Bonnie C. McGrath
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (8th Subcircuit (Fabri 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 am a lawyer with an outstanding record of public service, commitment to the law, and a fine temperament qualities needed to serve the public in a dignified and unbiased manner. A lawyer for 24 years, I have done just about everything.
As a prosecutor for the City of Chicago, I became an expert in vehicle impoundment law, advising lawyers from Michigan who had to argue an impoundment case before the US Supreme Court; appearing on MSNBC to debate the legal issues; and leading discussions on the topic at bar association meetings. I also advised Cook County judges and the Chicago City Council. Later, as a general practitioner, I practiced in every division of the Cook County Court.
I also completed 30 criminal appeals, nine cases in juvenile court, and heard hundreds of cases as a chair-qualified arbitrator in Cook County. I have taught law to law students, college students, paralegal students and high school students.
And I have written voluminously about the law.
I won three awards for legal writing from the Chicago Bar Association, and one of my articles has been cited in a law review. I had regular columns in the Illinois Bar Journal, and the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. I have been on the Chicago Bar Association editorial board for 25 years. I am also on the CBA Public Affairs Committee. My bar leadership has been outstanding.
I have chaired several CBA Committees--including the Criminal Law and Bench/Bar Relations committees, and I was president of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. I have participated in scores of bar association projects and panels. Many of my former law professors, and judges who know me, have referred cases to me dealing with their own friends and family. I also won the Chicago Bar Association Pro Bono Award for Sole Practitioners, which is NOT an award that you apply for. THEY find YOU! I also started a pro bono civil order of protection desk in Maywood, which won an award from the American Bar Association. I spent 15 years on the John Howard Association Board--a prison watchdog/reform group. I have visited prisons around Illinois and every division of the Cook County Jail numerous times. This has given me insight into the world of incarceration and alternatives to incarceration. I am also a journalist, which has helped me develop objectivity and lack of bias.
I have 24 major journalism awards, proving that I have integrity. I also spent five years as a telephone installer for Illinois Bell and was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 165. I am a volunteer at the Glessner House Museum and I am on the boards of Art Encounter, Intuit Gallery and Project Onward (for artists with developmental disabilities and mental illness.
My daughter, who is autistic, is an artist there). I am on the boards of Cedille Records, a not-for-profit recording company, Friends of Downtown, Picosa Ensemble, and my homeowners association in the South Loop. I am also involved withLyric opera and the Chicago Symphony.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
I was a telephone installer for Illinois Bell from 1973 to 1978. I worked on the north side of Chicago, in homes and businesses--and was required to climb telephone poles. For most of that time, I was the only woman doing that job in the State of Illinois.