2 IN APPEALS COURT RACE TOP STATE BAR RATINGS
The Will County Insider
By Bob Merrifield
A Will County Republican and a Peoria Democrat were given the highest ratings among four candidates for the 3rd District Appellate Court.
Associate Judge Michael Powers, of Naperville, and attorney Tom O’Neal of Peoria were rated highly qualified in an evaluation by the Illinois State Bar Association.
Two other candidates, Associate Judge Lance Peterson of Morris and Judge Vicki Wright of Tampico in far western Illinois were rated qualified.
The ratings announced Tuesday are the result of a review by the State Bar’s 42- member evaluations committee.
O’Neal, Peterson and Wright are Democrats who face a runoff in the March 21 primary. In November the winner will face Powers, who has no primary opposition.
Powers said he was “honored the State Bar Association has recognized my abilities as a judge and my former abilities as a lawyer.”
O’Neal also expressed gratitude for the high rating, calling it a “tribute from my peers.”
The 42-member ISBA Judicial Evaluations Committee rates candidates based on a comprehensive review of each candidate’s background and qualifications. The process includes a detailed questionnaire submitted by candidates providing professional and personal information. Committee investigators use the questionnaire and other sources to check the background of each candidate. Committee members interview each candidate before recommending a rating to the full committee.
“Voters wishing to become informed about the candidates can rely on these ratings as a non-political peer review of their qualifications,” says Joliet Atty. George F. Mahoney, a well-known Democrat who chairs the Judicial Evaluations Committee. (See Our Investors)
Candidates for vacancies are rated as highly qualified, qualified, or not qualified. Evaluation criteria include legal knowledge and ability, integrity, impartiality, and health.
Powers, appointed to the Will County bench a year ago, has practiced law in Will County since 1987, including three years in the State’s Attorney’s Office.
Peterson, a judge for the last four years, is a former Grundy County State’s attorney.
Wright has been a judge for the last 15 years and O’Neal, a partner in a Peoria law firm, has been in practice for 25 years.