Anthony C. Swanagan
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (15th Subcircuit (Zelezinski Vacancy district)
Responses to our questions
Please submit an essay that explains your legal background, why you are qualified for this position and why you seek this position.
I believe that my career path has provided me with an unusual variety of legal and personal experiences and that these experiences have given me both a uniquely broad perspective that is helpful for a judicial decisionmaker and the opportunity to observe and assist in judicial decisionmaking at close range, thereby giving me invaluable preparation for the bench.
I hope and believe that my performance as a sitting judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County in the eight months since my appointment to the bench has confirmed the validity of this hope and belief. In the fourteen years immediately prior to my appointment to the Circuit Court, I helped judges do their jobs: I was employed as a law clerk for four different state and federal court judges.
For more than seven years, I was employed as a law clerk for judges of the Illinois Appellate Court, and for the most recent 6 1/2 years before my appointment, I served in the same role for two judges of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In my Appellate Court role, I researched and helped draft opinions that analyzed Illinois statutory and common law in civil and criminal cases.
At the District Court, my work spanned a similarly broad range of state law subject matters and added federal law issues such as immigration, employment discrimination, and as a clerk in a trial-level court, my involvement with cases also included the nuts and bolts details of day-to-day court activities from case commencement to conclusion: I gave guidance to callers to chambers, reviewed applications of litigants seeking to proceed without payment of fees, analyzed juror questionnaire responses prior to jury selection, and researched and drafted opinions on discovery disputes, motions in limine, pretrial and post-trial motions, and attorney fee petitions.
As a law clerk, I worked on cases whose core issues were murder, bank robbery, and distribution of controlled substances; I worked on claims of employment discrimination, improper denial of immigrant visas, and unfair debt collection tactics; and I also worked on mechanics' liens, medical malpractice, and antitrust cases. Across this range of cases, I was able to see what the judicial role required of my employers in each instance, and I got a vivid picture of the difference a good judge could make and the ways that ideal could be achieved.
Prior to my years as a law clerk, I served as in-house counsel for a corporate spinoff of United Airlines, a company first known as Covia Partnership and later as Galileo International. Although I was hired to manage the company's litigation, my role eventually expanded to include oversight of its federal regulatory matters, legal support of its human resources and employee benefits functions, protection of its trademark rights, negotiation of its significant contracts, supervision of its compliance with federal securities regulation, and legal support for its strategic activities.
In ten years at the company, I rose from my initial entry-level counsel position to Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary, and member of the company's board of directors. I was ultimately familiar with the legal aspects of all of the company's activities, and I believe that my advancement reflected my ability to appropriately address whatever matters crossed my desk: from the receipt of a notice of the garnishment of an employee's wages to the negotiation of a securities offering worth several hundred thousand dollars or a sale of the company for more than a billion dollars. But as I sat in corporate boardrooms, I brought with me practical experience that broadened my perspective.
I am the child of working class parents who both sought and gained full-time employment before finishing high school. During college and law school, I earned extra money in part-time jobs as a warehouse worker, a janitor, a telephone salesman, an unarmed security guard, and a carpet cleaner. I have met and worked well with people from several different countries, from many different walks of life, and from extreme ends of the economic spectrum.
My experiences have taught me that no person or legal issue is too big to be tackled or too small to deserve my attention and respect. I believe that as a sitting judge, I have successfully employed that perspective in dealing with pro se litigants facing $214 in court costs for petty traffic offenses and with corporate lawyers in commercial real estate disputes.
I believe that success in this role serves the public in a positive way and makes a difference to the people who come to my courtroom, and I seek to continue in this role because I believe that I am currently serving in a successful way.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
You may be surprised to learn that at one time I wore an afro, mustache, and goatee. And even more surprised that I still own a pair of 6" high platform shoes that I purchased to go along with that look, and that they are still in excellent condition. Due to the constraints of the online survey, while prepared to do so, I was unable to attach photos as evidence of the aforementioned facts.