2018 Cook County judicial voting guide: 1st subcircuit

In the 1st subcircuit, which covers parts of southeast Chicago, two candidates are vying for one judicial seat.

Once elected, there is no difference in responsibility of the countywide judges and subcircuit judges. All voters will have the chance to vote for all countywide candidates, but voters only vote for subcircuit candidates in their own area.

Hambright, Jr. vacancy
Democratic primary:

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Cook County judicial candidate Erika Orr

Erika L. Orr

Name: Erika L. Orr (D)
Running for: 1st subcircuit: Hambright, Jr. vacancy
Bio: Since 2011, Orr has run her own law firm specializing in family law. She spent 12 years practicing international tax law at global public accounting firms. She volunteers for the Cook County domestic relations division family court facilitator program, for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, and for the Cook County Expungement Summit.
Bar association ratings: Positive
The CCL, ISBA, and CBA found Orr qualified. The ISBA wrote, “She is considered to be very bright and a quick study, ethical and respectful of all.”
Survey Response: In response to an Injustice Watch questionnaire, Orr wrote that she has “a more diverse background in the law than the majority of the candidates in the race.” (Full survey)

Cook County judicial candidate Litricia Payne

Litricia P. Payne

Name: Litricia P. Payne (D)
Running for: 1st subcircuit: Hambright, Jr. vacancy
Bio: Payne was appointed to a judicial vacancy in December 2016 and currently presides over felony preliminary hearings, misdemeanors, and traffic cases in the Cook County Circuit Court. Before joining the bench, Payne had nearly 20 years of legal experience, much of it in the Will County Public Defender’s Office, where she served as a felony supervisor and an organizing member of the Will County Mental Health Court. Payne is a founding member and former president of the Black Bar Association of Will County.
Bar association ratings: Positive
The CCL, ISBA, and CBA found Payne qualified. The CBA noted Payne “played a major role in the expansion of alternate treatment programs for defendants with mental health and substance abuse issues.”
Notable: Payne has been endorsed by the Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Survey Response: In response to an Injustice Watch questionnaire, Payne cited “bail reform, providing care to those in our jail who suffer from mental illness and making sure there is access to justice for all” as the biggest issues the justice system is currently facing. (Full survey)

Republican primary:

There are no Republican candidates running for this seat. 

Injustice Watch has spent the past several months scouring the public record about the candidates. We’ve looked through everything from the candidates’ past employment to court records and campaign contributions. We’ve studied past disciplinary trouble, and we’ve collected the recommendations of the three major bar associations: the Chicago Bar Association (CBA), the Chicago Council of Lawyers (CCL) and the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA). We also offered each candidate the opportunity to complete a survey offering information detailing their experience and reasons for running. (All survey responses have been uploaded online.)

That research has led us to publish several individual articles, as well as this guide to help voters go to the polls better informed. (As a news organization, we are not endorsing any candidates, merely gathering information to help voters judge for themselves.)

Candidates file for a specific race: The candidates declare which seat they seek, and some candidates end up with no opposition at all. With the exception of a few suburban subcircuit contests, winning the Democratic primary amounts to securing the judicial post, as most candidates will face no Republican opposition in the November general election.

The candidates are running to fill openings created on the bench by a judge’s retirement, resignation, or death. Several of the candidates were given temporary appointments by the Illinois Supreme Court to fill vacancies up through the election, but each of them must compete in the elections to win a full six-year term.