Published on December 2, 2014 on the Collaboration for Justice Blog
By: Elizabeth Monkus
Recently, the Chicago Tribune reported that Cook County Criminal Court Judge Gloria Chevere was re-assigned to a non-trial civil administration call, following a report that she was wrongly jailing defendants for contempt. The re-assignment order for Judge Chevere also assigns the Judge to a peer mentoring program within the court.
Judge Chevere last ran for retention in 2012, where she retained her seat, although a mere 40% of voters casting ballots chose to vote on the question of her retention. Nearly all of the members of the Alliance of Bar Associations, including the Chicago Council of Lawyers, found her not recommended for retention in 2012, as did the Chicago Bar Association. The Pilot Project of the Judicial Performance Commission of Cook County issued an evaluation for Judge Chevere. The Chicago Council of Lawyers, in finding Judge Chevere unqualified for retention, largely adopted the written evaluation prepared by the Judicial Performance Commission.
Although our investigation found that most attorneys believed they were treated fairly in her courtroom and that she runs her courtroom efficiently, a significant number of respondents reported that Judge Chevere could be “dismissive and rude” on the bench. Half of the respondents believe she has not read pleadings sufficiently before ruling. She has the reputation of unilaterally cancelling her 2:30 pm call, saying that it is not necessary. Our 2012 report stated that several respondents believed the judge unnecessarily issued arrests warrants for defendants who are late to court.
The evaluation concluded that Judge Chevere was reported to be having significant difficulties in the areas of diligence and temperament that seriously impeded her effectiveness as a jurist. The Commission recommended a performance improvement plan which included: court-watching, peer mentoring and re-evaluation within three years.
Now is the time for Cook County to reconsider how it monitors the performance of judges in the courtroom and to identify better systems to be used when selecting and retaining judges.