The Judicial Fairness Project is Illinois' only government watchdog dedicated to reforming the judiciary. We are a 501(c)(4) organization committed to educating Illinoisans about the importance of an independent and fair judiciary. The judicial branch of government considers and renders opinions on important constitutional questions, as well as smaller issues that affect all of our lives as Illinoisans. The Judicial Fairness Project is dedicated to educating the public regarding the consequential decisions made by the Illinois judiciary, and on the manner in which members of the judiciary are chosen for their roles.
Fill out this form to stay up to date with the latest from Judicial Fairness Project.
Justice Ware was slated, elected and served on Cook County Circuit Court until his retirement in 2003
Winnebago County Associate Judge Steven Vecchio allegedly intervened in a number of matters involving police action on behalf of his personal friends and acquaintances, using his position as judge to affect or influence police conduct. 7 Complaint dismissed by the Illinois Courts Commission with no consequences imposed.
In a case of ghost payrolling from the bench, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Roger Scrivner was charged with paying jurors for days when they did not attend court or deliberate merely because they were voters. When asked about his motive, Scrivner simply responded: ‘You know, to put your best foot forward in front of these jurors. These are your voters out there.’8 Complaint dismissed by the Illinois Courts Commission with no consequences imposed.
A complaint charged that Cook County Associate Judge Charles A. Alfano assaulted a police officer issuing a traffic citation to his son. The judge first tried to convince the officer not to issue a citation to his son, and after he was unsuccessful, he became angry and verbally abused and is alleged to have physically assaulted the officer.9 Complaint dismissed by the Illinois Courts Commission with no consequences imposed.
Cook County Judge Arthur Rosenblum allegedly used his position as a judge to improperly influence criminal proceedings against a former tenant in a building he owned, and when prosecutors said jurors would not be told he was a judge if the case went to trial, the judge specifically stated that he hoped the jury would know he was a judge before the jury decided the defendant’s fate.10 Complaint dismissed by the Illinois Courts Commission with no consequences imposed.
Cook County Circuit Judge Michael Close allegedly derided multiple nationalities, be it those ‘limey Britishers’ or Yugoslavians, whom he called ‘not (the) greatest citizens in the United States.’ Danish women, the judge suggested, are easy. In dismissing a home-invasion charge, he said he could believe that a woman of Danish heritage would have invited the defendant home and demanded sex.11 Complaint dismissed by the Illinois Courts Commission with no consequences imposed.
a. Stating: “But the process at its core remains a political one in which proven loyalty to the party outweighs legal credentials.” 1
a. From 2003 to 2011, Madigan recommended 37 lawyers to be appointed associate judges and 25 were selected.
b. Half of the lawyers recommended by Madigan had contributed to his daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
a. The changes approved by the legislature were projected to save the state $160 Billion over 30 years and erase a $100 Billion pension shortfall.
b. The pension legislation raised the retirement age for some employees, capped pensionable salaries, and limited cost-of-living increases.
c. “Unions representing current and retired employees sued, arguing that the changes violated the state's pension clause…”
a. “The decision, written by Justice Anne Burke, rejected a lower court’s ruling that found the 2007 law violated the Illinois Constitution’s prohibition against special legislation.”
b. At issue in the case was a law passed in 2006 that allowed union officials to count their union service towards a state teachers pension, but only if they had obtained teaching certificates and worked in a classroom before the bill was signed into law.
a. The caps were passed on a bipartisan basis and signed by a Democratic Governor due to concerns that skyrocketing malpractice insurance costs were driving doctors out of Illinois.
a. “The Court said the legislature’s caps violate the separation of powers by infringing on the judiciary.”
b. The ruling represented the Court’s third rejection of malpractice caps and struck down the entirety of the 2005 law.
c. Justices Karmeier and Garman dissented from the opinion, writing that the Supreme Court’s job was to “do justice under the law, not to make the law. Formulating statutory solutions to social problems is the prerogative of the legislature. Whether there is a solution to the health-care crisis is anyone’s guess. I am certain, however, that if such a solution can be found, it will not come from the judicial branch. It is critical, therefore, that the courts not stand as an obstacle to legitimate efforts by the legislature and others to find an answer.”
1. In 2014, LaSalle County Circuit Judge Joseph Hettel Pled Guilty To DUI2
2. In 2009, Peoria County Associate Judge Albert Purham Jr. Pled Guilty To DUI3
3. In 2008, Cook County Judge Sheila McGinnis Was Arrested For DUI4
4. In 2006, Associate Judge Steven Nordquist Pled Guilty To DUI5
5. In 2006, St. Clair Judge Patrick Young Was Charged With DUI6
6. In 1998, LaSalle County Circuit Judge Cynthia Raccuglia Was Arrested For DUI7
7. In 1998, Cook County Associate Judge Edwin Gausselin Was Arrested For DUI8
8. In 1990, Sangamon County Associate Judge George Ray Was Reprimanded – The Lowest Possible Punishment – For DUI9
9. In 1980, Appellate Judge John Karns Jr. Was Arrested For DUI10
10. In 1975, Cook County Associate Judge Robert Sweeney Was Reprimanded – The Lowest Possible Punishment – For DUI11
11. In 1973, Stephenson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Law Was Censured, But Not Removed From Office, For DUI Three Times12