About

Benchmark PAC logo

The Benchmark PAC for Cook County Judges was established in 2017 to promote the election of the most qualified candidates to the Cook County bench with the Benchmark Judicial Voting Guide.

Founder Susana Darwin evaluated judicial candidates for more than two decades as a member of the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening and a leader of the Judicial Evaluation Committee of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago. She also served on the Cook County Judicial Advisory Council and the Judicial Performance Commission.

Darwin created the Benchmark PAC for Cook County Judges to help get the most qualified and representative candidates elected to the Cook County bench. She is committed to transparency, fairness and independence in our judicial system.

Benchmark criteria:
• at least RECOMMENDED or QUALIFIED by ALL Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening  groups and the Chicago Bar Association;
• at least 15 years in law practice;
• analysis of write-ups from the Chicago Council of Lawyers, the Chicago Bar Association, and the Illinois State Bar Association

Benchmark recommendation sources:
www.voteforjudges.org
www.chicagocouncil.org
www.chicagobar.org/votejudges
www.isba.org/judicialevaluations

 

About Susana Darwin

A woman of many passions, Susana Darwin has been politically active for four decades and engaged in judicial evaluations for more than 25 years. She is committed to transparency, fairness and independence in our judicial system.

Susana Darwin
© Joe Mazza

Darwin has been active in Cook County’s judicial elections since 1992, when the fledgling Judicial Evaluation Committee of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago (LAGBAC JEC) began evaluating judicial candidates and issuing
ratings. She served in leadership roles with the Association and the Committee for the better part of 25 years.

After the LAGBAC JEC became a constituent of the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening, Darwin spent more than a decade on the Executive Committee of the Alliance, including two years as co-chair. Darwin produced training materials for Alliance evaluators and led training workshops on conducting investigations and interviews of candidates. She has also been a speaker and organizer for programs designed to guide potential candidates through the process for becoming a judge in Cook County.

Darwin is a 2017 recipient of the Vanguard Award, the Chicago-area bar associations’  honor that recognizes “individuals and institutions who have made the law and legal profession more accessible to and reflective of the community at large.” She is a graduate of IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law, has been a member of the Illinois bar since 1994 and is also a writer and filmmaker.

Click here to see the Benchmark Judicial Voting Guide.