Of the 78 candidates for various Cook County Circuit court seats in next March’s election, all but five took a curious oath.
The Courts Commission is the seven-member body that decides on what, if any, discipline to impose for judicial misconduct, once it is charged by the Judicial Inquiry Board.
On an average year the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board gets close to 450 complaints, but a step by step walk through of the complaint process shows that a majority of cases are dismissed before any investigation into the complaint occurs. Of the minority of complaints that do get investigated, most are dismissed or dealt with confidentially. Even fewer complaints are made known to the public.
First District Circuit Judge of Jackson County, was appointed as associate judge in 1986, then appointed to a vacancy on the circuit court before winning election to that seat in 1992. In 2001, the Judicial Inquiry Board filed a complaint over Schwartz’ decision to bar Southern Illinois Law School students from serving in his courtroom, after his stepson’s application to enroll there was denied.
Five years after being appointed as a Cook County associate judge in 2005, Simpson participated in an ex parte conversation involving another judge and a business owner whom Simpson had talked to about detailing his vehicle. Simpson received a censure for the misconduct. Simpson is retired from the bench, is registered to practice law in Illinois and will receive $73,449.36 in Illinois pension this year.
Francis X. Golniewicz III first was appointed by the State Supreme Court to a vacant seat in 1991, and then won election three years later as a circuit judge from the 10th sub-circuit encompassing Chicago’s northwest side.
Michael J. Chmiel was appointed to a circuit court post in 2004 and then, two years later, won election when McHenry County was shifted into a newly-created 22nd Illinois district. In February, 2008, the Judicial Inquiry Board filed a complaint against Chmiel, based on his actions in holding an emergency bond hearing for the brother of a political ally, after a series of private conversations. In November, 2010, the courts commission reprimanded Chmiel over those conversations.