Vote As If Your Life Depends On It: Retaining Good Divorce Judges

Now that Sandy has done its damage, the politicians
are back on the campaign trail.
You have watched the debates, read articles, blog
posts and more to try to decide who to vote for.
Mind made up yet?
Good, because now you need to focus on the
judicial elections!
What?  Judicial?  Elections?

Most voters never go far enough down on the
ballot to notice that there are judicial elections
and/or votes for the retention of judges.  But yes,
there are and these elections are so important for
keeping our judicial system strong.
If you are involved  now, or ever have been, in a
divorce, you will realize how much your judge can
affect your life.
So how do you know which ones to vote for? 

There are groups that take on the process of
judicial screening.
For example, various bar associations, like the Chicago Bar 
Association, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, [CCL] and The 
Illinois Bar Association have issued recommendations.
The Chicago Tribune has alsoissued its recommendations.
The Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening
compiles all the recommendations into a comprehensive chart.
Circuit court judges need a 60% retention vote every six years
to stay on the bench.
In Cook County Circuit Court there are only six judges
that the Chicago Tribune recommends should NOT be
retained [Vote NO].
They are:
Cynthia Brim
Gloria Chevere
Rodney Hughes Brooks
Christopher Donnelly
Pamela Hill-Veal
Lisa Ruble Murphy

Of the above, only Lisa Ruble Murphy is a Domestic
Relations Judge.
In contrast to the Tribune,  The Chicago Council of
Lawyers has given her a "Qualified" rating. For the
reasons why she should be retained, read the Chicago
Council of Lawyers report on page 27. Although Ms. Murphy
is criticised because she forces some couples to
settle when it might
not be in the interest of one of them to do so, you
can decide if this makes her unsuited to stay on
the bench.
The Chicago Bar Association also recommends a "No"
vote for her at page 17.
Among the group of judges up for retention and who are
recommended for retention and rated “Highly Qualified”
by the CCL are:
Judge Grace G. Dickler, the current Presiding
Judge of the Domestic Relations Division.
Judge Moshe Jacobius, Presiding Judge of the
Chancery Division [full disclosure:he is the judge
presiding over my current proceeding.  He hopes that
it is the last divorce case that he will have to
handle! We seem to have that effect on our judges.....
after they deal with us, they never want to come back
to the D/R Division!].
Judge Marya Nega who presided over a hearing
during the first trial about some property issues.
In Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, the editorial
page included a list of its endorsements. If you
have no other time to read the other reports, take
this one page list of the Trib's endorsements.
I also found that the findings  and reasons of the
Chicago Council of Lawyer’s Judicial Recommendations were
quite informative as to the reasons for the rating. If you
want to read the entire report click here.
This is a good source to learn about your judge.
Keep in mind that not every judge is up for a retention
vote each election.  The CCL web site still has
the 2010 report up, so check both reports both
to see if your judge is in either one.

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