Ann Maher Feb. 29, 2016, 11:55am


A notice of appeal has been filed at the Fourth District Appellate Court seeking to challenge Sangamon County Associate Judge Esteban Sanchez's ruling that allows St. Clair County circuit judges John Baricevic, Robert LeChien and Robert Haida to remain on the March 15 Democratic primary ballot.

Sanchez found that the state constitution allows the judges the option to run for election, not just retention, as petitioner Belleville City Clerk Dallas Cook had argued.

On Feb. 24, he denied Cook's petition for review of a Jan. 20 State Board of Elections deadlock vote that granted the judges access to the ballot.

Attorney Aaron Weishaar of St. Louis, who has represented Cook since objections to the judges' nomination papers were made in December, filed the notice of appeal on Friday.

Cook, a Republican who is running for St. Clair County Circuit Clerk in November, has argued that the state constitution establishes that the only process for a judge to retain office is through a non-partisan retention vote that requires 60 percent voter approval - not simple majority partisan re-election style.

In August, the three judges submitted letters of resignation to the Illinois Supreme Court, indicating that they intended to seek election to the seats they were vacating rather than to run for retention. In the meantime, they would remain in office while running for election as their resignations would not take effect until December, on the last day of their current terms.

After the judges filed nomination paperwork, Cook filed objections with the State Board of Elections. The consolidated cases went before a hearing examiner, hearing officer and the full board composed of four Democrats and four Republicans. At each level of decision, including full hearings before the elections board and in Sanchez's court, the outcome has favored the judges.

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