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 (Frossard vacancy)
Family: Married, six children: Kevin (30), Thomas (28), Mary Katherine (26), Michael (24), Joseph (22), Elizabeth (20)
Occupation: Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County
Education: Bachelor of Science in Economics, Marquette University, 1976; Juris Doctor, DePaul University College of Law, 1979
Civic involvement: Coached our six children in various sports, including baseball, softball, soccer, and basketball. Volunteer at BEDS which provides food and shelter for the needy in the area. Provided free legal consultation for area homeless and needy.
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Judges do not run for election on typical campaign issues. Judges do not represent any given political party, special interest group, or individual constituent. The role of a judge in a democracy is to be fair and impartial to all litigants and to follow the law as it exists. In addition, Canon 67 of the Illinois Canons of Judicial Ethics prohibits a judge from commenting upon a matter that may later likely come before the court. For these reasons, I cannot articulate specific campaign issues, and will focus my answer to the next three questions on my commitment to serve the community to the best of my ability.
I am committed to be fair and impartial to all litigants, treating all with dignity and respect, and to run my courtroom in an efficient and organized manner.
Key Issue 2
I am committed to stay current on the law with each of my assignments in the court system. I am committed to using all of my resources to arrive at a just decision.
Key Issue 3
I am committed to maintain high ethical and moral standards, and to work professionally to elevate the reputation of the judiciary in the minds of the public.
Do you favor the appointment of judges or do you prefer the election process' Please explain your answer.
I must preface all my responses to Questions from the Editor by stating that Canon 67 of the Illinois Canons of Judicial Ethics restricts a judge from commenting upon or indicating a position on a matter that may later likely come before the court. Please be advised, therefore, that all responses to this questionnaire do not in any way commit me to rule in any particular way about a given case.
As difficult as it is for a non-politician like myself to campaign for public office, I still favor the election of judges in Illinois. The election process is not perfect, as non-qualified judges have been and will continue to be elected.
However, over the past twenty years, significant progress has been made through the hard work and cooperation between many bar associations and the media in educating the voters about the qualifications of judicial candidates. Educating the public has resulted in the election of more qualified judges.
An appointive system for the election of judges, on the other hand, creates more problems than it solves. An appointive system by definition excludes the voting public and puts the process into the hands of a select few. As former Illinois State President Philip J. Rock has stated on the subject, the critical debate will always be "who gets to pick the pickers." In other words, will the appointments be made by the Governor, Bar Associations, and/or other elected officials' And, if so, who chooses the people who will do the picking instead of the voters'
The elective process is the best way to select judges. It is consistent with our representative form of government, and keeps the decisions in the hands of the many who have made critical decisions since the Constitution of Illinois was first established.
What special qualifications or experiences make you the best person to serve as a judge?
My experiences as a litigator for over thirty years, along with my judicial experience for over fourteen months, makes me uniquely qualified to continue my service as a Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Over the course of my thirty plus years as an attorney, I handled a wide and varied range of legal matters. I have litigated cases in both state and federal courts, in both criminal and civil actions, in both the trial and appellate levels, and litigated both jury and non-jury cases. I have litigated in various divisions of the Cook County courts, including the Chancery Division, Probate Division, Law Division, Commercial Law Section and Municipal Division. I have also successfully briefed and argued before the Illinois Supreme Court. My clients have consisted of large corporations, municipalities, small businesses, and individuals. I am professional, honest, intelligent, hard-working, and have the ability to temper justice with mercy. I am able to quickly recognize both sides of a dispute. Throughout my career I have always shown respect to the Court and all parties to the litigation. I have learned how to incorporate fairness, independence and intellect to arrive at a well-reasoned decision from the many excellent judges before whom I have appeared. I have been fortunate to have had all these experiences and mentors, as both have given me the tools to be the best person to serve 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?
Mandatory sentencing was created in the late 1970's because too many violent offenders on the state and federal levels were inappropriately given light sentences which resulted in a higher recidivism rate. I, of course, as a judge, must and will follow the law as it exits. Generally speaking, mandatory sentencing works well to protect the public and properly punish offenders. I believe, however,that in some rare cases this law operates unfairly and that Illinois judges should have the discretion to make downward departures from the mandatory sentencing requirements when appropriate and within established guidelines. For example, an unarmed 17 year old offender with no prior convictions and a favorable pre-sentence report who served as lookout to an armed robbery must be sentenced to six years in jail with no possibility of reducing the mandatory sentence. Judges, who are able to hear all the evidence of the crime and examine the background of the offender, are in the best position to fashion the appropriate sentence in these rare instances.
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?
So-called specialty courts employ a team approach to identify and treat offenders of similar types of crimes or offenders/respondents. These courtrooms work efficiently and are an effective use of taxpayer monies. These courtrooms use the expertise of the parties and the court, all of whom are experienced in the issues involved in the prosecution and defense of the particular type of case. These courts have proven to be successful both locally and nationally in lowering the rate of recidivism, resulting in less jail time for offenders and less taxpayer money spent on
funding jail stays.
Do you support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms' Why or why not?
I support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms. American courtrooms have always been open to the public in direct response and in opposition to the secretive proceedings conducted over the course of history. Laws must advance along with the state of technologies. Early on in this debate, arguments were made that cameras intimidate witnesses and thereby cloud their testimony. The state of technology today makes such devices noninvasive and not intimidating in the least, so that any claims of intimidation are unfounded. The more open the proceedings are to the public, the more the public will have faith and confidence in the judiciary. Many people also object to cameras in the courtroom based upon what is claimed to have taken place in the O.J.Simpson trial: that all parties and the judge were performing for the camera. I believe a judge should be able to have cameras in the courtroom without loosing control of the proceedings. Of course, certain guidelines should be in place so as not to interfere with the business of the court.