We have been honored to have the cooperation of those who take on the important tasks of running for office and serving our courts. Because our process depends on the volunteer efforts of dozens of lawyers and several community members, we now interview only candidates in contested races. We hope that all of those candidates will participate in our process. Together we can inform voters about the judicial candidates on the Cuyahoga County ballot, and the importance of voting in judicial elections.
Interviews for contested 2019 municipal court elections were held on August 23, 2019.
Interviews for contested 2020 primary elections were held on January 16-17, 2020. Interviews for the contested general elections will be held on June 26, 2020.
Candidates should plan to return their completed questionnaires two weeks before the interviews.
We hold our interviews within weeks after the filing deadlines for the coming elections and at least 2 months before Election Day. We strive to report our ratings back to the candidates as soon as possible. Our goal is to make our ratings public no less than 30 days before each election, so that they are available to candidates, those voting early, and those who will go to the polls on Election Day.
Before our interviews, we ask every candidate to complete and return our candidate questionnaire. Candidates for appellate positions are required to submit writing samples. All candidates are asked to attest to the accuracy of their questionnaire answers, and to sign a release permitting us to review their disciplinary record with Disciplinary Counsel and CMBA Bar Counsel. Any information that a candidate wishes our members to consider must be submitted with the questionnaire. Materials cannot be distributed at the interviews.
We invite candidates also to submit a photograph and a short biographical statement that will be posted on our website with the candidate ratings. Except for these two items, the information that candidates submit to us and all of our discussions with the candidates and with each other are confidential.
Each member organization is responsible for selecting the members who will participate in the judicial interviews, and for reviewing and approving the rating recommendations that its participating members make. All participants must agree to keep our discussions confidential and not to participate in the campaign of any candidate in a race for which we provide ratings.
No later than a week before the interviews, every candidate should review the list of Judge4Yourself participants. If the candidate objects to the participation of any one listed, the candidate should immediately notify the Coalition by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of the Coalition Executive Committee will consider each objection and decide whether the participant should be asked to abstain from rating candidates in that race.
We interview candidates one by one. A candidate can expect to speak to 40-60 Judge4Yourself.com participants, with diverse practices and clients. The questions asked are often wide-ranging, and sometimes pointed. We strive to get the information needed to give accurate ratings to the voters. We try to give each candidate the opportunity to respond to concerns about his or her background, experience, conduct or habits that may affect an evaluation.
During each interview day there are plenary discussions among all Judge4Yourself participants. Then, the participants from each member organization meet separately to discuss the candidates and the ratings for each. When each member organization has finalized its ratings according to its own procedures, the ratings are compiled. We then inform each candidate of his or her ratings, and publish all of the ratings.
We evaluate each candidate individually, and without regard to the candidate’s political party. The candidates who receive “Excellent” ratings are those whom we believe have unquestioned integrity, a strong work ethic, excellent judicial temperament, and professional competence for the position sought. Click here for a more detailed statement of our criteria.
Each member organization rates a candidate as “Excellent”, “Good”, “Satisfactory” or “Not Recommended”, unless a candidate fails to appear, to complete or sign the questionnaire, or to sign and return the release permitting us to check his disciplinary record, without a satisfactory excuse. In these circumstances, the heads of the member organizations will give the candidate a “Refused to Participate” rating or, if there is sufficient information to warrant it, a rating of “Not Recommended”. Under the rules of three of our organizations, if two candidates receive the same rating, the organization may then compare them and rate one as “preferred”.
Use of Judge4Yourself Ratings
A candidate may use the ratings given by our member organizations only in connection with his or her campaign for the election for which the ratings were made. For example, ratings made for the 2020 primaries may only be used for the 2020 primaries, and not for the general election. Bear in mind that ratings are made by participating organizations, not by the Coalition. So a candidate who received an Excellent rating from all 5 of our organizations could say, “Rated Excellent by all Judge4Yourself.com organizations”. Please contact us if you have a question about specific phrasing or the use of our logo.
Reasons for the Ratings
After the ratings are published, a candidate may ask the Coalition for information about the reason for his or her ratings by sending an email to email@example.com. The Coalition will not provide details that informed Organizations’ ratings to anyone except the candidate unless the candidate chooses publicly to mischaracterize what the Coalition has told him or her.
So that we can continue to improve our process, we invite every candidate to give us feedback. Candidates may provide feedback using the form that is given to each of them after the interview, or by letter addressed to the Coalition chairs. A formal complaint about the evaluation process shall be submitted in writing. Any formal complaint shall be reviewed by Coalition leadership, who shall respond for the Coalition.