Justice David Overstreet and Belleville attorney Kevin Hoerner were rated "highly qualified" in a review by the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) Judicial Evaluations Committee, released this week.
The candidates seek election in November to an opening at the Fifth District Appellate Court that is being created upon the retirement of Justice Richard Goldenhersh at the end of his term in December. They are running unopposed in the March 20 primary election.
Overstreet, Republican, currently sits on the court by appointment. He was assigned by Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier and the Illinois Supreme Court in February 2017 to fill the assignment position that became vacant after James Moore was elected to a permanent position on the Fifth District in the 2016 general election.
Before his appointment to the appellate court, Overstreet, of Mount Vernon, served as a circuit judge at the Second Judicial Circuit. He was appointed in 2007 and elected to the seat in 2008, and was retained in 2014. Before serving as judge, he was in private practice for 16 years.
Hoerner, Democrat, has been in private practice since 1987 and has served as an assistant St. Clair County state's attorney handling civil matters since 1996. He also has served as a special assistant attorney general handling condemnation cases for the Illinois Department of Transportation since 2001.
In the ISBA evaluation process, each candidate was interviewed by an 11-member committee. The evaluation also included a questionnaire submitted by the candidates as well as interviews of judges and attorneys from various areas of practice who know and or have practiced with, against or in front of them. Areas of inquiry and evaluation include litigation experience; legal knowledge and ability; other professional experience or activities; integrity; character; professional and judicial temperament; and health, according to the ISBA.
Hoerner said it was "humbling and rewarding" to receive the highest rating available to an appellate court candidate.
"The detail with which the committee handled the evaluation process allowed me the opportunity to reflect on my legal career, on the relationships that I have developed over the years and the positive impact others have had on my career," he said. "In my legal career, I have worked with, and been mentored by, some of the finest and most-respected lawyers and judges in Southern Illinois. I’m excited about the prospect of taking this knowledge with me to the appellate court and look forward to the opportunity to further serve the people of Southern Illinois.”
Overstreet also said he was pleased with results of the evaluation.
"I enjoyed meeting with a cross section of attorneys statewide and reviewing with them my legal and judicial career and my personal history," he said. "I was very gratified to receive that rating. I pride myself on the work I do and the service I give, and it's nice to be recognized by the committee."
As for campaign financing, Overstreet's campaign committee has not reported any contributions this election cycle.
Hoerner's campaign committee, however, has raised $8,500. At the end of last month, he received $2,500 from the Gori Julian firm in Edwardsville; $2,000 from the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers in Belleville; and $1,000 contributions from attorney David Cates, son of Fifth District Appellate Court Justice Judy Cates; St Clair County chairman Mark Kern, Kurowski Schultz of O'Fallon and Schaltenbrand & Halloran of Belleville.