Sunday, December 8, 2013

Questions of residence: Records raise questions about residences of some subcircuit judges

When Cook County assistant public defender Beatriz Santiago ran for Cook County judge last year, there were reasons to question just where she lived.

Weeks before she began to circulate nominating petitions, Santiago changed her address from the house she owned – which was outside the subcircuit in which she was running – to her parents’ two-flat house inside the subcircuit.

Santiago took her clothing and her dogs, but left behind her furniture, her big screen television and the Direct TV connection, according to testimony at a hearing on whether Santiago really had moved into the subcircuit, as she claimed. She moved back in, according to her testimony, to live with her parents; sister Leticia Santiago, and Leticia’s daughter Isabella; brother Luis Santiago, his wife and their three children; and brother Jose Santiago. Adopted brother Joel Vazquez also lived there when Beatriz Santiago first moved in, she testified.

At the end of a hearing over an opponent’s challenge to her residency, a hearing officer wrote: “There are a number of facts regarding the Candidate’s residency that are not that entirely plausible.” But, the hearing officer ruled, there also was not conclusive proof Santiago was lying about her residence, and therefore she was left on the ballot.

Read the full ruling in the case here.

Santiago is one of several subcircuit judges whose housing arrangements raised questions in a joint investigation by Medill Watchdog and WGN Investigates. The review found repeated instances where judges owned homes that were outside the subcircuit altogether, or had moved at some point outside the subcircuit from which they were elected.

The review also found records that some judges owned more than one house that held a homeowner exemption – a status that permits reduced property taxes to homeowners for their primary residence.
Santiago’s case stood out for a simple reason: the residence issue had been reviewed and subjected to outside examination.

More commonly, the Medill Watchdog/WGN Investigates probe found, nobody appears to be watching whether judges are honoring the residence laws. And with an increasing number of laws enacted that protect records of judges from scrutiny – their voter registration, their car registration, their addresses on election board candidate forms and on deeds are among the records that by law can be redacted from public view – the absence of an official tasked with monitoring their reports gains heightened significance.

(Part 4) - Continue Reading

Full Article and Source:
Questions of residence: Records raise questions about residences of some subcircuit judges

See Also:

Judging the Judges: Cook County’s Troubled Judiciary Elections System  (Part 1)

Issues of qualifications: Subcircuit judges often less touted (Part 2)

Moving out: Subcircuit judges relocate, foiling geographic diversity (Part 3)


StandUp said...

Clearly a full investigation of the judicial system in Cook County is in order.

Thelma said...

Yes - Remember Operation Greylord?

Sylvia said...

Oh you bet I remember Operation Greylord it's time for Operation 18th floor Probate.

I hope it's a matter of time not IF but WHEN.