Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (5th Subcircuit (Banks 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 began my legal career as a law clerk in the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County under the leadership of now Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans. As such, I was able to hone my litigation skills and practice techniques from the inside out.
Essentially, I learned the do's and don'ts of practicing law directly from the 40 plus judges that I served in that Division. I also served as a law clerk in the Law Division, Commercial Calendar and in the Chancery Division.
I am licensed to practice in the Northern District of Illinois and before the United States Supreme Court. I am the recipient of the 2017 Lawyers of Distinction Award, whereby I have been ranked among the top 10% of attorneys in the United States. Having practiced for almost 20 years, I have garnered extensive litigation experience in both the public sector and private sector.
As Senior Attorney for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, I handled labor relations and employment matters, which included the negotiation of labor contracts. I also handled personal injury cases, construction contract matters, as well as tax increment financing.
Presently, I concentrate my private practice in representing children in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. While representing parents in divorce and paternity cases, I realized that the children were the unintended causalities. They were "the forgotten" in the midst of the chaos, and they needed someone that was interested in representing their interest. This has been most rewarding for me as a practitioner.
For more than three years, I have served as an administrative law judge, an arbitrator and a hearing officer for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. In these capacities, I have presided over hundreds of cases; issued decisions; and ruled on evidentiary matters. Recently, I was selected to teach a class at my law school, The John Marshall Law School, where I will serve as an Adjunct Professor.
I decided to teach law school because of the noted deterioration of the civility and the demonstrated lack of respect among the attorneys in my area of practice. Being a good attorney and zealously advocating for your client does not equate to a lack of civility. Lack of civility is generally displayed where competency and zealous advocacy is not appreciated. If law students can grasp this concept in law school, perhaps things will change.
I am uniquely qualified to serve as judge because of the length and breadth of experience that I have as a practicing attorney. I have practiced before the certain administrative bodies (DFCS, ILRB, IELRB, Civil Service Commission and Illinois Human Rights Commission); in varying Circuit Courts throughout the State of Illinois; as well as argued before the Illinois Appellate Court First District.
Above all of that, I have the compassion, the sense of equity and the ability to narrowly and succinctly identify issues that is needed to be a great judge, and an outstanding public servant. Having presided over varying cases and serving as a litigator requires me to switch from one side of the bench to the other from one day to the next depending on my schedule.
This requires a mind shift from zealously advocating for your client as required by the Code of Ethics to listening to the facts of a given case with impartiality and making a decision based on the facts and evidence presented. The interpretation of the laws enacted by the legislature plays a prominent role in the current conditions underwhich we live.
It is my desire to become an instrument of justice on the state level. As an Administrative Law Judge, several litigants appear before me without an attorney, which means that they represent themselves, whether by choice or by circumstance. It is important to me, as the trier of fact, that each litigant knows that they have had their day in court and that they have been heard. This requires patience and the ability to explain the legal process and its terms and provisions without the use of words that only a trained lawyer can understand. This, to me, is true due notice and a hearing.
I am Rhonda Sallee, and I ask for your support on March 20, 2018.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
I am afraid to watch scary movies; and I love to watch old sitcoms.