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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 (Cahill)
Occupation: Associate Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County
Education: B. S. cum laude, Mathematics, DePaul University, 1981 J. D., The John Marshall Law School, 1985 course work partially completed for Master's Degree in Judicial Studies, National Judicial College
Civic involvement: Past President, North Town Community Council Past Member, Board of Managers, Chicago Bar Association Past Chairman, Election Law, Constitutional Law, and Local Government Law Committees, Chicago Bar Association Other examples are listed on my campaign web site, www.supportdelortforthecourt.com.
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Modernization of the appellate court. Because the Illinois appellate court sits in panels of three judges, collaboration, discussion, and due consideration of the cases usually leads to the right result. The appellate court decision-making process benefits from informed deliberation which is often impossible to obtain in busy trial courts. I see the need, however, 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 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
Quality of Jurisprudence. The appellate court that sits in Chicago is the intermediate court of last resort for virtually all civil cases arising in one of the nation's largest counties. As such, its decisions, whether precedential or not, must be of the highest quality. It is primarily important to reach the right result, but it is also crucial that the court's work product is persuasive, articulate, and cogent. In particular, to ensure consistency, the appellate court should give clear guidelines to the lower courts on how to handle oft-recurring legal issues.
Key Issue 3
Efficiency and Timeliness. While all appeals involve issues which are important to the particular litigants in the case, the need for prompt resolution is especially important in criminal cases where the defendant is incarcerated and where a legitimate question is raised regarding the fairness of the trial. Justices of the appellate court should monitor their own docket and keep current with cases that are ready for decision.
Do you favor the appointment of judges or do you prefer the election process? Please explain your answer.
Illinois appellate court judges do not rule on how judges are selected. The Illinois constitution provides that most judges in Illinois are elected. 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 know who the few local judges are. 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?
I practiced for over twenty years, and handled dozens of cases in the state and federal appellate courts. My extensive appellate experience was unusual, because attorneys from private law firms seldom handle many appeals. I also represented many persons on a pro bono basis both at the trial and appellate levels.
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 have one believe. 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 the mandatory sentence on the more serious offense. This practice does not necessarily help prevent crime, protect the innocent, or punish the offenders.
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?
These specialized courts work best in large urban counties where the caseload is sufficiently large to justify them. Counseling and intervention are important tools to assist persons suffering from mental health issues, drug addiction, and the like. Specialized courts staffed by judges familiar with those programs certainly promote the ultimate effectiveness of the legal system.
Do you support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms? Why or why not?
Yes, except with very narrow exceptions applicable to juvenile proceedings and similar situations.