The retention of judges is nonpartisan. All voters, regardless of political affiliation, get to vote and retain good judges on the bench. Voters are simply asked to vote "yes" or "no" to retain a judge.
Judges, who appear on the ballot for retention, were originally elected to the Office of Circuit Court six or more years ago. Under the Illinois Constitution, elected circuit judges must run for retention every six years and receive 60 percent "yes" votes to remain on the bench. This is why your vote is so very important.
On Tuesday, Nov. 3, you will have the opportunity to vote to retain experienced and proven Cook County judges. The judges, whose names will appear on the retention ballot, include some of the most highly regarded judges in the State of Illinois. Cook County judges hear cases, including those involving diverse issues, such as child custody, crimes, domestic violence, and contract disputes. Judges enable people to obtain protection and vindicate their rights in court.
As part of the retention process, judges have been interviewed, examined and evaluated by 18 or more independent and diverse legal bar associations. These associations have spent hundreds of hours evaluating the performance and character of each judge.
Each association has made an independent determination as to whether or not a judicial retention candidate has demonstrated the ability and temperament to continue to serve on the court.
The criteria considered in determining whether or not a judge should be retained includes the judge's fairness (including sensitivity to diversity and bias), legal knowledge and skills (competence), integrity, experience, diligence, impartiality, judicial temperament, respect for the rule of law, independence from political and institutional influences, professional conduct, character, and community service. The findings and recommendations of most of the legal bar associations are available at chicgobar.org and isba.org.
Why so many judges? Cook County is one of the largest unified court systems in the country. There are more than 400 judges who serve in the courts throughout the county. Judicial retention is just as important as any other election.
Your "yes" vote is needed to keep good judges. Your "yes" vote ensures that we retain judges who have consistently demonstrated sound legal knowledge, ability, appropriate temperament and good character. Good judges ensure that our courts run effectively and justice is served.
For more information about the judges up for retention, please go to cookcountyjudges.org.
John Allegretti is a Cook County Circuit Court judge assigned to the Municipal Division, where he hears civil disputes.