Judicial candidate Levin ‘not qualified, not recommended,’ say 11 bar associations
Loop North News


23-Feb-12 – An alliance of eleven bar associations has screened the six candidates running for Circuit Court judge in Cook County’s eighth sub-circuit, and all agree condo attorney Ellis Levin is neither qualified nor recommended.

The Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening released its recommendations last Friday. The alliance includes the Illinois State Bar Association, of which Levin is a former member. After background checks and interviews, the association found all of the candidates “qualified” except for Levin.

Five associations say Levin is “not qualified” while the other six describe him as “not recommended.” The rating is based on interviews with each candidate and people who know him or her, responses to a detailed written questionnaire, and a review of public records.

The six candidates, all Democrats – the current judge, an associate judge, a law professor, and three other attorneys – are running to fill the vacancy left when Circuit Court Judge Melvin J. Cole retired in 2010. The eighth sub-circuit stretches as far south as the Stevenson Expressway and as far north as the Edgewater community. However, once elected, a sub-circuit judge can be assigned to any judicial post in the county.

Levin was considered “not qualified” by the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area, Chicago Council of Lawyers, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, Illinois State Bar Association, and Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois. He was “not recommended” by the Black Women’s Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago, Cook County Bar Association, Decalogue Society of Lawyers, Hellenic Bar Association, Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, and Women’s Bar Association of Illinois.

Photo by Kat Fitzgerald (Left) Ellis Levin on February 12 at the “Justice For All Gala,” a benefit organized by Equality Illinois on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents of Illinois. Photo by Kat Fitzgerald.

One association in particular, The Chicago Council of Lawyers, says Levin, a former Illinois legislator, is one of three candidates for Circuit Court judge who are “not qualified” for the job.

On the plus side, the council notes “Levin had a long career in the public service.”

“The council is concerned, however, that his litigation experience is narrow and he has insufficient experience in more complex matters. Some lawyers have questioned his tactics as a lawyer. The council finds him ‘not qualified’ for the Circuit Court.”

The Chicago Council of Lawyers, which has been evaluating judicial candidates since 1970, describes itself as “Chicago’s public interest bar association.” Its ratings are based on interviews and detailed information supplied by the candidates, along with a background check.

Other candidates qualified and recommended, at minimum

None of the candidates were considered “highly qualified.” According to the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening, the candidate receiving the greatest number of “highly recommended” ratings was John H. Ehrlich, who since 2008 has been a Deputy Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago. Ehrlich, however, was only evaluated by eight of the eleven associations in the alliance, says its report, “through no fault of the candidate.” Ehrlich also received the only “well qualified” rating.

Gideon Abraham Baum, an attorney with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, received five “qualified” ratings and six “recommended” ratings.

Brad Trowbridge, a lawyer specializing in family law, received four “qualified” ratings, five “recommended” ratings, one “not qualified” rating, and one “not recommended” rating.

Cook County Associate Judge Helaine L. Berger received three “qualified,” six “recommended,” one “not qualified,” and one “not recommended” rating.

The current appointed judge, James L. Kaplan, who previously was judge for the Illinois Court of Claims, received four “qualified” ratings and seven “recommended” ratings.

Levin did find some support from the Chicago Bar Association. To be evaluated, each candidate had to provide detailed information about his or her trial experience, the names of five judges before whom they have appeared, a list of 20 opposing lawyers they’ve appeared with, and a note from their doctor saying there are no health issues.

According to the CBA’s Judicial Evaluation Committee, Levin is “qualified” for the office of Circuit Court Judge. Says their report, “Mr. Levin is highly regarded for his integrity and knowledge of the law.”

The primary election is scheduled for March 20.

Levin was a state representative, serving Chicago in the General Assembly from 1977 to 1995. For all but three years between 1992 and 2009 he was legal counsel to Marina Towers Condominium Association. He is currently the attorney for Thorndale Beach North, a 151-unit condominium in the Edgewater community north of downtown Chicago.


 Related story: Levin faces serious competition in judge’s election

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | sdahlman@loopnorth.com

Published 23-Feb-12 12:39 AM

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