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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: Appellate Court 1st District (Gallagher)
Family: Married, 1 child
Occupation: Associate Judge, Circuit Court Cook County
Education: University of Iowa, B.A. History 1981 Loyola University of Chicago, J.D.1985
Civic involvement: Mobile CARE Foundation, Founding board member and former general counsel Lawrence Hall Youth Services, Board of Trustee Court the Cure, Fundraiser Center for Disability and Elder Law, volunteer
Elected offices held: none
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: no
Key Issue 1
Judges are prohibited from expressing opinions on campaign issues that may come before the court.
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.
The Illinois courts should change to a hybrid merit selection system of appointing judges. I am currently an associate judge.
I was one of over 300 applicants for 31 spots on the Cook County Circuit Court.
I went through an arduous process of evaluation and vetting by the bar associations and a committee of presiding judges.
From there the list of possible candidates was whittled down to 62 candidates for 31 vacancies.
Every single one of the 62 candidates had excellent credentials and experience. Every single one of the candidates were found qualified or highly qualified by a majority of the bar associations.
After making it to the 'short list',over a two-week period, every candidate was interviewed by all 275 full circuit judges. At the end of the interview process those judges voted on whether they thought we were qualified to serve on the bench.
In contrast, when someone wants to run for election for judge they are only required to file a certain number of signatures to get on the ballot.
They are not required to submit to the bar associations for evaluation. They are not required to be interviewed by the voters who will put their trust in them and elect them to the bench.
They are not required to have any experience other than a law degree.
We should not elect judges.
The job is too important to be left to the bottom of the ballot.
What special qualifications or experiences make you the best person to serve as a judge?
I am qualified to serve on the Illinois Appellate Court because of the depth and breadth of my experience as both a lawyer and a judge over the past 25 years.
I began my career at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in the Appellate Division. I wrote and argued numerous appellate cases before the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts.
I also have extensive criminal trial experience.
I have tried over 35 felony juries and hundreds of felony bench trials.
My final assignment in the State's Attorney's Office was in the Gang Crimes Prosecution Unit, an elite unit within the office, where I handled only gang related murder cases.
After leaving the State's Attorney's Office I went with the firm of O'Keefe, Lyons & Hynes where I practiced real estate tax litigation.
While at O'Keefe, in addition to the trial work I handled,
I worked on two matters that went up the Illinois Appellate Court.
In 2007 I was appointed to the circuit court of Cook County as an associate judge.
I was initially assigned to the First Municipal District where I was assigned to both misdemeanor criminal and municipal civil courtrooms.
For the past two years I have been assigned to the Second Municipal District in Skokie where I preside over everything from
traffic to felony preliminary hearings. I am also dually assigned to the Domestic Violence Division where I hear misdemeanor and felony domestic violence cases. I also issue decisions on Emergency and Plenary Orders of Protection.
On occasion I am assigned to a civil courtroom when the need arises. I am very much at ease in both civil and criminal courtrooms and I enjoy the challenge of presiding over high volume courtrooms and the ever changing arguments presented by the litigants.
experience as a lawyer and judge is unique in that I have both criminal and civil experience. Being an Appellate Court justice is not exclusively about research and writing.
It encompasses the academic with the practical.
While writing and research skills are very important, being
an Appellate Court justice is also about using those skills when analyzing and assessing the law and arguments in a case.
It is my belief that trial experience is vital to that process. My background as a judge and a criminal and civil litigator is precisely the type of broad-based experience that enhances my qualifications for the Appellate Court.
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?
Some of the concerns motivating the creation of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines were legitimate. Before the widespread use of these guidelines, studies showed that the sentences of drug defendants could vary greatly depending on the geographical location, the sentencing judge and the defendant's race. It was thought that creating a system under which the appropriate sentence was predetermined would ensure that a consistent and just punishment would be applied in all similarly charged cases.
However newer studies have shown that the actual effect has been contrary to those objectives. Judges are restricted by the mandatory provisions and must impose the statutorily authorized sentence regardless of the culpability level of the defendant and his/her conduct.
The only party with any discretion in sentencing is the prosecutor.
The prosecutor decides what charges are to be filed against a defendant thus in effect what sentence the defendant will receive if convicted.
The judge who hears the case and determines culpability should make the sentencing decision.
It is time for the legislature to revisit this issue.
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 specialized courts are a very effective way to deal with the special circumstances of certain types of offenders and victims.
I am dually assigned to the Second Municipal District in Skokie as well as the Domestic Violence Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. In Skokie we have several specialized courts; mental health, veterans and domestic violence, that have been very successful.
The domestic violence courtroom has additional services available to both the victim and defendant.
There are specialized counseling programs to assist with addiction issues that may be at the root of the violence inflicted on family members.
There are social workers available to assist victims in filing for an order of protection, to locate counseling for children of domestic violence and to help navigate the court system. These services are not available in ordinary criminal courtrooms. The specialized courtrooms offer services to defendants which facilitate rehabilitation and keeps the offender from committing another crime. I believe these specialized courtrooms are a great success.
I hope they will not be cut due to budgetary constraints.
Do you support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms' Why or why not?
The court system is a part of our government.
The more the public understands the workings of our system of government the better.
I don't believe having camera's in the courtroom would have a chilling effect on witnesses,the parties always have the option to subpoena a reluctant witness.
If an issue arises that makes it unreasonable or impractical to broadcast a trial then the presiding judge could hear argument on that issue and make a decision on that case alone. I believe there is more to be gained than lost by allowing cameras in the courtroom.