The Chicago Council of Lawyers Thursday asked state agencies that investigate allegations of misconduct on the part of lawyers and judges to look into possible collusion between Circuit Judge Robert Sulski and the lawyer who became a candidate to succeed Sulski on the bench.
The council asked the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board to investigate Sulski, a judge for 17 years and a former Chicago alderman. It also asked the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission to investigate Irwin Solganick, a member of the law firm operated by Ald. Edward Vrdolyak (10th).
“Any conscious attempt to rig the judicial selection process threatens both that process and the administration of justice in general,“ said Robert Perkins, council president.
Referring to what he called the “the Sulski-Solganick stunt,“ Perkins said Sulski, whose latest six-year term as a Cook County Circuit Court judge expires in November, notified the Illinois secretary of state`s office Dec. 2 that he would seek retention.
But at 2 p.m. Dec. 15, the last day for filing nominating petitions to become a candidate to fill a judicical vacancy, Sulski delivered a letter to the secretary of state`s office saying he would not seek retention.
At 3:17 p.m. the same day, Solganick filed petitions in Springfield with the Illinois Election Board seeking to be listed on the March 18 primary ballot as a candidate to fill Sulski`s vacancy. The petitions contained 500 citizens` signatures, as required by law.
Solganick is the only Democrat seeking to succeed Sulski. The judgeship is a Chicago-only seat in which the Democratic candidate`s election in November is considered certain.
Sulski, reached at his Chicago home about noon Thursday, declined to comment, except to say that he has no plans to leave the bench before his term expires. Attempts to reach Solganick for comment were unsuccessful.
Perkins also reaffirmed the council`s support for merit selection of judges and called for a nonbinding referendum on March 18 to allow Cook County residents to vote on whether they favor merit selection.
Jeanne Quinn, a Cook County Board member from Oak Park, plans to ask the county board to place the issue on the ballot here. The referendum would be nonbinding because only the Illinois General Assembly can create a merit slection system. The legislature is expected to consider merit selection proposals later this year.
The Judicial Inquiry Board, which looks into allegations of wrongdoing by judges, makes its findings known to the Illinois Courts Commission, which has the power to punish judges. The punishments range from reprimands to removal from the bench. Sulski was reprimanded by the commission in 1974 for mishandling two cases before him in 1969.
The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission makes its findings known to the Illinois Supreme Court, which can impose punishments on lawyers.