Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (Brewer 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 father and his father were Chicago Police Officers, which acquainted me with the notion of service through occupation. I aspired to go to law school at a young age and specifically chose the role of working for the prosecution in my first year of law school.
The discretion to charge or dismiss cases based on the evidence that was gathered appealed to me. I have taken my vow to uphold the law solemnly and have exercised that very discretion appropriately. In one particular murder case, three witnesses had identified the shooter, he also had been captured on store video which was pixilated. I asked for the video to be enhanced and when the tech lab returned it I became concerned that while the enhanced image was similar to the defendants appearance, other items like shoes and clothing seemed to be different.
I began working with the defense attorney's assigned on the case to proffer the defendant at no risk to his rights. I eventually dismissed the case, which caused great pain to the victim's family but was the absolutely proper thing.
I pride myself on having a good reputation in the defense community as someone who is fair and honest. I hope and believe I have the same reputation with the judiciary. I have always believed that your word is your bond and if broken even once, is irretrievably lost.. I have had the unique opportunity to have worked in almost every division of the State's Attorney's Office in my 24 years over four different administrations.
I am currently the Deputy Supervisor of the Gangs and Complex Homicide Unit. I am honored to supervise many of the finest attorney's working in Cook County. I have worked multiple vertical prosecutions with the Federal partners including the FBI, ATF and Secret Service. One of those, "Operation Poison Carrot" involved gunrunning and the sale of dozens of weapons by "26" street gang members.
My prosecution team was involved not only at trial but in the early stages obtaining warrants, managing confidential informants and eavesdropping devices. My team was awarded an outstanding service award by the Chicago Crime Commission for our work in prosecuting that dangerous gang. The trials I personally handle and supervise are technically complex, dealing with issues such as DNA and electronic overhears and also legally intricate ranging over every aspect of criminal law. I have tried many dozen's of jury trials, in excess of 90, most of which were homicides.
I was honored to have assisted in the prosecution that led to the conviction of an individual who attacked an Irish exchange student and her friend and secured a lengthy jail sentence. That case was dynamic and difficult given the lack of an eyewitness. The evidence was gathered from multiple scenes coordinating with multiple agencies resulting in a positive outcome. I was named the Prosecutor Bar Association Prosecutor of the Year in 2006 along with two partners for a case we tried involving the murder of a woman and the kidnapping of her two small children.
I worked helping a former supervisor in the creation of the State's Attorney's Office T.A.C. (Targeted Abuser Call) Unit, which is still very successful today. The Unit had a mission statement to help women who were being repeatedly abused by the same offender without consequence. I helped write the protocol that was applied to the hundreds of domestic violence cases that came in each week to try and find a balance which would allow for us to adhere to our mission while still being able to manage our resources. I was able to strike a balance by applying a sliding scale which allowed for the level of violence to be considered as well as the number of attacks visited on a particular victim. I am proud to say the Unit applies the same protocol even these many years later.
I recently prosecuted Cook County's first application of the State RICO Statute. We were successful in taking down the Black Souls Street Gang, who were notorious for the violence used to protect their drug territory. Twenty individuals were indicted, 14 plead guilty, 6 went to trial.
The trial was one of the longest in recent Cook County history lasting 11 weeks and seeing 102 witnesses called. The indictment ranged over a period of years and involved 8 homicides, many of which had been unsolved, dozens of weapons offenses and many heroin and cocaine sales of significant volume. The jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts against the 6 defendants. I am proud of the work I have done over the past 24 years with the State's Attorney but I value the relationships I have built over my career more.
I like to think that my integrity and character have allowed me to work pleasantly and professionally with people on both sides of the bar. Just because you have different goals in a particular case does not mean that you cannot be pleasant and share a laugh as you go through the sometimes emotionally taxing work of criminal prosecutions. I have always tried to impart the core values of character and integrity to younger attorney's I supervise and counsel.
I enjoy the process of teaching and believe that is one of the most valuable traits of a good judge. They should lead by example and words. I believe in my heart I would do both well. I believe I will make an excellent judge.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
I can make a great omelette. The key that my Grandma taught me was to get the pan just hot enough without burning the butter. It is a myth however, that anyone who makes a great omelette is a great cook. My skill in the kitchen ends there. I was blessed to have been raised with my paternal Grandma in our house for 18 years and both my Mom´s parents across the street. I learned core values from my grandparent´s,patience and understanding and respect for the past. I learned faster isn´t necessarily better and that you should consider tradition and practice before you rush to change. Sometimes things are how they are for a reason. That being said, I was taught to have an open mind by everyone in my house. Seven people in a Georgian helps you to understand the need for compromise and compassion. I am proud of where and whom I come from and the City that I´ve called home since my birth. I would be proud to serve the people of Chicago and Cook County from the bench.