Tiana Ellis Blakely
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (2nd Subcircuit (Lampkin 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 currently an Assistant Public Defender with the Cook County Public Defender's Office. I am assigned to the Markham Courthouse where I handle cases from battery to first degree murder. My handling of cases includes representing indigent defendants from their initial court appearance to the disposition of their case.
I am charged with investigating my cases, researching the current case law, filing the appropriate motions, and conducting trials. Most cases are resolved short of trial, therefore on many cases after my investigation and research is concluded, I spend significant time preparing mitigation reports to get the best outcome for my client. I have handled a variety of complex litigation issues including but not limited to issues involving DNA, ballistics, medical experts, chemical analysts and other forensic scientists. I have had the opportunity to conduct depositions in some of my cases as well.
I have litigated well over 200 cases in my legal career. Some of the types of cases that I have tried, include, but are not limited to Murder, Attempt Murder, Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault, Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault, Armed Violence, Armed Habitual Criminal, and Home Invasion.
I am a resident of the Roseland Community. I was raised there and I currently reside there. I choose to live in a neighborhood not desired by many because I love my community and there is much work to be done. I spend a substantial amount of time volunteering in my community. I am a member of the Fernwood Park Advisory Council. I help to plan activities for the youth and seniors at our park.
I regularly visit high schools in my area to discuss appropriate police interaction as well as how to avoid encountering the criminal justice system. I have been a guest speaker at several elementary and high schools for career day programs. I have had the opportunity to host and co-host expungement summits for residents of my community. I meet with clients and assist them with filling out expungement paperwork as well as explain the process of getting records expunged. I have done this numerous times at no charge to the client. I also regularly conduct information sessions in the community to discuss estate planning with seniors at no cost to them.
I have volunteered throughout the years at several nursing homes and senior centers in my community. I serve as a mentor to several young ladies in my community. I am committed to serving people and it is my desire to be a lifelong public servant. I am seeking to become a Judge in the 2nd Subcircuit of Cook County for various reasons.
First and foremost, I am qualified. I have the requisite legal experience and knowledge to become a Judge. While I have yet to receive my bar ratings, I am certain that with the legal experience, depth of legal knowledge and litigation skills, that I have acquired as an Assistant Public Defender, I am and will be found qualified.
I have the necessary Judicial temperament. I am very capable of working in an adversarial setting while being respectful and maintaining professionalism. Working as a public servant since my college years has given me a great sense of empathy for people. Compassion is very necessary as a member of the judiciary. Judges are allowed discretion in various instances.
It is important that while exercising this discretion we can relate to people. Everyone should be afforded the same dignity and respect regardless of the reason they appear before the court. I am committed to serving people. Politics have absolutely no place in the judiciary. I can and will be fair and impartial treating all who come before me with dignity and respect.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
I am the first person in my family to attend and graduate from college. My achievement encouraged others in my family to pursue higher education. I am proud to say that we now have several college graduates, many of whom followed my footsteps and attended Southern Illinois University.