Usually, the wheels of justice grind but slowly; however, every once in a while, the court system proves that lawyers, judges and litigants can indeed get something done when the pressure's on.
Only a few weeks after filing his appeal petition against State Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan), democratic challenger Jerry Johnson will have his appeal heard on Wednesday afternoon, at 2:30 p.m., in courtroom 1707 of the Circuit Court of Cook County, before Judge Paul A. Karkula. As regular Team America readers know well, Jerry Johnson's campaign challenged the petitions of Senator Link, on the basis that many signatures appeared to be out of the district, illegible, former political opponents or... FROM DEAD PEOPLE. In addition, we later learned that many signatures appeared to be in alphabetical order, and because of this and other incriminating errors on signatures and addresses, it seems apparent that many signatures were simply copied out of the phone book.
In any event, the State Board of Elections hearing officer removed many signatures from Link's petitions, but he still retained enough to remain on the ballot. The State Board essentially affirmed the hearing officer's decision, and the Johnson campaign appealed.
I hope to have the briefs filed by the parties up a little later.
I don't know Judge Karkula personally, but he appears to have a good reputation as a jurist. According to the Cook County Bar Association, "Judge Karkula is well regarded by all who appear before him for his outstanding temperament, integrity, and fairness." He has been on the bench since 1999, and before that he was a law partner of Ed Vrdolyak, who reportedly helped Karkula get appointed and win re-election. Attorney Michael Lavelle, an extremely well-known and respected Chicago election law attorney (and former chairman of the State Board of Elections) who represents Johnson, has appeared before Judge Karkula before.
UPDATED x1 01.08.08 12:30 p.m.: For all you armchair election lawyers out there, as I promised, I have obtained copies of the original petition (we posted this before and it says very little of substance), Johnson's brief in support of his appeal, and Link's response. Feel free to analyze and post your decision as the court of public opinion. We'll see how the responses compare to Judge Karkula's decision tomorrow.
UPDATED x2 01.08.08 3:20 p.m.: The Daily Herald has a story up.