In the days leading up to the March 18 primary election, the Daily Law Bulletin will publish responses to questionnaires sent to candidates in all contested Cook County judicial races. Campaign finance information comes from Illinois State Board of Elections reports.
Name: John B. Simon
Current position: 1st District Appellate Court justice, 2012-present
Past legal experience: Partner, Jenner & Block LLP, 1986-2012; partner, Friedman & Koven, 1975-1985; member, Friedman & Koven executive committee, 1983-1985; assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, 1967-74 — deputy chief, Civil Division, 1970, chief, Civil Division, 1971-1974
Chicago Bar Association evaluation: Highly qualified
Chicago Council of Lawyers evaluation: Well-qualified
Illinois State Bar Association evaluation: Highly qualified
Campaign funds available, July 1 to Dec. 31: $160,038.40
Campaign funds spent, July 1 to Dec. 31: $55,682.56
Law school: DePaul University College of Law, 1967
Family: Married to Millie R. Simon
Hobbies/interests: Avid foodie
Have you ever run for office before? No, this is my first run for office.
Why should voters support your candidacy? Experience: I was appointed to the appellate court in 2012 and have actual experience not only as a judge of the appellate court but also from more than 45 years in government and private practice. I tried administrative, civil and criminal matters and handled more than 29 appeals — some of which received notoriety, such as U.S. v. Daniel Escobedo; U.S. v. Cappetto and Floyd et al. v. Advanced Equities Inc.
I have led teams of attorneys in every phase of trial work, covering numerous substantive legal areas — contract, securities, antitrust, trade regulation, health care, employment, environmental, constitutional, tax, insurance, construction, class-action, governmental and real estate matters.
Why do you want to be a judge? My early introduction to the law was through my stepfather, Seymour Simon, who instilled in me a fierce respect for the law, a respect that has been honed over my lifetime. The care I take in fairly and efficiently deciding cases is reflective of Seymour’s legacy and a constant measure of my life.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the public and want to remain on the court to continue as a relevant participant in the legal process. As I told the graduating lawyers at the 2012 DePaul College of Law commencement: “My worst day being a lawyer is better than the best day I could have engaged in any other endeavor.”
What was the most interesting case you handled as a lawyer?U.S. v. Cappetto: While an assistant U. S. attorney, I was working with the Organized Crime Strike Force and investigating an illegal syndicate gambling operation, but instead of bringing a criminal case against the participants, I brought a civil action against them under Section 1962 of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act, seeking an injunction to halt them from continuing their gambling operation.
By using this novel approach, the government was not bound to afford the protections normally applicable to and afforded criminal suspects and detainees. The court found the application of the act to be constitutional and entered an injunction against all the defendants that they desist from communicating with one another and taking any action involving gambling or face civil contempt charges that could include their being incarcerated.
The U.S. Department of Justice had me attend a nationwide series of Organized Crime Strike Force visits to explain and assist in the utilization of this new law enforcement tool.
What would you consider your greatest career accomplishment? Apart from being appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to serve as an appellate court judge, my greatest career accomplishment has been mentoring women and members of the minority community to become lawyers, judges and recipients of well-earned public recognition of their talents, thereby creating a diverse next generation of community leaders.
What qualities do you plan to bring to the bench? Appellate court cases are diverse and challenging. My extensive legal career and a lifetime of community involvement helps me to diligently review the cases before me, including the record of the case below, the briefs of the parties and pertinent case law.
I understand the importance of the case to the litigants and, therefore, endeavor to be the best judge I can be by keeping an open mind, administering the law equally and fairly, listening to all parties and encouraging their participation and viewpoints by treating them with respect, then while collaborating with the members of my panel, deciding each case on the facts and the law.
Editor’s note: The following candidate did not reply to the Daily Law Bulletin’s survey. The information here is collected from previous stories.
Name: Sharon Oden Johnson
Age: Born 1970
Residence: Calumet City
Current position: Cook County Circuit Court judge, 2010-present
Past legal experience: After graduating from law school, Johnson clerked for a year for Judge Lawrence Lawson in Monmouth County Circuit Court (New Jersey). From 1996-99, she worked for the city of Chicago as a contract negotiator. Immediately prior to joining the bench, Johnson was a sole practitioner in Calumet City focusing on real estate, family law and probate.
Chicago Bar Association evaluation: Not recommended
Illinois State Bar Association evaluation: Not qualified
Campaign funds available, July 1 to Dec. 31: Did not report financial information to the Illinois Board of Elections.
Campaign funds spent, July 1 to Dec. 31: Did not report expenditure information.
Law school: Howard University School of Law, 1995