Throw the Judges Out

Bar groups rate the unqualified

By Steve Rhodes
|  Monday, Nov 3, 2008  |  Updated 12:57 PM CDT
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Throw the Judges Out

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Some judges just aren't cutting the mustard, according to two professional groups who are listing the judges they don't recommend.

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Every year there are horror stories about atrocious judges who get on or remain on the bench despite the pleadings of local bar groups. Don't let it happen again!  Here is a guide to the judges - and candidates for judgeships - that the Chicago Bar Association thinks you should vote against, with the views of the Chicago Council of Lawyers sprinkled in.

Anthony Lynn Burrell. "Judge Anthony Burrell has problems with punctuality and absences. In addition, Judge Burrell is poorly organized, which affects his ability to run a high volume courtroom."

The Chicago Council of Lawyers, however, found Burrell qualified. "He is considered to have good legal knowledge and temperament."

Evelyn B. Clay. "Concerns were raised about Judge Clay's knowledge of the law and poor judgment in making insensitive comments from the bench."

The Chicago Council of Lawyers also found Clay unqualified. "[She] sometimes exhibits indecision on the bench and inconsistencies in her rulings."

Vanessa A. Hopkins. "Judge Hopkins' lack of legal experience and legal knowledge is a concern. Judge Hopkins is extremely slow and prone to giving very long continuances for a call that should move more quickly. There is a general report by lawyers who appear before her that she has a temperament problem and takes challenges or questions personally. Judge Hopkins also has problems with being on time and seems unable to figure out what she needs to do to efficiently and effectively manage her court call."

The Chicago Council of Lawyers also found Hopkins unqualified. "Laywers complain that she too often loses control over her courtroom, has an impatient temperament, and is sometimes not punctual."

Casandra Lewis. "Judge Lewis has problems in a number of areas including starting her call on time and diligently carrying out her duties on the bench. Judge Lewis needs to improve her work ethic and was less than respectful of the bar associations' peer review process."

The Chicago Council of Lawyers also found Lewis unqualified. "Many lawyers complain that she is not well-prepared and is often not punctual in taking the bench."

Kristyna Colleen Ryan. Unqualified because she declined to participate in the screening process.

Maureen H. Masterson-Pulia. "Prior to her legal career, the candidate served as a Village Clerk and Village Trustee. She has good management skills and is articulate and poised. She has worked as an arbitrator for the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission for the last six and a half years and is well regarded for her timely and well-written decisions. Ms. Masterson-Pulia is a fine candidate but needs to acquire some litigation work."

The Chicago Council of Lawyers also finds Masterson-Pulia unqualified. "Her practice has been narrow and that she lacks sufficient litigation experience as a practitioner in complex matters."

Jackie Marie Portman. Declined to participate, therefore is automatically not recommended.

Dominique C. Ross. "While Ms. Ross has a fine demeanor, at this stage of her career, she does not possess the requisite breadth and depth of legal experience to serve as a Circuit Court Judge."

Carol L. Barnes. Declined to participate, therefore is automatically not recommended.

The Chicago Council of Lawyers also finds Barnes unqualified because she refused to submit materials for evaluation.

The Chicago Council of Lawyers also found the following judges and candidates unqualified, though the CBA found them qualified.

Edward N. Pietrucha. "He is reported to exhibit bullying behavior toward lawyers, children, and their parents and guardians."

Valerie E. Turner. "[S]ome lawyers question her diligence, believing that she under-schedules her calender. Judge Turner's temperament is storngly criticized by some lawyers, who report that she becomes too easily frustrated with attorneys and litigants and sometimes reprimands or chastises them in ways that may be inappropriate."

Laura J. Morask. She refused to submit materials for evaluation, and "has been cited numerous times by both the Illinois Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court for prosecutorial misconduct."

Pat Rogers. "He has little experience in complex litigation matters and does not have the range of experience necessary to be a judge."
Gerald C. Bender. "The reports on Judge Bender are mixed. Some lawyers praise his legal ability, but many say that his decisions too often do not reflect an adequate knowledge of the law. Some lawyers praise his integrity, but many others claim that he is not always impartial - inappropriately favoring some litigants over others. Some lawyers appearing before him report that Judge Bender has a good temperament, but there are many reports that he sometimes demonstrates an inappropriate temper. Judge Bender has acknowledged that he has been ill and some of the behavior prompting the harsh comments by lawyers may be attributable to this situation. But the investigation included numerous comments questioning his judicial performance."

Janet Brosnahan. "Lawyers appearing before her report that she has adequate legal knowledge and ability, though there are persistent complaints that she is slow to grasp legal issues and slower still to decide them. Her motion call, in particular, is reported to run slowly and often begins late. Some lawyers believe that Judge Brosnahan can be too short with counsel, while others see any abruptness as necessary to moving a high volume call."

Ann Catherine Brady. "Her practice is narrow and too often involves non-complicated litigation matters. She has no jury trial experience."

Annie O'Donnell. "Lack of sufficient courtroom experience in complex matters."

Peter Fera. Not enough "substantial litigation experience."

Kathleen McGury. "Lawyers complain that she avoids confrontation, allowing matters to sit for unncessarily long periods of time. Some also complain that she is too results oriented, sometimes ignoring the controlling law."

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