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What Ratings Mean

What We Consider in Our Ratings

Each organization rates candidates based on the criteria of integrity, judicial temperament, diligence, professional competence, and community understanding. Our ratings take into account the candidate’s answers to our questionnaire and an interview of the candidate in which representatives of all of our organizations participate, as well as other information, including a writing sample and information provided by disciplinary authorities. For more detail on our criteria, click here.

We ask all candidates in contested races to participate in our process. If a candidate declines to participate without a reasonable excuse, that candidate’s rating will be “Refused to Participate” unless a “Not Recommended” rating is warranted. Our grid shows the ratings that our groups most recently gave each unopposed candidate for the office to which he or she now seeks election.

The Rating Terms

Each organization gives every candidate one of the following ratings:

  • Excellent - This rating means the candidate is outstanding based on the criteria and is a superior choice for this judicial office.
  • Good - This rating means the candidate substantially meets the criteria and is well qualified for judicial office.
  • Adequate - This rating means the candidate meets the criteria passably or, alternatively, fails to satisfy one or more of the criteria.  A candidate rated “adequate” possesses at least the minimum qualifications for the office.
  • Not Recommended - This rating means the candidate does not meet the criteria, lacking the minimal qualifications for judicial office.

The rules of three organizations permit them to use the “preferred” when two candidates in the same race have an equal rating.

The "Grade Point" Average

For voter convenience, we also give you an average rating for each candidate in number form.  To get this average, we assign a number value to each rating (excellent = 4, good = 3, adequate = 2, and not recommended = 0), add the values of the ratings given to the candidate and divide the sum by the number of organizations that rate the candidate. Each organization’s rating is given equal weight in the averages and is not weighted by the number of members that the organization has.

About the Municipal Courts

What happens in municipal court?

Municipal courts handle civil claims for $15,000 or less, foreclosures of liens on personal property, such as motor vehicles, evictions, traffic offenses, and misdemeanor cases. The Cleveland municipal court also has jurisdictions of real estate foreclosures where the amount claims is $15,000 or less, and in actions by the city to get an injunction against a violation of municipal ordinance or regulation.

Municipal courts are also authorized to hold preliminary hearings in felony cases. Many municipal courts have small claims divisions, where people can bring claims for $3,000 or less without hiring lawyers.

Who can be a municipal court judge?

To serve as judge, a candidate must be a registered voter and resident of a city served by the court, shall be admitted to the practice of the law and shall have been engaged in the practice of the law for at least (6) years preceding his or her election or appointment. A municipal court judge is elected for a term of six (6) years.

How many municipal court judges are elected?

The number of municipal court judges is established by law, and varies according to the size of the jurisdiction. On a municipal court with numerous judges, such as the City of Cleveland, only about 1/3 of the judges are up for election in each election year.

What municipal court serves my city?

There are 2017 elections in the following municipal courts:

If your home town is not listed here, there is no municipal court election in 2017. Come back to for the 2018 primary and general races.