Kane County Bar Association evaluating judge candidates

Published: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 5:30 a.m.CDT

Kane County Bar Association evaluations show both men running for the 23rd Judicial Circuit judge position are recommended for the job.

For the open circuit judge position in DeKalb County, both Republican Bill Brady and Democrat Ron Matekaitis were recommended. And for the circuit judge position in Kendall County, Republican Melissa Barnhart was highly recommended.

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 and 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.

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 recommended.

The bar association also rated two 16th Judicial Circuit judges running for retention, Donald Hudson and Thomas Mueller, as highly recommended.

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 was recently 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 to reduce that possibility, Titiner said.

In Illinois State Bar Association ratings, Brady, Matekaitis and Barnhart were all recommended. Brady received high marks for integrity and legal ability, while Matekaitis scored well in integrity, temperament and sensitivity.

For the vacancy within Kane County, 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 both recommended, scoring well in legal ability and court management.

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