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updated: 2/10/2012 4:50 PM

Don R. Sampen: Candidate Profile

Appellate Court 1st District (O'Brien) (Democrat)

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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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Lincolnwood

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Appellate Court 1st District (O'Brien)

Age: 61

Family: Married, no children

Occupation: Attorney

Education: B.A., Northwestern University, 1972, Evanston; graduated with distinction J.D., Northwestern Law School, 1975, Chicago; graduated magna cum laude, editor of Northwestern Law Review

Civic involvement: Lincolnwood 911 Commission (2010 to present) Lincolnwood Plan Commission (2011 to present) Evanston Zoning Board of Appeals, member (1996-02) Evanston Community Cable Commission, chair (1989-91) and member (1986-91) Former American Arbitration Association Arbitration Panelist Pro bono advocate for indigent clients Toastmasters International, member and past president of local chapter Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Club (former) member for 14 years Church choirs Interests tennis, music, writing

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

Better quality of justice in Cook County, including elimination of the perception held by at least some groups that Cook County is one of the top "judicial hellholes" in the country.

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 favor a merit selection system modeled after a proposal made by a special court commission several years ago.

Essentially, the proposal called for establishing a nomination commission which would review applicants' qualifications and submit names to an appointing authority that would make the actual selection.

Within these parameters, a number of variations are possible.

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

I am best qualified to serve as appellate court judge because of my proven background of hard work, writing ability, litigation/appellate experience, teaching interests, and intellectual ability.

I graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern Law School in 1975, where I served as an editor of the Law Review.

Following graduation I clerked for a year on the 7th Circuit, handling nothing but appeals for more than a year.

I then joined Jenner & Block and

became a partner in 1982.

In 1988 I became head of the litigation area at Martin Craig Chester & Sonnenschein, where I remained for seven years.

In 1995 I joined the Illinois Attorney General's Office, where I served as Chief of the Public Interest Division and Chief of the Special Litigation Bureau, handling complex or unusual cases that came into the office.

I returned to private practice in 2003, and currently am a partner in the Appellate Group at Clausen Miller P.C. focusing on appellate advocacy and insurance coverage litigation.

My practice has been mostly in the commercial litigation area, and I have an excellent trial court background, having handled trials, arbitrations and mediations.

In addition, I have probably handled more appeals in the appellate court than most of my opponents.

I also have published numerous articles and book chapters, and spoken at various legal seminars.

(My writing and speaking activities are summarized in a separate attachment.)

I have handled numerous pro bono cases, mostly in the prisoners' rights area.

I also have taught a variety of law school courses, including served as an adjunct professor teaching insurance law at Loyola School of Law for the past six years.

In addition, I have been active in bar association activities, have twice chaired the CBA Federal Civil Procedure Committee, have chaired the ISBA Antitrust Law Section Council, and served as editor of several bar association newsletters.

All of these types of activities qualify me for the position of appellate court 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?

Statutorily imposed mandatory sentencing relieves judges of some responsibility for deciding a sentence, and may play a legitimate role in assuring the legislature and public that consistent sentencing standards are being maintained.

In most cases, however, I think the judge should retain discretion with respect to sentencing based on the pre-sentence report and matters heard in aggravation and mitigation.

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?

We make use of some specialized courts at the state level, and I think they are effective in allowing judges and other court personnel to acquire expertise in addressing particularized problems.

I think there is also something to be said for courts of more generalized jurisdiction as well, such as at the federal level, where judges bring an array of experiences to bear in each case.

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

In general I favor more information being provided to the public about court-room proceedings than less information.

Before allowing cameras and recording devices on a wholesale basis, however, I would like to know more about the effect that lifiting the ban would have, either through test projects in Illinois or a study of the effect in other states where such devices are regularly allowed.

If consequences adverse to the justice system are minimal or non-existent, then I would favor a lifting of the ban.