Jeanne Marie Wrenn
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (8th Subcircuit (Pethers 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.
The role of a judge is paramount to the administration of justice within our legal system. This awesome responsibility should be bestowed only upon the most qualified members of the bar. The position of Judge compliments the skills I have acquired throughout my legal career.
I firmly believe that I possess the leadership ability, management skills, sound judgment and strong work ethic necessary to be a successful candidate for this position. Moreover, I am confident that I have the right balance of instincts, perspective, temperament and demeanor, all of which are essential qualities for an effective judge.
I am extremely proud of the fact that my entire career has been devoted to public service. During my tenure as Director of Government Affairs at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, I was able to combine my passion for justice and love of politics and public policy to draft legislation and pass laws that improved the administration of justice in Illinois. Under my leadership, my team was able to pass legislation dealing with public safety, children's welfare, financial crimes, domestic violence, and victim's rights.
Among the accomplishments I am most proud of, we passed the most comprehensive state-level human trafficking statute, the Illinois Safe Children's Act which became model legislation for many other states, a state RICO Act, and the Offender Initiative Probation Program ,a rehabilitative probationary program for non-violent offenders; wherein, upon successful completion of the program, the offender would no longer have a criminal record thus allowing them access to educational and employment opportunities.
My role as Director of Government Affairs allowed me to build upon the various litigation skills I developed as an Assistant State's Attorney by representing the office before the Illinois General Assembly. As Ethics & EEO officer as Pace, I reported directly to the Executive Director and the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
As Ethics Officer, I was responsible for providing guidance on ethics issues on a variety of subjects including: compliance issues, contract procurement, conflicts of interest, and governance matters. I conducted all ethics trainings as required by the Office of the Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor.
I maintained our revolving door policies and trained our employees in compliance with the OEIG. I acted as the agency's liaison with the Executive Ethics Commission and the OEIG. As the EEO officer, I conducted investigations, fact finding and provided recommendations and solutions for EEO matters. I prepared and implemented Pace's EEO quarterly reports, programs, and plan. I conducted internal investigations with the utmost integrity and confidentiality.
My team and I worked hard to create a culture of transparency and respect within the agency. In my most recent role as General Counsel at National Safety Council, I expanded my knowledge of law by working in areas where I previously did not have professional experience. At NSC, I created a new contracting process, drafted new Board by-laws, and drafted and implements an Ethics and Business Code of conduct for our employees, vendors and Board.
I was part of our executive leadership team; wherein, we made every day business decisions and strategic decisions. I worked on contract issues, IP issues, FOIA matters, employee immigration issues, all employee matters, including hiring, firing and disciplinary actions, managed our relationships with outside counsel, and negotiated commercial leases. I handled all internal investigations into harassment claims and discrimination claims. I also served as Ethics Officer for the organization.
During my time at NSC, I was honored to make the short list as an Associate Judge candidate. That process served to underscore my strong desire to serve as a judge in Cook County. I decided to take a leap of faith and become a judicial candidate in the 8th sub circuit. NSC is a 501(c)(3), and as their Ethics Officer and General Counsel, I did not want to engage in political activity while serving in that position.
I left NSC in May to pursue my dream of becoming a judge and launched my campaign.. In the interim, I have decided to hang out my own shingle and become a solo practioner. Currently, I am the Chair of the Professional Trade and Associations Committee at the Chicago Bar Association. I served as Vice-Chair in 2016 and this is my second year as Chair of the committee. We hold monthly MCLE meetings on a wide variety of legal topics.
I am a member of the CBA and WBAI. I am a coach/mentor for a community college student through the One Million Degrees program. I am a volunteer basketball coach at ABC (Academics Basketball Community) Pilsen. I serve as a Board Member for Trinity Irish Dance Company. I am also a member of the Women's Auxiliary Board at Misericordia.
I am on the Board of Regents at St. Ignatius College Prep. I created the Concern Leadership Network (CLN) for Concern Worldwide, an NGO committed to eradicating global poverty. Concern has programs in 28 of the poorest countries in the world which provide disaster relief, emergency assistance, and programs aimed at health, education and providing livelihoods in the nation's served.
I have also served on the following boards: Loyola University National Alumni Advisory Board (rotated off after 6 years in 2017) and Girls on the Run (where I was former Board President and a Board member and from 2007 - 2016). I feel confident that my various career and life experiences have provided me with a sound legal foundation, core ethics and integrity, and a commitment to hard work — all of which are necessary to be a successful and effective judge.
Often, people enter our legal system at the most vulnerable moments of their lives, I want to be part of the process that connects people to the services and justice they need in those trying times. Now more than ever, we need dedicated and determined judges to carry out the administration of justice. My greatest honor would be to have the opportunity to serve as a judge in Cook County.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
As a person who tries to live a well-rounded life, I would like to think there are many things about me that might surprise the members of the editorial board. My ability to multi-task might be the best example. I found out I was admitted into law school the same week I found out that I was expecting my daughter. I worked full-time, attended law school classes in the evening, and gave birth to my daughter two days after taking my last final then was a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding--all within seven days. As a single mom, I continued to work hard in my role as an Assistant State's Attorney and every Friday night I moonlighted as a bartender to help off-set my expenses. In fact, I was featured in a few articles in the Chicago Tribune (October 1, 2006 Prosecutors see out-of-court foe: Lagging Salaries, Prosecutors object to lagging salaries, For Some Attorneys Joining the Bar Means Moonlighting at Pubs both written by Carlos Sandovi, and I was featured in the Chicago Tribune Magazine section on April 6, 2008: Rich Lawyer, Poor Lawyer by Greg Burns; wherein, the first line of the article said, "Two lawyers walk into a bar, one pours a round of drinks for the house, the other puts on an apron and serves it.") I was the apron wearing lawyer in the article. I am proud of the fact that my career has been dedicated to public service and what might surprise you the most about me is that I would have worked several jobs for the privilege of appearing every day in court on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois. Now, my privilege would be to serve those same people as a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County.