An Illinois State Bar Association panel has issued a recommendation that Democratic candidate Judy Cates, who is running for the 5th District Appellate Court, pull a television campaign ad accusing her Republican opponent of rubber-stamping foreclosure orders while serving as a circuit judge.
A bar committee, called the Standing Committee on Supreme/Appellate Election Campaign Tone and Conduct, issued the non-binding recommendation to Cates after Republican candidate Steve McGlynn filed a complaint about the ad.
The ad accuses McGlynn of rubber-stamping more than 2,000 foreclosure orders, evicting families from their homes when he was serving in his present position as a St. Clair County circuit judge.
Because the committee's recommendation is non-binding, it cannot force Cates to stop running the commercial. Robert Cummins, head of the committee, wrote that the ad erroneously stated that McGlynn's entry of foreclosure orders amounts to evicting families from their homes.
"To suggest that the courts have created the foreclosure crisis is like saying the Red Cross creates natural disasters because they are always there for the clean-up," said Charlie Johnston, McGlynn's campaign spokesman. "And contrary to what Ms. Cates would have you believe, foreclosure is not eviction. It begins a process that often ends in homeowners redeeming their homes or restructuring the loan in conjunction with the lender.
"Judge McGlynn has been noted for his fairness and compassion in working with both lenders and families to develop a workable plan to deal with the devastation our poor economy has wreaked on many homeowners and lienholders," Johnston said.
Cates, saying she was "shocked" the panel decided the matter without hearing her side, said she received the letter Monday but that "the ad will continue" until she gets that hearing before the panel.
"Stephen McGlynn cannot hide from his judicial record," said Cates. "Our commercial is entirely accurate on the facts."
Barzin Emami, Cates' campaign spokesman, said the ad was truthful.
"The McGlynn campaign wants to run on his judicial record," Emami said. "This is his judicial record. He has signed more than 2,000 foreclosure orders. They are a matter of record."
The McGlynn campaign asked the ISBA to demand Cates, a Swansea lawyer, pull the ad, apologize for the falsities in the ad and for her conduct that "erodes confidence in the judiciary."
"The rules are different for judicial campaigns than for almost any other type. You cannot make statements that are materially false or, in a misleading way, bring the judicial system into disrepute," Johnston said.
Both McGlynn and Cates signed a pledge not to impugn the dignity, integrity or independence of a candidate or which tends to erode public trust and confidence in the judiciary. The committee found that Cates' ad violated the pledge and recommended she pull it from the airwaves.
Cates' campaign spokesman added that there was no hearing regarding McGlynn's complaint. Emami said he never heard of the ISBA panel. The Cates' campaign contacted the Illinois State Bar Association President John Thies, who Emami said knew nothing of the committee's recommendation.
McGlynn previously served on the appellate court bench after he was appointed by Supreme Court Judge Lloyd Karmeier, a fellow Republican. He currently serves as a circuit judge in St. Clair County.
Cates teaches law at Washington University and is a former prosecutor who handled juvenile cases and felonies. She is a plaintiff's lawyer who specializes in litigation.
Some information for this story came from reporter Jim Suhr of the Associated Press.