Knight says public confidence is strong in Bond County

Ann Knef Oct. 18, 2006, 3:55am

Bond County Circuit Judge John Knight

The Record asked Third Circuit Judges Ann Callis, Charles Romani and John Knight to answer a few questions to help voters decide whether or not to retain them on election day, Nov. 7.

Circuit judges seeking retention must get a 60 percent "yes" vote to earn another six-year term.

Following are questions submitted to and answered by Judge Knight.

Q.What should voters know about your record? Why should you be retained?

A.Following service in the United States Army and as an assistant prosecutor, I served 18 years as the Bond County State's Attorney. I was elected Resident Circuit Judge in Bond County in 2000. While presiding in Bond County, I have performed circuit wide duties and special assignments in several other counties throughout southern Illinois. I currently serve on the Executive Committee and the Criminal Law and Probation Committee of the Illinois Judicial Conference.

Q.Madison County's negative reputation has more to do with matters involving the court's civil division, where large damage awards are at stake. Your docket does not include major civil cases. Is this an important distinction for voters?

A.Judges should be evaluated based upon their individual performance and record. To the extent that judges participate in circuit wide decisions, it is fair that they be held accountable for those decisions. At the same time, competent judges should not be held accountable for the independent performance of others.

I believe that I am best evaluated by a close examination of my record as the Presiding Judge in Bond County, where the court system enjoys both an excellent reputation and strong public confidence.

Q.Is Madison County's "plaintiff-friendly" reputation deserved?

A.Reputations are generally based upon many factors. Since the vast majority of my courtroom experience is in Bond County, I lack the knowledge to form a valid opinion on this issue.

I do recognize that judges have an obligation to not only make decisions with impartiality, but to refrain from conduct and statements that might be reasonably perceived as showing partiality. I attempt to fulfill that obligation in my assignment.

Q.Should the public have confidence that all parties are treated fairly in Bond County?

A.The public deserves to have full confidence that all parties are treated fairly in every courtroom. In addition to the obligation to see that each party is treated fairly and impartially in their own courtroom, I believe that judges share a responsibility to ensure confidence in the system as a whole.

To this end, I support the recent reform measures that have been adopted circuit wide and I welcome any changes that would decrease frivolous litigation or expedite valid claims.

Q.Is it important to have a (politically) balanced court? Or does that not really matter?

A.I believe that the integrity and competence of a judge is far more important than political affiliation.

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