Tiesha L. Smith
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (2nd Subcircuit (Rhodes 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.
Growing up in the Madden Park Housing Projects instilled in me a passion for the administration of justice at an early age. Born to a drug-addicted father and an unemployed single mother, I had a front row seat to the illegal activity and systemic injustice that still plague our communities.
My feelings of helplessness led to a thirst for the knowledge that I knew would someday empower me to bring about the justice that I longed for. Fueled by the desire for higher education, specifically in the field of law, I attended Chicago Kent College of Law as a Thurgood Marshall Scholarship recipient.
I was fortunate to intern for two semesters in the Criminal Defense Clinic, working closely with counsel representing impoverished people charged in the State and Appellate Courts with misdemeanor and felony charges. My work with the less fortunate continued after passing the bar. As Prosecutor for the Chicago Public Schools, I represented the School Board in administrative hearings for truancy and expulsion cases. I gained further invaluable experience as an Associate for an insurance defense litigation firm, in all stages of our cases from initial investigation through arbitration, trial preparation, pleadings, motions, discovery, depositions, research and actual courtroom representation.
At a Chicago legal clinic, as a mediation attorney I assisted homeowners struggling to save their homes from foreclosure. But it wasn't until 2010 that I landed my dream job, as an Assistant Public Defender. As an attorney in the Child Protection Unit, my primary goal was to reunite mothers with their children who were placed in DCFS custody. In my current assignment in the Felony Trial Division, I perform extensive legal research and discovery review, conduct factual analysis and write motions in my representation of my clients charged with serious felony offenses.
This assignment has armed me with extensive courtroom experience, including arraignments, probation revocations, oral argument of motions, voir dire examination, and all aspects of trial and post-trial motions. In my experience as an attorney, I have tried numerous civil and criminal bench and jury trials in my representation of over a thousand clients. It is this extensive courtroom and litigation experience, combined with the knowledge and tools I have accumulated throughout my varied practice background, that has prepared and qualified me to become an effective Judge in any area of law. However, my commitment to justice for everyone has been a lifelong commitment, through my life experiences both in and out of the courtroom.
My true empathy to treat everyone with respect and my innate desire to provide a fair and just result from every hearing has only been reinforced by my unique opportunities to observe the various styles and dispositions of many Judges throughout Cook County. My takeaway from these observations is not only the evaluation of what does and doesn't work, but just as importantly that Justice depends on not only the laws, but on who interprets them.
My education, experiences and observations have all helped shape the kind of Judge that I want to become — committed to Justice for all, not just for some which is why I am now running for Judge.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
I am a single parent of two boys and I am a Domestic Violence Survivor.