Three years after the Committee brought suit alleging racial and ethnic employment discrimination by the Chicago Police Department, Judge Prentice Marshall finds intentional discrimination, permanently enjoins the Chicago Police Department from hiring and promoting employees from the challenged officers' and sergeants' eligibility lists, and imposes hiring quotas for Blacks, Latinos, and women.
March 20, 2012
By Bethany Krajelis — firstname.lastname@example.org
Law Bulletin staff writer
As voters cast their ballots in today's primary election, several dozen attorneys across the state spent their day close to a phone and ready to listen.
Attorneys from the offices of the U.S. attorney, attorney general, Cook and Kane county state's attorney as well as the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, staffed hotlines to take voter complaints about potentially illegal election activity.
Joseph F. Lulves, chief of the Civil Division at the Kane County state's attorney's office, will be one of about a dozen lawyers manning his office's complaint line. Teams of attorneys and investigators will also visit some of the county's 228 voting precincts, he said.
Despite spending several years on the receiving end of his office's complaint line, Lulves said he never knows what the 13-hour shift will bring. He planned to work from 6 a.m. to when polls close at 7 p.m.
Like many aspects of the election process, Lulves said "it's just impossible to predict" the amount and type of complaints he'll hear today. He said the line received as few as about 10 calls one election to at least 100 in another.
"It's always interesting to be here and hear the type of concerns voters have," he said. "Election law is an interesting area of law and elections are one of the most important things we have."
Lulves said he finds it "amusing" that the most common complaint revolves around electioneering, which he considers "one of the more clear cut areas in the election code."
The code also prohibits people from soliciting votes within any polling place or within 100 feet of a polling place.
Marissa D. Liebling, a staff attorney at Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said lawyers manning election hotlines makes sense.
"There are a lot of intricacies with factual questions that come up as to whether someone is allowed to cast a ballot or what they need to do that," said Liebling, who focuses her work on voting rights.
"It's helpful to have attorneys who understand the election code taking these questions and if a problem arises, attorneys can always go to court that day to get an emergency order."
In conjunction with her group's national counterpart, Liebling said the committee participates in Election Protection, a national voters' rights project that aims "to help voters make sure they can successfully cast a ballot."
Unlike the other attorney-manned hotlines that only take complaints, the committee fields election-related questions.
Liebling said the Chicago committee teamed up with Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and another group today to take election-related complaints and questions via hotline.
Community volunteers, she said, will also monitor election activity at polling places in the Cicero area.
Mary Bucaro, deputy bureau chief of the attorney general's office's Public Integrity Bureau, said voter turnout typically dictates the number of calls her office's complaint hotline receives.
Bucaro said she's heard election-related complaints for the attorney general's office since 2006. She said her office will maintain 160 teams of attorneys and investigators monitoring elections throughout the state today.
While many complaints placed to her office's hotline in previous years dealt with electioneering, Bucaro said the majority of calls deal with questions over polling places and ballots, issues her office refers to county clerk offices.
A full list of all of the election-related hotlines, as well as other voting information, can be found at elections.il.gov.
In other election-related news, some polling places notified voters today that while Cook County Circuit Judge Kathleen G. Kennedy's name appeared on the ballot, she did not meet the signatures requirements in her bid for the appellate court.
Kennedy said the Cook County Electoral Board in late January or early February determined she was seven signatures shy of the required amount after three objections were filed against her nominating papers.
Steven M. Laduzinsky, who represented Kennedy's objectors, said his clients sued the Cook County clerk and the Chicago Board of Elections to make them print new ballots without Kennedy's name on them.
That, however, would have cost about $750,000 so in an effort to save taxpayer money, Laduzinsky said it was agreed that polling place judges would notify voters that votes cast for Kennedy would not count.
On Tuesday May 26 at 4:00 Magistrate Judge Denlow and Presiding Magistrate Judge Schenkier will train volunteer lawyers to advocate for a pro se party in a federal court settlement conference. The training will be held in the Ceremonial Courtroom (Room 2525) in the Dirksen Federal Courthouse building, at 219 S. Dearborn. CLE credit will be offered, and Trial Bar credit will be provided to volunteer lawyers who attend the training and handle a Settlement Assistance Program matter. For more information, contact email@example.com.
TLP Staff Attorney Angie Hall was identified as an emerging political leader in Chicago because of the tremendous amount of time, energy and vision she has contributed towards improving her community and the quality of life for residents there. She was nominated to participate in the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Civic Leadership Program for emerging leaders. Drawing on the Great Cities Institute’s access to faculty expertise, the Civic Leadership Program offers selected individuals from Chicago’s neighborhood‐based, non‐profit organizations the opportunity to grapple with complex problems of urban policy and to begin to discuss, assess, and propose solutions that can advance positive change in the new century.
On March 9, 2012, Andrea Ott joined the staff of The Law Project of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. She will serve as The Law Project's Outreach Coordinator.
The ACLU claims, and the Chicago Lawyers' Committee agrees, that Voter suppression laws including those that require a photo ID in order to vote are a threat to democracy. Requiring a government-issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot has disparate impact to discourage low-income individuals, racial and ethnic minority voters, senior citizens and voters with disabilities from casting ballots. More than 25% of voting age African-Americans do not have a government-issued photo-ID, compared with only 8% of whites. In addition, senior citizens and disabled persons are less likely to have driver's licenses, students and young voters are more likely to rely on absentee or early voting. New Voter ID laws will radically reduce the voting population, while combatting the phantom, overexaggerated fear of voter fraud.
House Bill 3903 and Senate Bill 2496 would require everyone seeking to vote to present a government-issued photo ID card something millions of eligible, registered voters don’t have. The main effect of these bills is to disenfranchise voters - particularly the elderly, people with disabilities, low-income voters, students and voters of color.
We hope that you will join us in telling IL legislators to oppose HB 3903 and SB 2496.
CLC is delighted to welcome Marissa Liebling to our staff as a Staff Attorney. Marissa will primarily focus on election protection and voting rights in 2012, but will also have a hand in employment discrimination litigation, supervising fellows and interns, and other special projects in anticipation of a more diverse plate in 2013. We will work closely with the National Lawyers’ Committee on voting rights and election protection.
Marissa has volunteered at CLC as a Civil Rights Fellow since March of 2011.
Molly Brooks was Outreach Coordinator and a Staff Attorney for The Law Project. She recruited nonprofit clients, develops strategic partnerships with law firms and volunteer attorneys, conducts training programs for attorneys and clients, and implements program developments. Most recently, Molly worked as an attorney at Sidley Austin LLP. Prior to her work at Sidley, Molly was Operations and Programs Manager at Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati. At Executive Service Corps, Molly matched business professionals with consulting and coaching projects at nonprofits. She also managed nonprofit capacity-building programs and worked on strategic planning projects.
Molly is a graduate of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, received her law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law, and completed the Nonprofit Leadership Development Institute in Cincinnati.
Gabriela Russek was an Associate in the Development and External Affairs Department. She specialized in improving CLC's systems for contact management, workflow co-ordination, and outcomes tracking.
Gabriela graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Law, Letters and Society. She has previously worked as a community organizer at EZRA Multi-Service Center on the north side of Chicago, and a research associate at RCF Economic and Financial Consulting. She is on the board of Qumbya Housing, a 501(c)(3) affordable co-operative housing organization.