With the exception of Madison County, judges facing retention in the Metro East area have managed to avoid much of the clamor associated with campaign season.
The four Madison County judges seeking retention in Tuesday’s election have raised or donated quite a bit of their own money to urge residents to vote “yes” on their retention as a grassroots committee, Citizens for Judicial Integrity,” continues to campaign for “no” votes.
Judges seeking retention to the St. Clair County Circuit Court and Fifth District Appellate Court, however, don’t appear to have as much or any money flowing into their campaign coffers in comparison to their colleagues in Madison County.
When it comes to the Fifth District Appellate Court, only one justice’s name will appear on the ballot next week and that is Justice Melissa Chapman.
If she receives 60 percent “yes” votes, Chapman will be retained to the appellate court for 10 years. An Illinois State Bar Association poll released last month recommends Chapman for retention.
Chapman was appointed to the court in 2001 and elected in 2002, when she ran as a Democrat. Before joining the judiciary, she practiced law at Morris Chapman & Associates in Granite City for 18 years.
Despite not having a group campaigning against her retention, records from the Illinois State Board of Elections show that Chapman’s committee reported about $27,000 in contributions and transfers between July 1 and Sept. 30.
Records show her committee had about $42,700 as of Sept. 30 and received about $13,500 in donations in October alone.
As for judicial retentions in St. Clair County, it does not appear that Circuit Judge Jan Fiss has raised or spent any money in his retention bid.
Disclosure records show that Fiss’ campaign committee has about $5,760, the same amount it has reported since June 2010.
If Fiss receives 60 percent “yes” votes next week, he will be retained to another six-year term.
He won retention in 2006 and was sworn into office the day after he was involved in an auto accident with now-retired Judge Patrick Young. The accident occurred in Belleville on their way back from a St. Louis Rams football game.
After refusing a sobriety test, Young was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. He was eventually found guilty and retired in 2010.
Fiss, who stepped down as chief judge following the incident, pled guilty to illegal transportation of alcohol and was sentenced to 60 days of court supervision and fined $500.
The ISBA poll recommends Fiss for retention. It also recommends St. Clair Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson, who is running unopposed for a circuit judgeship.
Unlike Fiss, disclosure records show Gleeson’s campaign committee has raised a substantial amount of money given that he doesn’t have an opponent.
Records show his committee received $91,575 in itemized and non-itemized contributions and transfers between July 1 and Sept. 30.
During that same period of time, his committee reported spending about $31,600, the vast majority of which -- $25,000-- went to Gleeson as the principal payment for a loan.
Records show Gleeson’s committee had about $64,500 as of Sept. 30 and received a $1,000 donation this month.
Although her name won’t appear on the ballots in Madison and St. Clair, voters in the Fourth District will decide on Tuesday whether to retain Justice Rita Garman to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Garman was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2001 and elected in 2002. This year marks her first retention bid.
Voters there will also choose whether to retain Fourth District Appellate Court Justices Carol Pope and John Turner. The ISBA poll recommends all three justices for retention.
In the First District, voters next week will decide whether to elect Justice Mary Jane Theis, a Democrat sitting on the court by appointment, or Cook County Judge James Riley, a Republican, to the state high court.
Theis and Riley are vying to fill the seat left vacant by former Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald’s 2010 retirement. The ISBA in October deemed Theis “highly qualified” and Riley “qualified.”