Day 05 Devotional & Discussion- March 10, 2014

1 Samuel 8:1-3

Samuel, who has been a judge in Israel for years, appoints his two sons to the position of judge near the end of his life.  Yet they turn out to be corrupt.  Why do you think Samuel took this step assuming he knew the character of his sons?  Where do you see nepotism in our judicial system? 

In Illinois, voters choose all judges. At the trial level, there are two types of judges. Subcircuit judges are elected from a defined geographic area and must live in that area. County-wide judges are elected by voters throughout Cook County and may live anywhere in the County. Once elected, both sub-circuit and county-wide judges have the same powers and may be placed in any division of the Circuit Court system.  Appellate Court judges are elected in five districts  in Illinois. Cook County is one of those districts, and panels of judges on the appellate court hear appeals of civil and criminal cases from all over the County.  (If you live in another state, the process may be different.)

Even though judges impact our lives as much as politicians, almost 70% of the voters do not complete the section of the ballot dedicated to election of judges.  More than 15% of voters skip it altogether.

Tuesday, March 18, is the Primary Election.  There are 60 judge vacancies that must be filled by Cook County voters.  Candidates are chosen by the Republican or Democratic parties and often the election is uncontested—for all practical purposes, they are appointed by the party leadership.  The Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice is a non-partisan organization that compiles a list of the candidates and whether they are considered qualified by a number of lawyer groups.  See the list at  If you are aware of other non-partisan evaluations, please post them.



  1. Corrupt judges. I suspect Samuel took this step of appointing his sons because he put family ties above what was best. Or maybe he was hoping they would rise to the occasion. It is a tough call to make. Who wants to think of their kids as messed-up? It’s too personal. To admit that our kids have serious problems means that we will have to turn the gaze on ourselves, how we messed up in parenting them, and we rarely invite that kind of scrutiny.

    I wonder how often our modern-day judges are tempted with corruption. I bet it is often. To put that kind of power in a person’s hands is a necessary but scary thing. How do we ensure that the judges we vote in are quality men and women? It bothers me how judges run campaigns like politicians. I feel there ought to be a different system for judge selection, and it ought to be highly based on character. It seems judges ought to have term limits as well.

  2. Even though I am not going to be in Chicago the 18th, this list of potential judges put out by Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice is very helpful. I have no idea who to vote for when I come to this part of the ballot. Thank you.

  3. I’m guilty of being one of the 15% that skips the judges on the ballot. I have no idea who these people or if they are good or bad. I’m with Joy, I’m thankful for a list that I can take with me. On the November ballot, there is also the opportunity to vote to “retain” judges. That’s the opportunity to get rid of unjust (or corrupt) judges. We’ll have to get out a list for November too.

    I also was thinking about nepotism when I read the passage. In Illinois, there are so many politicians with the same last names–Madigan, Daley, Cullerton, Mell. Fathers and sons; Fathers and daughters; brothers, brothers-in-law. Dick Mell is the father of Debra Mell and the father-in-law of Rod Blagojevich (something he regrets, I’m sure). Michael Madigan is the father of Lisa Madigan. There has to be a conflict of interest somewhere. I’m really tired of choices that aren’t really choices at all and the pooling of political power in just a few families. I’ve continued to say, “If your name looks familiar, I’m voting for the other person.” Not sure that’s a great way to vote, but it tries to address the nepotism issue.

  4. Maybe it was something as simple as a parent not knowing their kids as well as they THINK they do! Many an adult child has hidden their true character from their parents. Sad but sometimes, true.
    I, too, appreciate the judges list put out by The Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice. It’s an important vote.

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