Patrick Thomas Stanton
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (3rd Subcircuit (Delehanty 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 was sworn in as a Circuit Judge on January 3, 2017. Since that time, I have been assigned primarily to the Traffic Section of the First Municipal Department.
Each week, hundreds of people appear before me who have been charged with offenses from as simple as driving without a city sticker to more serious charges like driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. This past year, I have tried to treat each of these people and the attorneys who appear before me, with dignity and respect. I understand that for many of them, this will be their first or only interaction with the courts. I hope that each person who appears before me leaves feeling that they were treated with courtesy and respect and, that they believe that the process was fair, regardless of the outcome of their case on the merits.
I came to this role after more than twenty years of experience in commercial litigation. I was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1993, and was engaged in the full-time practice of commercial litigation at both Schwartz Cooper (1996-2008) and Dykema Gossett (2008-2016) since I completed a clerkship with United States District Judge George M. Marovich in 1996. I handled a wide variety of matters in both state and federal courts for businesses and individuals. In these cases, I represented both plaintiffs and defendants.
These cases involved breaches of contracts, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, dissolution of corporations and limited liability companies, corporate derivative actions, class actions, real estate disputes, employment laws, trade secrets, product liability, securities fraud, business torts and alleged violations of various state and federal consumer protection laws.
This broad experience allowed me to gain the confidence to quickly assess the strengths and weaknesses of my clients' cases, and provide sound, practical advice. I represented clients at trial, evidentiary hearings and on appeal. In addition, I have been fortunate to have been placed in leadership positions at my law firms and in the non-profit organizations that I have served. At my law firms, I have served as a hiring partner, a practice group leader, executive committee member and office managing partner.
I also served as a member of the board of directors of the Beverly Arts Center of Chicago and the Christ the King School Foundation, where I also served a term as President. In these positions, I have been required to exercise judgment and make difficult decisions, involving hiring, firing, compensation, promotions, malpractice issues and even a law firm merger. My partners and fellow board members reposed significant trust and confidence in my decision-making and judgment. I learned that decisions need to be made with the best information available at the time. But once a decision is made, you need to move forward. Through these experiences, I learned to have confidence in my own judgment. The quality of my work was recognized by my peers and judges: I was named a Leading Lawyer, an Illinois Super Lawyer and one of the Law Bulletin Publishing's "Forty under 40 Illinois Lawyers to Watch."
Prior to my appointment as a judge, I was screened by the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Council of Lawyers and ten other bar associations and was found to be "Qualified" or "Recommended" by each of those bar associations. In addition, after submitting my application to Justice Mary Jane Theis, my qualifications were reviewed by her screening committee, co-chaired by retired United States District Court Judge Wayne Andersen and retired Illinois Appellate Court Justice Michael Gallagher.
I became interested in becoming a judge during my term as a law clerk for United States District Judge George M. Marovich, who had previously served as a state court judge. There, I was able to see first-hand the role a judge plays in managing his docket, deciding motions, conducting hearings, presiding over bench trials and jury trials and imposing sentences. My interest in being a judge grew over the course of my career, as I appeared before state and federal judges here in Illinois and throughout the country.
My experience reinforced for me that having good judges matters a great deal to the quality of the justice dispensed by the court system. But perhaps more important, the court system needs well qualified, hard-working judges from all areas of legal practice to serve if the courts are to maintain their strong position as a co-equal branch of government. Unlike the other branches of government, which control the power to tax and pass laws, and the police powers to enforce those laws, the judiciary's power derives largely from the respect that the people have in its quality and independence.
Thus, well qualified attorneys must be willing to serve as judges to ensure that the people continue to believe in the quality and independence of the judiciary. My background in commercial litigation will be an asset to the court. The Cook County Circuit Court is one of the largest unified courts in the country.
Its judges hear all different types of cases, including traffic, probate, domestic violence, family law, small claims, personal injury cases, misdemeanors and felonies, election matters, real estate disputes, contract disputes, employment law, and business dissolutions and class actions.
Many of these cases involve complex legal issues and the stakes for the parties and society are substantial. These litigants and their lawyers, as well as the people of Illinois, deserve to have their cases heard by highly competent, intelligent, hard-working and experienced judges with experience in complex, commercial matters. I firmly believe that the public and litigants will be well-served if a greater number of commercial litigators serve as judges.
I believe that my experience in complex commercial litigation will help me serve as a judge.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
I can make a banana split, a milk shake, an ice cream soda and an ice cream cake, including the icing decorations. I am the youngest of nine children.
My mom stayed at home with us and my dad taught at Chicago State University. My parents purchased a Baskin Robbins ice cream store in our neighborhood, Beverly, to help supplement the family income and help us all pay for our education. All nine of us worked at the ice cream store at one time or another.
I started out in grade school cleaning the parking lot and washing the windows. When I was fourteen, I started working behind the counter, scooping ice cream. By my senior year in high school, I managed the store. Each summer and holiday break during college, I also helped run the ice cream store. Although I doubt that my parents intended it when they bought the store, it served as a terrific training ground for each of their children, especially those of us, like me, who managed the store.
We learned about good customer service; we insisted that every customer deserved fast, friendly and respectful service. We learned how to manage and treat our employees. We learned how to manage inventory, pricing, payroll, finance and marketing. We also learned how to deal with unhappy or unruly customers and employees. Most important, we all learned the value of hard work.
During those college summers, I was typically at the store six or seven days a week by 8:30 am to clean up from the previous night, do inventory, place orders, refill supplies, and do the banking. I stayed at the store until the evening shift started at 6:00p.m. Many nights I returned to the store at 11:00 p.m. to help close and make sure the employees got home timely and safely.
Along with student loans, my work at the ice cream store allowed me to pay for my college education. My experience at the ice cream store has helped me as a judge, especially in my first assignment in the high-volume Traffic Court, where we see literally hundreds of people from all segments of society. Like the customers I served at the ice cream store, the lawyers and litigants deserve my best "customer" service.
With so many litigants, lawyers, police officers and witnesses waiting to have their cases heard, I need to get through the call as quickly as possible while still being courteous, respectful and fair to each person who appears before me. I believe that most of the people that appear before me find that I work hard to achieve these goals each day.
While I certainly did not always appreciate it at the time, I am glad that my parents bought the ice cream store and allowed me the opportunity to work there. The lessons I learned have continued to pay off throughout my career. And yes, I still love ice cream.