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By Randy Pierce
All 13 associate circuit court judges serving Madison County have been recommended for reappointment by July 1, after their terms expire, by the Illinois State Bar Association.
These associate judges are subject to reappointment every four years through the casting of secret ballots by circuit judges in their jurisdictions. Madison and Bond counties comprise the Third Judicial Circuit in Illinois.
The appropriate jurisdiction member attorneys of the ISBA are asked to offer their opinions of the associate judges in a poll that measures their suitability in eight categories: meeting the requirements of the office, integrity, impartiality, legal ability, temperament, court management, health and sensitivity.
Those associate judges from this area subject to the ISBA poll include Veronica Armouth, Andrew Carruthers, Angela Donohoo, Ronald Foster, Janet Heflin, A. Ryan Jumper, Martin Mengarelli, Ronald Motil, Emily Nielsen, Neil Schroeder, Maureen Schuette, Ronald Slemer and Justin Zimmerman.
Schroeder then Motel and Foster were the most highly rated, fairly consistently in all categories with ratings of 94 or better out of a possible 100, by the participants in the poll.
In the case of the Third Judicial Circuit, the number of poll responses varied for the different judges with 130 being cast for Foster and Jumper but only 61 and 65 for Zimmerman and Nielsen, respectively, and the others falling somewhere in between.
Attorneys are asked to provide their response only if they feel they have sufficient knowledge and experience to do so about a specific individual associate with “no opinion” responses not included in the final tabulations.
The candidates considered for reappointment by the ISBA members received ratings of recommendation if there were at least 65 percent favorable poll responses received.
While the circuit judges are ultimately responsible for the reappointments of the associates, the ISBA releases its poll findings because its membership feels it is in the best interests of the citizenry to do so regarding these public officials.
Formally referred to as the ISBA Judicial Advisory Poll, the balloting was conducted electronically and by United States Postal Service mail with each member of the organization being sent a ballot containing the names of all of the associates in their circuit.
There are 25 judicial circuits in Illinois, seven of which are for single larger populated counties. The circuit court is the first point in the litigation process unless the state Supreme Court determines it has authority over a specific case.