Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (12th Subcircuit (Maki 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 have very broad-based civil litigation experience. I have practiced in every civil division of the court system.
In the Chancery Division, I have litigated injunction and TRO, declaratory judgment, restrictive covenant, mortgage foreclosure and mechanics' lien, receivership, partition and rescission actions. In the County Division, I have litigated tax deed and tax indemnity cases and have had the pleasure of handling adoptions.
In the Law Division and in the Municipal Division, I have litigated breach of contract, quantum meruit, breach of fiduciary duty, personal injury, property damage, statutory violation, fraud, and post-judgment collection cases.
In the Municipal Division, I have also litigated numerous forcible cases (commercial, condominium and residential), administrative appeals, building court and replevin cases.
In the Probate Division, I have litigated will contests, supervised estates and guardianship cases.
In the Domestic Relations Division (mostly earlier in my career), I have handled divorce, post-judgment, child support and paternity cases. I have also handled misdemeanor and traffic cases periodically over my career.
I also have extensive quasi-judicial experience. I have been an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association (Commercial Panel) for over 20 years. My on-line AAA resume is attached.
I have presided over 200 arbitrations involving a wide variety of disputes, including class actions, consumer fraud, employment, franchise, insurance, attorneys' fees, broker's commission, condominiums and real estate, with claims ranging from less than $10,000 to $20,000.000. Several have been panel arbitrations, some of which I have chaired. The following are other activities that I have engaged in which reflect upon my qualifications:
- Legislation. I have drafted legislation and have testified in Springfield with respect to amendments to the Condominium Property Act. I was the primary drafter of a bill which sought to protect buyers from the imposition of egregious fees due at the sale of foreclosed units. It passed the House and Senate, but was amendatorily vetoed by Gov. Quinn (2014). Currently, I am engaged in negotiations with opposing interests on legislation that would allow a court to award attorneys' fees in an action brought by a unit owner against an association, if the association is found to be in default under its documents or under the Condominium Property Act.
- Mentoring. I believe in giving back to the profession by participating in both formal and informal mentoring programs. I have completed the Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program established by the Illinois Supreme Court's Commission on Professionalism through the Illinois State Bar Association and have mentored attorneys through other associations.
- Lawyers Assistance Program. In 2016, I trained to be a volunteer with LAP. Many of our colleagues experience some sort of self-destructive behavior or addiction at some point in their careers. I felt a need to understand this, recognize the signs, and offer assistance.
- Pro Bono Representation. At any time, I have at least one pro bono file. It is a humbling and gratifying experience. I often feel that I get more out of it than the client. It has allowed me look through the eyes of the most vulnerable in our society. Having developed this sense of empathy will be a great benefit to me in dealing with pro se litigants on the bench.
- I had been a "tester" with the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities (no longer in existence) to explore and expose discriminatory practices by landlords and real estate brokers. -I had been a board member of EHNT Jewish Congregation in Skokie, where I had chaired its Social Action and Adult Education Committees.
- I am a legal resource for New Covenant Community Development Corporation (North Lawndale organization), where I provide assistance to its leadership and members and participate in its programs.
I am an active participant in bar association activities, including being the past president of The Decalogue Society of Lawyers, past Chair of the ISBA's Real Estate Law Section Council and current Secretary of the ISBA's Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. I am the current Vice-Chair of the Chicago Bar Association's Real Property Law Committee.
I am a board member of the Illinois Real Estate Lawyer's Association and a member of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago. I am a frequent lecturer on condominium law, distressed real estate, and civil procedure. Winning a case is exhilarating, but there is no greater satisfaction than resolving issues and bringing finality to disputes.
As both an arbitrator and an advocate, I have observed that what a litigant desires most is the opportunity to be heard and to feel that their position is understood, even if not agreed with. A losing party and their attorney will more readily accept the decision if this is done. This, in turn, will build confidence in the judicial system. I want to put my years of experience to work for the bench, bar and citizens.
Having gone from a small firm to a solo practitioner to a middle-sized firm and then back to a small firm, I have experienced and appreciate the challenges in each of these arrangements.
Having practiced against full-time litigators to the occasional litigator to the pro se litigant, I have learned patience and flexibility. I will bring these qualities with me to the bench.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
Every day I am grateful for the opportunity to help clients, assist in resolving disputes and support our legal system. I attribute this attitude to my parents, neither of whom attended college, but valued education. Both of them faced discrimination, but instilled in their children the values of fairness and respect. My father grew up as one of the few Jewish residents in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. He was forced to defend himself against attacks by teachers and students. Once he had, he gained their respect. He then took it upon himself to defend and protect new students at the school, some of whom became life-long friends. My mother is from rural southern Poland. She was orphaned at 11 years of age, soon after the German Anschluss into Poland. Her mother died from typhoid fever, her father was taken to Auschwitz (where, based on my research, he died). Her closest brother was shot to death just steps away from their home after having escaped from a labor camp and traveling hundreds of miles. He was a teenager. Despite the tragedies suffered by my mother and the intolerance experienced by my dad, they treated others fairly and with compassion, regardless of who they were, where they came from, what their sexual orientation was or what religion they were. These are traits they instilled in me and that I try to emulate every day as a person and as a lawyer and will do as a judge. I submit this responses with enthusiasm and with humility. It is my deepest desire to serve the public as a judge.