On March 20, voters will cast ballots for judges on the state supreme court, appellate court and circuit courts. Because most voters know little or nothing about the persons for whom they are voting, the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening has combined its member resources to evaluate the candidates for judge.

The alliance consists of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area, the Black Women’s Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, the Cook County Bar Association, the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, the Hellenic Bar Association, the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois, and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois.

Because some associations used a four-point grading system ranging from Highly Qualified to Not Qualified while others used a three-point system with Highly Recommended as the top rating and Not Recommended as the lowest, we decided to combine the screenings by using the grading system with which most of us are familiar from our days in school.

I gave an A or 4 points to a candidate who received either a Highly Recommended or Highly Qualified rating from an association and an F or zero points to a candidate who received a Not Qualified or Not Recommended. I gave a C or 2 points to candidates who were rated as Recommended or Qualified. I then added the total from the 11 associations, divided by 11 and transferred the number into a letter grade.

This week, we’ll focus on the some of the races, and follow up next week.

Click here for part two of the breakdown.