St. Clair County associate judge not recommended in ISBA poll

Ann Knef May 24, 2007, 6:00am

An evaluation of the state's associate circuit judges (outside Cook County) in a poll of lawyers revealed that St. Clair County Associate Judge Laninya Cason was the only local associate judge who received a "not recommended" rating.

The poll was conducted by the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA).

Categories in the survey include meets requirements of office, integrity, impartiality, legal ability, temperament, court management, health and sensitivity.

The poll asks respondents to answer "yes" or "no" to seven questions that measure judicial qualifications, and an overall question of whether "this candidate meets acceptable requirements for the office." Candidates receiving 65 percent or higher "yes" votes on this overall question were rated "recommended" in the poll. Those receiving less than 65 percent were rated "not recommended."

Cason received a rating of 62.20 percent in meets requirements of office. She also scored 57.14 percent in legal ability.

The opinions expressed in the poll are those of lawyers who chose to respond to the survey. In the 20th Circuit, which encompasses St. Clair, Monroe, Perry, Randolph and Washington counties, 589 ballots were mailed and 230 were returned.

In the Third Circuit, which covers Madison and Bond counties, the lowest score for an associate judge under "meets requirements of office," Judge Ellar Duff received the lowest rating, 77.01 percent.

Associate Judges Richard Tognarelli at 97.44 percent and James Hackett at 97.08 percent received the highest ratings under "meets requirements of office."

In the Third Circuit, 601 ballots were mailed and 237 were returned.

Associate judges are subject to reappointment every four years by vote of the full circuit judges in each circuit. An associate judge must receive the votes of 60 percent of the circuit judges in order to be reappointed. Voting will be concluded prior to the beginning of new associate judge terms on July 1.

"Although the decision on associate judge reappointment is made by the circuit judges, ISBA is releasing these poll results to the public because all judges are public officials, and the opinions of their professional colleagues about their performance is of public interest," according to an ISBA press release.

Ballots were mailed to all ISBA members who practice in the circuit in which the associate judges sit and to any other lawyers who requested a ballot.

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