for the Circuit Court. Gina Allyson Crumble was admitted to practice in 1994. She has spent most of her career as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney where she is currently a supervisor in the prosecution of civil child protection cases. She served as a solo practitioner from 2003 to 2005 doing adoption, child support, and child protection court proceedings. She has extensive bench trial experience in juvenile court matters. She is active in community activities. She is reported to have good legal ability and temperament. Lawyers praise her trial skills and say that she is hard-working and exceptionally knowledgeable about her area of law. She has substantial experience as both a litigator and as a supervisor. The Council finds her Qualified for the Circuit Court. Joanne F. Rosado was admitted to practice in 2001. She is a career Assistant Cook County Public Defender. She is a First Chair Public Defender in murder cases, assigned to the Multiple Defendants Unit.

She has substantial litigation experience in more complex matters in both civil and criminal law cases, having been assigned to the section doing child protection cases. Ms. Rosado is considered to have good legal ability and temperament. She is praised for her litigation skills and for being a strong advocate while maintaining a professional demeanor. The Council finds her Qualified for the Circuit Court. Scott M. Kozicki was admitted to practice in 1999. Since 2005 he has served as an Assistant Cook County Public Defender where he represents defendants accused of felony crimes involving complex forensic issues. He has also been an Assistant Public Defender in the Juvenile Division, Traffic Division, and Appeals. Mr. Kozicki is praised by lawyers and judges for his trial skills. He is reported to have good legal ability and has substantial experience in complex criminal law matters. He is reported to be very knowledgeable and for being a zealous advocate for his clients.

He is, however, also considered to have a professional, low key demeanor. The Council finds him Qualified for the Circuit Court. Hon. Pamela McLean Meyerson was admitted to practice in 1983. Judge Meyerson was appointed to the Circuit Court by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2013, and currently sits in the Chancery Division, hearing mortgage foreclosure cases. Before becoming a judge, she had been a sole practitioner, handling civil and commercial litigation in the Circuit Court of Cook County. She also organized and advised small businesses. Samuel S. Bae was admitted to practice in 1999. He was admitted in the state of Texas in 2005. He is a solo practitioner representing individuals and businesses in domestic relations, commercial litigation, and personal injury litigation. From 2000 to 2012, he was a co-owner of a small firm where he focused on litigation and business counseling. From 1999 to 2000 he was an associate with Sanchez & Daniels.

He is reported to have good legal ability and does a good job representing his clients. However, most of his legal work does not involve actual trials, although he is active in doing discovery work, settlement negotiations, and other aspects of litigation, albeit in less sophisticated matters. While the Council notes that Mr. Bae is a respected lawyer, we are concerned that he does not have sufficient litigation experience in complex matters. On balance, the Council finds him Not Qualified for the Circuit Court. Eugene Meczyk was admitted to practice in 1977. He is a sole practitioner. Mr. Meczyk is a highly respected practitioner with substantial litigation experience in complex matters. He is praised for his temperament and his legal ability. “Without further consideration, the Council would find Mr. Meczyk qualified for the bench. While the current evaluation of Mr. Meczyk establishes that he is still considered to be a good litigator, the Council as a matter of policy, is unable to find him qualified due to his past felony conviction.

James Edward Hanlon, Jr. was admitted to practice in 1984. He is in private practice. He is considered to have good legal ability and temperament. He has substantial litigation experience. The Council finds him Qualified for the Circuit Court. James Paul Pieczonka was admitted to practice in 1983. He has spent most of his career as a sole practitioner doing both transactional work and litigation. In addition to his legal practice, he has been involved in real estate development matters. From 1985 to 1996, he also worked as an Administrative Law Judge for the Illinois Department of Revenue in the Hearings Division. Mr. Pieczonka has limited litigation experience. Some question his litigation skills. Much of his career has been related to transactional work and real estate development. The Council finds him Not Qualified for the Circuit Court. John Curry was admitted to practice in 1978. He is currently a shareholder and attorney with a small firm where he focuses on business litigation matters. From 1983 to 1986 he served as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S.