IVI-IPO Urges No Vote On Three Judges

The Independent Voters of Illinois – Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO) is committed to retain and elect judges who are fair, un-compromised and impartial.

To further this commitment the IVI-IPO Judicial Review Committee raises awareness on the fitness of individuals to serve as judges. Judges up for retention on Election Day, November 3, 2020, will appear on ballots for voters to decide, “Yes” or “No”, whether to retain a judge for another six-year term. Once judges are elected or retained it is likely they will not be removed short of retirement. To upend this trend and make sure that only the most fair and impartial judges dedicated to justice retain office, the Judicial Review Committee carefully evaluates judges and publicly releases its determination of judges who are not fit for retention.

The Judicial Review Committee typically invites candidates to fill out a questionnaire that is reviewed and a decision is made whether to support or not. The Judicial Review Committee has adjusted this process due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and relied on a review of the reputation of the judges in the legal and general community. After careful review, the IVI-IPO has concluded that three judges cannot be supported for retention in the November 2020 election cycle. These three judges have a demonstrated history in office that undermines the IVI-IPO’s confidence in their ability to exercise the judicial fairness, impartiality, equality, and integrity required of our judicial system.

IVI-IPO neither supports nor objects to the retention of other judges for the November 2020 election cycle.

Mauricio Araujo: Has a pending complaint against him before the Judicial Inquiry Board alleging sexual harassment toward women he has encountered in professional settings and in his official capacity alleging sexual harassment involving:1) a court reporter while they were alone in an elevator in the domestic violence courthouse; 2) a Chicago police department officer who had come to his chambers to get him to sign a search warrant; and 3) inappropriate comments to a clerk about an assistant state’s attorney who had appeared before him in his courtroom (see Chicago Tribune 06/07/2019). Reversed 5 times since 2010 in criminal cases. Declined to be interviewed by the Alliance of Bar Associations about these matters.

Kenneth Wadas: He was reversed 12 times since 2010 in criminal matters, his sentencing decisions are alleged to be harsher than average and his frequent reversals for denying post-conviction petitions. For example: In People v. Weathers he was reversed after he denied successive post conviction petitions involving allegations of police torture; in People v. Rinehart he was reversed because he improperly allowed in evidence resulting from a blatantly illegal search (“Terry Stop”); and, in McKinley v. Butler he was reversed by the 7 th Circuit in 2016 for giving a 100-year sentence to a 16-year-old juvenile.

Michael Toomin: He ignored the state law mandating a 30-day limit on pretrial detention of juveniles by refusing to set hearings on motions mentioning this limit which in turn raised major hurdles for attorneys trying to free their young clients from juvenile detention amid the coronavirus outbreak despite an order by the Chief Judge that “juvenile detention hearings, including all motions to review detention, and other emergency matters, will be conducted daily” (more detail on this can be found in two articles published by Injustice Watch 4/30/20 ” Judge blocks key legal protection for detained youth” and 5/6/20 ” Top juvenile court judge still blocking motions despite new emergency order”). Also reversed 9 times, in cases involving: allegations of police misconduct (for example in People v. Jakes he denied discovery requests to support a claim of a coerced confession); and failures to insure basic fairness in the cases before him (for example in People v. Carmona-Olvara he disallowed an interpreter’s accurate translation of defendant’s comments to police that would have contradicted the police’s interpretation). Additional cases of this nature are detailed in an article published by the Judicial Accountability PAC on 9/22/20.

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