Liam Brennan: Candidate Profile
18th Circuit Court (Elsner vacancy) (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.
Twitter: Candidate did not respond.
Facebook: Candidate did not respond.
Family: Married to wife Joanne for 22 years. Three children, 15, 12 and 7 y/o.
Occupation: Circuit Court Judge
Education: B.A. Government & International Relations, University of Notre Dame (1989); J.D., Loyola University Chicago School of Law (2003)
Civic involvement: Member, Illinois Supreme Court Judicial Education Committee (faculty member/advisor); Chair, Annual DUI/Traffic Symposium (funded by IDOT); Former Parish Council Member, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church; Knights of Columbus. Prior civic involvement has also included: volunteer inner-city teaching; youth soccer coach; GED tutoring. Frequent lecturer on various legal issues to civic organizations (e.g., Rotary, Citizens Emergency Response Academy, senior citizens groups, etc.).
Elected offices held: 18th Judicial Circuit Court Judge (2014-present).
18th Circuit Associate Judge (2008-2014).
Republican Precinct Committeeman, Yrk Township, 2000
What special qualifications do you have that are specifically suited to the needs of managing a courtroom? If you are an incumbent, describe at least one situation demonstrating your approach to maintaining an effective courtroom and court docket. If you are running for the first time, describe what a judge's role should be in managing a courtroom and schedule of cases.
In the last 7+ years as a judge, I have successfully managed a variety of courtrooms, including ones with high-volume caseloads. In the 2016 ISBA/DCBA Joint Bar Poll, I received a score of 99.03% for Courtroom Management.
I endeavor to treat all lawyers, unrepresented litigants and witnesses with respect at all times. I find that simple courtesies and patience go a long way toward diffusing potentially volatile situations or combative people. Where this approach does not work, I calmly pass the case to the end of the call so I can devote more time to the situation.
What is your philosophy in determining a person's sentence? What changes, if any, do you advocate in laws establishing mandatory sentences for certain crimes?
In sentencing, I remember that no matter how significant the crime or problematic a defendant's background, he or she has an inherent dignity as a person. Accordingly, I place great emphasis on the possibility of rehabilitation where appropriate. I of course consider all the other statutory sentencing factors, especially public safety, which also plays a critical role.
It is the legislature that decides sentencing ranges and the propriety of mandatory sentences, and as a judge I do not advocate changes in the law. Generally speaking, however, I would favor greater flexibility in sentencing.
What can or should the courts do to help combat jail and prison crowding?
The Governor's goal to reduce the prison population by 25% over 10 years is laudable. Courts should expand and utilize specialty courts such as Drug, Mental Health, Veterans and DUI Courts to treat the underlying causes of certain crime, thus reducing recidivism and criminal/felony convictions. Similarly, courts should ensure familiarity with and take advantage of 2nd Chance Probation Statutes, Section 410 and 710 Drug Probation, as well as Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) sentences. Finally, courts should remain ever cognizant of the financial and societal costs attendant to incarceration, assuring such sentences are imposed only when truly appropriate.
What measures do you support for enabling the public to monitor court activities? To what extent do you believe electronics should be permitted in a courtroom, whether it be for audio recording or video recording?
I believe that the general public should have unfettered access to our courtrooms. I also welcome electronic media coverage in accordance with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 15's Extended Media Coverage provisions.
When I was assigned by the Supreme Court to preside over the criminal prosecution of Cook County Judge Cynthia Brim, I was the first judge in Illinois to authorize the use of Twitter directly from the courtroom.
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?
I was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to fill the unexpired Resident Circuit Court term of Judge Jack Elsner, 18th Judicial Circuit, which is the position for which I am currently running.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
The DuPage judiciary enjoys a reputation for excellence throughout Illinois. This stems partially from our strong tradition of choosing Circuit Judges from the Associate Judge ranks, which helps ensure that the Circuit Judges, who handle the more serious court calls, have the requisite experience and temperament.
As a judge I have earned high marks for Legal Ability (98.55%); Temperament (97.13%); Integrity (97.12%); Impartiality (96.15%); and Sensitivity (96.12%), in the ISBA/DCBA Joint 2016 Bar Poll. I also obtained a "Highly Recommended" rating from the DCBA. If elected I will continue to work hard to remain worthy of the position.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
I admire John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
If you work hard and persevere, you can achieve anything.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I would work harder to keep up with old friends and acquaintances from time spent living in D.C., New York and Ireland.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
I loved history and regularly read biographies. Just about every personality type or problem has historical antecedents, from which we can glean solutions.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be kind to everyone you meet.