David L. Kelly
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (5th Subcircuit (Jones 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 was born and raised in the Englewood community before my family was forced to move due to the crime and drugs in our surrounding area. My single parent mother moved me and my sister to the southwest suburbs where I attended middle and high school.
After attending the University of Minnesota, I enrolled at Chicago-Kent College of Law and graduated in 2001. For the past 16 years, I have practiced law here in Chicago. I began my legal career at the Cook County State's Attorney as an Assistant State's Attorney where I served for more than 6 years. After leaving the State's Attorney's Office, I opened my own law firm in the Bronzeville area where I have worked for my community for the past 10 years.
My areas of practice are criminal defense and real estate, but I also handle, family law, personal injury, and housing matters. In both my public and private sector practices, I have handled hundreds of cases, resolving them through negotiations, bench and jury trials. I am passionate about community and public service. I have served as a board member of the Cook County Bar Association and the Bronzeville Neighborhood Collaborative, volunteered at legal aid clinics, established local block clubs, and acted as a mentor to several young people.
I believe that the diversity of my background and my varied legal experience has equipped me for the hard and critical work of serving as a Judge. In my previous work as a prosecutor, my job was to represent the people of the State of Illinois in the pursuit of justice. In that role I investigated cases, interviewed witnesses, decided when to bring forth charges and determined the best course of action to prosecute and resolve cases through either a plea deal or trial.
Because of this experience, I understand the vast power of discretion at the prosecutor's disposal. This discretion must be used fairly, equitably and firmly. This is similar to what is required of the judiciary. A judge is tasked with following the facts and law to a fair and just resolution for all disputes.
As a prosecutor, not only did I exercise discretion in the pursuit of justice, but I also understood that my role was to ensure that the rights of the accused were simultaneously respected and maintained. I took this charge seriously. As a criminal defense attorney, and a zealous advocate for my clients, I have advocated for just and equitable access to the legal system. After over 16 years of both prosecuting and defending cases in court rooms throughout Cook County, I have had the opportunity to study and learn from effective judges.
I understand that the Judge's role, in part, is to ensure that every party is respected equally and has an opportunity to be heard, no matter how large or small their role. Fairness, respect and transparency all contribute to reinforcing participation and faith in our judicial system by our citizens.
I believe all the experiences I have acquired both professionally and personally, make me a well-rounded candidate to be a judge. Most importantly, if I am given the opportunity to serve as a judge, I will bring my commitment to fairness, honesty and respect to the bench.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
I generally find that I am not surprised by much, thus I find it difficult to identify something inherently surprising about myself. So instead, I will use this space to tell you more about my life outside of the courtroom.
I am a husband. I married my law school sweetheart Stephanie 14 years ago. She is my life partner and best friend. And although she is not one to boast, she is an accomplished lawyer in her own right. I am a father to our wonderful 7-year old twin boys Ellison and Kingston. They are smart, generous, vibrant and kind young people. Despite my questionable little league coaching skills, they still think I'm cool. It is an honor to be their father.
I am a son, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew and cousin. My family has always been my rock. They have loved, shaped and guided me through life's joys and struggles. They continue to challenge, push and pray for me. I am grateful for their love and faith in me.
I am a neighbor and friend. For my entire adult life, I have lived in Bronzeville, where my family has resided for over 100 years. Not only do I live in Bronzeville, I work, worship, patronize local businesses, plant trees, take family bike rides and enjoy an occasional party with my neighbors here. I know firsthand that good things grow on the Southside of Chicago.
Although these attributes may not make me unique or "surprising", they do make me accountable, honest, compassionate, consistent and caring. I believe that each part of me contributes to how I advocate for my clients and importantly, how I would rule as a Judge from the bench. As a young lawyer I prosecuted crime as a Cook County State's Attorney. My job was address crime and achieve justice for victims. I took it as a point of personal pride to affect justice by competent and compassionate representation of the interests of the greater community.
In private practice I help clients with life's critical transactions. I help my clients purchase their first homes, navigate the criminal justice system, resolve personal and business disputes, and plan for their future. I believe that my background experience, both personal and professional, make me the right choice at the right time to serve as a Judge in our community.