Editorials

Three dark figures capable of changing fate lurk behind tricky ways

Robert Le Chien, Robert Haida and John Baricevic resigned as St. Clair County circuit judges effective Dec. 31 in the hopes that they’d be elected back with a simple majority rather than seeking a 60 percent approval by running for retention to their judgeships.
Robert Le Chien, Robert Haida and John Baricevic resigned as St. Clair County circuit judges effective Dec. 31 in the hopes that they’d be elected back with a simple majority rather than seeking a 60 percent approval by running for retention to their judgeships. News-Democrat

Well, happy Halloween from the figures dressed in black robes who like to play tricks. Nope, not the Grim Reaper, but from the slick denizens of the St. Clair County courthouse.

Recent profiles of the judicial candidates were a reminder that three circuit judges on the ballot used a tricky legal maneuver to circumvent the Illinois Constitution’s mandate that they convince 60 percent of the voters that they are worthy of continuing to sit in judgment. You may admire their legal acumen, although they are really followers of the judge who in 2006 figured out the ploy, former Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto.

So what do John Baricevic, Robert LeChien and Robert Haida fear that they quit effective Dec. 31 and ran for election to terms starting Jan. 1? Obviously they think they cannot convince 60 percent of us of their integrity, but they do think they can get a simple majority.

This lack of self-confidence reminds us of the old Groucho Marx quote: “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”

So Haida only needs one vote to return to the bench. Baricevic faces Republican Ron Duebbert and LeChien faces Republican Laninya Cason.

Interesting that the Illinois Bar Association recommended all the Democratic and none of the Republican candidates for appellate and circuit judgeships. No connection between lawyers, money and Democrats in Illinois, right?

The constitutionality of the retention vs. re-election ploy is still being decided by the Illinois Supreme Court. Maybe the people’s court should weigh in on its use by Baricevic, LeChien and Haida by withholding votes and at least throwing a scare into them.

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