Robenalt receives praise from users and the press
Thompson Hine litigator James Robenalt wants people to exercise their right to vote. But not if they aren’t properly educating themselves on the issues and candidates. In Robenalt’s view, the results of the judicial races in Cuyahoga County this year reflect an important milestone in voter behavior, showing that, given the opportunity, voters will use nonpartisan information to make decisions. But where to find such information? Voters need look no further than a website Robenalt helped to create in 2001, Judge4yourself.com.
“Judicial elections are important to every citizen – the quality of justice is at stake. Unfortunately, voters have found the selection of judges mystifying, knowing precious little of a candidate other than party affiliation, name and gender. The result in our county has been that certain names have become powerful and sometimes candidates with those names win despite poor qualifications,” says Robenalt, chair of Thompson Hine’s Business Litigation practice. “We wanted to do something about the guessing game, so people could judge for themselves. When voters are able to research judicial candidates just as they would major issues on the ballot, everyone benefits.”
The Judicial Candidates Rating Coalition is a nonpartisan, diverse group of five bar associations. The group interviews judicial candidates and posts ratings on Judge4yourself.com based on those interviews, along with endorsements from local newspapers. “Voters are shown a diversity of opinion on each candidate and they then make the choice,” says Robenalt. “The reason this website works is that people are not force-fed any one opinion – each member of the coalition remains independent in its rating.”
The site received much media attention this election season, from coverage in the Sun Newspapers to a November 10 editorial in The Plain Dealer, and it’s clear the voters love it.
Adam Liptak from the New York Times had this to say about the site during a recent radio interview on the topic of judicial elections and appointments: “I think that [this] group…performs an incredible public service by trying to get out carefully prepared, reasoned ratings of the judges… if [the website] were distributed more widely and people were making their decisions on judicial candidates based on real information rather than feel-good ads or, even worse, attack ads, we might have a better system.”
Testimonials sent to the website include:
“This website is pure gold! Information is clear, concise and unbiased. A great resource.”
“…I pass out these ratings to everyone I know. Without this, I shudder to think how our judges would be elected.”
“When I went to vote…I noticed that everyone in line had a judge4yourself.com printout…Your hard work made the judicial races easy – it was confusion-free.”
“Congratulations on making such a big improvement in the process and in improving the quality of our bench.”
About Thompson Hine LLP
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