Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (15th Subcircuit (Zelezinski 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 have been an active trial lawyer for the past 21 years representing both plaintiffs and defendants in civil suits in the areas of personal injury, employment discrimination, breach of contract and insurance coverage.
I have tried over 25 cases to verdict, most before juries and most where I was the lead attorney for my client. I have handled 11 cases before the Illinois Appellate Court, including two oral arguments, and all of these appeals resulted in favorable rulings for my clients. I have been selected as a "Leading Lawyer" in both 2016 and 2017 by the Leading Lawyers publication, a division of Law Bulletin media, which endows this distinction on lawyers who are most often recommended by their peers in a statewide survey.
In 2010, I took and passed the bar exam in Indiana, without taking a study course and while continuing to litigate full-time in Illinois, so I could better represent my clients that had legal interests in Indiana as well. Although I have principally litigated in Cook County, I have also litigated cases throughout Illinois and Indiana for my clients.
As a result, I have gained the opportunity and benefit of experiencing the manner in which cases are handled by a wide variety of judges and lawyers in both urban and rural areas. I believe this wide range of litigation experience would greatly inform and assist me in how I would handle a courtroom and cases that would be litigated before me.
I know that my extensive trial and litigation experience would inform and assist me in properly handling any issue that would come before me as a judge. Although litigation can be a very competitive field, I believe that I have earned the respect of every lawyer I have litigated against because of my experience, competence and professionalism, all of which I would bring with me to the bench should I earn that privilege on election day.
My experience and qualifications have been reviewed and rated by ten different bar groups in Illinois, including the Illinois State Bar Assoc. and Chicago Bar Assoc., and all bar groups have rated me as Qualified or Recommended for the bench. As a partner in my 20+ lawyer firm since 2005, I have had managerial oversight over younger lawyers and I have lead and organized the "Attorney Development" and "CLE" committees for my firm.
I believe this experience would allow me to best organize and manage a courtroom so as to most efficiently utilize the taxpayer-funded resources of Cook County. I have gained experience litigating cases ranging from small claims involving pro se litigants to multi-million dollar claims involving severe injuries or death with highly esteemed lawyers in the Chicago area. As a result of this experience, I feel I would be able to handle any courtroom I was assigned or any case that comes before me.
I understand that the ultimate role of a judge is not only to make difficult decisions, but also to ensure fair and equal treatment to all parties coming before the court regardless of financial ability or social status.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
My father was a union boilermaker who passed away when I was 9 years old due to on-the-job asbestos exposure. As a result, my mother raised four children between the ages of 1 year and 11 years by herself. My parents' sacrifices and well-tested patience instilled in me the value of perseverance and hard work, and earning everything you have been given. This has been the core philosophy of my life and would continue to be so if I am elected to the bench. This is why, despite an active litigation practice and extensive caseload, I have volunteered my time to manage and coach my son's baseball teams and act as a mock trial judge and evaluator for law school and high school students in Chicago. Knowing how many gifts I have been given, I have made a point to financially support the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, PAWS Tinley Park and the ASPCA. You may also be surprised to learn that I attended both White Sox World Series victories at Comiskey Park in 2005 and Mark Buehrle's perfect game on July 23, 2009, so I feel like somewhat of a good luck charm for my favorite team!