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Article updated: 3/20/2012 9:49 AM

Bar associations rate candidates for judge

By Barbara Vitello

The judicial contests Cook County voters will decide March 20 include races for the 1st District Illinois Supreme Court, for six vacancies in the 1st District appellate court, and more than a dozen circuit court vacancies including three suburban subcircuits.

To help voters choose among the 70 candidates, the Daily Herald has compiled judicial ratings from a number of Chicago-area associations of lawyers, including the Northwest Suburban Bar Association; the Illinois State Bar Association, the state's largest with more than 30,000 members; and 10 smaller groups which comprise the Alliance of Bar Associations.

Bar associations investigate candidates and conduct nonpartisan screenings during which candidates are evaluated on legal knowledge, professional experience, integrity, judicial temperament, punctuality and other criteria. Voters look to bar associations for their evaluations, said Northwest Suburban Bar Association member Michael Meschino.

"Screenings are about as close as the legal community is going to get in terms of merit-based selection," he said in a prepared statement. "Citizens appreciate having guidance as to who the right people are to be sitting on the bench, making judgments that affect lives."

The Northwest Suburban Bar Association evaluated only those candidates running in the 11th, 12th and 13th subcircuits. The 11th subcircuit includes parts of Des Plaines and Chicago. The 12th subcircuit comprises parts of Wheeling as well as Elk Grove, Maine, New Trier and Northfield townships. The 13th subcircuit includes parts of Arlington Heights, Barrington, Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Schaumburg and Streamwood.

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