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Candidates for Judge Engage the Community

Larissa M. Tyler | 3/2/2016, 10:36 a.m.
It was standing room only on Saturday during the Chicago Citizen Newspaper’s Candidates for Judge - Town Hall Meeting, an ...
L-R Judge Robin D. Shoffner; Atty. Lisa A. Copland; Atty. D. Renee Jackson; Atty. Celeste K. Jones; Judge Maryam Ahmad; Judge Lewis Nixon; Atty. Chelsey Robinson (back); Judge LaGuina Clay-Herron; Larissa M. Tyler, COO/Managing Editor, Chicago Citizen Newspaper; Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke; Judge Bertina E. Lampkin (front); Judge Aleksandra Gillespie (back); Judge Anthony E. Simpkins; Atty. Carolyn J. Gallagher; Judge Rossana P. Fernandez; Judge Alison C. Conlon; Judge Freddrenna M. Lyle (front); Atty. Travis Richardson (back); Judge Devlin Schoop; Judge Leonard Murray and Atty. Pat Heneghan.

It was standing room only on Saturday during the Chicago Citizen Newspaper’s Candidates for Judge - Town Hall Meeting, an open discussion with candidates for judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill. and the Illinois Appellate Court.

The popular event yielded over 20 judicial candidates, some who are sitting judges looking to retain their seats and some who are attorneys looking to become first time judges.

The contenders seized the opportunity to present their credentials and professional experiences to an ardent crowd of over 100 community members at the newspaper’s headquarters at 806 E. 78th St. in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood.

Moderated by the Hon. Judge Lewis Nixon and the Hon. Judge LaGuina Clay-Herron, who are not running for re-election, the forum marked the third election cycle in which the Chicago Citizen Newspaper has sponsored a judicial candidate’s forum. The first one was held in 2012 and a second in 2014.

“This will be the third primary election in which the Chicago Citizen Newspaper has allowed the majority of candidates running for judge to appear and place their credentials before the African-American community,” said Judge Nixon. “I am very proud and honored to be a part of this high quality event…it is extremely important and I thank the Chicago Citizen Newspaper for producing and hosting it.”

Judge Nixon went on to say that no other media outlet in Illinois to date has presented an event for judicial candidates of this caliber.

A panel of over 20 judicial candidates, some who are sitting judges looking to retain their seats and some who are attorneys looking to become first time judges, met with community members on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2015 during the Chicago Citizen Newspaper’s Candidates for Judge - Town Hall Meeting held at the newspaper’s headquarters at 806 E. 78th St. in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood.

A panel of over 20 judicial candidates, some who are sitting judges looking to retain their seats and some who are attorneys looking to become first time judges, met with community members on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2015 during the Chicago Citizen Newspaper’s Candidates for Judge - Town Hall Meeting held at the newspaper’s headquarters at 806 E. 78th St. in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood.

The forum is the brain-child of Judge Clay-Herron who in 2011 approached the Chicago Citizen Newspaper asking it to produce the event because community oriented meetings specifically designed for judicial candidates were rare.

“When I was running for judge, events like this didn’t exist,” Clay-Herron told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper. “There weren’t many opportunities for judicial candidates to present their qualifications directly to members of the community and community members rarely had the opportunity to query judicial candidates so creating the forum made perfect sense.”

Larissa M. Tyler, COO and Managing Editor of the Chicago Citizen Newspaper opened the forum by saying that while the newspaper has already researched the candidates for judge, the community should also examine them.

"We have done our research on these fine candidates," Tyler told attendees. "But we also wanted to allow you (the public) a chance to dig deeper and to have an up-close and personal opportunity to ask questions and find out more about them…Please understand how important this is because the successful candidates, perhaps someone on this panel today, will be in position to make life altering decisions that could affect your family."

And with that, the audience asked questions indeed.

Some asked whether or not any of the candidates had ever been disciplined because of professional misconduct while others asked if candidates had been found “not qualified” by any of the Bar Associations.

Delving into the views, philosophies and personalities of the candidates, audience members also commented poignantly about how a judge’s demeanor either negatively or positively affects their day in court.

But the foremost theme from the community was the fact that those who may find themselves in front of a judge, for any reason, simply want respect and want to be treated fairly regardless of their race, gender or socio-economic status.

Illinois’ Primary Election Day is Tuesday, March 15, 2016.

The U.S. general election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8 2016 and will feature the Presidential Election and elections into the United States Congress. The entire U.S. House of Representatives - all 435 members are up for re-election this year.