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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.
City: Arlington Heights
Office sought: Cook County Circuit Court (Pucinski vacancy)
Family: Married, 2 children: Kate(5) and Lily(2)
Occupation: Assistant States Attorney, Cook County
Education: J.D., John Marshall Law School, 1990 B.B.A, Finance, University of Iowa, 1986 Saint Viator High School, 1982
Civic involvement: ? Participant, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation ?Charitabowl? -- Volunteer, March of Dimes ?March for Babies' -- Fundraiser/participant, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Foundation (victims of domestic battery) -- Activity organizer, Baltimore Association for Retarded Citizens -- Fundraiser, Catholic Charities -- Volunteer activity organizer, Moorings Retirement Community -- Volunteer, Saint Vincent DePaul Society -- Mock Trial Competition Coach, Chicago Public Schools
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
The number one campaign issue is to inform voters about the people who are candidates for judge. During the time I was collecting signatures many people told me they did not know anything about judges on the ballot. It is important to inform voters about judges and make candidates accessible to people in our community. It is very important to elect people who have the character and qualifications to serve the people of Cook County.
Key Issue 2
The number 2 campaign issue is to elect judges who have strength of character. Judges need to be honest, impartial, even tempered and have the ability to make difficult decisions.
Key Issue 3
The number 3 campaign issue is to elect judges with solid legal ability and experience. Being a judge means making decisions that profoundly affect peoples' lives. These decisions need to be made by a person who is well trained at representing people in a courtroom.
Do you favor the appointment of judges or do you prefer the election process' Please explain your answer.
The benefit of our elective system of judges is that the people elect the judiciary. This is democracy in action. The problem of electing judges is most voters do not know who the judges are and either do not vote, or vote without adequate information about the candidate. Another issue is that politics play too much of a role in how judicial candidates are presented and elected. One positive aspect of the election process is the subcircuit system that has promoted diversity by electing judges from all areas of Cook County.
It is unclear if the Circuit Court would benefit from a appointive system. Who would appoint judges and upon whose recommendations would the appointments be based? The federal courts have some excellent judges and some poor judges and politics still play a large part in appointing federal judges. This would still be the case if the Governor appointed judges. For the appointive system to work, it would have to involve a panel of law school deans, judges, attorneys and other professionals serving on a panel to make recommendations for the public to see and the Governor to appoint. This is not an easy issue and should be discussed in our community.
What special qualifications or experiences make you the best person to serve as a judge?
To be a good trial judge, an attorney must possess many attributes, including honesty, integrity, temperament, ability and experience.
Integrity and honesty are critical as our court system depends on honest judges. I have been involved in the litigation of thousands of cases. I have never had a complaint filed against me, or a case overturned, for professional or personal misconduct. I have always felt my greatest responsibility as a prosecutor was to seek justice for all citizens in our community.
A judge with a calm demeanor and even temperament is critical for our court system to function. A judge that does not intimidate witnesses, parties or lawyers allows each side in a case to do good work for the people they represent. I have always tried to treat all court personnel, including my opponents, with dignity and respect. The Chicago Bar Association notes that I am well regarded for even temperament and diligence.
A trial judge should have good legal ability. I have tried more than 75 jury trials and hundreds of bench trials. I have tried cases in both state and federal court. I have written and argued cases in both state and federal appellate courts. I have litigated cases involving forensic pathology, forensic psychiatry, DNA, medical malpractice, civil rights, computer forensics and violations of consumer fraud acts. I have the ability to prosecute and defend both civil and criminal cases. I have taught in-house seminars on identity theft, evidence and trial advocacy. I am the ONLY candidate in my race to be found highly recommended, qualified or recommended by every bar group in Cook County that performs judicial evaluations.
A trial judge should have broad legal experience. During my career as a criminal prosecutor I was in court almost every day for 17 years. I managed a court call of three to four hundred cases, involving everything from drug possession to capital murder. These cases were either in the pre-trial, trial or post trial stage. I learned how to handle different types of cases in various stages of the process. I learned how to prioritize cases and make decisions. I gained experience as to when a defendant should be given a chance with probation and when to ask for incarceration. These are qualities a person needs to have to be a good trial judge. I have experience handling both civil and criminal cases. I have tried cases in federal court and every state court house in Cook County. I have represented victims of violent crime and also civil defendants accused of negligence. I have an exceptionally broad range of legal experience, which is necessary to be a good trial 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?
The problem with mandatory sentencing is that it sentences the crime and not the person. Judges should have broad discretion in sentencing an individual based on the facts of the case and the aggravation and mitigation presented by both sides. Mandatory sentencing is also a major cause of overcrowding in our state and county departments of correction.
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?
The Cook County Circuit Court deals with a very high volume of cases. The specialized courts allow judges and court personnel to better address the needs of defendants in non-violent cases. The courts are also in a better position to address the needs of victims in domestic violence cases. The specialized court systems have been effective in disposing of cases in a fair and effective manner. Hopefully, in time, it will also decrease the recidivism rate for all defendants in these courtrooms.
Do you support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms' Why or why not?
The ban on cameras and recording devices in courtrooms is a decision that should be made by our state legislature. As a candidate for judge, I do not think it is appropriate to offer my personal opinion on this matter. I will say I am a better lawyer with less distraction in the courtroom.