Lori Yokoyama: Candidate Profile
Cook State's Attorney (Republican)
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: Cook State's Attorney
Family: Married, two children
Education: MBA Northwestern University, J.L Kellogg Graduate School of Management 1994 J.D. DePaul University, College of Law 1980 B.S. Accounting, Northeastern Illinois University 1977
Civic involvement: U. S. Senator Mark Kirk-Asian Advisory Council 2011-present Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford-Performance Audit Working Group 2011 Better Government Association-Board 2010-2012 Legal Assistance Foundation-Violence Against Women Act-Pro Bono Representation of Immigrant Women seeking to obtain their green cards, become permanent legal residents or U.C. Citizens DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, Dean?s Advisory Council, 2000-2009 Regional Governor, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, 1997- November, 2000 ISBA Judicial Evaluation Committee, 1991 ? 2003; Vice Chair, 2000-2003 Illinois Research Park Authority, 1996-2000 Appointed by Governor Jim Edgar Founding Director of Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area - 1988 ISBA Ad Hoc Committee on Women and the Law, 1995 - 1998Japan America Society of Chicago-Executive Board of Directors - (1996 - 2000); Board of Directors, (2000 - 2005); Member (1996-Present) Chinese American Service League - Advisory Board (1997 - 2009) Leadership Greater Chicago - Fellow (1990 - 1991), Member of the Selection Committee (1995 and 1996) Member of The Recruitment Committee (1997, 1999) National Association of Asian American Professionals-Mentor (1993 - present) The Economics Club of Chicago (1998 - present) Member of the Board of Directors for the Japanese American Service Committee. Past member of the JASC Housing Corporation (Heiwa Terrace); member of the Keiro Nursing Home Committee; Past Chairperson of the Membership Committee; member of the Long Range Planning Committee; member of the Nisei-Sansei Committee; 1990 and 1991 co-chair of the J.A.S.C. Fuji Festival Committee (1987 - 1995) Chicago United Deacon (1998 - 2000) Richard Devine, State's Attorney, Asian Advisory Council (1996 - 2004) United Way of Chicago Allocations Committee (1991 - 1999) Chairperson for the Asian American Coalition Lunar New Year Dinner -Honor Awards Committee - Japanese Community (1991) Jack O'Malley, State's Attorney, Asian Advisory Council (1993 - 1994) Legal Dinner Chair - Mujeres Latinas en Accion (Latin Women in Action) (1992) Past Member - Metropolitan Planning Council Member-Illinois Republican Women?s Roundtable 1990-present
Elected offices held: 4th Ward Republican Committeemen; 2008 Delegate-Republican Convention; 2004 Delegate-Republican Convention
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Candidate's Key Issues
Key Issue 1
Key Issue 2
Eliminate Corruption-Professionalism over politics.
Key Issue 3
Follow the Law-The Cook County State's Attorney is a Prosecutor. Not a legislator nor a Judge. The determination of whether a law is or is not constitutional is not within her purview.
Questions & Answers
How can the state's attorney's office be improved upon? What changes in operation do you propose? Please be specific.
THE FIRST THING THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, IS TAKE THE POLITICS OUT OF THIS JOB. THERE NEEDS TO BE AN IMMEDIATE CHECKS AND BALANCE OUT OF THIS OFFICE. NO MORE PROSECUTIONS BASED ON WHO YOU KNOW OR IF YOU HAVE MADE A DONATION TO THE INCUMBENT'S CAMPAIGN. I PLAN ON BRINGING INTEGRITY BACK TO THIS OFFICE AND LETTING THE PEOPLE OF COOK COUNTY KNOW THAT I REPRESENT ALL OF THEM. 1. There needs to be an increase in the morale. Better morale translates into a better work environment which leads to quality legal representation. I have discussed the quality of the work product produced by the office with several sitting Circuit Court Judges and have been advised that they have received motions and oral arguments that are incomprehensible. It was obvious to them that the ASA was ill prepared, did not do the necessary legal research and projected an attitude of unconcern. Further, the number of continuances on each case leads to the substantial back log of cases, creates more of a burden on each ASA and denies the alleged criminal the right to a fair and speedy trial. I would correct the morale problem by identifying the problem. This would be achieved by communication. Presently ASA's are fearful of speaking their minds because it would cost them their job. In this job climate, they have chosen to bite their tongue rather than raise their concerns. by identifying the problem(s) I will increase morale which will be demonstrated by the quality of the legal services we provide. (2) Consistent with no. 1, I would investigate the reason why the conviction rate in this County is so low. In Chicago, less than 1 in 10 murderers go to jail. Less than 1 in 25 shooters ever sees jail. Either the arrest, investigation or the trial is flawed. I will perform an immediate in-depth study to identify the problem and eradicate it. The failure to convict, when the evidence clearly demonstrate the person is guilty is costing the County millions of dollars. 3) I would do an immediate review of the supervisors to determine who is properly performing their job. This includes not only are they competent and skillful at attorneys but effective in training and supervising their team. The fact that someone is an incredible trial attorney does not always translate into being an effective supervisor. 4) I would also review the investigators and the manner in which they are performing their jobs. They need to be more accountable to the office. This does not mean that someone is going to be monitoring their every move. There are easy methods to track their progress and the quality of their investigations without having someone looking over their shoulder at all times.
Do you support or oppose the decision to stop complying with federal requests that suspected illegal immigrants be held in jail for an additional 48 hours after their scheduled release? Please explain.
I would evaluate these matters on a case by case basis. The cost of holding these suspects for an additional 48 hours is costly to the County, thus if ICE is willing to cover the cost this would be taken into consideration. The other factors would be what evidence is being presented that the suspect is an illegal immigrant, the rights of the suspect to hold him/her and any threats to the safety of the Community of the person is not held.
What, if anything, should be done to improve the state's attorney's handling of sexual assualt investigations and conviction rate?
There needs to be better communication between the Office and the public. At the present time the conviction rate is extremely low. That stems from the victims feeling that reporting the crime is pointless and the failure to fully investigate the incident. I would deploy ASA's to Community groups, churches, Universities and any other gatherings to discuss how important it is to report sexual assaults and how investigations are conducted. I would also work directly with law enforcement agencies to increase the probability of not just charging the alleged assailant but making sure there is a conviction. I have lived all of my life and attended school in Chicago/Cook County and have never seen a program to inform the public of how sexual assault cases will be conducted.
What do you think about the county's plans to begin charging for parking at courthouses, and the impact that will have on employees, those involved in court proceedings and the public?
Fees at county parking garages were inevitable, however, I agree that those appearing for jury duty should be exempt. The fees, however, should be paid by everyone else, including county employees, judges, etc. If they drove daily, they could get a discounted monthly rate. The fees must be reasonable. I would also advocate to have the fees benefit the Community where the Courthouse is located to improve on the services provided.
Can this office meet budget goals set forth by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle without compromising services? Is so, how? If not, what alternative do you propose?
Yes. I have no intention of increasing the Office?s budget for 2013. Upon review of the 2011 budget there are areas where spending can be cut. As a business owner, I have had to identify ways to reduce my expenses and costs. Significant reductions can occur with revisions in health insurance and pension reform. In addition, I would investigate and research whether there is Federal or other outside funding available for programs within the bureau. I would also look to share resources with other agencies. For example rather than lease a separate facility I would investigate the possibility of utilizing the courthouses and police stations to provide witness and victim support. In addition to sharing a facility we could potentially use the same office equipment, support staff, etc. I would make sure that we are technology proficient. The days when a secretary took dictation and typed everything are becoming a distant memory. Computers have revolutionized the business world. Attorneys can do their own typing, research, cut/paste, copy and even fax from their computers. After assessing the work-load of the attorneys and support staff, I would determine the appropriate ratio. If support staff could not be spared then I would examine the expenses associated with each and every employee. The highest expense is typically medical/health insurance. As an entrepreneur, partner and business owner, I am always seeking ways to reduce expenses without loss of benefits. I reduced my medical expenses by 25% and maintained the low cost of office supplies by buying in bulk. Upon review of the 2010 and 2011 budget for the office, I noted a substantial cost associated with the fleet of vehicles maintained by the office, i.e., $732,861.54-2011 and $736,479.20-2010. I would reduce and if possible, eliminate the vehicles. I would also review the specific details for each line item under ?Contractual Services.? The total increased by almost $600,000 from 2010 to 2011. The current State?s Attorney refuses to disclose the number of guards in her detail. A source has revealed that she has four (4) guards in her detail. The guards not only drive the incumbent to and from work but they allegedly also drive her children to and from school. Upon taking office, I will reduce my security detail in half and they will be used solely for the benefit of the office. They will NOT be for ?personal use?