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updated: 2/10/2012 4:53 PM

Cynthia Ramirez: Candidate Profile

Cook County Circuit Court (O'Brien, Jr. vacancy) (Democrat)

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  • Cynthia Ramirez, running for Cook County Circuit Court (O'Brien, Jr. vacancy)

    Cynthia Ramirez, running for Cook County Circuit Court (O'Brien, Jr. vacancy)




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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Chicago


Office sought: Cook County Circuit Court (O'Brien, Jr. vacancy)

Age: 47

Family: Single; one daughter.

Occupation: Administrative Law Judge/Attorney

Education: 1986-B.A. in Political Science, minor in Italian Loyola University of Chicago 1989- J.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Civic involvement: Women's Bar Association of IL Hispanic Lawyers Association of IL Puerto Rican Bar Association ol IL National Hispanic Bar Association Greater Chicago Food Depository

Elected offices held: None

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

A qualified, experienced and diverse bench.

Key Issue 2

Candidate did not respond.

Key Issue 3

Candidate did not respond.

Questions & Answers

Do you favor the appointment of judges or do you prefer the election process' Please explain your answer.

I believe that both systems have their merits, however, I favor the election process because it affords the public the opportunity to select the people who will have a significant and direct impact over their lives.

On a daily basis, Judges make life decisions that directly and significantly impact our lives in very real ways; Judges decide who will have custody of your child, how your assets will be distributed when you get divorced or die, whether you keep or lose your house and in some cases your freedom. With such significant and potentially life altering decisions being made, the public deserves the right to select who can make those important decisions on their behalf. The election of Judges should be combined with campaign finance reform in order to ensure that the Judiciary is not unduly influenced by those with financial means, PAC's, and special interest groups.

What special qualifications or experiences make you the best person to serve as a judge?

I believe that I am the best person to fill the O'Brien Jr., vacancy for Cook County Circuit Court Judge because I have both litigation and judicial experience in both civil and criminal practice.

As an attorney with over 21 years of legal practice, I have served as an Assistant Public Defender, private practitioner and Administrative Law Judge.

As an Assistant Public Defender, I litigated hundreds of matters before the Juvenile Justice, Child Protection, 1st Municipal and Post Conviction divisions. As a private practitioner I founded and ran my own law practice, in addition to litigating both civil and criminal matters before the Juvenile Justice, Child Protection, Traffic and Criminal divisions of Cook County Circuit Court.

As an Administrative Law Judge with the State of Illinois, I have presided over hundreds of cases involving healthcare facilities and environmental regulatory and licensing matters.

For over 13 years, I have been performing many of the same duties and responsibilities that Circuit Court Judges perform.

I manage a docket of over 100 cases.

I conduct prehearing conferences, status calls and motion hearings.

I rule on motions, objections and the admissibility of evidence.

I render written recommendations and decisions.

I am experienced in presiding over proceedings involving attorneys, public interest groups and average citizens.

I have also been found Qualified by the Chicago Bar Association, Chicago Council of Lawyers, Illinois State Bar Association and the Asian American Bar Association; I am Highly Recommended by the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, Hispanic Lawyers Association of IL and the Puerto Rican Bar Association; I am also recommended by the Cook County Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers' Association of Greater Chicago, Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, Hellenic Bar Association and the Women's Bar Association of IL.

Finally, as the only Latina woman running in a county wide Judicial race, I will bring a unique sensitvity and diversity to the bench.

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?

I believe that Judges should have greater leeway in determining the most appropriate sentences for defendants.

Mandatory sentencing does not afford Judges the opportunity to consider all of the circumstances and facts related to the crime and person that is going to be sentenced. It removes the opportunity to consider alternatives to prison, and the possiblity of rehabilitation.

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 believe that issue focused courts are effective.

It allows Judges and practitioners to specialize and focus on the unique issues and needs of the parties. It also provides litigants with coordinated services.

Do you support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms' Why or why not?

I do not support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms.

While transparency of the judiciary is important, that interest must be weighed against the important right to the privacy of litigants, and ensuring that the judicial process is not impacted by outside influences.