To the Editor:
We are writing this letter to the voters of the Third Judicial Circuit - Madison and Bond County - to give voice and substance to the opinion expressed by the attorneys who practice before the judges in this Circuit. We are urging you to vote "Yes" on retention for all four judges on the ballot.
Each year the Illinois State Bar Association submits to each licensed attorney a questionnaire on each judge who is standing for retention in their circuit. In that questionnaire, the attorneys are asked to evaluate the named judge on eight different important issues related to their service as a judge. Among the issues are those of impartiality, competence and knowledge of the law. The opinions expressed are sealed and confidential. The attorney can respond with his or her true opinion based on their experience before that judge. Because these attorneys have appeared before these judges thousands of times for many different clients, the collective response of the entire array of attorneys is extremely revealing and honest. Their collective opinion should also be helpful to those of you who do not have that experience.
This year in our circuit there are four judges who are on the ballot for retention. The record of each was subjected to the scrutiny of the attorneys who have practiced before them. All of the four judges on the ballot have served a minimum of six years on the bench. The results of the ISBA poll are informative, and each voter should be aware of what those most knowledgeable think of these four judges.
The overall rating on a percentage basis in all eight categories for each judge is as follows:
Judge Knight (Bond County) 98.2 percent; Judge Hylla (Madison County) 95.7 percent; Judge Crowder (Madison County) 92.1 percent; Judge Callis (Madison County) 89.1 percent.
In the category of "Integrity" the collective rating for the four was 92.2 percent. In the category of "Impartiality" the collective rating of the four was 89 percent.
These are remarkably high marks - especially when you consider the fact that in every contested case that appears before the judge, there is not only a winner but a loser. Each of these judges received more than a passing grade by any standard. It is particularly noteworthy given the amount of attention that has been given to the Madison County judiciary by the public over these last 10-15 years.
We have both practiced law in the Third Judicial Circuit for over 41 years. We have never publicly expressed our opinions in any prior judicial retention election. However, because of our personal knowledge of and experience with each of these judges - and in light of the overwhelming endorsement of the practicing lawyers in this circuit for the retention of these four judges - we are alarmed by the misinformed and misdirected efforts of those outside the county or those within the county with a political agenda who are trying to influence those who do not know these judges, to vote against retention.
To the extent it helps those who are undecided or do not know how to vote on the judicial retention issue of the four judges who are standing for retention, we hope this letter will give voice and substance to the opinions expressed by the overwhelming majority of the lawyers who have an opinion on the issue and of those who know these judges.
That opinion is to vote Yes on retention for all four judges.
Gordon R. Broom