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updated: 2/10/2012 4:49 PM

Nathaniel Howse: Candidate Profile

Appellate Court 1st District (Coleman) (Democrat)

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  • Nathaniel Howse, running for Appellate Court 1st District (Coleman)

    Nathaniel Howse, running for Appellate Court 1st District (Coleman)




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: Appellate Court 1st District (Coleman)

Age: 60

Family: Married 25 years to Dr. Patricia Howse, a clinical psychologist.

Occupation: Justice of Illinois Appellate Court, First District (2009 -present) Judge Circuit Court Cook County (1998 - 2009) Lawyer in private practice (1976 - 1998)

Education: Loyola University School of Law, J.D. 1976 Loyola University of Chicago, A.B. 1973 John Marshall Harlan High School, Chicago (1969)

Civic involvement: Former Board Member Prject LEAP; serve as Mentor Judge to new judges; active in numerous bar associations; recipient of William R. Ming Jr. Award for Contribution to Civil Rights; advisory board member YouthMOVEIllinois, a statewide program for youth with behavioral and mental health issues; advisory board member Jason Foundation, a suicide awareness, education and prevention program.

Elected offices held: Elected in countywide election, Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County 1998

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

The local bar associations have evaluated my performance as a judge.

I received the highest rating of "Highly Qualified" to serve as an Appellate Court Justice by the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association.

I received the highest rating of "Highly Recommended" from the

Cook County Bar Association, the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, the Puerto Rican Bar Association,the Hispanic Bar Association of Illinois and the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association.

I was found Qualified or Recommended by all other bar associations to serve as a justice of the Illinois Appellate Court.

These ratings are important because the decisions made by the Illinois Appellate Court impact on peoples lives not only in Cook County but serve as precedent for courts statewide.

Key Issue 2

It is important to elect qualified, good judges because who serves as a judge is important and has a real impact on the daily lives of real people.

I am experienced as a judge and as a lawyer.

As a judge, I examine or review each case thoroughly and carefully rule on the specific facts and the law.

I treat everyone in a manner that preserves their dignity and shows them fairness and respect.

Key Issue 3

My other campaign issue is to encourage voters to learn as much about every candidate for judge as possible and to vote for the judges.

The vote for judge is one of the more important votes a voter will cast and it is important they know who they are voting for.

Factors they should consider are bar association ratings - past and present, judicial experience, legal experience and background and life experience of the candidate.

Questions & Answers

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

I am a former election lawyer who fought to ensure access to the ballot for both voters and candidates.

The main benefit of an elected judiciary is allowing the electorate a voice in the selection of its judiciary.

This is especially important in the election of judges from subcircuits, where the judges are elected to reflect the communities and people who live within the specific sub-circuit.

However, a disadvantage to an elected system is the high cost of running for judge and the large number of voters who are not informed about the judicial candidates they are voting for and default to the best ballot names.

We have to institute some form of campaign finance reform for these campaigns.

I also feel there are disadvantages to appointing judges, specifically who will make the appointments.

Who will choose the criteria and how do we safeguard against corruption and ensure diversity?

These are just some of the issues that we need to address in order to move towards an appointive system.

A combination of appointment and election may be something to explore.

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

The experience I have had that makes me the best person to serve as a judge of the Appellate Court is my over two years of actual experience serving as a Justice of the Appellate Court. The experience I have serving on the Appellate Court for the last two years combined with my previous eleven years as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County and my over 35 total years as an attorney and judge provide me with extensive legal and judicial experience.

In my years as an attorney in private practice, I represented clients in trials and appeals before the Circuit Court, the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court, the Federal District Court and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

I have also been married to my wife for 25 years and have reaped the benefits of this partnerhip.

My life, judicial and legal experience combined distinguishes me from my opponent in this race and makes me the best qualified candidate.

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 feel mandatory sentencing has taken away judicial discretion at the trial level and I do not favor legislation that takes away a judges' discretion.

I have seen, as both a trial judge and as an appellate justice, how a trial judges' discretion is essential to the administration of justice.

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?

The data shows that when used as intended and properly these alternative courts are very effective.

I believe they are a vialble alternative to the traditional court and traditional sentencing options.

An issue of concern is, as with everything, funding.

Cost benefit analysis studies have shown these courts and their treatment approach to be more effective and more cost effective in saving limited public dollars than the more traditional jails.

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

The Illinois Supreme Court sets the policy on the use of cameras and recording devises in the courtroom. I follow the rules regarding the ban on cameras and recording devices as set by the Suprem Court.

The Illinois Appellate Court makes every effort to be transparent and accessible to the public. Our hearings at oral argument in cases are

digitized and a recording is available to the public the same day as they are held.

Our opinions are digitized and are available online. If the current trend toward access continues, no doubt the ban on cameras will be eliminated.