Judging the judges on the November 2020 ballot


The Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) defines the three levels of courts in Illinois. Choices are on the ballot in all three levels on the November 3, 2020 ballot. They are the Illinois Supreme Court, Illinois Appellate Court and the Illinois Judicial Circuit Courts.

Several groups are now providing guidance on the election or retention of these judges. 

Judges up for retention need 60% of the people who vote in their retention race to vote "yes" in order to retain their seat.

ISBA provides a list of candidates seeking to fill judicial vacancies as well as those up for retention

The Chicago Council of Lawyers (CCL) in their Sept. 15, 2020, reports its evaluation of judges up for retention in the Appellate Court, First Judicial District or of the Cook County Circuit Court. 

Circuit Court judges hear all kinds of cases, from traffic tickets to personal injury to child welfare to criminal cases. They are the front line of the justice system. They serve six-year terms. 

In their evaluation CCL requires candidates to provide detailed information about their backgrounds, including any complaints filed against them with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) or the Judicial Inquiry Board (JIB). 

They then evaluate them, categorizing each as follows:


A candidate who has demonstrated the ability to perform the work required of a judge in all 12 areas: •fairness, including sensitivity to diversity and bias •legal knowledge and skills (competence) •integrity •experience •diligence •impartiality •judicial temperament •respect for the rule of law •independence from political and institutional influences •professional conduct •character •community service

 “well qualified”

A candidate who has demonstrated excellence in most of these areas

“highly qualified”

A candidate who has demonstrated excellence in all of these areas

“not qualified”

A candidate has not demonstrated that he or she meets all of the criteria evaluated by the Council


In conducting these evaluations, the Council has participated in a joint investigation and interview process with the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening (Alliance). 

The Alliance includes the following bar associations: Arab American Bar Association, Asian American Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers Association, Chicago Council of Lawyers, Cook County Bar Association, Decalogue Society of Lawyers, Hellenic Bar Association, Hispanic Lawyers’ Association of Illinois, Illinois State Bar Association, Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, Puerto Rican Bar Association, and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois

Their complete evaluation documents are available online. This is their November 2020 Judicial Ballot Summary.



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