Madison - St. Clair Record

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St. Clair County judges hire election law specialist to defend nomination objections; Kasper has represented Obama, Clinton and Emanuel

By Ann Maher | Dec 15, 2015


A Chicago election law attorney who has represented President Obama and former President Clinton in election litigation will be helping three St. Clair County judges whose nomination papers face challenge at the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Michael Kasper appeared for Judges John Baricevic, Robert LeChien and Robert Haida at a state electoral board hearing in Springfield Monday in response to objections raised by Dallas Cook, Belleville city clerk and a Republican candidate for St. Clair County circuit clerk.

Cook seeks to have the names of the judges who would be running as Democrats, stricken from the March 15 primary ballot. His objections raise the question of whether the state constitution allows the sitting judges to run for election, among other things.

"Article 6 Section 12(d) of the Illinois Constitution requires circuit judges to seek retention for the office of circuit court judge, and not re-election as they propose to do," Cook argues.

In August, the three judges indicated they wanted to continue serving as judges, but were not going to pursue a path by way of a retention vote which requires 60 percent voter approval. Rather, they indicated they would vacate their seats and seek election to vacancies they created through a vote that only requires simple majority to win.

Kasper has until Wednesday to file a motion to dismiss Cook's objections; Cook has until Friday to respond to the motion.

Hearing board officer David Herman will take up the matter on Dec. 22. The three cases will be heard individually, rather than as a consolidated matter.

Kasper also is known as having successfully defended litigation that challenged the residency status of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel during his first campaign in 2011.

Emanuel served as Obama's first chief of staff from Jan. 20, 2009 until Oct. 1, 2010.

Kasper is an attorney with Hinshaw and Culbertson. According to his profile, other clients have included: 

- The Illinois House of Representatives. Kasper served as outside House prosecutor in the impeachment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

- U.S. Senators Dick Durbin, Obama and the late Paul Simon.

- Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, Senate President John J. Cullerton and other Democratic members of the state legislature.

- State of Illinois and the City of Chicago in redistricting litigation.

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Organizations in this Story

Senate President John J. CullertonHinshaw & Culbertson LLPTwentieth Judicial Circuit of IllinoisIllinois House of RepresentativesU.S. Senator Richard DurbinIllinois House Speaker Michael J. MadiganChicago for Rahm EmanuelCity of Chicago