Margaret Stanton McBride
Running for: Illinois Supreme Court
Occupation: Appellate Court Judge, 1998 to present.
Other Professional experience: Circuit Court Judge,1990-1998; Associate Judge,1987-1990;
Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney, 1977-1987; associate attorney with a Chicago law firm,
1976-1977. Licensed as an attorney, November, 1976.
Education: Juris Doctor, 1976, DePaul University College of Law;
Bachelor of Arts, 1973, Newton College.
Campaign website: mcbrideforsupremecourt.com
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent candidates for Illinois Supreme Court in the 1st District that covers Cook County a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues. Margaret Stanton McBride submitted the following responses:
Tell us why you are qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice.
I am qualified for the position of Supreme Court Justice because I possess all the qualities required of this office, including outstanding legal knowledge and ability, integrity, impartiality, independence, sensitivity to diversity and bias, good character, diligence, even temperament, good physical and mental health and, most importantly, fairness in the decisions I have made for over 32 years as a judge.
As I explain below, my qualifications, diverse professional experience, background, and distinguished record as both a judge for over 32 years and as a practicing attorney for 11 years before that, are unrivaled and set me apart from every other candidate running in this race. I began my judicial career in 1987 when I was appointed an associate judge in Cook County. In 1990, I was elected a Circuit Court Judge, and an Appellate Court Judge in 1998. I have been retained three times for judicial office, once as a Circuit Court Judge in 1996, and two times for the Illinois Appellate Court, in 2008 and 2018.
Thus far, I have been found found “HIGHLY QUALIFIED” for the Illinois Supreme Court by both the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association, the two largest bar associations in the state. I have also been found qualified or recommended for this office by the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, (highest rating of this group), the Asian Bar Association,(highest rating of this group), the Black Women Lawyer’s Association of Greater Chicago, the Decalogue Society, the Hispanic Bar Association, and the Puerto Rican Bar Association. Other members of the Alliance of Bar Associations, including the Chicago Council of Lawyers, have not yet completed their evaluations.
In finding me “HIGHLY QUALIFIED” for the Illinois Supreme Court, the Chicago Bar Association observed the following: Justice McBride has a distinguished record as an appellate court justice and is highly regarded for her knowledge of the law, legal ability, integrity, excellent demeanor, and work ethic.
When I ran and won the Democratic primary for the Illinois Appellate Court, I had the highest bar ratings of all ten candidates and was endorsed by both the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald. (The Sun-Times did not endorse for this race.) In its endorsement, the Tribune found I was the “best among” all the candidates, pointing out, McBride capably supervises 19 judges and oversees the administration of the Rolling Meadows courthouse. The Trib also noted: “She is universally admired as an intelligent jurist.”
When I ran and won election to the Circuit Court, the Sun-Times noted in its endorsement of my candidacy that Associate Circuit Court Judge Margaret Stanton McBride and former supervisor in the State’s Attorneys Office is the highest rated among the 13 candidates in the race.
Over the last 32 years my bar ratings for both election and retention have been outstanding. The Chicago Council of Lawyers has continually found me well qualified or exceptionally well qualified for each office I have sought, noting my independence, integrity and fairness, and my exceptional efforts to improve the administration of justice, both on and off the bench.
As more fully explained below, I have presided over thousands of trials and appeals. In all of my decisions, I have considered each case important and each person important. I have always listened to both sides before making a ruling or decision. Those decisions have always been based on the facts and the law applicable to that case, without regard to any person’s race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.
As an Appellate Court Justice for 20 years, I have been the author of over 2000 written decisions in both civil and criminal appeals and have participated in several thousand other appeals as a panel member. I have served in every administrative position on the Appellate Court, as both the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee and as a Presiding Justice in every one of the six Divisions of the First District, Illinois Appellate Court.
Before being elected to the Appellate Court, I served as a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County for 11 and one-half years. During that time I served in the First Municipal District, the Criminal Division, Law Division and Chancery Division and was then named Presiding Judge of the Third Municipal District of the Circuit Court of Cook County where I administered a large suburban court facility and supervised approximately 20 judges.
During my years as a trial judge, I heard thousands of cases, criminal and civil, bench and jury. In the First Municipal District, the cases I heard ranged from minor traffic and misdemeanors to felony preliminary hearings. In the Criminal Division, at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, I presided over hundreds of felony trials and pleas, including presiding over several potential death penalty cases. In the Law and Chancery Divisions, I heard a variety of cases, ranging from personal injury, medical negligence, preliminary injunctions, declaratory judgments, mortgage foreclosures, administrative review, class actions, and insurance coverage disputes, to name just a few. I also managed considerable dockets in several of these major divisions.
After being appointed the Presiding Judge in Rolling Meadows I was appointed the First Chairperson of the Circuit Court of Cook County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and served in that capacity until I was elected to the Appellate Court.
For the last several years, in addition to my work as a Justice of the Appellate Court, I serve as an elected member of the Illinois Courts Commission, and serve on several Supreme Court Committees. I am also involved in committees at DePaul University College of Law and am actively involved in teaching, lecturing and participating in various educational programs for attorneys, law students and judges.
I currently serve on the Illinois Courts Commission and have been the elected member of the Courts Commission representing the First District Appellate Court since 2007. The Illinois Courts Commission was created by the 1970 Illinois Constitution, Article VI, Section 15, and is comprised of seven members — one Supreme Court Judge, two Appellate Court Judges, two Circuit Court Judges, and two citizens. The Commission is charged with hearing complaints filed by the Judicial Inquiry Board (JIB) and has two specific, and concomitant, types of authority:
(1) to remove from office, suspend without pay, censure or reprimand a Judge or Associate Judge (this includes all Illinois Associate, Circuit, Appellate and Supreme Court judges) for willful misconduct in office, persistent failure to perform his or her duties, or other conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice or that brings the judicial office into disrepute, or
(2) to suspend, with or without pay, or retire a Judge or Associate Judge who is physically or mentally unable to perform his or her duties.
As a member of the Commission, I have participated in numerous decisions resulting from complaints filed against judges by the JIB over the last 12 years. I have also served numerous times as case manager, an appointment designated by the elected Chairperson of the Commission, who has traditionally been the sitting Supreme Court Justice at the time. The case manager presides over the complaint in an administrative capacity, primarily addressing procedural matters with the attorneys for both the respondent and the JIB, until the complaint is ready for court proceedings. The entire seven member Commission votes on the complaints after evidentiary hearings and deliberations. The written decisions of the Commission are published in the Official Illinois Courts Commission Reports.
Since 2015, I have been a member of the Appellate Committee of the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission (ATJ Commission) which was created in 2012. The ATJ Commission was designed to promote, facilitate, and enhance equal justice with an emphasis on access to the Illinois civil courts and administrative agencies for all people, particularly the poor and vulnerable. To date the Appellate Committee has helped create and approve a Guide to Appeals for self represented litigants, and standardized plain language forms (translated from English in six languages) for use in the appellate courts. The Committee is currently working on, among other issues, access to transcripts and providing other resources to the many persons who represent themselves because of the inability to afford legal representation.
I am also an appointed member of the Illinois Supreme Court Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee and serve as a facilitator/evaluator. Under the current program, all Illinois circuit court and associate judges are required to complete performance evaluations pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 58. This extensive and highly intensive program is administered by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).Through the program, each year a number of judges of the state are evaluated after a lengthy questionnaire is completed by both attorneys appearing before the judge and court personnel working with the judge. The entire process is confidential so as to encourage candid and accurate reporting of the judicial performances of the judges being evaluated. Both facilitators and the evaluated judge must sign confidentiality agreements. The five categories of performance evaluation are legal and reasoning ability, impartiality, professionalism, communication skills, and management skills. Responses to questions within each category are graded and later scored by the NCSC based upon the responses given. The facilitators (who are experienced Illinois judges) must go through training themselves in order to serve. After the questionnaires are completed and scored, the facilitator and evaluated judge meet in person to evaluate and discuss the results of the performance evaluation questionnaire. The facilitator’s goal is to provide a review of the results, to give feedback to the judge, and to provide insight into areas in need of improvement and ways to further improve the overall performance of the judge in his or her duties. The purpose of the Supreme Court’s program is to enhance the performance of Illinois judges and to improve public confidence in the state’s courts.
I am also a longstanding member of the Supreme Court Rules Committee. Its purpose is to study and recommend new Supreme Court rules or modifications to existing rules. I have served on this Committee since 2010 and was reappointed to a second term. The Committee meets several times a year, usually after public hearings. Discussion on various rule changes occur at post-hearing meetings, after which the Committee makes recommendations to the Illinois Supreme Court.
I am actively involved in the DePaul Law School community, more specifically the Dean’s Advisory Council and the Judges’ Alumni Committee of which I am the current Chair. The education of all members of the community is the core mission of DePaul University and its many Colleges. The Dean’s Advisory Council’s primary responsibilities, under the leadership of Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea, are to enhance and improve the education of DePaul’s law students, promote the image of the College of Law, and increase outreach to law firms and alumni to help provide avenues of employment for DePaul’s law students upon graduation and passage of the bar exam.
For the last several years, I have also coordinated a program with DePaul Law School as part of an advanced appellate advocacy course, taught by the Honorable Warren D. Wolfson (Retired).
As part of the course, each student prepares briefs based upon an actual record on appeal and then the class observes the oral arguments presented by the attorneys on the case. After arguments, and without going into the merits of the appeal, the three judge panel of my division and the law students discuss the nature of oral arguments, general procedures of the court and basic appellate advocacy skills.
I have also been volunteering my time teaching lawyers and judges, alike, on professionalism and trial advocacy, among various other topics, for over 35 years. I have presented at various seminars related to the law through local and state bar associations and at various Chicago area law schools. I have organized the presentation of Appellate Court oral arguments at both the John Marshall and DePaul Law Schools. For the last 20 years I have judged numerous Moot Court Competitions, including those sponsored by the Appellate Lawyers Association of Illinois and more recently the final rounds in the Region 8 National Trial Competition at Kent College of Law. The National Trial Competition (NTC), established by the Texas Young Lawyers Association is one of the oldest and most prestigious competitions in the United States. The NTC was established to encourage and strengthen students’ advocacy skills through quality competition and valuable interaction with members of the bench and bar.
While a practicing attorney and after becoming a judge, I taught trial advocacy for several years with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (N.I.T.A.) participating throughout the country at various regional and national sessions. N.I.T.A., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was comprised of a dedicated team of professors, judges and practicing lawyers who believed that skilled and ethical advocacy is a critical component of legal professionalism and all systems of dispute resolution that seek justice.
While a Circuit Judge I began teaching judges as a faculty member at the New Judges Training Seminar for all newly appointed and elected judges of the Circuit Court of Cook County. I continued to be a faculty member/teacher with this training program until 1998, when I was elected to the Illinois Appellate Court. I have also taught orientation for several years to all newly appointed and elected members of the Illinois Appellate Court in the First District.
I have also served on the Illinois Supreme Court Education Committee, which is the primary vehicle through which all state judges receive formal judicial education and training.
In addition to my volunteering time teaching law students, lawyers and judges, I have studied and continued my own legal education by attending educational seminars, the annual Appellate Court Education Conference and the biennial Illinois Judicial Education Conference. The curriculum includes judicial ethics, diversity and inclusion and implicit bias.
Before being appointed to the bench in 1987, I worked as an associate attorney with a law firm in Chicago. In April of 1977, I became a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney where I spent over 10 years, trying several hundred felony bench and jury trials. In 1985, I became the first woman to supervise the preliminary hearing courtroom for all homicide and sexual assault cases occurring in Cook County. One year later, I became the first woman Felony Trial Supervisor, overseeing 6 courtrooms and 18 Assistant States Attorneys at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building. In my opinion, my most significant accomplishment in the State’s Attorneys Office was creating the first child victim/witness advocacy room at 26th and California.
Supervisor, overseeing 6 courtrooms and 18 Assistant States Attorneys at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building. In my opinion, my most significant accomplishment in the State’s Attorneys Office was creating the first child victim/witness advocacy room at 26th and California.
Aside from all of the work I have done as a judge and an attorney before that, I have been a working mother all of my professional life on the bench. My son was born three months after I was sworn in as an associate judge, and my daughter was born about 4 and a half years later.
Together, my husband and I have raised two spectacular children. Every day, all through the years, after leaving the courthouse — I went home to the other house, to make dinner, to help with homework, to drive to sporting events, and to put my children to bed. As they attended grammar school, high school and college, those parental duties never ceased. As they grew, their school obligations and sports activities grew as well. We have loved watching them grow into the kind and beautiful adults they have become. My experiences and perspective as a working mother have changed my life and are a great part of who I am as a person and a judge.
To conclude, I have devoted almost my entire professional career to public service. I am proud and honored to be a Justice of the Illinois Appellate. I believe I am the most qualified candidate running for Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and will do my best to convince the electorate that I am the best person for the vacancy in our state court’s highest office.
What two cases have you ruled on as an appellate judge that best reflect your scholarship, judicial philosophy and approach to justice?
The following are two decisions that respond to this question: People v. Antonio House, 2019 Il App (1st) 110580-B, and IN RE the Adoption of E.L., 315 Ill. App.3d 137 (1st Dist. 2000).
In what way would you fill circuit court bench vacancies?
The appointment process I would institute would be open and transparent. I would make certain that qualifications and diversity are predominant. Like many other members of the Supreme Court, I would form a committee to screen candidates for circuit court vacancies. The appointment process would be open to all qualified candidates. I would rely on the various bar association evaluations and members of the community to provide input into the process. I believe it is incumbent upon members of the Supreme Court to appoint persons from all racial and ethnic groups, women and LGBTQ persons and persons from the communities judges serve.
What would you do to improve the way the Supreme Court administers the state’s entire legal system?
One of the primary obligations of the Supreme Court as it administers the state’s entire legal system is to provide for the prompt, fair and equal access to justice for all citizens of Illinois. So, I would continue the many initiatives already begun by the Supreme Court to ensure access to Illinois courts for all persons. I would also focus upon the use of technology to meet the Court’s obligations in the administration of justice in Illinois. Specifically, I would develop ways to eliminate multiple pretrial status dates through the use of technology. For example, currently there are courts elsewhere in the United States where police reports in criminal cases are routinely entered into a data base that can be immediately accessed by state’s attorneys, public defenders, and private attorneys for purposes of obtaining routine discovery.
Other discovery can also be conducted via technology instead of having multiple court dates in which the parties and their attorneys must appear. Using technology can enable our courts to streamline discovery and provide for more swift justice. This could result in substantial monetary savings to the courts, state’s attorneys, public defenders, correctional facilities, and hence the taxpayers. An additional and more significant benefit from this streamlining would be shortening the time of pretrial detention for those who are in custody awaiting trial and also for those on bail, because of fewer continuances and status dates before trial.
Similarly status calls in civil cases could be streamlined through the use of video technology and emails, which again, can save not only time in court appearances, but substantial cost savings to the courts, litigants, attorneys and ultimately the people of the State of Illinois.
The Supreme Court could take the lead in studying and implementing these substantial time and cost saving measures.
The Chief Justice on behalf of the Supreme Court annually submits the Judicial Branch’s Appropriation Request to the legislature. I would work with the Chief Justice to ask for a small amount of additional money or seek out grants to implement these technology programs that could save money in the long run and perhaps enable the Court to lower its budget in future years.
These cost savings could then be directed to fund vital programs such as probation services, specialty courts, (drug diversion courts, and other courts dealing with the special needs of veterans and those persons suffering from mental illness, etc.) and the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission.
Statewide, court filings are down 30%. At some point, do we need fewer judges? And are judges properly deployed now to where they are most needed? Please explain.
There are many reasons court filings are down: the significant decrease in mortgage foreclosure cases, the increase in the use of mandatory arbitration provisions in contracts and the overall increase in the cost of litigation. Another reason court filings are down is because litigation is time consuming, cumbersome and unaffordable for many.
With court fillings down 30% and, if those filings continue to decrease, it is essential to examine not only the number of state court judges needed to staff courtrooms, but to make certain that all judges are being used effectively. We should not have empty courtrooms and judges should be working to their full capacity. The effective use of all judges and all courtrooms should be studied and improvements should be made to ensure the effective use of all judges and courtrooms.
In each term, the Supreme Court receives hundreds of petitions for leave to appeal. What is your guiding philosophy as to which cases the court should decide to hear?
In addition to resolving constitutional issues and conflicts between and among the five Appellate Districts, attention should be given to appellate decisions in which a dissent is filed. I believe all other Petitions for Leave to Appeal should be studied carefully to determine whether they merit review by the seven Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court.
The Illinois Reform Commission has recommended a pilot program for public financing of judicial elections. Should judicial elections be publicly financed, and why or why not?
Because money obviously has the potential to corrupt campaigns and politicians, the Illinois Reform Commission in 2009, extensively researched campaign financing in Illinois and propounded several thoughtful proposals regarding the public financing of elections, including judicial elections. Although there may be proposals pending in the Illinois legislature regarding the public financing of elections, I believe there are no pending proposals at this time that include judicial elections.
Rather than give my view on whether judicial elections should be publicly financed, and because legislation of this type could be subject to interpretation in the courts, I cannot comment, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 67, upon an issue that may come before me in the courts. I have, however, catalogued general information about existing programs and some of the pros and cons surrounding potential future programs or legislation.
Some of the positives are the following: public funding is a natural and necessary cost of democracy, for example, if a country or state wants stable political parties and/or independent candidates, the government should help pay those costs; public financing can limit the influence of money and curb corruption; giving money to candidates may also limit the likelihood of those candidates feeling the need to accept money from interested donors who want to influence decisions of the candidates or parties; public funding helps level the playing field and will encourage representation of all racial and ethnic minorities as well as women and members of the LGBTQ community; if parties and/or candidates are financed only with private funds, economical inequalities in society might translate into political inequalities in government; public financing can help support the growing costs of campaigning; persons living at poverty levels or moderately above those levels should not be expected to contribute much to political parties.
Arguments against public funding include some of the following: public funding increases the distance or divide between political elites and ordinary citizens; it also preserves the status quo that keeps the established parties and candidates (often incumbents) in power; through public financing, taxpayers are forced to support political parties or candidates whose views they do not share; public financing takes much needed money away from education, hospitals, and public works projects, as just a few examples; public financing laws are made by state legislators, so political parties both make the decision to legislate and collect the money; political parties become less independent - becoming organs of the state rather than parts of a civil society.
A few states have enacted public financing options for campaigns. Each of the plans require the candidate to accept public money for his or her campaign in exchange for a promise to limit both how much the candidates spend on the election and how much they receive in donations from any one group or individual. They are often limited, applying only to certain candidates, and divided mainly into two types - clean election programs and matching funds programs.
Clean election programs offer full funding for the campaign, and matching funds programs provide a candidate with a portion of the funds needed to run the campaign. Public financing of campaigns remains the least used method of regulating money in elections because of U.S.
Supreme Court decisions. States cannot require candidates to use public financing programs, so the programs have opt out provisions. The financial advantages of private fundraising frequently prompt candidates to opt out of public financing programs, which often include expenditure limits for participants.
The Illinois Constitution provides for the election of all Circuit, Appellate and Supreme Court judges. Under the Code of Judicial Conduct, judges and candidates running for judge may not personally solicit funds for their election campaigns, but a committee of responsible persons can raise funds on their behalf. Judges, through their campaign committees, raise funds to present their qualifications and message to the voters in order to win elections. Committees, then often solicit and raise funds from, among others, attorneys who appear before judges who run for election. Judges, however, unlike other elected officials, must be independent, cannot speak to issues that may come before them and and do not have constituents. Thus, the argument can and has been made, that judicial elections and campaign fundraising are at odds with the basic concept of an independent judiciary. Despite this fact, elections to all levels of the Illinois courts, require the expenditure of funds to wage a campaign. Although Illinois, like many states, has limits on contributions that can be received by candidates, those limits are lifted when a candidate self-funds his own campaign over a certain amount. Those limits have already been lifted as two of the candidates running in this Supreme Court race have self-funded their own campaigns with $100,000.
Returning to the pros and cons of public financing, it appears then that candidates, running for office, judicial or otherwise, who have unlimited funds available because of personal financial wealth, or because of access to large donors, would more often than not, opt out of any public financing program. An example of this occurred in Arizona in 2014. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who declined to participate in the Arizona clean elections program, raised $2.4 million for his 2014 campaign, more than double the amount authorized by $1,130,424 gubernatorial election limit.
The Illinois Supreme Court currently is overwhelmingly white. Given that, how important is the issue of diversity in this specific election?
Diversity is important in any election. Diversity of judges in our court system is important because of the need for broader perspectives that can be brought to the real-world issues facing judges every day in our courtrooms. Diverse perspectives and life experiences on the bench are critical to the fair, equal, impartial, and independent administration of justice. Women, people of color, different ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ persons can bring unique understandings to issues faced by judges every day all across the United States. Diversity also means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences.These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It means practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own. Diversity includes knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet are present in other individuals and groups.
Women represent diversity. As a woman, a working mother, and the only candidate who has spent over 20 years on both sides of the bench as a trial lawyer, and as a trial judge, and who has spent more years presiding over both criminal and civil litigation, I bring a unique perspective to the administration of justice and will bring a unique perspective to the Illinois Supreme Court. Additionally, as a trial judge, who spent a dozen years listening to thousands of persons, parties, litigants, including those represented by attorneys, and those who have represented themselves, and witnesses, again, both in significant criminal and civil proceedings I will bring a unique perspective to the Supreme Court. As a woman I represent diversity, and as a person I bring a much needed perspective to our system of justice that none of the other candidates have.
I have spent an additional 20 years on the Appellate Court authoring over 2,000 decisions, and participating in thousands of other appeals as a panel member, and I have considered thousands of issues on appeal. It is, perhaps, however, my diverse and extensive experience as a trial judge, and trial lawyer that brought me most in touch with and in tune with our state’s diverse group of persons. And, it is that experience that most sets me apart from all the other candidates running for the Supreme Court.
I also have historical knowledge and a deep understanding of the criminal justice system that no other candidate has or shares because I began working in the system over 40 years ago. I spent years in the trenches, presiding over criminal cases that impacted not only the hundreds of victims and witnesses and their families involved in those criminal matters, but also, all those persons charged with crimes and the impact that convictions and incarceration have on those persons and their families as well. I am the only candidate running in this important race who has ever sentenced a person charged with a serious felony, such as murder, armed robbery, or sexual assault. Sentencing decisions, which are perhaps one of the most difficult and challenging decisions a judge must make, are, again, decisions I have made, that no other candidate has ever made or been involved with at this important level of our criminal justice system. In three separate criminal cases, the defendants who were eligible for the death penalty, waived the jury and asked me to preside over the sentencing phase of their sentencing hearings.
I also have extensive practical judicial experience in handling complex litigation on the civil side of our justice system that no other candidate has or shares. As a Presiding Judge, I also administered a large court facility, supervising approximately 20 judges and courtrooms, and occasionally handled court calls to hear cases involving persons living in that district. At that time, I was also named the first Chair of the Cook County Circuit Court’s Domestic Violence Coordinating Council.
When I entered law school, about one third of the class were women. When I began work as an Assistant States’s Attorney, there were no women or minority supervisors in that office. Although I eventually became a supervisor, I was always aware of the need for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Just as I am aware of the need for diversity in our courts.
When I was appointed an associate judge, there were only about 50 women judges in Cook County compared to the several hundred men in the state’s judiciary at that time. When I was assigned to the Criminal Court, after my election as a Circuit Judge, I was only one of two women assigned to that Division. Several years later, when I was assigned to the Chancery Division, I was, again, only one of two women assigned there. Based upon my background and experience, I was quickly named to the Management Committee of the Chancery Division. I was the first woman in the history of the Circuit Court of Cook County to take a maternity leave, an unusual distinction at the time, but since then, new mothers and fathers, have taken many parental leaves. I was the first woman to be named the Presiding Judge of the Third Municipal District. I am keenly aware of the need for diversity in our courts.
When I was in law school, many of the women I was studying with often spoke about whether and when a woman would be appointed to the United States Supreme Court and whether and when a woman would be elected to the Illinois Supreme Court. That was back in 1973. In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court. In 1992, Mary Ann McMorrow was the first woman elected to the Illinois Supreme Court.
The majority of people in the United States are women and the majority of people in Illinois are women. We, however, have been historically and currently are underrepresented in Washington and in Illinois. We, have never, in over 200 years, had a majority of representation in Congress, the United States Supreme Court, the Illinois legislature, or on the Illinois Supreme Court. Our state’s Constitution, as pointed out above, provides for the election of judges. This system of electing judges is what we have in Illinois and was provided for in the Illinois Constitution of 1818. Appointments to vacancies are only temporary and, thus, temporarily filled until the next election. It is the voters who ultimately decide which candidate is best suited for elective office.
The electorate makes its choices based upon many factors, including qualifications, diversity, a person’s integrity, record, and experience for the office she or he seeks. In fact, this Supreme Court race embodies democratic principles by giving Illinois citizens the opportunity to choose from a highly diverse group of candidates.
My qualifications, background and experience, which I have expounded upon in response to this and other questions, demonstrate the competence and qualities I already bring to the court system and how much diversity I will bring to the Supreme Court if I am elected. I am the most qualified candidate for the Supreme Court of Illinois and that is why I am running for this state’s highest judicial office.
Many cases now being addressed by appellate courts have to do with gun possession, in part because of the state’s new concealed carry law. We also anticipate an increase in cannabis-related cases now that, as of Jan.1, recreational marijuana will be legal but highly regulated. In light of this, do you foresee the Supreme Court being asked to redefine search-and-seizure protections? What is your view on the current restrictions on search-and- seizure?
Over the years, I have dealt with numerous search and seizure, gun, and cannabis issues. I recognize that both the Appellate and Supreme Courts will likely be faced with new and important issues regarding search and seizure protections as a result of the Illinois’ concealed carry law and the legalization of recreational cannabis (effective January, 2020).
However, Illinois Supreme Court Rule 67 prohibits judges from making statements that commit or appear to commit the candidate with respect to cases, controversies or issues within cases that are likely to come before the court. Accordingly, I have to refrain from giving my view on the current restrictions on search and seizure.
You’re a lawyer, right? So tell us. What’s the best movie, TV or book ever set inside a courtroom?
The best courtroom treatment of the law in any book or movie, in my opinion, is “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe) do you most admire or draw inspiration from. Please explain.
I admire and draw inspiration from Dawn Clark Netsch. In her long career as a highly respected legal scholar and professor, and as a politician, she broke many glass ceilings, as a State Senator, and as the first woman to hold statewide office as State Comptroller. She was renowned as a fierce champion of equal rights for all persons and blazed the trail for women to hold statewide elective office in Illinois.