Timothy John Leeming
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (Dooling 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.
30 years of complex Public Service Litigation I can honestly report that I am an expert criminal defense attorney. I have practiced defense litigation full time for over 30 years. Most of this work is of the most complex, difficult and challenging in the State. But I have also litigated in civil Courts, and won civil jury verdicts.
I am most proud of my research and writing record, and I have accumulated a considerable number of victories and advancing the law through dozens of published Appellate opinions.
I represented criminal clients on appeal before the Illinois Supreme Court and the Federal District Court of Appeals. The cases I have worked on at the trial, appellate and post-conviction level, have been the subject of numerous articles in press, and brought to the attention to the specialized interest to readers of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. (See my attached formal resume, which outlines Felony, Appellate accomplishments)
But the most valuable resource I have is the decades of life experiences with my family, neighborhood and community. My wife and I have been together for 30 years, and raised four children. I have spent years celebrating the seasons and holidays with her. And I have enjoyed many summers at Scout camp, coaching youth baseball, talking to people at the pool and at the ice-cream shops, breakfast with my brother, and annual trips to Appalachia with High School students.
I have lived in a community, which, like most of the State has its 'brokenness.' There have been 7 suicides in the past 3 years in the village of Oak Park - the most recent by a young girl who jumped from a bridge onto the Eisenhower expressway. I have talked to people whose children were baby-sat by this girl. I have talked to neighbors about their drug-addicted children, stood with friends whose spouses had died, and attended many funerals.
I have fully participated and immersed myself in the lives of my community, I have seen how the lives of regular citizens are affected by their interactions with the local Courts, and their feelings about the laws of this country. From this experience I know that the Courts must function to serve people - those who have disputes, those who have been charged with crimes, and those who have been victims of crimes.
There is a growing recognition that Courts can serve to 'divert' troubled people, get them resources, serve to intervene in the chaos to stabilize lives. There are 'Drug-courts, Veteran's Courts' and other mediation or rehabilitative probationary practices that have been successful. There is a need for ''inter-active policing, and community involvement.
It is necessary to publicly acknowledge mistakes, to correct 'injustices' and to exonerate the wrongly convicted. I would work to advance these types of programs. The criminal courts cannot be simply an assembly line to impost punishment and a pipeline to ware-housing troubled men for a time in prison. The Police Department cannot function as an armed gang to 'contain' trouble to the boundaries of a certain neighborhood.
IN some cases these misguided approaches have caused more harm than good. And I have seen and studied innumerable horrific criminal acts. I understand the interplay between generational poverty, drugs, addictions, mental illness, education, and employment. And the way all of these various factors contribute to the various pathologies.
There is a blended vocabulary of terms that are used within the system to try to understand 'what happened here with this individual, and this individual act, and why?' This type of career work is grueling and has often been exasperating. But is necessary to delve into these matters in order to 'do justice' and to discern what is a proper / relative response from the Courts to aberrant behaviors.
Society has a responsibility to intervene, respond, protect, and to punish. But the work must be done carefully and in a way that leaves the impression to the individuals and to the broader citizenry that justice was done. People must come away with a sense that they were given a chance to be heard. Regardless of the outcomes, or the rulings, there must be formality to the process that makes it a priority that people be treated with respect.
I have come to my opinions based on my experience. I have always worked in diverse situations - and seen people of all types, tribes, genders and ethnicities produce and function at a high level, in difficult circumstances. A lot of my opinions about societal dis-function and crime mimic my approach to working in my garden - it is necessary to do the hard work, to pull the weeds, to organize and to plan, feed the soil and then to permit natural forces to produce what is desirable.
TIMOTHY JOHN LEEMING Attorney At Law
(312)-603-0600 Education J.D., 1986, Loyola University of Chicago, School Of Law B.S., 1983, University of Illinois, School Of Business Employment - Public Service and Private Practice - Assistant Public Defender Of Cook County, 1988 to present - 30 years - Private Law Practice, 1986 through 1988 - Robert Pincham, Jr. & Assoc. - Levenfield / Gallagher & Gold Complex and Varied Legal Work Experience - Full time legal practitioner since 1986 State Court litigation, Civil & Criminal, Appellate Court, Illinois Supreme Court, Federal Appellate Court - Litigated Jury trials in civil and felony criminal courts - Over a hundred felony criminal bench trials - Hundreds of appeals - including many reversals of murder convictions - Dozens of Appellate Oral Arguments - Over 25 published Opinions, Appellate Court First District - Illinois Supreme Court, brief writing and oral argument - Federal District Court of Appeals, Oral Argument - Nearly a hundred Post Conviction cases (Including People v. Charles Green - release of minor sentenced to natural life) Other Union Member of Council 31 AFSCME for 25 years. Member of Union Executive Board, 3351, AFSCME; 2008 - 2013 Personal Married, 4 children, Catholic Parishioner, Homeowner, Oak Park, Illinois
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
After law school, and passing the bar, I applied and was granted a full scholarship to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I did not earn a degree, but I took night and week end classes there for a year or so. I was a fine-arts major for a time at the University of Illinois. And in High School I was offered a scholarship to the prestigious Parson School of Design in New York.
I have worked as a painter and a print-maker my entire life, and was a member of the Chicago Palette and Chisel Academy. I show my work regularly, and I have gotten recognition in various articles around Chicago and Oak Park. I am the 'house artist' and rotate a set of my oil paintings at a great coffee shop near my home, the Addis CafÃ© (800 S. Oak Park Ave) c Most recently I see that my series "Accused" was featured in a Youtube on Ebony magazine web-site "Chicago on my mind' I have written illustrated and self-published two of three books, (available on amazon books.com. ), of my poetry and paintings. See, Night Walk, and Winter Walk. For a time I served as the poet-wrangler for a local classical and 'spoken word' event known as 'Church of Beethoven' where I regularly stood up and read my original poems to the crowd.