I don’t know about you, but deciding which judges to vote for is the trickiest part of my ballot on election day. When it comes to judicial candidates, I typically rely heavily on endorsements, word of mouth, and obviously where possible, personal knowledge of the candidates themselves.
The Illinois State Bar Association has a judicial evaluations web page here, and it provides an explanation of how those evaluations are arrived at.
Obviously, the websites of the candidates can be somewhat helpful, though of course judges don’t exactly campaign by touting their policy positions.
My experience with all three branches of government has led me to be very skeptical about the judicial branch. What I’ve learned is that just as many games are played within the halls of our court houses as are played in legislatures and executive branch offices. Power can corrupt even when you’re wearing a black robe.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of the judicial candidates this cycle, D.J. Tegeler, to talk about his campaign and his philosophy. Fortunately, some of the same things he said in that meeting are on his website.
Here are a few excerpts:
As a leader in the Community, it is the Circuit Judge’s responsible to ensure that the Public being served knows what services are available to them.
I believe it is the Circuit Court’s obligation to ensure that people do not waste their time from jobs and family and are able to come to Court and have their case handled in an efficient and quick manner.
I believe that a good leader and a Circuit Judge takes the initiative to ensure that the public is well informed as to what services are being provided by the Court and how the Court system works.
In a day when people are trying to save money and often cannot afford to hire a lawyer to file documents in Court, they often file cases and represent themselves in a pro se capacity. I believe the job of a Circuit Judge is to ensure that a pro se person is treated the same as those who can afford to hire an attorney.
A Circuit Judge needs to be an impartial individual, who makes decisions based on the facts of each case, along with the law and should not make decisions on which party is liked the best or on some other personal criteria.
Application of the Law
As a leader in the community a Circuit Judge must make impartial decisions on controversial issues that come before the Court based on the most current law and not on personal feelings, to insure that all parties that come into the Court, are treated fairly and equally. This is a promise I intend to keep.
Some of that might sound “boilerplate” to you, but it doesn’t to me.
As voters we have to make a judgment about candidates – their thoughtfulness, character, and ability. In the non-judicial races, we have to also weigh their voting record and/or their honestly when it comes to the issues. At the end of the day it’s a guess – but the least we can do is make it an educated guess.