Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste at a recent campaign event. Photo courtest of the Jean-Baptiste campaign.

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Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste, an Evanston resident, was appointed as a judge to the 9th Judicial Subcircuit by the Illinois Supreme Court in March 2011. He is now seeking to retain that judgeship in the March 20, 2012 election. He previously practiced law for more than 20 years, and was an alderman on Evanston’s City Council for 10 years. He is a graduate of Evanston Township High School, Princeton University and Chicago-Kent Law School.

Judge Jean-Baptiste is the founder and past chairman of the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti and has coordinated efforts to bring relief to the victims of the devastating earthquake there. As an Evanston alderman, he served on many committees and initiated programs to help young adults stay away from crime and succeed in life. He served on the Restorative Justice Committee to help implement conflict resolution strategies and reduce violence.

Judge Jean-Baptiste has been found qualified or recommended by all bar associations that rate judicial candidates in Cook County, and found highly qualified by the Cook County Bar Association. He has been endorsed by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, State Senator Jeff Schoenberg, State Senator Kwame Raoul, State Representative Robyn Gabel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, all aldermen on Evanston’s City Council, as well as many other elected officials.

He is running against Judge Michael Ian Bender in the March 20 election. Judge Bender was appointed to the court in 2008 and serves in the Domestic Relations Division. He had about 15 years litigation experience before being appointed to the bench. Judge Bender has been found qualified or recommended by all bar associations, and highly qualified by the Puerto Rican Bar Association and highly recommended by the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association.

For a summary of bar association ratings of all judges running in the March 20 primary, see the chart linked to the online version of this article.