Kathaleen Theresa Lanahan
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (Clay 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.
During law school and for the year following, I worked at the Cook County Board of Real Estate Tax Appeals. I analyzed data, heard oral arguments and decided whether reductions in property tax assessments were warranted on residential and commercial properties. I enjoyed this job, but what I really wanted to do was try cases.
In February of 1994 I went to work at the State's Attorney's Office. I started in the Traffic Division, but soon moved on to the Juvenile Justice Bureau. There I worked in both delinquency and abuse and neglect courtrooms.
After about three years, I was promoted to the Felony Trial Division, where I remain today. I am currently a first chair (lead attorney) in a felony courtroom in the Bridgeview courthouse. While in the Felony Trial Division I have engaged in extensive motion practice that included drafting written pleadings, as well as direct and cross examination of witnesses. I have presented and cross examined expert witnesses in the areas of child abuse, mental health, forensic pathology, DNA, drug chemistry, trace evidence (gunshot residue), fingerprint identification, and medicine.
I have tried hundreds of cases including forty-five jury trials. Many of those cases were first degree murder cases. I have also supervised Branch 48, a preliminary hearing courtroom as well as felony review teams with ten attorneys. I am qualified for the position of Cook County Circuit Court Judge because I have been working toward that goal for 24 years.
I chose trial work because that was my passion, but I also knew trial work was an important component of being a qualified judicial candidate. While trial work is an important factor in my qualifications for judge, there are other equally critical attributes. I am even- tempered, fair minded and strive to be respectful to everyone.
While always a zealous advocate as an Assistant State's Attorney, time, age, and life experience has made me a qualified candidate for judge. I seek the position of judge because it is the pinnacle of a career of public service. I love my job as an Assistant State's Attorney, but I am ready for a new challenge. I would be humbled and honored to be elected judge by the voters of Cook County.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
People would find it surprising that I have become an avid outdoors person in recent years. I never wanted to go camping or fully immerse myself in the wilderness. Until recently my ideal vacation was to spend time at a resort near a pool or a beach. However in 2014, I went on one of the best trips of my life. My family and I drove from Lemont to the Grand Canyon. We stopped at several places along the way including the Petrified Forest in the Painted Desert. It was breathtakingly beautiful. We then stayed at a campsite at the upper ridge of the Grand Canyon. Instead of a bed, I slept in a tent. My family and I prepared meals over an open fire with cast iron pots and pans. It was delicious. When we hiked the trails of the Grand Canyon, I was continually captivated by the natural beauty. On one hike, I spotted a very young wildcat in the brush next to the trail. It was wonderful to see this striking creature watching us. On one morning a majestic bull elk wandered through the camp site. I loved every minute of it. I look forward to taking these types of trips in the future.