Special Note: Judge Jeannie Reynolds, Skokie Illinois is committing hate crimes, civil liberty crimes on a daily basis -and no one within the court system is doing a thing about the devastation to our families and especially our children.
BUT WE ARE-and we are growing in numbers every single day> CONTACT US, JOIN US at email: Judgereynoldsmustgo@yahoo.com
Reynolds is a very emotionally sick person, but guessing you know that just by being here, looking for help. Once we get her removed, we will then join to vote out those that look the other way to her continual crimes and devastation> let everyone you know to VOTE OUT CHIEF JUSTICE EVANS as a start
Help is on its way, you’re are far from alone, stop the fear that she counts on and please join us in strict confidence and also leave your comments at www.therobingroom.com
Thank you March, 2014
CLEAN UP THE COOK COUNTY COURTS (actually happening in ALL county courts) I was shocked by how many of you do not know any of the following is going on-but we cannot continue to look the other way or be so horribly uninformed. Can you, a voter in Cook County, name just three Cook County Judges? How about just ONE? (Not one person interviewed could name three, 99% couldn’t name even one) Do you know what you spend on these Judges, you can’t name? Did you know that you have NEVER voted off a Cook County Judge-actually, in the very last election YOU voted back on a Judge that is deemed LEGALLY INSANE! (see following article from the Chicago Magazine copied here)
Wait until you read further the story of Judge Jeannie Reynolds in Skokie-NOTHING was made up-it’s ALL true and it exists in YOUR courts
(The comments posted by readers that follow were edited to hide their identity from this Judge)
Do you want to know how we can save millions and millions a year off our taxes or creating new jobs? Do you know how many schools are being closed? Where are you Mayor Emanuel, Board president Toni Preckwinkle…? The Cook County Court is a cloistered, clandestine organization that has given themselves an unimaginable power and a disgusting flow of continual money and benefits with absolutely no outside oversight or accountability, whatsoever. Did you know that the Cook County Courts operate at an efficiency you would be fired for, while our classrooms are overcrowded due to teacher layoffs and our streets less safe from multi million dollar public safety budget cut? Did you know we can employee 8-10 more teachers or police officers in place of just one county Judge?
Let me repeat that; 8-10 more Teachers or Police Officers for just one associate Judge! The Cook County Courts inefficiencies do however allow many more Judges to be on the payroll while their ‘self regulation’ also allows them to keep us from inspecting their $300,000,000 annual budget! And the majority of Cook County Voters cannot even name three sitting Judges, let alone one-yet these ‘nameless’ Judges, who have complete immunity, can take all of your freedoms and constitutional rights away in under 5 seconds, without justifying it to a living soul. And you don’t know that either! How in the world did we ever let something like this happen? If you look into the Cook County annual budget, you will find that the judicial budget portion is cleverly hard to total for a true picture of what they spend annually; however, it is 31.5% of the county budget and well over three hundred million dollars! Have you seen your property tax bill lately? Well, add to that; Home Rule Taxes, Sales Tax (highest in the country) Gas Tax/Diesel, Cigarette Tax Retail Sale of Motor Vehicles, Wheel Tax, Alcoholic Beverage Tax, Use tax Home Rule Projects, Parking Lot/Garage Operations Tax, and Amusement tax So, buy some gas, buy a beer, buy a car, park a car or go to a concert…you name it-we are choking on county taxes. And as we desperately look for money today, there are millions and millions wasted annually by the Cook County Court’s Their pensions alone should disgust you to ‘no end’ Toni Preckwinkle just announced a plan to close courts on Saturdays-saving a projected $2 million a year and I would submit there are an additional $20 + million dollars to be ‘easily’ had in savings…just for starters The ‘lowest’ Judge on the pecking order is an associate Judge-they are NOT voted in, rather, they are appointed by other Judges-a very political position-and if you get a ‘bad’ one, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Associate Judges start at approximately $167,000 per year, plus health Insurance, vacation and retirement/pensions-putting them well over $200,000 per year, add in operating that one court room and you’re well over $400,000-500,000 per year! Circuit Judges, Presiding Judges and Chief Justices-dwarf that figure, do you know how many hours they truly work per year? Some counties and cities are waking up to this fact in this economy; August 17, 2011 Michigan started to wake up when the Detroit News reported that “it is recommended to cut 45 Judges, saving $7.8 million in just salaries alone”,( Cook County can probably double that figure and savings) (http://detnews.com/article/20110817/POLITICS02/108170402/Michigan-Supreme-Court-supports-cutting-49-judge-positions#ixzz1ZpkDAegQ) Did you know that Cook County wants to ADD an additional 19 Judges! Cook County tax payers have become like a personal ‘ATM’ for the county courts. Our judges cannot be fired-except through a Judicial Inquiry board (we will discuss) they cannot be sued, libel or really held accountable. If they are caught in wrongdoing, it’s a very long process, but they can be tried-you and I pay for their legal defense and pay for any fines they owe-and they can return to the bench! And they ‘police’ themselves…in ‘theory’ We have allowed one of the biggest scams, blights and drain on our society that has ‘ordained’, empowered and protected its’ interests ,so cleverly cloaked and almost ‘invisible’, that you don’t even know it’s happening-and that was surely by design. They want to ADD judges and you don’t know a damn thing about it! You can’t even name two current Judges. French political philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville said that in a democracy,” we get the government we deserve” We have also been called,” the United States of Apathy” That combination in our judicial system has become lethal to our ‘democracy’ and cost prohibitive. And it gets better. They have given themselves the power of contempt, which almost no lay person understands, and what this allows them to do to each and every one of us- not one citizen asked by this author, could tell me anything about the ‘power of contempt’. And yet, for any reason whatsoever, a Judge can hold you in contempt; you’re wearing the wrong shirt or a bad haircut-it’s all up to them. When you are held in contempt, you will be arrested and every right you have under our ‘beloved’ constitution and bill of rights-ENDS. The Judge that puts you in jail for civil contempt has to justify that incarceration to not a living soul! The only Judge that can set you free is the one that put you in jail, to begin with-what happened to our civil rights and freedoms we supposedly hold so dear? You’re too busy watching HBO For criminal contempt, there is a ‘writ of habeas corpus’, which puts you before another ‘brethren’ Judge, who most likely has lunch scheduled with the Judge that put you away-so good luck on that-however, I’m dealing here with civil contempt-which to me, is worse than criminal contempt in the power it gives these ‘lawyers in robes’. So I repeat; the Judge that puts you in jail for civil contempt has to justify that incarceration to not a living soul! They will claim that you’re only in jail until you comply with whatever that Judge wants you to comply with-who cares if it’s impossible for you to do so. One can spend a long time in jail in the U.S. without ever being charged with a crime. Ask H. Beatty Chadwick, a former Philadelphia-area lawyer, who has been behind bars for nearly 14 years without being charged-OVER A DIVORCE SQUABBLE! Businessman Manuel Osete spent nearly three years in an Arizona jail without ever receiving a criminal charge. And investment manager Martin Armstrong faced a similar situation when he was held for more than six years in a Manhattan jail. All three men were jailed for civil contempt, a murky legal concept. Some scholars say it is too often abused by judges, to the detriment of those charged and their due-process rights. “These results of too many civil-contempt confinements are flatly outrageous and often unconstitutional,” says Jayne Ressler, a professor at Brooklyn Law School. In some contexts, the federal system limits civil-contempt confinement to 18 months. Some states have similar limits. But in other states, judges face few restrictions on how long someone can be held in civil contempt. Civil contempt charges are meant to be coercive, issued to force behavior such as making a witness testify, compelling a journalist to reveal sources or strong-arming a parent into paying child support. Because civil “contemners” hold the key to their own freedom — after all, complying will spring them — they aren’t given the same due-process rights as criminal defendants. If someone held for civil contempt can’t meet the judge’s order, theoretically, the confinement should end. With the party and judge at loggerheads over, say, the availability of funds, it is often the contemner who loses, forced to remain behind bars at the mercy of a skeptical judge. That has sparked cries for reform. Consider Mr. Chadwick’s case. In 1994, during divorce proceedings, a Delaware County judge held Mr. Chadwick in civil contempt for failing to put $2.5 million in a court-controlled account. He says he lost the money in bad investments; his wife’s attorney claimed he had hidden it offshore. In April 1995, Mr. Chadwick was arrested and detained. Nearly 14 years later, Mr. Chadwick, who suffers from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is still in jail — even after a retired judge was hired to help locate the money, and failed “The money is gone,” says Mr. Chadwick’s lawyer, Michael Malloy. “The coercive effect of this order is gone; it has turned into a life sentence.” The judge who held Mr. Chadwick in contempt in 1994 couldn’t be reached for comment, but he has said publicly that he doesn’t believe Mr. Chadwick lacks the funds. Critics question why the burden rests with contemners such as Mr. Chadwick to prove they don’t have the money, rather than with a prosecutor to prove they do. “It runs counter to our entire system to say ‘It’s your burden to prove a negative,'” says Brooklyn Law School’s Ms. Ressler. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I was hiding that money, I would have gladly given it up in say, 2 months let alone 14 years of my life! I asked an attorney why they don’t fight that unmitigated power, he said, “we love it; Judges hardly ever put attorneys in jail and the contempt power makes people do what the attorney wants them to do”! Who Judges the Judges? I started out simply wanting to do something about a very, very bad Cook County Associate Judge, whom almost challenges one to do anything about it, through her complete impunity, and yet, her behavior is known to all. I have met over eight attorneys who cannot believe her behavior, two just recently told me they refuse to even practice in her court room. One told me the ‘joke’ is that any attorney who takes a male client before this Judge, should be held for ‘legal malpractice’ Yet, there she sits simply throwing people in jail, throwing ‘we the spectators’ out of ‘our’ own courtroom, tells attorneys she simply’ changed her mind’ on lawful rulings, berates disease stricken men, disregards the facts, the laws, violates a multitude of Judicial codes of conduct and the Cook County Cannons, acts as attorney and Judge for women (one woman, not an attorney, is sending women into this judges courtroom with an initial sophomoric motion-assuring them that “ as a woman, they don’t need a lawyer if they get this Judge”);this provable fact alone was also ignored by the ‘Judges in charge’, the list is almost endless of this Judges’ personal agenda and abuses, but in every case, disgusting on so many levels. Yet, not even the Presiding Judge or Chief Justice will lift a finger or call a single witness, and yet, one of their very own cannons states; a judge having knowledge of a violation of these canons on the part of a judge shall take or initiate appropriate disciplinary measures. So these ‘in charge Judges’ certainly know of this ‘vigilante’ Judge, but take no action-and yet, they police themselves, so they are in essence are accountable to…no one! This includes justifying their enormous budgets that come right from our pockets Understand, there is also no one protecting you or your rights from any Judge that may be emotionally unstable or with a personal agenda-on the contrary, they have created these ‘mini-dictatorships’-right under our collective noses, with complete immunity and no accountability. You think Washington is out of control just look in your own ‘backyard’! And boy, do they ever spend our money! While the ‘Judges in charge’ profess to not have any ‘power’ or authority over a really bad Judge, they do not, however, mind sending press releases telling us all of their great accomplishments in making our courts better: In June, 2011, the following was part of a press release; “Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans today announced his plan to implement a performance measurement initiative as part of his continuing efforts to make the court system more fair, just, transparent, efficient, and accountable”. And yet, when written and told about this associate judges ‘performance’ of abuse, personal agenda and bias, with offers of witnesses and attorney testimony, Evans replied with a ‘form’ letter that stated, ‘he is just an ‘administrative’ judge and basically had no authority to do anything about this Judge-so one would have to wonder what he intends to do with all the information he gathers through his ‘new performance initiative’-if he is ‘powerless’ to make any changes? He was, however, kind enough to include a list of lawyers-oddly, however, never mentioning the Judicial Inquiry Board’s existence…His ‘performance plan’ looks good in a press release though. In theory, it’s the voters who supposedly have the ‘power’ to elect and or to ‘not retain’ Cook County Judges (except of course the appointed associate Judges-whom are completely ’cloaked’ and ‘invincible’) But you the voter really don’t care-and boy oh boy, do they count on that! When you, the apathetic voter go to the polls, they have conveniently given you one very easy button to push that simply says, ‘retain all’ And, since you cannot even name two, let alone three Judges, and, you have errands to run, you ‘retain all’, because after all, if you do not want to retain them, you have to go through a seemingly endless list of ‘no name’ Judges, whereby you must check off ‘Do not retain’, one by one. Who has time for that, huh? So what’s the difference-a Judge is a Judge. The truth is, like anything else, you will always get some ‘bad apples’. The problem here is that once they’re on the bench, it is almost impossible to get them off. So, the bad ones are really bad-“absolute power corrupts, absolutely” They get this feeling of invincibility, they have their own personal agendas, and they can become absolutely brutal-with no fear of any retribution. And you’ve allowed that to happen, for come every election time, both the newspapers and the Illinois Bar Association list highly incompetent Judges and state why they should NOT be retained. Last election there were 18 listed as the worst of the worst. Do you know how many Judges in Cook County history YOU have NOT retained? NONE! You leave the’ bad apples’ on the bench and this only empowers them more to whereby they become an unstoppable cancer. And they hurt people very badly, without a second thought-and they rob us of our precious rights and millions and millions of dollars. The problem is that the good Judges do not do a damn thing about the bad ones. I was just like you-oblivious to what really goes on and what a scam this all is, in addition to a major financial drain for us all. I have never seen something so out of control, and with complete impunity, and a budget so out of control-in my life I watch in horror in this Judges Court room, her unmitigated bias towards men, and not just against me, to what can only be considered a self-appointed vigilante-and she doesn’t care who knows. And the thing is, they ALL know! It is almost surreal that this behavior can take place in this country. Lawyers all talk about her-and, as one attorney put it, ‘flock’ from her court room when they obtain a new ‘male’ client (her case load is half of her predecessors). The law schools talk about her bad behavior; I even had a court reporter state that, “in all of her years, she had never witnessed this kind of judicial behavior and brutality”. And that Judge was just reappointed for four more years; no input, no job evaluation, no citizen vote! As I mentioned, I went to both the Chief Justice and the Presiding Judge with many facts-and received a form letter from stating, “They were just an administrative Judge and couldn’t do anything about a ‘bad’, ‘out of control’, judge” A Chief Justice ‘powerless’ to do anything about an associate, non elected Judge who is out of control? Then who’s in charge; Kind of the ‘inmates running the asylum’. However, ‘Chief Justice’ is a nice title and he makes a boatload of ‘your’ money. Attorneys will not take any Judges to task, for the Judge is their lifeline to making money. I haven’t met an attorney yet, who has been before this Judge, that doesn’t have horrific words about her, her bias, her abuse and her own contempt and disregard for the law. And yet, not one will try to do a damn thing about her. I recently met two attorneys who “will not practice in her court room”-they actually turn down business if it involves anything to do with the vigilante judge! How is this allowed to continue? How many more like her are there? So who the hell is in charge? Who is in charge of the money? Here’s an even scarier piece of information; this Judge sits, or has sat upon, numerous ‘hardcore’ women’s rights organization boards and causes, her own divorce(s); what a wonderful way to further a personal agenda than to sit as a Judge over men-with no accountability to a living soul! And the ‘party line’ excuse all the way up their Judicial ‘flagpole’ is, “just another unhappy litigant that didn’t get his way”-which somehow, along with your apathy and ignorance to what is really taking place, allows them to sweep their abhorrent behavior ‘under the carpet made from our flag’ By the way, I have no case in front of her…I am simply appalled that this behavior is even remotely allowed in our court rooms (go see for yourself-it is on ‘display everyday and virtually unreal). So what can you do about the ‘bad apples’? They will tell you have three choices; 1) You can always appeal a Judge’s ruling-yes, you can, if you have approximately $10,000 for a legal retainer plus another, minimum of $10,000, when it’s all said and done-in other words, you can try to get justice if you have the money-again, very clever means of insuring that 99% of us NEVER challenge a ruling. And if you were to win an appeal, it does nothing about that Judge’s overall behavior or bias and, as a special prize; you get to continue your case before that very same judge, who you just had overturned-but fear not, they don’t even get their hand slapped! Oh, and in case you mortgage the house to appeal, the success rate of winning an appeal is 15% Here’s another great option; you can file a motion for substitution of that Judge for cause-in hopes of simply getting a different judge that you hope would not be biased and would hear you out simply on your facts and evidence. Sounds good-oh, except you of course go before another Judge with all of your grievances’ about the first Judge and if you lose…you get to appear before that very same judge whom, if you think treated you unfairly the first time, is now so empowered you are a ‘dead man walking’ I had my day in court on a motion for substitution of Judge-this Judge however, refused to allow me to even speak, refused to call any of my witnesses and refused to hear the motion at all. Now this is going to shock you; turns out, she (this ‘new’ Judge) has a long relationship with the Judge I came to complain about being biased towards men and having a personal agenda-and, it gets better; that relationship between the two Judges, is based on working together for women’s rights groups for years. It’s like they have infiltrated our Judicial system, have their personal agendas and know there is basically not a damn thing you can do about it-not that you even know it’s all going on to begin with. Wouldn’t even hear a 20 page motion! It’s another ‘absolute’ right and due process, they simply ignore. The ‘new’ Judge has the same ‘bosses’ that have said, nothing we can do, we are just administrative Judges” (whatever that means!)…and around and around we go But wait, remember you have yet another solid choice to take a ‘bad’ judge to task; (3) they call it the ‘Judicial Inquiry Board’-(not that either the Chief justice, or the Presiding Judge ever brought the mere existence of the board up, or the fact that they aren’t real visible or easy to find to begin with). The Judicial Inquiry Board takes complaints about ‘bad’ Judges and they then determine whether or not to investigate. The board receives approximately 450 complaints per year. In the last 14 years, at 450 complaints per year, equal 6,300 complaints. Why 14 years? That’s the last time the Judicial Inquiry Board took a Judge off the bench; 1998 Do you think there might be at least one more ‘bad apple’ out of 6,300 complaints since then? I don’t even profess to know what income these board members command. Are you waking up yet? I just did, and it was the vigilante associate judge that got me looking into the system they created that has absolutely NO place in any court and especially, not in this country. Robert Kennedy wrote; Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.” So what can ‘we the people’ do? (see the corresponding blog) Because I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have the teachers, the police officers, better schools even lower taxes-you name it. But, most of all, I don’t want my rights and my freedoms, so disregarded, so ‘spit upon’ or so easily stomped out. We send our kids to Afghanistan to supposedly protect, with their lives, the very freedoms being slaughtered right in our own backyard-all under our flag. I do not want some lawyer in a robe, who should be honored to be called your honor, and is so entrusted with our trust and expectation of fairness and justice, to be able to be a vigilante and a ‘bad apple’ with absolutely no retribution to such behavior at all-and they basically cannot be fired The elected ones get to keep their campaign funds, their absurd retirement pensions and of course, they have their ‘retain all’ buttons on the ballots. And you, ‘the people’, blindly push them every election! I want my vote to count! I was ‘blown away’ by how many of you have no idea about any of this and your apathy-and that’s exactly how they want it…Psssst, those aren’t robes…they’re ‘cloaks’ So, here are my suggestions-and we’re going to need all the help we can get, from media, legislators and citizens-all of whom should share my outrage: >Let’s get an outside assessment of the efficiencies of our courts-let’s get rid of the ‘waste’ and hire more teachers and /or police officers or take the wasted money and lower our taxes. Let’s no longer leave it to the ‘fox in the hen-house’ with a 300 million dollar annual budget!-Think about that every time you buy anything in Cook County! > Let’s form a citizens’ board that is empowered to really look into judicial abuse, with the power to do something about it-not make legal judgments, rather, to make moral ones to give ‘we the people’ somewhere to turn to and be protected, that wasn’t concocted by the very people we need the protection from-and one that doesn’t take money to get justice. > Be informed, research these Judges in the newspapers and the Illinois Bar Association website BEFORE you vote (You can’t name 3 Cook County judges right now) It’s shameful-YOU just reelected them ALL in the very last election INCLUDING a Judge that has been deemed LEGALLY INSANE! Under our system, one bad and unjust Judge is worse than probably 50 good ones, for we are a nation of laws and fairness and justice and the last people who should ever not uphold those rights and expectations are the very Judges we have entrusted to do so- people died for those rights! So simply start by dusting off your apathy, let your State Representative know it’s time to start cleaning up these courts, or at the very least, start holding them all accountable. Let’s, ‘we the people’, impose our own and badly needed ‘term limits. Simply take the extra 5 minutes, while voting, to clean up the Cook County Courts ourselves and replace them all-DO NOT RETAIN any Judge, one by one-(remember, they are counting on your laziness and apathy not to vote them out) until the good Judges stop looking the other way and do something about the bad ones-we cannot afford the bad ones in our judicial system-not even one! Remember, they do not all come up for retention at the same time, so in reality, we may just be NOT retaining maybe 50 Judges out of 400-but what it will do is force them to be 100% more efficient immediately, send a very clear message to the next ‘batch’ of Judges coming up for retention and shift the power back to where it belongs; ‘we the people’ I also believe we will immediately find we probably didn’t need the majority of them after all. If you just can’t bring yourself to vote all of these nameless Judges off the bench, will you, again, at the very least, read what the newspapers and the Illinois Bar Association has to say about these Judges and go to the polls, informed. Ironically, either way, it may not matter, for here’s another little power they gave their ‘dark cloaked club’ that you know nothing about-you can vote them off the bench and the Illinois Supreme court can immediately reinstate them! (see Tribune article 12.23.12-Front page)! Did you read that last line? If that doesn’t demonstrate how they have hijacked our courts, our money, our trust, for their personal gains-then you are hopeless. So in a sense, your vote may not really count after all-so let’s force it to count; a mass vote removal from the bench would probably draw too much attention to their putting them all back-and they don’t like attention focused on their ‘feathered nests’. They are making and costing us millions upon millions! We also will finally send a clear message; these are our courts, we elect you, you work for us and if you destroy that trust and honor we bestowed upon you, you need to go and the ‘Free’ ride is over-‘we the people ‘are taking back our courts. They should stand and thank us, when we walk into a court room, not the other way around. I want to note again, that this author has no ongoing or current litigation before the vigilante Judge in this article-I am simply appalled by it all and If all of this doesn’t make you really mad and finally make you realize what’s going on here and doesn’t make you want to take back our courts, defend our freedoms and rights, our money and stop this drain and scam on us all, and say ‘enough is enough’ to these self-appointed ‘deities’ and vote them all off; until they ‘clean up their house, and open their ‘manufactured dark shades of transparency’… Then simply tell me the names of three Cook County Judges right now, after all, you’re giving them Millions and Millions of dollars every year, benefits, campaign funds, the millions we pay for running their courts and their endless pensions…at the expense of you and your children You have also given them the right to instantly strip you of every right you have under the constitution and justify it to not a living soul Shirley, you can name three Judges you have so empowered and so enriched… Ok, How about naming just ONE Judge? I will; the vigilante Judges name is Associate Judge Jeanne M Reynolds in Skokie, Illinois. Simply, sit and observe her court room for yourself-it is truly surreal, disgusting on so many levels and has absolutely NO place in our judicial system-but you cannot even vote her out, as she is appointed so let’s vote out those that appointed her, those that refuse to lift a finger in the defense of ‘we the people’, those that do not follow our own cannons of judicial conduct, by looking the other way and let’s create our own board to hold them accountable! And let’s make it only a beginning… This unbridled brutality and non-accountability, has got to stop It’s beyond time to clean up the Cook County Courts-start by voting them all off their ‘fortressed’ benches Cleanupthecourts.wordpress.com Email: Cleanupthecookcountycourts@yahoo.com New article coming up in the Chicago Magazine-You should read this, it’s a very good suggestion! CHICAGO MAGAZINE How to Fix Cook County’s Judge Problem OBJECTION!: In Illinois, it’s easy for bad judges to stick around for life. Time for a change By Whet Moser You’ve heard of Cynthia Brim, right? The 54-year-old Chicagoan made headlines last March when she was charged with misdemeanor battery for pushing one sheriff’s deputy and throwing her keys at another (a court-appointed psychiatrist declared her “legally insane” at the time). She has also racked up 18 years of near-universal negative ratings for performance at her job: judge for the Circuit Court of Cook County. Yet last November, nearly 64 percent of voters chose to retain her. In fact, county residents voted to retain every single one of the 57 candidates on November’s circuit court ballot—including four judges deemed “not qualified” by most bar associations. This happens in nearly every judicial election around here: Since 1990, the retention rate has been 100 percent. You already know part of the reason. Voting in judicial retention elections is like cramming for a test in a class you always skip: cribbing notes from someone who was there (in this case, the voting recommendations of the bar associations—all 11 of them) and trying to remember the answers when it comes time to pencil in all those arrows. “Staying informed is like a full-time job,” says Matthew Streb, a political science professor at Northern Illinois University. But the bigger problem is that in Illinois, unlike in the majority of other states where judges get reelected, you don’t get to choose between the current judges—who have mostly been picked by the powerful ward and township committeemen in Cook County—and new candidates for the job. When jurists’ six-year terms are up, you simply get asked whether you want to retain them or fire them. Because most people don’t bother to vote in retention elections—or they just mark “yes” on a straight party line—even bad judges get electoral mulligans. The irony of all this is that judicial retention elections—instituted by Illinois in 1964—were meant to combat the power of the political machine. Originally, they were the idea of Albert Kales, a law professor at Northwestern University, who observed how dominant parties controlled judicial appointments through partisan elections. Kales proposed that the governor select judges based on merit, using recommendations from a board of lawyers and nonlawyers, after which voters would decide whether to retain them. The process was meant to be a compromise, even though it was a sop to politics in its own way. Isn’t there a better approach? Yes—and it’s been happening in Colorado, says Elizabeth Monkus, a project director at the nonprofit Judicial Performance Commission of Cook County. In that state, an appointed committee (a mix of lawyers and nonlawyers) interviews judges, analyzes court data, and surveys everyone from litigants to social service workers. The result: detailed evaluations—published in a guide mailed to all Colorado voters—that compare judges not only to a universal standard but to other judges in the system. In the 11 election cycles since the program was created in 1988, ten judges have been voted out. “That system works really well,” says Monkus. In Arizona, which adopted a similar procedure in 1992, the system has improved the judiciary by scaring bad judges away. “Rather than face the public humiliation of such a rating on the ballot and in the voter publicity pamphlet, these affected judges chose to retire,” a study of Arizona’s system found. Could that happen here too? Chicagoans don’t scare easily. But it’s worth a try