Scott J. Frankel
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (11th Subcircuit (Kennedy 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 am highly qualified to hold the office of Cook County Circuit Court Judge.
Since graduating law school I have worked in a large corporate law firm, the Cook County Public Defender's Office and as a private attorney in a two-person law firm. I have substantial trial experience involving criminal as well as civil matters.
I graduated from the Ohio State College of Law in 1985 with honors. I was the editor in chief of the Ohio State Law Journal, the school's premier law review. During law school I worked as a mediator, resolving neighborhood disputes, at the Franklin County Prosecutor's office. I began my legal career as a law clerk for a U.S. District Court Judge in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In this experience I gained insights about a judge's life and the operation of a courtroom. I assisted Judge David S. Porter with all aspects of the court call and since our court sat by designation in the court of appeals on occasion, I was able to observe and participate as a law clerk in the appellate process. I was on a career path that would have naturally led to career in the corporate world.
I was editor in chief of the Ohio State Law Journal, I clerked for a Federal District Court Judge, and I worked as an associate at Mayer, Brown and Platt. However, I made a career change and joined the Cook County Public Defender's Office. Even though I later left the Public Defender's Office for private practice, I continued to take appointed cases in State court, including death penalty cases, as well as in Federal court as a member of the Criminal Justice Act Panel of Attorneys.
Throughout my career I have made choices that demonstrate my commitment to working for justice in the courtroom. In addition, because of my career path, I have a uniquely broad-based experience as an attorney.
For example, as a civil lawyer at Mayer Brown and Platt, I participated as an associate in litigating complex commercial disputes. I participated in taking depositions and preparing written discovery in a large and complex litigation involving reinsurance. I prepared and argued motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment in a variety of smaller civil litigation matters. Also, I participated in an investigation of the business practices of a savings and loan institution in Dallas, Texas when Mayer Brown was retained to represent the Federal government in its investigation of savings and loan institutions alleged to have engaged in fraudulent loan conduct.
In my own practice I have continued to engage in civil litigation. I have litigated several civil rights cases, including two that reached juries. I also sat as second counsel with my law-partner in multiple employment related cases, including at least three that reached juries. I have assisted in class action matters involving consumer rights, and the rights of indigent patients to receive charity care, Cristiani v. Advocate Health Systems Care Network.
I also participated as one of the plaintiff's lawyers in Judge v. Quinn, a case brought to force the State of Illinois to hold a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. As a criminal defense attorney, I have been lead counsel in the most complex matters litigated in criminal court, including federal RICO gang cases, State and Federal capital murder cases, and bank fraud cases involving tens of millions of dollars in alleged losses.
In addition, I have handled many less complex matters including traffic cases and misdemeanors. In addition to trial work, I have handled post-conviction matters, federal habeas corpus cases, appeals to the Illinois Appellate Court and appeals to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
I have handled two matters that were appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, an appeal in a capital post-conviction petition, and a forgery matter. Both Supreme Court cases resulted in victories for my clients. I have 30 years of substantial experience in Federal and State courts, in criminal law and civil law. I have appeared in multiple federal courthouses, including the Northern District of Illinois, the Northern District of Indiana, and the Central District of Illinois, among others.
In State court I have appeared in every courthouse in Cook County, including the Daley Center.
I have also handled matters outside Cook County, including in DuPage, McHenry and Kane counties as well as Livingston County and McClean County. I have appeared before hearing officers in town halls, and recently represented a small business in a license matter before a panel of the Oak Park Village Board of Trustees.
My wife Laura Myers, and I have been married 31 years. Twenty years ago we chose to raise our two children in Oak Park, a racially and economically diverse community. When we first moved to Oak Park
I served a two-year term on the Oak Park Community Relations Commission. The Commission addresses issues relating to the Village's Human Rights Ordinance and Fair Housing Policy, deals with neighbor disputes and provides a forum for Oak Park residents to address issues relating to discrimination and bias. In my career defending individuals in the courtroom, and in the choices I have made in my personal life, I have been guided by a love of justice and community.
More pragmatically, my experiences as a lawyer have given me a deep perspective and broad frame of reference for understanding how courtrooms operate.
I have observed many judges and fully appreciate the skill, patience and courtesy required to be a successful judge. My experiences have given me a deep reverence for the courtroom and the justice system. For all these reasons, I believe that I am highly qualified to be a judge.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
During my career, I have worked closely with author, essayist, labor and civil rights attorney, Thomas Geogehegan.
Tom and I co-counselled a first-degree murder case that resulted in a not guilty verdict and was the subject matter of a book Tom wrote entitled "In America's Court." I recruited Tom to assist me in the case, but never knew that Tom had plans to write a book! In the book he wrote, Tom describes his introduction to criminal law. He observes the stark differences between the civil law world where cases slowly move toward settlement, and the quicker pace of justice in criminal court. The experience causes Tom to reflect on issues of justice as well as the direction of his own career. Since I was lead counsel, I had a starring role in the book, although Tom did not identify me by name.
At a signing party after the book was published, I was treated as an unlikely celebrity and even asked to sign copies of Tom's book. Attendees at the party included some of my idols, Studs Terkel, Judge Abner Mikva and Rob Warden. It was a great evening. In my brief comments to the gathering, I told the crowd that I was grateful to Tom for writing the book, especially because it was based on a trial that I had won! I thanked Tom for providing a description of my role in the case, because when my parents read In America's Court, they could finally understand what I did for a living! Since that party, I have continued to practice criminal defense and civil rights law in State and Federal court for nearly 30 years.
"In America's Court" is the only book that has been written about one of my cases. It was fun and unexpected. I have had other cases that have received press attention, but my focus has always been on what was best for my clients. In my career I have tried to maintain a reputation for honesty, integrity and zealous representation. I have been privileged and honored to pursue justice on behalf of individuals throughout my career, and I would be privileged and honored to serve the citizens of Cook County as a Circuit Court judge.