David R. Navarro
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (4th Subcircuit (Davy 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.
My Legal Background and Qualifications I was appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court on January 19, 2017 to fill a county-wide vacancy.
I am presently assigned to the First Municipal District, where I preside over cases involving the contract disputes, the rights of landlords and tenants, debtors and creditors, and traffic matters. I have been found "Qualified" or "Recommended" by all 12 evaluating bar associations to serve as a judge. Prior to my judicial service, I was a litigation partner at the 500-attorney law firm of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, where I practiced for 20 years.
My law practice involved the defense of individuals and businesses in high-exposure and complex personal injury lawsuits. Although I handled cases in courthouses throughout Illinois and in various other states, my main practice was in the Circuit Court of Cook County, where I tried several cases to verdict. I was actively involved in firm culture: I was a co-chair of her firm's mentoring committee in the Chicago office, a co-founder of my firm's LGBT affinity group, and assisted my firm in achieving a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index from 2010 through 2017.
I have organized and presented numerous continuing legal education programs on topics ranging from litigation strategy to the state of the law affecting women and minorities. I am the president of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago (LAGBAC), a bar organization for LGBTQ lawyers, law students and legal professionals that provides its members with social and networking opportunities, mentoring programs for law students and young lawyers, public interest law scholarships and internship opportunities with organizations such as the Cook County States Attorney's office, Equality Illinois and Lambda Legal, continuing legal education programs, and more. I have been a member of the LAGBAC board of directors since 2010 and on the executive board since 2013.
I am a life-long resident of Chicago and live in the 40th Ward in the Andersonville neighborhood where I am on the board of directors of my neighborhood organization, West Edgewater Area Residents (WEAR). WEAR addresses neighborhood issues such as housing density, green space, parking restrictions, new development within the WEAR boundaries, and maintains the beautiful and award-winning WEAR garden.
Why I Seek This Position
In law school, I read the case of Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), the U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional, branding gay people second-class citizens in the most contemptuous language imaginable.
I believed, then, that I would never be able to "come out of the closet" as a lesbian in my professional life, and for about the first 10 years of my practice, I did not, except to a very few. In about 2008, one of my law partners asked me to join him in starting an LGBT affinity group within the firm, an invitation I reluctantly accepted.
I literally almost cried with a mixture of anxiety and relief the day my firm and our (two-member) affinity group presented our first continuing legal education program which addressed the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, the voter referendum that put a hold on validly-performed same-sex marriages. What a difference a decade makes! Since that time, my colleagues, both inside and outside my firm, and indeed, the legal profession, have evolved tremendously.
Law firms actively recruit gay lawyers and enthusiastically support diversity in all its forms. I believe that acceptance and support has been instrumental in empowering me to flourish and take on leadership positions in my professional and personal life. The courts are crucial to this evolution, as we can see by examination of cases from Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), holding that anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional, to Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. __ (2015), the ruling which secured marriage equality in all 50 states.
Justice depends not only upon the laws, but on who is interpreting and applying the laws. I believe all diverse persons should have a similar story of acceptance, recognition and embracement by society. I endeavor to be the kind of judge who treats everyone with respect, who provides everyone a full and fair hearing, and who aims to reach a just result. I strive to be rigorously honest, impartial and independent. There is no room for stereotypes or biases in my courtroom.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
I am a recreational musician and I have played at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.