In the days leading up to the March 15 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: Maryam Ahmad
Current residence: South Side
Current position: Cook County circuit judge (appointed effective Dec. 1, 2014)
Past legal experience: Corporate and civil litigator, three years; criminal defense lawyer, 5½ years; criminal prosecutor, six years; sexual harassment officer/workplace violence investigator
Campaign funds available, July 1 to Dec. 31: $62,225
Campaign funds spent, July 1 to Dec. 31: $24,639.14
Chicago Bar Association finding: Qualified
Chicago Council of Lawyers finding: Qualified
Law school: DePaul University College of Law, 2000
Campaign website: ElectJudgeMaryamAhmad.com
Family: An 18-year-old son
Hobbies/interests: fitness competitions, martial arts, fishing and sewing
Have you ever run for office before?
This is my first time running for elected office.
Why should voters support your candidacy?
Prior to becoming a lawyer, I worked in higher education for 15 years. Consequently, I am dedicated to educating the public about the legal system and their rights. For this reason, I participate in many legal education forums.
A courtroom should not be the first place members of the public meet a judge. Additionally, as a lawyer I possessed substantial experience as a corporate and civil litigator (representing plaintiffs and defendants) and a criminal lawyer (representing defendants and serving as a prosecutor).
Few judges in Cook County possess the breadth of legal experience I bring to the bench; it was for this reason the Illinois Supreme Court appointed me judge.
Why do you want to be a judge?
I believe I am qualified to remain a judge to the circuit court of Cook County based upon my work as a judge, a lawyer and an academic administrator. During my first year as circuit court judge, I have presided over criminal misdemeanor bench and jury trials, felony preliminary hearings and minor traffic cases in the 1st Municipal Division in the city of Chicago.
I am presently presiding over misdemeanor criminal and traffic cases in the 4th Municipal Division in Maywood, efficiently managing high-volume courtrooms and skillfully presiding over all types of criminal and civil cases.
Prior to ascending the bench, I practiced law for 15 years. I have been endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party, and I have received the following bar association ratings: Chicago Bar Association — Qualified; Chicago Council of Lawyers — Qualified; Asian American Bar Association — Qualified; Black Women’s Lawyers Association — Recommended; Cook County Bar Association — Recommended; Decalogue Society of Lawyers — Qualified; Hellenic Bar Association — Recommended; Hispanic Lawyers Association – Highly Qualified; Illinois State Bar Association — Qualified; Lesbian and Gay Bar Association — Recommended; Puerto Rican Bar Association — Highly Qualified; Women’s Bar of Illinois — Recommended.
What was the most interesting case you handled as a lawyer?
The majority of the cases I handled as a lawyer involved some type of harm to a person, as the majority of the cases involved criminal defense or criminal prosecution. Thus, I am resistant to the phrase “most interesting.” Instead, I can say that I found the child abuse and neglect cases that I prosecuted in Child Protection Court uniquely important because I was representing the interests of society’s most vulnerable who were victims of physical and sexual abuse, neglect and sometimes torture.
What would you consider your greatest career accomplishment?
Being appointed a circuit judge by the Supreme Court of Illinois.
What qualities do you plan to bring to the bench?
I presently bring the following qualities to the bench: I live in the heart of Chicago’s South Side. I treat the parties who come before me like I would want my family, friends or neighbors treated. I work hard to ensure that anyone who comes into my courtroom and steps before me receives it.
I am meticulous in reviewing complaints; I believe in, and enforce, the protections afforded to each individual under the United States and the Illinois Constitutions; I thoughtfully render decisions based on the law and with compassion and I am respectful of everyone’s time so I move my court call with purpose.
One additional candidate in this race — Jesse Outlaw, an associate at The Stuttley Group LLC — did not respond to the Daily Law Bulletin’s survey. Outlaw is rated as Not Recommended by The Chicago Bar Association and Qualified by the Chicago Council of Lawyers. Outlaw had $0 in available campaign funds from July 1 to Dec. 31 and spent $0.