Thirty people seeking election to 10 judgeships in Cuyahoga County? That can be a lot of candidates to sift through.
Luckily, an independent, non-partisan group has done much of the work for you. The results of their efforts? Judge4Yourself.com.
There, readers can see ratings by four bar associations of every candidate in contested judicial races, as well as their photos and short biographies.
Cuyahoga County voters will decide 10 Democratic and two Republican contested races in the March 6 primary election:
- Five races for common pleas court, the county's trial court for criminal and civil cases
- Three races for Juvenile Court judge
- Three races for the Court of Appeals, the court of last resort in the county
- One race for Ohio Supreme Court, the state's highest court.
The website is a project of the Judicial Candidates Rating Coalition, a collaboration of the Norman S. Minor Bar Association, The Ohio Women's Bar Association, the Cuyahoga Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.
Each judicial candidate who chooses to participate in the ratings process completes a questionnaire and is interviewed by a panel of JCRC member organizations. Afterwards, representatives of each member organization meet separately to discuss the candidates and develop ratings.
JCRC panel members are prohibited from contributing to candidates for judicial office or working on their campaigns.
Although each of the four bar associations worked separately on the ratings, all ended up agreeing in their estimations of most candidates, said attorney Deborah Coleman, chairwoman of Judge4Yourself.com.
In several races, candidates with 'good' or 'excellent' Judge4Yourself ratings are running against candidates the groups considered having minimum qualifications for the job, Coleman said in a recent interview.
The March primary is particularly important because in several cases, the candidates who survive the primary will not be challenged in the November general election and so effectively can win the judgeship on March 6, Coleman said in a news release.
Judge4Yourself also has a Facebook page for voters who want more information.