Your Last-Minute Guide On How The Heck To Vote For Chicago-Area Judges

By Anthony Todd in News on Nov 7, 2016 6:35PM

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Every news outlet has been constantly talking about Trump vs. Clinton for months now. Slightly more nuanced observers might care about the state of the House and Senate races, and if you have a Facebook friend who's really into politics, they're probably ranting about one of the local ballot initiatives. But with a mile-long list of judges on every Cook County ballot, how do you figure out whom to vote for?

Cook County ballots always include a super-long list of judges who are up for election. We've heard of plenty of friends skipping this section entirely, voting by gender, voting based on how people's names sound, voting to toss out everyone, and voting in various other ways that don't contribute to a functional judiciary. But let's be honest: you're not going to spend days googling each and every judicial candidate.

Luckily, we've got you covered. And by we, we mean "expert lawyers all over the state." There are several guides you can use to figure out which judges you should vote to retain. If a judge is not recommended by all of them, they probably shouldn't be in office, but unless you get out and vote, it's not gonna happen, since most judges are retained in election after election.

First, the big one—the Chicago Bar Association. The Judicial Evaluation Committee of the CBA does a ton of work every year evaluating the qualifications of each judge on the ballot. They've even got a printable cheat sheet you can bring with you. It's important to note that the CBA, as a non-partisan organization, is only rating judges' qualifications, not their positions on any particular issue.

We're a big fan of the Alliance of Bar Associations ratings. This is a group of all of the minority bar associations in Chicago, including the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area (AABA), Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago (BWLA), Chicago Council of Lawyers (CCL), Cook County Bar Association (CCBA), Decalogue Society of Lawyers (DSL), Hellenic Bar Association (HBA), Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois (HLAI), Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago (LAGBAC), Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois (PRBA), and Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (WBAI). They all get together and collate their recommendations—and make it easy to see where they may differ in their feelings on a candidate. But if they all agree? The judge is probably a good choice. Their printable guide is a bit longer, but you might appreciate the detail.

Finally, another list was created by local lawyers working with low income clients in a variety of areas of law: "Most of their clients are poor, working class and people of color and the recommendations are based on whether they feel their clients can get a fair trial in front of these judges." You'll definitely get a bit different slant with this list than with the CBA, but if you're concerned with social justice issues, be sure to bring this list to the polls.

Everyone get out and vote, and everyone be sure to vote in all of the judicial races on your ballot!