Monday, October 17, 2022

Some resources for Downstate voters in judicial races

While the primary focus of this site is on Cook County judicial races, I get inquiries from time to time from persons looking for information about judicial elections outside Cook County -- or "Downstate" as the term is sometimes (and imprecisely) used. For those who may have landed here looking for information about judicial elections outside Cook County, I can offer the following:

While the Illinois State Bar Association is but one of many bar groups in Cook County that evaluate judicial candidates (although, since it has started publishing evaluation narratives, an increasingly important one), outside of Cook County it is the go-to source.

This page of the ISBA website will take the reader to a hyperlinked list of Illinois counties; each county link will take the reader to a list of all judges on the ballot in that county.

Outside of Cook County, the ISBA reviews candidates by polling practitioners -- it requires a certain minimum response before making a recommendation, so not every candidate may be evaluated... but, in the smaller counties there is a good chance that the lawyers really do know each other and deeply concerned about who may preside when they attempt to earn some portion of their living in court.

In this election cycle the ISBA also has had its Judicial Evaluation Committee evaluate Downstate (outside Cook County) candidates for Supreme and Appellate Court vacancies or retention. So the reader reviewing the county list will sometimes find two ISBA evaluations for some Appellate or Supreme Court vacancies.

But, while the ISBA is the traditional, go-to source for judicial evaluations outside Cook County, there are evaluations published by the DuPage County Bar Association specifically for the November election. The Lake County Bar Association and the Kane County Bar Association published ratings for the June primary on their respective websites (but the KCBA rating was only for the 16th Circuit, 1st Subcircuit vacancy) (as regular FWIW readers know, a great many Illinois counties have their own subcircuits these days). Voters in these counties may find these of interest as well.

Readers are invited to advise of any additional resources I have overlooked; I will update as necessary.


Michael Weiland said...

I"m in Lake County (IL), and thank you for posting the judicial rankings for judges on my ballot. I see that a couple of them, while "recommended," have some scores in the 70s... which seems to be not so impressive. What is the threshold for recommendation? I get it that a "D" is a passing grade but I'd rather be judged by those earning As.

Michael Weiland, Gurnee IL

Albert said...

Mr. Welland--I serve on the ISBA committee that oversees the polling...The cutoff for a rating of Recommended is 65 on the summary "Meets Expectations" question. The poll is not a strictly controlled experiment--every candidate is evaluated by a different mix of respondents--so no attempt is made to draw a finer distinction among candidates beyond being Recommended or Not Recommended. But as you observe, scores do differ among those recommeded, so all of the scores are presented and readers can judge the results for themselves.