Judicial vacancy proposal backed

By Tammy Sholer

NIU Law School Dean Leonard Strickman joined other law deans in supporting a merit selection proposal for the replacement of Illinois judges.

Judicial vacancies should be filled by a merit system rather than an election, Strickman said. He said he supported a petition, filed by the Chicago Council of Lawyers, to the Illinois Supreme Court stating a judicial nominating commission should endorse judges and the court should appoint them.

The council made the recommendation in September which stated about half of all Illinois judges would be appointed by the merit selection if the petition is adopted, Strickman said.

The proposed merit system concerns in-term vacancies only, Strickman said. These include vacancies as the result of retirement or death, he said.

A nominating commission composed of lawyers but mainly non-lawyers would recommend three qualified candidates to the Supreme Court who then would nominate a judge from the list, stated a Dec. 10 article in The Chicago Sun-Times.

The merit selection does not affect newly-elected judges because that would call for a change in the Illinois Constitution, Strickman said.

Law deans from other Illinois universities supported the petition as well, he said. At a gathering of Illinois law deans Wednesday, the majority were in favor of a merit selection proposal, Strickman said.

Appellate, circuit and supreme court judges are elected to the bench. If a vacancy appears, the supreme court fills the position.