Republican candidate for 20th Judicial Circuit Court Judge (Vacancy of the Hon. Jan V. Fiss 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 am licensed to practice in Illinois and Missouri, and have practiced law for nearly fifteen years in private practice. I've litigated numerous trials, representing both plaintiffs and defendants, and practiced in a wide variety of practice areas including administrative law, family, debtor protection, medical malpractice, estate planning, probate, business and real estate matters.
Throughout my many years of practice, I have worked with clients and dispute resolution at many levels and circumstances. This vast experience will allow me to better serve the public when I am their judge. The public deserves to have an independent judge who follows the letter and spirit of the law, and is free from political and personal influence.
The judiciary should not be a haven for only those who have existing or previous business, employment, and personal relationships with the judiciary. Such practice lends itself to decreasing confidence of the integrity of the judiciary, and fosters the public's view of the Court as an ivory tower of the powerful elite, where the public's interest is considered secondary to that of those who serve on the bench.
The people of Southern Illinois deserve an independent judiciary which promotes public confidence and that which is fair, impartial, and devoted to justice for all. As a judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit, I will be that judge who is wholly fair and impartial, will decide cases after careful and thorough consideration and analysis of the facts and the law, and will act with the integrity, fairness and humanity that the people of Southern Illinois expect and are deserving of.
I have worked for Fortune 500 firms as a management consultant and understand how big business works and have also owned and operated successful small businesses since I have been in college. I worked at the Edward Jones Trust Company working with clients and financial advisors with regard to complex trust and estate matters. In contrast to my primary opponent, I have relevant business experience and knowledge, in addition to the needed and extensive legal experience, that will assist me in better understanding the fact patterns and circumstances of the cases that will come before me as a circuit judge. Having a clear understanding of the facts of the case is critical to the effective application of law and arriving at a just decision.
I have also worked extensively with individual clients in my practice. I have served as an accredited VA attorney with the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2008 and work as a veterans advocate. I serve veterans in the capacity of guardian, conservator and VA Fiduciary. I also serve as a legal resource for AARP, Alzheimers Organization and other organizations that focus on assisting the elderly, veterans and the disabled. Most work done for veterans is rendered without cost due to my deep gratitude and respect for our military men and women.
In addition to practicing law, I have served as an elected Village of Swansea Trustee from 2013 to 2017. In my role as trustee I dealt regularly with the review and amendment of Village contracts and agreements, union negotiations and resulting contracts, Village litigation issues, Village debt servicing, legal issues related to personnel and independent contractors, and overall Village administration.
I am very concerned with impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in the current practice of local lawyers donating significant contributions to judicial campaigns, resulting in judges then deciding cases represented by their campaign contributors. I pledge to keep politics out of the courtroom and to disqualify myself from all cases where any party or representative of any party has contributed a sum of $200.00 or more to my political committee.
I have the highest of work ethic, which was required while working full-time while attending law school and raising my children, and I am well prepared and ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work for the residents of the 20th Judicial Circuit. Although my legal resume, business resume, and community service resume makes me an excellent fit to serve the good people of the 20th Judicial Circuit, one of the most important reasons to find me the most suitable candidate in the upcoming Primary Election, is that I am not a political insider and member of the good old boys club. If elected I will be entirely independent.
I have no current or previous employment with the 20th Judicial Circuit, have no personal relationships or familial relationships with any county or local government employees or elected officials, and if having the privilege to serve, I will be indebted solely to ensuring that I do everything in my power to protect the integrity of our court.
I will work diligently each and every day to ensure that I and the other circuit court judges act fairly and impartially, keeping personal relationships and politics out of the courtroom, and do everything in my power to see that each and every person appearing in the 20th Circuit Court receives the respect and high level of dedicated service that the people in Southern Illinois expect and deserve.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
To help keep our community safe and volunteer for emergency assistance as needed, I've recently completed my EMT first responder training at Southwestern Illinois College and am studying for my EMT certification exam. Additionally, as I have great admiration for our Village's Fire Department, which is arguably one of the Metroeast's finest, I did apply to become a volunteer firefighter in the Village of Swansea.
I trained for the physical fitness test for several months as I needed to dead lift 100 pounds for this test, which for me, is nearly lifting my own weight. Despite my effort and my successfully lifting this weight, the test reviewer stated that I didn't lift and carry this weight with a "safe enough" posture resulting in my not passing this test and not being able to serve as a volunteer firefighter. I do make effort always to contribute when I can where I can. My family and I are also quite fond of animals of all kinds. We presently have a free-flying noncaged lilac-crested Amazon parrot in our home, who often flies to greet me when I come home (and is quite sweet and tame), a green-cheeked conure, a leopard-crested gecko, and a spiky tailed lizard.
Candidates for 20th Judicial Circuit Court Judge (Vacancy of the Hon. Jan V. Fiss district)
- Katherine Ruocco (No survey)