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: I have been married to Julie (nee Joyce) Sherlock for more than 19 years. We have 3 children: Daniel who is 17, Elizabeth who is 16 and Matthew who is 13.
Occupation: In 2007, I was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to complete the term of a retired Circuit Judge and I was elected to fill that same vacancy in 2008. I am a Circuit Judge - 3rd Subcircuit.
Education: I have two degrees: a B.S. in Economics from Quincy University and a J.D. from the University of Illinois.
Civic involvement: I am an active member of the Illinois Judge's Association and a member of the Budget Committee. I also serve on the Chicago Bar Foundation's Pro Se Litigation Committee, which seeks solutions to provide equal access to justice. I have lectured to children from the Chicago Public Schools, participated in Law Day sponsored by the Cook County Bar Association, spoken with at-risk youths at Chicago State University, and lectured widely on protection from identity theft. I have made presentations on Identity Theft to senior citizens in Elk Grove Village, Orland Park, Proviso Township, Park Ridge, Winnetka, Crestwood, River Grove and have several such presentations scheduled throughout Cook County. I was selected recently by the Illinois Supreme Court's Education Committee to teach judges across the State of Illinois on topics involving consumer protection and consumer rights. I have been active in the Christ the King (Beverly) Athletic Board responsible for the Little Tykes basketball program (3 year term) and then again as the Coordinator for the Boy's Basketball progam (3 year term). For more than 10 years, I coached boy's and girls' s basketball in the Southside Catholic Conference and the South Suburban Catholic Conference.
Elected offices held: I was elected to the office of Circuit Judge in 2008.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
My primary campaign issue is to ensure qualified judges are elected to office.
In many cases, I received the highest rating available from the bar associations.
I have been found Qualified and/or Recommended by the following bar associations:
Chicago Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Women's Bar Association of Illinois, Hispanic Hellenic Bar Association, Cook County Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers of Greater Chicago, Asian American Bar Association, The Decalogue Society and the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago.
Key Issue 2
In addition to the election of qualified judges, I believe that judges should be diverse in their knowledge of the law.
During my more than two decades as an attorney and judge in Illinois, I have handled wide array of multi-million dollar cases.
For example, I succeeded in obtaining settlements and/or judgments in the following types of
$15.5 million for homeowners whose properties were contaminated by chemical toxins; $3.185 million for workers deprived of their minimum wage rights; $5.0 million for an investor wrongfully deprived of his investment opportunity; $2.0 million for ComEd customers, $2.8 million for a person whose contractual rights were wrongfully interfered with by a third party and $2.0 million for shareholders of a locally owned suit maker.
I have been admitted to practice law in federal and state courts across the country, including New York, Georgia, Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Missouri.
In addition to courts, I have arbitrated cases before the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), American Arbitration Association, JAMS/Endispute.
Key Issue 3
Finally, judges should be elected based upon their knowledge of the law and not other factors.
Judges do not represent constituents.
Judges apply the law fairly, irrespective of race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation or any other factor.
Judges should be elected for the quality of their decisions.
I have ruled on more than 400,000 cases.
My decisions have been appealed and affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court --
that makes an impressive record.
To me, voters should elect judges who will get it right, especially when electing appellate court judges.
For 96% of all cases, the Illinois Appellate Court is the court of last resort.
Decisions must be made that are correct, irrespective of outside influences.
I make decisions based upon the law actually is --
not based upon what I believe the law should be.
Do you favor the appointment of judges or do you prefer the election process' Please explain your answer.
I favor an elective process for the selection of judges.
Citizens must feel that they have had a choice in the selection of the judges who will be evaluating their cases.
By electing our judges, Cook County residents can rest assured that they were able to select the judges who will be making important decisions that affect their daily lives.
Whether it be a traffic ticket or a business dispute, we know that our judges were not selected because of their political muscle, but because we, the electorate, chose them.
In my view, the election of judges ensures an independent judiciary, one which we can count on to be fair in all circumstances.
What special qualifications or experiences make you the best person to serve as a judge?
I have practiced law in Illinois for 22 years.
During that time period, I have handled litigation matters involving virtually every area of the law:
criminal matters, probate matters, tax issues, environmental cases, federal securities fraud cases, shareholder derivative cases, real estate cases, accounting malpractice cases, attorney malpractice cases and others.
In addition to this broad breadth of legal experience, for more than 4 years I have presided over what is perhaps the busiest courtroom in the United States. My courtroom hears more than 175,000 cases each year.
I make hundreds of decisions each day.
Litigants appear before me
every day and evert day they receive a fair ruling.
Judges must be able to make decisions and make them fairly and correctly.
Finally, complex issues are memorialized in written opinions.
Courts have issued written opinions in more than 50 cases I personally handled as an attorney.
The Illinois Appellate Court has issued written opinions in cases I have handled 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 has taken away the discretion of the trial judge and as a result has led to an increase in the number of jury trials, which increases the costs taxed to the judicial system.
Mandatory sentencing has also caused an increase in prison populations and expenses associated with the increased prison populations.
For example, the 25 year enhanced sentence for a crime committed with a firearm has rendered pleas of guilty virtually unheard of.
Now there is a minimum penalty for murder of 20 years, in addition to the 25 year enhancement if the murder is committed with the use of a firearm, now is a sentence of 45 years, which is a life sentence for many defendants.
There is no risk in taking a jury trial.
I believe that judges should be given more leeway to consider the facts and circumstances of each case when making sentencing decisions.
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?
Studies have shown that the specialty courts are an effective means of dealing with discrete, but chronic problems.
Specialty courts are cost effective and can address the specific issues which plague our society.
In Cook County, the specialty courts have been highly effective and the judges assigned in those courtrooms have special expertise and special training necessary to make them a model of efficiency.
Do you support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms' Why or why not?
I support a ban on cameras and recording devices in the courtroom.
In order to maintain a proper sense of decorum for all parties, I support a ban on electronic recording devices.
The O.J. Simpson trial showed us what a sideshow a trial can turn into if cameras are allowed into the courtroom.
All parties, including interested non-parties, have the ability to bring in a certified court reporter to transcribe the proceedings.
Moreover, courtrooms are public spaces and open to all who wish to attend a proceeding.
Cameras in the courtroom alter the solemnity of the proceeding.
Recording devices can lead to altered statements and so-called sound bites which if taken out of context can be damaging to the legal process.