Yes, it is election season and on some days it feels that democracy is holding on by a thread….. Yet you have an opportunity to make a difference by voting NO to retaining Judge Michael Toomin, the presiding judge of Cook County Juvenile Court, Juvenile Justice Division. To date, the Democratic Party, the Judicial Accountability PAC and IVI-IPO (Independent Voters of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization) have all evaluated Judge Toomin and determined that he should not be retained. During his 10 years in Cook County’s Juvenile Division, Presiding Judge Michael P. Toomin has NOT exhibited leadership ability, has NOT adequately distinguished or protected youth as youth, and has NOT prioritized rehabilitation and reform. As a result, Judge Toomin’s policies, practices, and abdication of responsibility have damaged youth, made our communities less safe, and are the foundation of the case against retaining him in office for another six-year term. Be sure to Punch #206 Vote NO — all we need is 40% + 1 and spread the word to ten or twenty friends, colleagues or fellow justice seekers.THE CASE AGAINST RETENTION OF JUDGE MICHAEL P. TOOMIN A century ago, Cook County was the birthplace of the juvenile court – a recognition that there are developmental differences between children and adults and that juveniles charged with crimes should go before judges who understand those differences and emphasize responsibility and rehabilitation. Respected national research confirms that teenagers should be treated differently than adults. Teens often have poor impulse control, are vulnerable to peer pressure and don’t think through the risks they take. In short, they act like teenagers.The presiding judge of the Cook County Circuit Court, Juvenile Division must be a leader advocating fair treatment of children as children, not adults and insisting all judges in juvenile courtrooms considering the need to restore victims AND what is best to rehabilitate youth and help them find success in life.Judge Michael P. Toomin, presiding judge of Cook County’s juvenile division, has NOT exhibited that leadership ability, has NOT prioritized rehabilitation and – now in his 40th year as a judge – Toomin will NOT demand the courts treat kids as kids.FACT: Unlike court officials in more than 40 other counties in Illinois, Toomin has not been willing to submit a funding proposal that meets the requirements of Redeploy Illinois, the state’s grant program to divert some youth from state prisons. Toomin refused to follow the program’s guidelines and resisted state efforts to help him craft a plan that could be approved. His opposition has prevented Cook County from receiving up to $1 million annually – money that could have provided care to youth in need and improved public safety by offering necessary services to youth and their families.FACT: The coronavirus spreads fast through prison settings, but Michael P. Toomin moved slowly or not at all. When lawyers for youth held in the JTDC filed emergency motions for hearings to get them out of harm’s way and back home, Toomin sat on his hands. He didn’t consider a global pandemic to be an emergency.FACT: Toomin is a true believer in the widely discredited “scared straight” approach to changing juvenile behaviors. In 2016, he created a phony courtroom in a Chicago police station where judges – without lawyers present – were to “scare kids straight.” The sham hearings were stopped, but this is an example of the culture he has allowed to fester in juvenile courtrooms.FACT: During his years on the bench in criminal court, Toomin was reversed on appeal many times, including his rulings favoring police in trials relying on coerced confessions of men interrogated by detectives working under Jon Burge, the notorious and disgraced CPD commander.