Jennifer Shilakis Wiesner: Candidate Profile
18th Circuit Court (Elsner vacancy) (Democrat)
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.
City: West Chicago
Twitter: Candidate did not respond.
Facebook: Candidate did not respond.
Family: Mother of four smart, talented, kind, generous and athletic children.
Son, John age 24 , St. Francis Alumni (played on State winning 2008 football team) UIC grad, where he was a D-1 track athlete, now an Industrial Engineer working full time for UL.
Daughter, Valerie age 15 volleyball star and former swimmer and a junior at Montini Catholic High School
Son, Luke age 13 8th grade at St.Irene Catholic School, junior olympic and nationally qualifying swimmer and football player
Son, J.R. age 12 7th grade at St. Irene Catholic School football player and martial artist.
Education: BA University of Illinois at Chicago 1997
JD DePaul University College of Law 2000
Civic involvement: Parish Council St. Mary's Catholic Church, West Chicago, IL 2007-2010
School Board Member, St. Mary's Catholic School, West Chicago, IL 2007-2010
Volunteer Coordinator, West Chicago Sharks Swim Club 2013-2015
Parent Volunteer West Chicago Sharks Swim Team 2009-present
Volunteer Legal Consultant to West Chicago Youth Football league and volunteer parent 2014-present
Team Mom numerous years on numerous sports clubs of my children
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
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 my contested race, I have the greatest breadth of state wide multi-dimensional experience I have practiced domestic relations, criminal, real estate, appellate and contract law. I bring balance to the bench in DuPage. In addition to being a state-wide litigator, I also have been a professor at COD for 6 years and I was the president of my families union plumbing company for over 10 years. Years of effectively and successfully managing my office, career and four children by being fair and prioritizing daily and long term goals are all skills I will bring to effectively manage my courtroom.
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?
I advocate a fair and impartial judiciary which should never be influenced by any parties that appear before me. Nothing outside the evidence, testimony, laws and precedent cases should impact judicial decisions or the imposition of a sentence. As such, the philosophy I would implement in determining a person's sentence would be to impartially weigh and balance all of the evidence, including the mitigating factors, the aggravating factors, the existing laws that apply, the options, opportunity and reasonableness of rehabilitative measures and opportunities available when determining what would best serve the interests of justice for the citizens of DuPage County.
What can or should the courts do to help combat jail and prison crowding?
In my opinion the focus of a judge on this issue would be in bond court. Bonds should reflect a philosophy that the accused is not yet guilty of the charge. Such bonds should favor pre-trial release of the defendant unless the seriousness of the crime, prior criminal history, risk to the community and the defendant's flight risk argue in favor of pre-trial retention to keep DuPage County safe. In those cases, a judge should sentence based on what justice requires not on whether the sentence will add to prison overcrowding. The legislature and executive branch decisions impact this too.
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?
Transparency is one of the most important elements of a fair judiciary. The appearance of impropriety by failing to allow public information to accurately be transmitted to the public creates a situation where the citizens of DuPage County could fail to trust the judicial process. Therefore, I personally support allowing electronic audio and video recording devices in all courtrooms outside the private juvenile courtrooms, which should remain private and free of any recording devices to protect the youth of our county.
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 have been an excellent state wide litigator and attorney, zealous advocate, teacher, mother, wife, sister, neighbor, daughter and volunteer, but I have never been a politician nor run for political office before.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
This is only the second time in more than 85 years that there has been a contested general judicial election, so only the second time that voters have truly had a choice about who is elected to the bench! It would be the first time a Democrat was ever elected as a Circuit Judge in DuPage! I'm not just running to say I ran to make history, I'm running because I believe I am qualified to carry out the duties of Judge and represent a completely unrepresented demographic of DuPage. Ballot access and voter options are the cornerstone of democracy.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I wouldn't change anything that led me to the life I have and love! Every mistake has taught me irreplacable life lessons.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
English was my favorite subject. Expanding my vocabulary through my love of literature and strong writing skills has proved indispensable to my successful career.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Our family motto: Stand up for the very young, the very old and those who cannot stand up for themselves!