2018 Cook County judicial voting guide: 3rd subcircuit

In the 3rd subcircuit, which covers parts of the Southwest side, three 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.

Not sure if you live in the 3rd subcircuit? Try using this handy map to find out. Go back to the countywide races here or learn more about our guide below.

Investigations that expose, influence and inform. Emailed directly to you.


Delehanty vacancy
Democratic primary: 

Kevin P. Cunningham

Name: Kevin P. Cunningham (D)
Running for: 3rd subcircuit: Delehanty
Bio: Cunningham manages his own law practice, where he mainly works on misdemeanor defense work and civil and municipal matters including family and personal injury law. He also serves as the Oak Lawn Village prosecutor, prosecuting traffic and ordinance violations. Cunningham previously spent six years in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, ending his career there in the felony trial division. He has served as chairperson of the Southwest Bar Association’s judicial evaluations committee. Cunningham previously ran for judge in 2012.
Bar association ratings: Positive
This year: The CBA, ISBA, and CCL found Cunningham qualified. The CCL wrote Cunningham is considered a “skilled practitioner who is hardworking and conscientious.”
Past: The CBA and CCL found Cunningham qualified in 2012.
Notable: Cunningham is endorsed by the Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Survey Response: The candidate did not return answers to an Injustice Watch questionnaire.

Michael A. Hayes

Name: Michael A. Hayes (D)
Running for: 3rd subcircuit: Delehanty vacancy
Bio: Hayes is currently a full-time Chicago police officer in the integrity unit, reviewing whether investigatory stops made by officers conform with the Fourth Amendment. He began working with the department in 1994. Hayes also serves as a Cook County arbitrator, and worked as a Cook County assistant state’s attorney for three years. According to his campaign website, he handled more than 900 DUI cases as a prosecutor.
Bar association ratings:  Negative
The CCL and ISBA found Hayes not qualified, and the CBA found him not recommended because he did not participate in their evaluation process. The CCL noted that Hayes has a good temperament and legal ability but wrote, “Much of his litigation experience is not recent and most of that experience is in less complex matters.” In response, Hayes told Injustice Watch, “What I bring is unique, and that’s something that those evaluations are not going to see given what they’re looking for. That they’re not thinking out of the box to see how I can benefit the community from my perspective as opposed to their perspective.”
Notable: Hayes is the only judicial candidate working as a police officer. Hayes told Injustice Watch that he uses his law degree to train other officers on the Fourth Amendment. “I’m just mostly a police officer utilizing my knowledge to help the department become better as police officers as well as better community people,” Hayes said. As a Chicago Police Department employee, Hayes is a member and unit leader of the Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. However, the police union has backed Hayes’s opponent, Kevin P. Cunningham, in the subcircuit race. Police union spokesman Martin Prieb would not respond to questions regarding why the union did not back Hayes.
Survey Response: In response to an Injustice Watch questionnaire, Hayes wrote that his years of work with the police department have taught him to put aside his biases and find “objective measures” upon which to base decisions. (Full survey)

Patrick T. Stanton

Name:  Patrick T. Stanton (D)
Running for: 3rd subcircuit: Delehanty vacancy
Bio: Stanton was appointed to a vacancy in the 3rd subcircuit in January 2017. He currently hears cases in the traffic section of the municipal department. Before joining the bench, he spent almost nine years at the business law firm Dykema Gossett, where he was a Chicago partner and head of business litigation. Before that, he worked at business law firm Schwartz Cooper.
Bar association ratings: Positive
Stanton was found qualified by the CBA, ISBA, and CCL. The CBA wrote Stanton is “well regarded for his knowledge of the law, legal ability, punctuality and diligence.”
Survey Response: The candidate did not return answers to an Injustice Watch questionnaire.

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.