Matt Stanton: Candidate Profile
Lake County State's Attorney (Democrat)
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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.
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Family: Single father -- five grown children
Occupation: Attorney, Law Professor
Education: BA Columbia College, Juris Doctor Kent College of Law
Civic involvement: Executive Board Chicago Media Watch; Founding Board member Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association; Mentor ParentWISE, Lurie Children's Hospital
Elected offices held: First time running for office
Why are you running for this office? If you are running for re-election, is there an important project you want to implement? If you are a challenger, is there are particular issue that motivates you? Please explain.
The current State's Attorney said in a December 2012 interview that he would re-interview all 70 assistant attorneys for their jobs. He promised to rid the office of anyone who was more concerned with winning cases rather than seeking justice. He ended up replacing no one, with no one ever being held to account for the long history of prosecutorial abuses that belong to this office. As recently as this year a Lake County rape case was reversed by the appellate court because of misconduct by a Lake County prosecutor. We don't need more volunteer panels; we need bold leadership.
Are you concerned about police and prosecutors' treatment of black suspects in Lake County? What would you change?
The Laquan McDonald tragedy in nearby Chicago should be a wakeup call to everyone. But in Lake County the issue is even deeper; as we have seen, they will frame anybody regardless of race or ethnicity. The problems here are related to lack of respect for the presumption of innocence and due process of law.
An honest dialogue is needed, one that avoids polarization and does not look for scapegoats. We must make the effort to understand the problems we face together; we are all members of one human family and an injustice to one is an injury to all.
Do you believe the state's attorney's office is biased toward police in cases of possible police misconduct? What evidence supports your opinion? If yes, how would you eliminate that bias?
Because the State's Attorney has constant contact with the police there is a required closeness. However, they actually are separate institutions with allied but different goals. The State's Attorney's Office is to seek justice and apply the rule of law in every situation. I am unaware of the State's Attorney ever indicting an officer other than the N. Chicago Police Chief who was arrested in 2012 for stealing $275,000. His trial has been continued at least 12 times. Justice delayed is justice denied. I would eliminate this by having experienced trial attorney bring these cases to trial in 120 days.
What aspects of the office do you think needs improvement? Be specific. How would you address that need?
I would assign two prosecutors to be on 24 hour call - to personally review serious crimes with the police in an effort to aid them in gathering evidence.
We can also reform how we charge serious crimes. The Actual Innocence Protocol I will develop applies to situations where the level of evidence may not be high, or, where a defendant or his attorney have strong reason to suspect a mistake has been made in the arrest. This protocol gives the defendant an opportunity to use a lie detector and other evaluative tools to demonstrate his innocence prior to indictment.
Please list any elected office you've ever run for and what the result of that election was. Have you ever been appointed to fill an unexpired term?
This is my first attempt at political office. I am not a politician. I am an attorney in private practice and an adjunct Professor of Law, teaching advanced topics in constitutional law to 2nd and 3rd year law students. The March primary in this current election cycle has been my only campaign experience.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
We need to take a hard look at how we gather and use evidence. False confession and eyewitness misidentification have played a key role in Lake County's seven major wrongful convictions, all later proved innocent by DNA evidence. Concerns about "public safety" are misplaced and should not be an obstacle to reform measures designed to prevent wrongful convictions. While these reforms protect the innocent, they also improve law enforcement's ability to apprehend the guilty.
I will lobby for expansion of Drug Court and increase of treatment facilities.
I favor term limits and if elected vow to serve only two terms.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
No current leaders, but Winston Churchill once said "Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others".
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
I was raised in a large family where I learned to appreciate hard work, to accept responsibility, and treat others with respect.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I would probably have gone to college right out of high school, rather than doing so while working and raising a family. That was challenging.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
History. It is a vast repository of life lessons.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Every success in life I owe to rising early, working hard, and not wasting time watching TV; every failure I owe to fear.