Illinois Judges Association President Judge Lewis Nixon today reiterated the importance of maintaining a judiciary free of political influence. “The Illinois Judges’ Association encourages voters to educate themselves about the candidates in contested judicial elections and the judges standing for retention,” said Judge Nixon, of Chicago. “Every election cycle there are unfair attacks on judges which threaten the constitutional principle of judicial independence. As Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has said, ‘Judicial independence does not just happen all by itself. It is tremendously hard to create, and easier than most people imagine to destroy.’” “Voters should be mindful of the credibility of the sources of information on the qualities and competencies of individual judges on the ballot. In recent years, judicial elections in Illinois and throughout the nation have become more politicized, a development widely criticized by those who worry about the preservation of an unbiased and balanced administration of justice. Forgotten is that Illinois instituted retention election of judges to take politics out of the judicial process once a judge has been elected to the bench. As he did in his remarks on assuming the leadership of the organization, Judge Nixon said, “So important was judicial independence that it was one of the grievances listed by the drafters of the Declaration of Independence in their complaint against the British Crown. The judicial branch of government was designed to operate as a forum unfettered by any considerations other than an evenhanded determination of the facts and a steadfast adherence to the law. Judges simply do not make decisions based on personal preferences.