Without a nod from the St. Clair County Democratic Party, candidates in the 20th Judicial Circuit do not do very well in the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) judicial advisory poll.

In races for St. Clair County circuit court seats, Democrat Party-slated candidates received "recommended" ratings in a poll of ISBA-member lawyers within the circuit.

But, two Republicans seeking election scored well below the 65 percent benchmark needed for a recommendation on the question of whether the candidate meets the requirements of office.

Laninya Cason, an associate judge in St. Clair County, changed party affiliation and is running on the Republican ticket for Circuit Judge Milton Wharton's seat. She is unopposed on the primary ballot.
Cason received a 41.20 score and a "not recommended" rating.

Belleville attorney Ronald Duebbert, a Republican vying for the vacancy created by the 2010 retirement of Circuit Judge Michael O'Malley, was snubbed in the poll with a 37.19 score. He, too, was not recommended.

Duebbert's opponent in the general election, Associate Judge Vincent Lopinot, a Democrat, received a 95.06 score and was recommended. Duebbert and Lopinot are unopposed in the primary.

And, a Democrat who also is running for Wharton's seat, without the backing of the county Democrat organization, fared poorly in the poll.
Smithton resident Anne Fohne Keeley, an assistant State's Attorney, is running on the Democratic ticket and will face party-favored Zina Cruse in the March 20 primary. Keeley received a rating of 30.95 and was not recommended by the lawyers who participated in the survey. Cruse scored 78.03 on the question and was recommended.

The ISBA mailed 618 ballots to member lawyers in the circuit, which includes St. Clair, Monroe, Perry, Randolph and Washington counties. A total of 292 lawyers returned ballots. Licensed lawyers within the 20th Circuit who requested ballots, may also have participated in the poll.

Attorneys who participate are asked to respond only if they have sufficient knowledge about a candidate's qualifications for judicial office to give a fair, informed opinion.

Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson, a Democrat, is running unopposed as he seeks the circuit seat being vacated by the retiring Judge Lloyd Cueto. Gleeson received a 93.98 score on the question of meeting the requirements of office.

On the question of "integrity," here is how the candidates were rated:

Cason: 72.04
Cruse: 91.72
Duebbert: 57.76
Gleeson: 94.38
Lopinot: 97.11

On the question of "legal ability," the candidates scored as follows:

Cason: 41.98
Cruse: 75.45
Duebbert: 52.59
Gleeson: 97.97
Lopinot: 97.51

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