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Check your judges

Your guide to the November 2020 Cook County judicial elections

Published October 6, 2020

Judges have the power to make decisions about guilt and innocence, to take away someone's freedom, to interpret or overturn state laws, and to correct or perpetuate injustices. Yet there are few places to get information about the people seeking to become or remain judges. This year there are two contested elections for judicial seats in suburban subcircuits and 62 judicial retention elections on the ballot.

Continue scrolling to create your personal voting guide, or if you would prefer to see a searchable list of all the candidates, go here.

How to use this guide

Use this guide to decide which judges to elect to open positions and which to retain on Illinois' courts. To help you choose, we have flagged important information about each candidate with the following icons:

Click on the Infonotes buttons to read more about each candidate. In addition to each judge’s biography, you’ll find items we think voters may find notable, including familial connections, high-profile cases, controversial decisions, and other information we found through public records, news clippings, and original reporting. You'll also find evaluations from the three bar associations that provide explanations for their recommendations: the Chicago Bar Association (CBA), the Chicago Council of Lawyers (CCL) and the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA).

Once you've made your choices, you can make a printable PDF of your choices to take to the polls. This guide will also remember your choices if you leave the page and return.


First, decide which judges to retain

At the end of each term, judges must run for retention. To keep their seats, they must win at least 60 percent of voters' approval. Judges who fail to meet this threshold will leave the court at the end of the current term in early December. The Illinois Supreme Court may appoint a judge to fill the vacancy until the next election in 2022.

Next, check if there are contested elections in your district

There are two contested races for open seats on the Cook County Circuit Courts, in the 12th and 13th subcircuits. These districts are in Chicago's northern and northwestern suburbs. For the rest of Cook County's open seats, candidates are running unopposed.

Select your subcircuit below to unlock the race(s) that will be on your ballot. Not sure about your district? Find it using Cook county's interactive map (with the layer Political Districts > Judicial District).


    Finally, save a report to take to the polling station

    Customize using the options below. When you're ready, select Preview document, and if you're satisfied with the result, save the document to your device.

    Note: After you've generated the initial preview, the document will update automatically if you change your votes in the previous sections.

    Preview will appear here

    Do you find our guide useful?

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    Marc Lajoie data journalist and coder, Duncan Agnew, Jason Asenso, Connor Echols, Ebony Ellis, Steve Garrison, Olivia Louthen, Adam Mahoney, Arudi Masinjila, Annabelle Rice, Yi Ning Wong reporters, Jorge Mederos, Pablo Perdomo translators