With ISBA approval and a dollar, you can get a cup of coffee

The Madison County Record Mar. 3, 2012, 6:00am

The Illinois State Bunglers Association has released a poll of its members rating the fitness of judges statewide. Believe it or not, lenient judges scored higher than sticklers.

Of course, you'd expect a bunch of screw ups to prefer lenient judges, but can you imagine anyone touting such ratings.

As it happens, there is no such group as the Illinois State Bunglers Association. We made it up.

There is an ISBA, however.

The Illinois State Bar Association does exist – and it has released a membership poll regarding the fitness of state judges and judicial candidates.

Madison County Associate Judge Kyle Napp, a Democrat running for the circuit seat to be vacated by retiring Judge Charles Romani in December, was one of the scrutinized. More than 90 percent of lawyers participating in the poll judged Napp fit for judgeship in the Third Judicial Circuit.

What exactly does their approval mean?

Some of the polled are no doubt lawyers of integrity who tried to apply objective standards to the judges and would-be judges they rated. Some are almost certainly Democrats for whom party loyalty trumps all. And some are surely opportunists who deem Napp more likely to be amenable to their arguments than her rivals might be.

One such rival, esteemed less highly by those polled, puts the results in perspective.

"More than half (254) of the lawyers eligible to vote (547) did not even bother to return a ballot," notes Republican candidate Thomas Burkart. "Of those who did, more than half (104) stated they did not have sufficient knowledge [of Burkart] and did not vote."

The 52 lawyers who voted against Burkart "represent only 9.5 percent of the Madison and Bond County lawyers who are ISBA members." Convinced that "the voters of Madison and Bond counties are sick and tired of allowing a very few lawyers to pick" who they think the next judge should be, Burkart campaigns on – seeking your support without the ISBA's alleged approval made by the chosen few.

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