A split state appeals panel ruled a Cook County judicial candidate can’t run in next month’s primary after filing her candidacy under her maiden name.
In an unpublished order, the 1st District Appellate Court sustained an objection to Caroline Patricia Golden’s nominating papers to run in the 4th Judicial Subcircuit race to fill the seat vacated by former circuit judge Colleen F. Sheehan. Golden filed to run on the ballot as Caroline Patricia Jamieson, her name prior to her marriage.
Citing a provision of the Election Code requiring candidates to use their surnames, the majority wrote late last week that in order to validate the candidate’s move, the justices would “have to turn a blind eye to the fact that for over a decade the [c]andidate has practiced law under the name Golden.”
Justice Eileen O’Neill Burke also wrote the candidate was not required to change her name after getting married but chose to do it.
“In order for the [c]andidate to use that name, she requested that several governmental agencies change her name to Golden, including the Illinois Supreme Court, the ARDC, the Secretary of State’s Office, her mortgage company, and the Cook County Clerk’s Office,” Burke wrote, with Justice Maureen E. Connors concurring.
“In addition, all of her legal filings as an attorney occurred under her married name of Golden. She has held public office as a school board member under her married name Golden, and has applied for an associate judge position under the name Golden. She also submitted to the bar associations to evaluate her candidacy for judgeship in 2018 under the name Golden. There has been no information presented to this court showing that she has used the surname Jamieson in any legal capacity in over a decade.”
Section 7-10.2 of the Election Code states that a “given name or names, initial or initials, a nickname by which the candidate is commonly known, or a combination thereof, may be used in addition to the candidate’s surname.” Among other things, it also states that if a candidate has changed their name within the last three years, they must list their previous name, preceded by “formerly known as” and also put the date their name was changed.
Failure to meet the requirements “shall” result in denying certification or removal from the ballot, the statute reads.
The objector in this case, Karla Katz Oberholtzer, challenged the candidate’s petition on the basis that she didn’t include the “formerly known as” designation.
Golden argued she hadn’t changed her name at all and wasn’t required to list “Caroline Patricia Golden” on her nominating papers.
A hearing officer as well as the Cook County Officers Electoral Board agreed, ruling the point of the statute was to prevent candidates from crafting new names outside of ordinary name changes that occur in life.
But Cook County Circuit Judge Paul A. Karkula reversed that determination, noting evidence that listed her as “Caroline P. Golden” on the master roll of attorneys in Illinois and that she was admitted to practice in federal court, registered to vote and signed financial instruments as “Caroline Golden.” Karkula noted that using her maiden name on the ballot would be “totally, absolutely, positively against the statute.”
On appeal, the majority agreed with the candidate that she shouldn’t be forced to use the “formerly known as” designation because the record didn’t show she had officially changed her name in any capacity within the last three years.
But Burke wrote that the hearing officer and the full electoral board mistakenly conflated “given name” and “surname.” Both terms are in the statute, but according to Black’s Law Dictionary, the former is “distinguished from a family name” while “family name” and “surname” are synonyms, and defined as names “automatically bestowed at birth, acquired by marriage, or adopted by choice.”
The majority wrote that the statute requires candidates “must” use their surname, and the surname in this case is Golden.
The officer and electoral board “mistakenly found that the [c]andidate’s ‘given name’ was ‘Caroline Patricia Jamieson,’ including her surname as part of her given name. The ordinary and popularly understood meaning of these terms, however, shows that they are distinct,” Burke wrote.
“In this case, therefore, ‘Caroline Patricia’ was the [c]andidate’s given name. At birth, her surname, or family name, was ‘automatically bestowed’ as Jamieson. Following her marriage, however, the [c]andidate voluntarily acquired a different surname, Golden. For our purposes, it is immaterial whether the [c]andidate changed her name to ‘Caroline Patrica Jamieson Golden,’ ‘Caroline Jamieson Golden,’ or simply ‘Caroline Patricia Golden,’ as the vital factor is the [c]andidate’s surname, which is Golden.”
Justice Bertina E. Lampkin authored a dissent, pointing to another part of Section 7-10.2 that suggests the requirements for given names, surnames and the “formerly known as” designation “do not apply to name changes resulting from adoption to assume an adoptive parent’s or parents’ surname, marriage to assume a spouse’s surname or dissolution of marriage or declaration of invalidity of marriage to assume a former surname.”
“Under the plain terms of [S]ection 7-10.2, Jamieson’s use in her personal and professional life of her surname acquired by marriage, Golden, instead of her surname bestowed at birth, Jamieson, falls under the statutory exception of a name change resulting from marriage to assume a spouse’s surname,” Lampkin wrote.
She also cited the legislative history of the statute, pointing to sponsoring Sen. Donald F. Harmon’s statement in 2006 the law was aimed at alleviating “the mischief created by candidates for office who change their legal names to more ballot friendly” names in order to gain an edge.
“In the instant case, there is nothing mischievous or exploitive about Jamieson’s use of her birth surname instead of her married surname in her candidacy for judicial office,” Lampkin concluded. “Moreover, nothing in the record suggests that the use of her birth surname in this election would somehow mislead or confuse the electorate regarding her identity, credentials or record.”
Scott B. Erdman of Scott B. Erdman P.C. represented the candidate in the case.
Luke Casson of Andreou & Casson Ltd. represented the objector in the case.
They could not be reached for comment.
The case is Karla Katz Oberholtzer v. The Cook County Officers Electoral Board, et al., 2020 IL App (1st) 200218-U.