Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (Jordan 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.
As a trial lawyer who practices law in a courtroom daily, I see a prominent figure, who I view with profound respect, placed in a position of public trust to dispense justice without bias and with the highest integrity.
That position, judge, is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a person who has practiced in a courtroom with the appropriate temperament, who has accrued the necessary experience, and who has studied the requisite areas of the law.
Achieving that honor, by itself, however, cannot be the sole driving force for one's aspiration to be a judge. Deep down, every worthy candidate must have an ideal about them that drives them to want to dispense justice fairly, without fear or bias, regardless of status, wealth, or power. In practice, lawyers zealously advocate for their client. That is their ethical obligation. However, that advocacy may not align with a just result.
I am seeking the position of judge because the voice inside me has never been clearer to want to dispense justice and do the right thing for the citizens that would appear before me. I have the necessary temperament, experience, and skill to become a judge that earns the title "honorable." I would act with humility, civility, and fairness always. Judges must be an example of integrity, impartiality, and independence because they are the foundation of our entire justice system. These are the qualities I will bring to the position of Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
As a former Victim-Witness Coordinator with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, I empathized with the crippling loss of crime victims as they sought justice in our legal system. As a career public defender, I experienced the fear and hopelessness of the wrongfully accused. I am qualified for judicial office because of my extensive courtroom litigation experience.
I have tried over 250 cases and hundreds of other pre- and post-trial motions, including suppression and other evidentiary motions, fitness hearings, sentencing hearings, violation hearings, and jurisdictional transfer hearings. I've successfully litigated issues from the inception of a case such as race discrimination in jury selection.
I have experience handling complex litigation matters involving the examination of expert witnesses in pre-trial, trial and sentencing phases in areas involving DNA, drug identification, ballistics, fingerprints, and forensic psychology. Within the public defender's office, I have successfully interviewed for not only a merit-based transfer to the forensic science division but a merit-based promotion tantamount to the position of a senior juvenile justice attorney tasked with the primary responsibility of handling murders, the most serious sex cases, juvenile transfer petitions, extended jurisdiction juvenile cases, and habitual and violent juvenile offender cases.
I focused my career in helping the children of our nation's first juvenile court and, in doing so, developed a reputation as being one of the leading attorneys in the juvenile justice division. I have received exemplary performance evaluations and numerous commendations throughout my entire career.
In addition to lecturing within the Cook County Public Defender's Office, I have lectured for the Illinois State Bar Association, various juvenile law symposiums and seminars, and the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, ("IICLE") on topics ranging from motion practice, handling DNA cases, and cross-examination. I have experience lecturing in both Illinois and Wisconsin. I have authored a chapter for IICLE's practitioner's manual in juvenile delinquency law.
In my career as a public defender, I gained experience trying the most serious felonies in a high-volume setting. Through this experience, I am certain in my ability to manage a high-volume court docket. I am acutely aware, through my day-to-day responsibilities, of the plight of those less fortunate than I am, and I have dedicated my whole 17-year career to serving the indigent. I am prepared to be a hard-working, principled, and just jurist.
My strengths are my diligent work ethic, integrity, and expertise in the field of juvenile justice law. Those qualities are the foundation for my success as a zealous advocate and the same qualities are assets for a judge.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
I am a grandson of a Congressional Gold Medal awardee. My grandfather honorably served as a medic in the Philippine Army, which was part of the US Army Forces in the Far East command during World War II. General Douglas MacArthur commanded the forces. Due to his service in the war, my grandfather was granted U.S. citizenship and it was one of our family's proudest moments. This April of 2018 my grandfather will be posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal as a Filipino World War II Veteran. Along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the United States.