CHRISTMAS has come a little early for numerous local judges and judicial hopefuls who are eyeing seats in Municipal Court and the Court of Common Pleas.

The Philadelphia Bar Association yesterday released its evaluations of more than three dozen candidates.

The list - the association's version of Santa's famed "Naughty or Nice" list - shows which judges and hopefuls it recommends for election.

Rudolph Garcia, bar association president, said that 150 investigators from the association's Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention spent several months evaluating all the candidates.

He said that the investigators "interview at least 15 folks about each candidate," including former co-workers, business partners and attorneys who have appeared before some of the judges.

"They do a very thorough job," Garcia said. "They're focused on whether a candidate can do the job, be fair and diligent and have integrity. It has nothing to do with their politics."

Garcia said that the bar doesn't share with the public why it ultimately decides whether to recommend a particular candidate.

It does share that information with the judges and the judicial hopefuls.

"They have the opportunity to come back and talk to us further," Garcia said. "Sometimes they have information that will change our view."

The lengthy list of candidates that the bar recommended for election can be found at www.philadelphiabar.org.

The list of judges who were not recommended was considerably shorter, and included only:

* Common Pleas Judge James Murray Lynn.

* Common Pleas Judge Robert J. Rebstock.

* Municipal Court Judge James M. DeLeon.