Michael B. Barrett
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (15th Subcircuit (Scully Jr 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 believe there are many reasons why I am qualified for the position of Circuit court Judge and I would like to outline some of them below.
In my 27 years of legal experience representing clients from all walks of life I learned and applied the essential qualities to be a Judge. These qualities include: extensive legal knowledge and the ability to reach reasoned legal judgments; impartiality; patience, honesty and integrity; communication skills; a sense of humility in performing the required judicial functions; and, ultimately, rule in a manner which is consistent with the law.
Circuit Court Judges are an integral portion of the American legal system and the Democratic form of government. A Circuit Court Judge may be called upon to determine legal conclusions affecting an individual or a group of people and the Court's ruling will necessarily impact all of the litigants, sometimes to their favor and sometimes not. My experiences as a lifelong Southsider and member of a Laborer's Union in Chicago Heights provided daily experiences and opportunities to live and work with people of all social and economic backgrounds. I lived and shared our daily experiences and recognize the need for compassion, understanding and humility.
Before admission to the Bar, I practiced criminal law with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office at 26th and California. Working with the State's Attorney provided an opportunity to examine and prosecute felony criminal cases.
The prosecutorial experience also allowed me firsthand experience on the dramatic effects the criminal justice system has on victims, defendants and witnesses alike. After admission to the Bar, I practiced civil law in a downtown law firm representing individuals in civil litigation matters and subsequently left the downtown practice to join a law firm alongside my father, Anthony, and my wife, Bernadette. In my current practice, I represent a wide variety of people, small businesses and not-for-profits in a variety of legal matters and civil litigation in both the state and federal courts.
My practice brings me to the courtrooms virtually every day and my jury trial experiences are extensive and encompass complex legal issues. While my legal practice is extensive, I also believe in returning to the community. I am a Past President of the Southwest Bar Association and was appointed by the President of the Cook County Board and Chief Judge Donald O'Connell to the Committee on Expanded Jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Our Mission for the Expanded Jurisdiction Committee was to study the court system and make recommendations to the County Board which would provide greater court accessibility to the South Suburban and Southwest Suburban residents of Cook County.
Additionally, I am a Past Vice Chairman of the Judicial Evaluation Committee for the Suburban Bar Coalition as well as an investigator for the Chicago and Illinois State Bar Associations Judicial Evaluation Committees.
My experiences in these roles provided opportunities to evaluate judicial candidates and sitting Judges and make recommendations to the public. Finally, based on interviews with Judges and my legal peers, I was found Recommended/Qualified by every bar association that conduct judicial evaluations. As an example of the ratings I received from the bar associations, I would note that the Chicago Bar Association previously wrote, "Mr. Barrett has extensive trial experience and is well respected by his peers for his knowledge of the law, integrity and fine temperament".
My goal as a Judge is to treat each and every litigant and witness appearing in the courtroom with dignity, integrity and fairness while making reasoned and logical judgments consistent with the law.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
I am the Illinois Referee-in-Chief and Supervisor of Ice Hockey Officials for the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois and USA Hockey and active hockey official. I enjoy the sport of ice hockey and relish the role I play as Referee-in-Chief in Illinois. In my capacity as Referee-in-Chief, I supervise more than 1,300 officials who officiate more than 31,000 ice hockey games in Illinois from college to youth hockey. My son Michael currently plays professional hockey after completing his NCAA Division I ice hockey career and my daughter Monika also played college hockey.