Judicial candidate Suzanne Wells received higher percentages than opponent Dana Rhoades in an Illinois State Association Judicial Advisory Poll, which takes input from a survey taken of licensed attorneys in compiling its figures.
Both were recommended by the attorneys who responded to the polls.
The rating of Rhoades was done by 92 lawyers prior to the March primary in which she ran unopposed as the Republican candidate for resident judge in Piatt County.
The poll of Wells, who announced her third-party candidacy for the judgeship in the summer, was completed later by 74 attorneys.
The survey is voluntary, and the ISBA asks that only lawyers who are familiar with the work of the candidates to respond. Both Wells and Rhoades were found to “meet acceptable requirements for the office” and thus received a “recommended” rating in the ISBA poll.
The winner of the Nov. 2 election will fill the seat being vacated by the retirement of Hugh Finson.
Wells was given higher marks in all eight categories, answering “yes” or “no” as to whether they felt the candidates were qualified in those areas.
The ratings for the two candidates were fairly close on the questions of their sensitivity, health, court management, temperament and integrity but were further apart in the area of legal ability. In that category, Wells had a 92.65 rating compared to a 74.73 percent for Rhoades.
“I’m grateful for the input on my qualifications for circuit judge provided by the men and women who are my colleagues and who have worked with me daily for over 20 years,” said Wells.
Rhoades thought that her 12-year stint as Piatt County state’s attorney might have affected the responses from area attorneys.
“Because the poll is anonymous, it is quite possible that the same local attorneys rated us both positively. The negative responses that I did receive are the byproduct of 12 years of tough prosecution, having to tell defense attorneys ‘no’ on a daily basis, and working hard to keep our communities safe. I am proud of that record,” she said.
She also noted that, since the surveys took place at different times, they may have involved different attorneys taking part, making it difficult to compare the two.
In other ISBA poll results for the Sixth Circuit, which includes Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt counties:
–Jason Bohm, a current sitting judge, was recommended, while his opponent, Champaign attorney Scott Lerner was not recommended for the vacancy of Thomas J. Difanis in Champaign County;
–Ramona Sullivan, a Champaign County assistant public defender, was recommended, while her opponent, Savoy attorney Cheralyn (Cherie) Kesler was not recommended for the vacancy of Michael Q. Jones in Champaign County.
–Jeffrey S. Geisler, a sitting judge and the only candidate for the vacancy of Macon County Judge Albert G. Webber, was recommended.
–Robert C. (R.C.) Bollinger of Macon County and Richard L. Broch, Jr. of Douglas were both recommended for retention to their circuit judgeships. Judicial Advisory Poll results can be found online at https://www.isba.org/judicialevaluations.
The Piatt County results are at https://www.isba.org/sites/default/files/judicialevaluations/2020general/6circuit.pdf.