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Hallowe’en-scary abortion ads a disservice to democracy

By Jim Nowlan     The airwaves are clogged with Hallowe’en-scary ads this fall, making preposterous claims that voting for Republican candidates for the state Supreme Court will cause Illinois to criminalize abortion. When desperate, you do desperate things. The absurdity is obvious to any thoughtful voter, to wit: Illinois is a Blue state that…

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The Deal—I can’t prove it, but everyone knows it’s true

By Jim Nowlan Here’s The Deal: Lawyers and judges elevated to the Illinois Supreme Court by the Judicial Nominating Committee of the Cook County Democratic Party are allowed to be the best jurists they can be on 90-95 percent of the cases before them. But, on any cases affecting the Party, such as redistricting reform,…

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Blog: How Indicted Alderman Ed Burke Shaped Illinois Judiciary

By Jim Nowlan Indicted Chicago alderman Ed Burke is back in the news, as he has been regularly during the two years since he was indicted on 14 charges of public corruption. (Young people may come to think his first name is “Indicted”.) The 78-year-old Burke has thus far spent $2.7 million of the $12…

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Pritzker continues battle over masks in schools, appeals case to Illinois Supreme Court

The state of Illinois has appealed a Feb. 17 decision from the 4th District Appellate Court which effectively rejected state rules requiring masks in schools.

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Democrats Push Voters Down Rabbit Hole Into Alice’s Wonderland

By Jim Nowlan As expected, the federal court in Chicago washed its hands last week of the new, grotesque Illinois House and Senate districts, saying it’s the business of the state of Illinois to create the districts. Thus, supremely confident that the Democrat majority on the Illinois Supreme Court would uphold whatever their partisan colleagues wrought,…

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Blog: Cook County: The Court Corruption Capital of America in 1980-90s

By Jim Nowlan Cook County, Illinois, became the court corruption capital of America during the 1980-90s, an irremovable stain that highlights our state’s reputation around the world for political and judicial corruption. The U.S. Department of Justice sought and achieved convictions of scores(!) of Chicago-based judges, court personnel and attorneys, for blatantly operating “pay for…

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Retired judge says new judge’s bond court debut was ‘a prime example of judicial activism’

It has been a week since Cook County Circuit Judge Kelly McCarthy’s debut in Chicago’s felony bond court left many people scratching their heads.

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Blog: Abusive Gerrymandering In Illinois Results From Court Corruption

By Jim Nowlan I became involved with the Judicial Fairness Project as an outlet for my simmering outrage over a 2016 Illinois Supreme Court decision. A partisan decision that year by the court’s 4-3 Democratic majority denied our state’s voters the opportunity to say if they preferred redistricting by an independent commission—over the contorted, wormlike…

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Attorney accuses Pritzker of ‘judge shopping’ in try to move mask mandate suits to Cook County, Springfield courts

A lawyer representing hundreds of students and their families in lawsuits against Gov. JB Pritzker and dozens of school districts across Illinois, has accused Pritzker of “judge shopping” in trying to transfer all legal challenges to his school mask mandates to judges in either Chicago or Springfield.

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Blog: Judicial Corruption Casts Dark Shadow Over Illinois

By Jim Nowlan Judicial corruption in Illinois—there has been lots of it over the decades, and it continues to cast a dark shadow over our state. This is the first in a series of essays about how Illinois courts became corrupt, and of what we can do to eliminate, at least lighten the shadow, of…

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Suburban Chicago police chiefs back bill to ‘override’ Kim Foxx’s lax charging decisions

Illinois Republicans and suburban Chicago-area police chiefs are backing a new bill that would allow officers to override relaxed charging decisions by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, as surging, gang-related violent crime is now extending into the suburbs surround the metropolitan area.

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Magnificent Mile: More Trouble For Area That Was Once A Crown Jewel Of American Retail

Chicago Police have issued a formal warning after continued robberies on and around the city’s Magnificent Mile, at a time when stores continue to leave while others fight to stay in business after big pandemic hits.

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Greylord-era murder case tainted by corrupt judge is re-docketed in Cook County criminal court

A relic of a scandalous era in Cook County history made its way back to the courthouse where it all began Monday — setting up the possibility of a new trial on a 1982 double murder with links to the Outfit and the momentous federal probe known as “Operation Greylord.”

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Ald. Ed Burke ‘Thoroughly Corrupt’: Federal Prosecutors

Federal prosecutors defended their decision to hit Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward) with a 14-count corruption indictment in a court filing released Wednesday, saying Chicago’s longest-serving alderman is “thoroughly corrupt and worthy of prosecution.”

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Prosecutors say ComEd scheme to influence Madigan was bribery, not lobbying

“An alleged scheme to lavish benefits on longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan in exchange for his influence”

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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.

  1. Summaries of Complaints Filed with the Courts Commission, Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board Website, Accessed 5/6/21
  2. Ken Armstrong, “Spare The Rod, Spoil The Judge, Critics Argue,” Chicago Tribune, 6/23/96
  3. Summaries of Complaints Filed with the Courts Commission, Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board Website, Accessed 5/6/21
  4. Summaries of Complaints Filed with the Courts Commission, Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board Website, Accessed 5/6/21
  5. Ken Armstrong, “Spare The Rod, Spoil The Judge, Critics Argue,” Chicago Tribune, 6/23/96

a. Stating: “But the process at its core remains a political one in which proven loyalty to the party outweighs legal credentials.” 1

  1. Abdon M. Pallasch, “Making The Slate: Proven Loyalty To The Party Outweighs Lofty Credentials For Judge Candidates,” Chicago Sun Times, 11/27/05

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.

  • In 2009, the Supreme Court reappointed four Cook County judges who had lost in the 2008 Democratic Primary. Among them was the uncle of two other sitting judges, the wife of a former Appellate Court Judge, and a frequent Democratic Party donor.
  • In 2010, the Supreme Court reappointed seven Cook County judges who had lost elections in prior years, including the son of a sitting judge and Alfred Swanson – a generous Democratic Party donor – to the Cook County Circuit Court and then reappointed him in late 2012 despite Swanson losing his election.
  • Lauretta Higgins Wolfson – who was the wife of a former Appellate Judge and supported by House Speaker Mike Madigan – was first appointed a judge in 2006 and repeatedly reappointed despite being rejected by the voters.
    • Madigan backed her for an associate judge position in 2008, but lost when she ran for the bench that same year. The court issued ‘recall’ orders in 2008 and 2009 to keep her on the bench through late 2012. Then, in 2012, the court gave her a new appointment that lasted until Dec. 1, 2014.
  • A politically active former Public Defender, Kenneth Fletcher has been reappointed to the bench multiple times after losing.
  • Diann Marsalek – A party-backed candidate and Democratic donor – lost her 2010 primary but was appointed in September 2011 despite a “Not Qualified” finding from the Chicago Council Of Lawyers.
  • Politically connected lawyer and Democrat donor Sheldon Harris was first appointed to the Cook County Circuit Court by the Supreme Court in 2000, and was repeatedly reappointed for the next ten years despite being rejected by the voters.


  • “The Illinois constitution is meant to prevent tyranny, not to enshrine it. Today…four members of our court have delivered, as a fait accompli, nothing less than the nullification of a critical component of the Illinois Constitution of 1970.”
  • “Today a muzzle has been placed on the people of this state, and their voices supplanted with judicial fiat. The whimper you hear is democracy stifled.”

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.

  • After the legislation was passed, a teachers union lobbyist assured fellow employees that he would attempt to slow down the signing of the bill into law to allow more people to serve their day as a substitute teacher.

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

  1. Tom Collins, “Judge Pleads Guilty To DUI Charge,” News Tribune, 5/20/14
  2. “Peoria County Judge Pleads Guilty To DUI,” The Associated Press, 9/5/09
  3. Kim Jannsen, “Judge Found Guilty Of DUI Still Banking $150,000 Pay,” Chicago Sun Times, 1/25/09
  4. “Judge Gets $2,300 Fine, Supervision For DUI,” The Associated Press, 7/27/06
  5. Jim Suhr, “Police Say Judge Refused Sobriety Test After Car Wreck While Another Judge Ditched Beer,” The Associated Press, 12/8/06
  6. Decision, In re Circuit Judge Cynthia Raccuglia, Illinois Courts Commission, No. 99 CC 2, 10/9/01
  7. Decision, In re: Associate Judge Edwin A. Gausselin, Illinois Courts Commission, No. 99-CC-1, 11/18/99
  8. Summaries of Complaints Filed with the Courts Commission, Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board Website, Accessed 5/6/21
  9. Summaries of Complaints Filed with the Courts Commission, Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board Website, Accessed 5/6/21
  10. Summaries of Complaints Filed with the Courts Commission, Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board Website, Accessed 5/6/21
  11. Summaries of Complaints Filed with the Courts Commission, Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board Website, Accessed 5/6/21