Lorna Propes: Candidate Profile
Cook County Circuit Court (Pucinski vacancy)
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: Cook County Circuit Court (Pucinski vacancy)
Family: Married, four adult children, seven grandchildren ranging in age from 17 to 4.
Occupation: Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County
Education: Thornton Township High School, Harvey, Il, 1962 Indiana University, B.S. in Education, 1966 Columbia University Teachers' College, M.A. in secondary school counseling, 1970 Loyola University School of Law, J.D., 1975
Civic involvement: II am a founding member of the Thornton Alumni Legacy Fund, a non-profit foundation organized for the purpose of raising money to provide educational and extra-curricular enrichment for my alma mater.
Elected offices held: For eighteen years I was a commissioner of The Illinois Racing Board, and chairman for the last 5 before my retirement from the Board. I served in this position under four Governors, having been appointed first by Governor Jim Thompson in 1989.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
In a judicial race the only issue is the the comparative qualifications of the candidates.
I feel that by any measure I am better qualified than my opponent.
Key Issue 2
Candidate did not respond.
Key Issue 3
Candidate did not respond.
Do you favor the appointment of judges or do you prefer the election process' Please explain your answer.
I'm on the fence.
I believe the elected system, especially with the creation of the sub-circuits, has afforded individuals the opportunity to run
in geographical areas that allow for meaningful and effective campaign efforts.
The most negative thing about the elected system is the necessity for judicial candidates, often scores in a single cycle, to raise significant campaign funds. A merit system would adjust the process in that it would afford opportunity to serve to highly qualified candidates who, because they do not have a "ballot friendly" name,are unlikely to achieve election.
Perhaps some sort of a hybrid method could incorporate the strengths of both systems.
What special qualifications or experiences make you the best person to serve as a judge?
What best qualifies me to continue my service as a judge, and distinguishes me from my opponent,
are the following:
I am presently a sitting
judge, having been appointed by the Supreme Court after
before the judicial evaluation committees of
both then-Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald and Justice Anne Burke, the Chicago Bar Association and the Alliance of
In its independent rating the CBA found me Highly Qualified stating:
"Lorna Ellen Propes is 'Highly Qualified' for the office of Circuit Court Judge.
Ms. Propes was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1975 and has a wealth of practice and trial experience in both civil and criminal law.
Ms. Propes enjoys an excellent reputation in the legal community and possesses outstanding credentials for judicial service." The length, diversity and sophistication of my legal career:
At the time of my appointment I had been a trial lawyer for 35 years. I began my career as an Assistant States' Attorney, where I was one of the first women in Illinois history to handle major felony cases. In the ensuing 30 years, as a private practioner,
I represented individuals and corporations in state and federal court in Illinois and
five other jurisdictions.
I tried nearly 100 jury trials and
handled countless bench trials and contested motions.
My cases, the majority of them involving complex legal issues, development of expert witnesses and lengthy trial preparation,
were primarily those
which advocated the rights of
consumers who had suffered tragic injury or the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of others, medical negligence, civil rights violations and faulty products.
I also had the opportunity to serve as trial counsel for three
Fortune 500 companies facing
major class action, mass tort
and contract cases.
The diversity of my practice is best demonstrated by the fact that, within
a six year period
beginning in 1997,
I tried, among others,
the following jury trials:
a 6 month mass tort class action case in New Orleans, where I was
lead trial counsel for the defendant The Dow Chemical Company,
an auto crash
for a gravely injured Com Ed employee,
?Ryan Harris' civil case involving the wrongful prosecution of a 8 year old for the crimes of rape and murder, and a case of medical negligence which resulted in the death
the mother of three young children.
In each of the last three I represented the plaintiff.
Along the way I did some criminal defense work as well, mostly years ago, but recently, including the defense of former Chicago Bears' defensive tackle Terry "Tank" Johnson.
I have served since the 70's as a faculty member of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, and have earned the organization's Faculty Award for outstanding service.
also received the St. Robert Bellarmine distinguished service award from Loyola Law School.
I am an author and national lecturer on trial advocacy and the use of technology in the courtroom.
I have earned Chicago Magazine's acclaim as one of Chicago's "30 Toughest Lawyers," and
been named one of Chicago's preeminent trial lawyers by numerous publications, including Leading Lawyers and Superlawyers.
Additionally, for 30 years I was a partner in a
small law firm, though the firm went throught several iterations.
That experience, starting and running a business, being responsible for the wages, benfits, and livelihood of my employees, as well as the
lives, future and, in some cases, very survival of my clients,
guides my work
as a judge.
What are your thoughts on mandatory sentencing? Do you believe judges should have greater leeway when it comes to sentencing defendants' Why or why not?
Judges should have greater leeway.
Our current system of mandatory minimum sentences in even the least serious cases, is largely a one-size-fits-all sentencing scheme which robs judges of the discretion they need in order to treat defendants as individuals, and fashion sentences that take into account the defendant's background, circumstances, and facts of the case.
What are your thoughts on the use of drug courts, domestic violence courts, veterans courts, mental health courts and prostitution courts' Have they been effective?
I have not spent enought time in the criminal courts in the last 30 years to provide a good answer.
Do you support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms' Why or why not?
Other jurisdictions have done this without, as far as I can tell, jeopardizing the rights of litigants or bringing out the worst in lawyers, as I feared.
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