I have in the past sent out a short notice about how to research the judicial elections in Cook County, but just received a much more complete explanation of the process from a friend (below). Some of you may also have gotten this. Please share this information widely so that we can have an informed electorate, and thank you!

It’s that time again in Illinois. We have a primary election on June 28. Whenever a primary or general election includes judicial candidates, I send out two things:

The Alliance is a consortium of 11 bar associations. They submit questionnaires to candidates and ask for frank and clear answers. They make their association assessments based on specific issues important to each of them and issue their ratings based on, first, whether a candidate answered at all and, second, on the actual responses and how those responses accord with the tenets of the bar association doing the rating. Here is what the Alliance says about its process:

“Judicial candidates are rated by the Alliance members based on detailed information supplied by candidates, a background check by trained lawyers/investigators, and interviews of each candidate. Ratings reflect the Alliance’s opinion of whether candidates have the necessary qualifications for judicial service or ascension to a higher office and are not a reflection of the candidates’ abilities as lawyers or judges.

“This round’s assessments are filled with ‘NR’ (Not Recommended) and ‘NQ’ (Not Qualified) ratings. The ‘NR” rating is applied specifically to candidates who fail to participate in the evaluation process. You’ll see that there are eight possible ratings.

“You will not be voting for all of the judicial candidates. Look at your individual ballot to see who is on it, then make your own judgment using the Alliance assessments.

“Almost all of the candidates are Democrats. In the circuits and subcircuits in which only Democrats are running, whoever wins the primary is the de facto elected judge. Only one subcircuit, the Circuit Court 13th, has both Republican and Democratic candidates, so in the general, this will be a contested election.

“In the fall, all of the winning primary candidates will be on the ballot. So will judges running for retention. The difference is that primary winners in single-party circuits and subcircuits will be elected even if they get only one vote in the general election. Candidates running for retention must attain approval of 60% or more of those voting that slot; otherwise they are not retained.

“I distribute this information in each election cycle that includes judicial candidates because among public servants whom you might encounter in your life, a judge could possibly be the most consequential. It pays to elect judges who have the temperament, intelligence, experience and knowledge to provide what we conceive of as “justice.” I highly recommend taking the assessments of the Alliance’s member bar associations quite seriously. If you wonder about a specific assessment, go back to https://www.voteforjudges.org/ and click on the association that made it to see why they say what they say.”

Thanks to Charlie Meyerson and his every-weekday news service, https://www.chicagopublicsquare.com, for providing the information on this primary round’s candidate assessment and voting links. If you don’t already subscribe to Chicago Public Square, you can do it for free — or better, pay for your subscription, or at least make a contribution at https://chicagopublicsquare.us6.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=c1ce195a775f7d7ff4846006e&id=01942e7bc1

Whatever you do, please do one thing above all:

Terri Powell, an Oak Park resident, is a former village clerk.

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