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 (Cahill)
Family: Single, no children
Occupation: Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division
Education: B. S. cum laude, Mathematics, DePaul University, 1981 J. D., The John Marshall Law School, 1985 (Dean's Academic Scholarship Recipient) Course work partially completed for Master's Degree in Judicial Studies
Civic involvement: My civic involvement is too extensive to list here, but I will be happy to provide a detailed CV during the Herald's interview process. Some highlights include: President, North Town Community Council Chairman, Evergreen Park Zoning Board of Appeals Member of the Board of Managers, Chicago Bar Association Chair, Election, Local Government and Constitutional Law Committees, Chicago Bar Association Advisory Board, Project LEAP Appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court as a member of its Mortgage Foreclosure Study Committee, and as an instructor at the periodic judges' education conferences I was the first attorney in Illinois to be named as a "Local Government Fellow" by the International Municipal Lawyers Association, an award given only after passing a stringent examination and publishing a scholarly article
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
I see the need for many changes in the appellate court.
First and foremost, the court needs to be more transparent.
If one compares the information available on-line for the appellate court with that available for the local federal appellate court, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the contrast is striking.
In the federal system, litigant's briefs and docket entries are posted online, as are non-final orders such as those setting briefing schedules and disposing of emergency motions.
In the Illinois appellate court, no information regarding case status is available on-line until the court issues a final opinion.
As a trial judge, I often want to know about the status of a pending appellate case that may affect similar ones pending before me.
For instance, if I knew that the appellate court had already heard final arguments on a particular case and that a ruling on it would be forthcoming, I might withhold ruling on a similar case until I received guidance from the higher court.
Similarly, the federal appellate court has a host of resources on-line regarding how to properly prepare an appellate brief and prepare a case for hearing by the court.
The Illinois appellate court also needs to take steps to facilitate the filing of briefs electronically.
Key Issue 2
Candidates for the appellate court should have three distinguishing characteristics.
First, because of the importance of the court, they should have received only the highest possible ratings for appellate court from the two major bar associations -- "Highly Qualified" from both the Chicago and Illinois State bar associations.
I have received those ratings.
Second, they should have extensive experience as a practicing attorney handling appeals, and doing so both as the arguing counsel and as the attorney primarily responsible for researching and writing the briefs.
As a private attorney, I argued six cases before the Illinois Supreme Court and dozens before the various state and federal appellate courts.
None of my opponents come remotely close to having that level of real appellate experience.
Third, they should have a judicial assignment in which they write opinions.
As a judge hearing complex commercial real estate litigation matters, I have issued over 100 written opinions, none of which has ever been reversed on appeal.
Key Issue 3
Many self-represented litigants are frustrated with the appellate process because the rules for perfecting an appeal and presenting written briefs are cumbersome.
These rules assist the court in handling its high volume of cases.
However, the court should pay attention to how these rules affect persons unfamiliar with the legal process.
I would encourage the court clerk's office to provide self-help manuals and on-line videos explaining the appellate process.
Do you favor the appointment of judges or do you prefer the election process' Please explain your answer.
The Illinois constitution provides that most judges in Illinois are elected.
I have served as an appointed associate judge for almost five years.
Both elected and appointed systems leave open the possibility that unqualified persons can become judges.
Because Cook County is so large and has over 400 judges, it is impossible for voters to become familiar with the records and qualifications of the judges on the ballot.
This results in some unqualified candidates winning elections.
In downstate areas, the opposite might be true because most persons are familiar with the relatively small number of local judges. Appointed systems will necessarily adopt some sort of criteria to screen out the least-qualified candidates.
As a sitting judge, I have been favorably impressed with the dedication, skill, and knowledge of my colleagues, whether they were elected or appointed.
What special qualifications or experiences make you the best person to serve as a judge?
See my answer to the "number 2 campaign issue above."
Also: I spent over twenty years as an attorney in the challenging field of local government law.
I served as the general counsel, special counsel, litigation counsel, or prosecutor for many suburban cities, villages, townships, school districts and community colleges.
Major clients in the northwest suburbs included the City of Des Plaines, Harper College, and Wheeling Township.
Governmental bodies face issues based in virtually every area of law -- including labor/personnel, tax, constitutional rights, pensions, ethics/public access, and tort litigation to name a few.
My experience working for these clients gave me a wide background that will be ideal for an appellate court judge who hears appeals from every conceivable type of case.
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 been around, in one form or another, for much longer than its current prominence in legal discussions would suggest. For centuries, legislatures have established the punishments for particular crimes.
In recent years, there has been a trend for legislatures to increase the minimum punishments for certain offenses, which limits judges' authority to use remediative procedures such as supervision, probation, and rehabilitation.
Legislators enacted these laws, in part, because they perceived that judges trivialized certain crimes.
Whether mandatory sentencing deters crime is a matter of debate.
When a mandatory sentence is seen as disproportionate (even sometimes by prosecutors), there can be a tendency to charge an offender with additional charges to pressure him into pleading guilty to a lesser offense and avoid the peril of imposing the mandatory sentence on the more serious offense.
This practice does not necessarily help prevent crime, protect the innocent, or punish the offenders.
Laws that provide judges with the greatest sentencing flexibility further the interests 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?
Because Cook County is so large, its court system is highly compartmentalized.
For instance, it has divorce, criminal, traffic, and other divisions.
Having the same kinds of cases in a particular courtroom creates economies of scale, promotes the uniformity of decision-making, and ensures that the judge has expertise in the types of cases being heard.
I currently sit in a specialized mortgage foreclosure court, and my long experience in that particular setting helps me provide the most accurate and helpful information to the self-represented homeowners who appear.
Do you support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms' Why or why not?
Yes, except in juvenile cases, and always subject to the ability of a judge to ban cameras and recording devices in particular cases if necessary to ensure a fair trial.