BENCHED: Bar Associations Rate Judges On The Ballot

Separating the wheat from the chaff.
Image: Parris Blog

With early voting underway, we though we would pass along some information to consider when you come to the frequently-skipped judicial retention section of the ballot.

No Cook County judge has lost a retention vote since 1990.

Not even Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Brim. She was retained by voters in 2012 just seven months after she shoved a sheriff’s deputy in a Cook County courthouse. (She was found not guilty in that case by reason of insanity.)

A CWB reader dropped us an email on Saturday:

Every election year, there are judges up for election and retention. Ten different bar associations get together and poll their members about issues with each judge so they can either be recommended or not.

The way retention works is that judges only need 60% yes votes. Leaving the ballot blank is the same as a yes. With people uneducated on this, they go to the voting booth and either vote yes for everyone or leave it blank because they don’t know how to vote.

Because of this system, bad judges never get kicked off the bench. The ballot can be daunting because it’s so long. All people really need to do is find the few really bad ones and vote no.

You can review the entire list of judicial ratings from all 10 bar associations HERE.

To save you some time, though, we’ve compiled a list of judges and candidates who received at least one “not recommended,” “not qualified,” or “do not retain” rating.

You are allowed to take this list into the voting booth.

Sitting judges who received “do not retain” recommendations from at least one bar association:

  • Themis N. Karnezis
  • James L. Rhodes
  • Sheila McGinnis
  • Dennis Michael McGuire
  • Laura Marie Sullivan
  • Joan Powell
  • Pamela Elizabeth Loza
  • Annie O’Donnell

Candidates for judicial vacancies who received at least one grade of “Not Qualified” or “Not Recommended” from local bar associations.

  • Kristal Rivers
  • Patricia O’Brien Sheahan
  • Diana Rosario
  • Steven G. Watkins
  • Terrence J. McGuire
  • John J. Mahoney
  • Judy Rice
  • James Paul Pieczonka

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is