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Opinion: Judging county judges made easier

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Inevitably, Election Day rolls around and we stand at the poll pondering a ballot issue or candidate we know little about. We’ve done most of our homework, but that one name doesn’t ring a bell or the repercussions of a “yes” vote are fuzzy.

You’ve been there with me, right?

On Nov. 2, we’ll be asked to retain five judges in Greene County. Not having stepped into a courtroom in the last year (which pleases me, frankly), I can hardly judge how well these professional judges have served our community by fairly holding up the legal system.

Well, the Greene County Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee is here to help. For the first time, voters have access to rated assessments of each seated judge by jurors and lawyers who had recently appeared before the judge. The committee members were surveyed anonymously.
Here are their ratings by the participating attorneys, on a scale of 1 to 5, and the committee’s recommendations for each judge in the 31st Judicial Circuit:
  • J. Dan Conklin, circuit judge – High score: 4.53 for allowing parties latitude to present their arguments; low score: 4.04 for issuing timely opinions and decisions. Recommendation: Retain.
  • Jason Brown, associate circuit judge – High score: 4.85 for maintaining and requiring proper order and decorum in the courtroom; low score: 4.58 for rulings on dispositive motions stating reasons and consistently applying the substantive law. Recommendation: Retain.
  • Mark Fitzsimmons, associate circuit judge – High score: 4.43 for issuing timely opinions; low score: 4 for weighing all evidence fairly and impartially before rendering a decision. Recommendation: Retain.
  • Dan Imhof, associate circuit judge – High score: 4.55 for maintaining proper order and decorum in the courtroom; low score: 4.09 for weighing all evidence fairly and impartially. Recommendation: Retain.
  • Mark A. Powell, associate circuit judge – High score: 4.74 for being competent in the law; low score: 3.98 for demonstrating appropriate demeanor on the bench. Recommendation: Retain.
Current terms expire Dec. 31. The lawyers and jurors surveyed back each of the judges for another term. Before you vote, review the full details by the committee online.

Think before you click

On news of a Tribune Co. executive suspended without pay because he sent an improper e-mail and video to staff members, here’s a reminder to think before you click send.

Published reports say Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams resigned after his suspension for forwarding an e-mail from satire news site The Onion. The fake news segment link was labeled
“Sluts” and showed video of a reality TV bus crash spilling “more than 2,000 pounds of slut.”

A bit of irony here is that Tribune owns The Onion, which are both based in Chicago. I’m a fan of the Onion – most days – and of the local attempt, Fair City News.

Onion headlines such as “Cockroach King Concerned Over Recent Rise of Bedbugs,” “Microlender Forecloses On Goat” and “Rich Guy Feeling Left Out Of Recession” are sure to bring a smile. Fair City stories “First Airport Diverging Diamond Runways Opens,” “Snuggies Allowed In R-12 Classrooms” and “Area Man Discovers ‘Cashew Chicken’ Is Just Fried Chicken In Oyster Gravy” pokes fun at the Queen City with just the right conservatism for the culture.

Without question, there is potentially offensive material in The Onion’s attempts at humor. It was a no-brainer for this executive and should stand as a lesson for us.

We’ve all received, maybe even sent, e-mails around the office of cats and dogs peacefully napping together, a ludicrous “redneck” home on wheels, “formulas” for increasing your luck by meeting forward quotas or incredible sidewalk chalk art. They’re subtle, cute and give a break to the monotonous grind. However, even those harmless messages raise questions: Why are you viewing this material at work? Do you have enough work on your plate?

Sometimes, they’ll tiptoe the offensive meter – at least to an inappropriate work level – when e-mails involve political or religious posturing, as is all too common.

I can’t wait to see how The Onion treats this Tribune executive’s resignation. Or will it even pick up the story?

It’s doubtful, I guess, considering its parent company would be bear the brunt of the joke. It sure would give Onion staff a heyday, though.

For us, I suggest we think before we click at work.

Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson can be reached at eolson@sbj.net.[[In-content Ad]]

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