Judges who tossed Rahm both elected to office

January 24, 2011 4:24:59 PM PST
The ABC7 I-Team takes a closer look at the two judges who made the decision to toss Rahm Emanuel off the ballot.

This Intelligence Report looks at those two state appellate judges behind Monday's ruling.

There were three judges on the state appellate panel. The vote was 2-to-1. Two judges voted to expel Emanuel from the ballot, saying he didn't meet city residency rules. One judge voted to keep him on the ballot.

Who the judges are and how they came to decide Rahm Emanuel's fate is a story itself.

Appellate Judge Thomas Hoffman wrote the 42-page opinion that concluded Rahm Emanuel was not entitled to be on Chicago's mayoral ballot.

Judge Shelvin Louise Marie Hall agreed and was the second vote necessary for the decision to carry.

Judges Hoffman and Hall have several things in common. Both ran for office and were elected to the state appeals court. Judge Hall was just elected in November to a 10-year term. And both were previously Cook County circuit court judges. All of those are elected positions requiring campaign staffs, a base of Democratic party political donors, and the backing of Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, who is chairman of the Cook County Democratic judicial slating committee.

While Judge Hall and Judge Hoffman are prominent jurists who have received countless accolades, Monday they found themselves ridiculed by the third judge, who opposed the Emanuel decision. Judge Bertina Lampkin, newly appointed to the appellate court in 2009 and having not yet run for election, accuses her colleagues of a "careless disregard for the law;" an ill-reasoned and unfair" decision;" based on what she called the "whims of two judges."

And now, if Emanuel's lawyer can convince the Illinois Supreme Court to hear their ballot appeal, Alderman Burke's wife Anne, one of seven Supreme Court justices, will have a vote on the final decision.

Emanuel's lawyer has said that he does not plan to ask Justice Burke to recuse herself from the case just because her husband the alderman supports Emanuel opponent Gary Chico.

Despite some smirks, whispers and raised eyebrows Monday about how all this came down, there is no evidence of undue political influence in the court decision. The fact is, in Illinois, where judges are elected, sometimes they have to decide election-related cases.