Stephanie K. Miller
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (6th Subcircuit (Lopez Cepero 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 come from a family that values public service. My father and grandfather were both in the military and my parents worked as public school teachers after both worked for the federal government. They instilled in me the importance of supporting my community both personally and professionally.
I have spent my entire legal career in public service giving back to the community and I continue with that service since I was appointed to the bench as a Full Circuit Judge by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman in January of 2017 to fill a vacancy in the 6th judicial subcircuit.
My professional licenses to practice law include the state of Illinois, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the United States Supreme Court. I have nearly 19 years of experience handling both criminal and civil matters. Prior to my judicial appointment, I served as a prosecutor with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. In that role, I supervised several attorneys in felony trial courtrooms and tried over 500 felony bench trials and 60+ felony juries. While in the State's Attorney's Office I worked in Child Protection Court, Juvenile Justice Court, Felony Preliminary Hearings, the Grand Jury, the Felony Review Unit and the Chicago Children's Advocacy Center.
As a special prosecutor in the Sex Crimes division, I handled specific cases involving adolescent and child victims of sexual assault. Some of these matters involved civil proceedings for sexually dangerous person petitions and fitness issues.
My position in the sex crimes unit also allowed me the opportunity to lecture on college campuses regarding this area of law and give trainings to medical professionals regarding testifying in court and interacting with this group of victims. During my time as a prosecutor, I co-founded the National LGBT Prosecutor's Bar Association and served as the treasurer for the National Hispanic Prosecutor's Association.
Prior to being an Assistant State's Attorney, I started my legal career working as an attorney and guardian ad litem with the Cook County Public Guardian's Office. This position had me representing children who were abused, neglected or dependent in civil Child Protection Court. Additionally, I represented disabled adults in civil probate proceedings as the guardian of their person and/or their estate.
As a Judge, I started my career in the First Municipal District in traffic court handling misdemeanor civil and criminal traffic matters that included presiding over bench and jury trials. While in that division, I also was a sitting judge in criminal misdemeanor matters and in felony preliminary hearings in the branch courts.
Chief Judge Timothy Evans then tapped me to be one of the six Judges handling the new Pretrial Services division which implements the bond court reform initiative. I have served as a Judge in this position since its inception in September of 2017.
I am a proud Puerto Rican lesbian that graduated from Northwestern University and Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Currently, I sit on the board of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago where I co-chair the mentorship committee. I am also the chairman of the LGBT committee for the Hispanic Lawyers' Association of Illinois. Additionally, I am a member of the Puerto Rican Bar Association, the Women's Bar Association of Illinois, the Illinois Judges' Association and the Alliance of Illinois Judges. I reside with my wife and twins in Chicago where I am an active member of the West Bucktown Neighborhood Association, Maplewood and Lucy Flowers Park Advisory Council and Friends of Goethe Elementary School.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
When I was in law school and a new attorney working in public service, I worked a second job as a licensed Illinois High School Athletic Association softball umpire. It was rewarding to work with young women in the city of Chicago who were involved in extracurricular after school activities. After spending weekdays advocating for clients and victims in court, I was fortunate to be able to have a position that was neutral and unbiased relying only on the rules of the sport and my experience having played the game my entire life. Being an umpire and being a judge have similarities in that they both require a command of the rules/law and both demand an even temperament and demeanor to interact with those that are involved in both venues. Coaches and players are not dissimilar from lawyers and litigants in that they all just want fairness and respect, both of which I try to provide every day in court.