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Bar Association evaluates judges

KANE COUNTY – Two 16th Judicial Circuit judges running for retention, Donald Hudson and Thomas Mueller, were rated as highly recommended as part of evaluations from the Kane County Bar Association.

Of judges seeking to fill vacancies, Republican John Barsanti was highly recommended for a circuit judge position. For a second circuit judge vacancy in Kane County, Democrat John Dalton was not recommended, while Republican John Walters was.

Circuit judges are elected; associate judges are appointed by circuit judges.

Steven Titiner, president of the Kane County Bar Association, said the committee that evaluates judges is made up of 21 bar members from Kane, DeKalb and Kendall counties.

“I will tell you they take this responsibility very seriously,” he said.

Titiner said the evaluation process had been overhauled to involve a greater number of people in the decisions. The committee also rated attorneys seeking to fill an associate judge vacancy in the 16th Judicial Circuit.

Titiner said evaluations should be an important part of any election process because attorneys know the judge candidates firsthand.

In the appointments of associate judges, there is the risk of a political choice being made, but evaluations help reduce that possibility, Titiner said.

Evaluations were made for those in the 16th Judicial Circuit, which includes Kane County, and the new 23rd Judicial Circuit. DeKalb and Kendall counties will break off from the 16th Judicial Circuit to form the 23rd Judicial Circuit on Dec. 1.

Evaluations are made based on candidate questionnaires, interviews and inquiries of lawyers who have worked with the candidates.

The committee considers integrity, legal knowledge and ability, temperament, diligence, punctuality and professional experience before voting on each candidate.

In Illinois State Bar Association ratings, Barsanti was recommended, receiving high marks for integrity and legal ability. Walters was not recommended, and too few responses were received on Dalton for the poll to be valid.

Hudson and Mueller were recommended, scoring well in legal ability and court management.

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