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: Jerry Esrig
Current residence: Evanston
Current position: Cook County circuit judge, 2013-present
Past legal experience: Partner, Zaideman & Esrig P.C. (formerly Epstein, Zaideman & Esrig P.C.), 1984-2013; associate, James P. Chapman & Associates, 1980-84; associate, Solomon, Rosenfeld, Elliot, Stiefel & Engerman, 1978-80.
Campaign funds available, July 1 to Dec. 31: $104,539.68
Campaign funds spent, July 1 to Dec. 31: $49,595.61
Chicago Bar Association finding: Highly Qualified
Chicago Council of Lawyers finding: Highly Qualified
Law school: University of Chicago, 1978
Campaign website: jerryesrigforjudge.org
Family: Married with two adult children
Hobbies/interests: History, politics, travel, hockey, baseball
Have you ever run for office before?
I ran for judge in 2014.
Why should voters support your candidacy?
I have 35 years experience as a trial lawyer handling complex injury and commercial litigation in a variety of settings and jurisdictions. I have been positively rated by every bar association that has reviewed my credentials, including Highly Qualified by The Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Council of Lawyers.
In my two years on the bench, I believe that I have earned a reputation as a hardworking judge who is prepared, fair, knowledgeable in the law and respectful of lawyers, litigants and court personnel. I care deeply about the legal system and the critical role that system, and judges in particular, play in our democracy. That attitude governs how I approach my job each and every day.
Why do you want to be a judge?
I became a judge and am running for judge because I believe that the legal system is the bedrock of our democracy. The more people believe that other branches of government are dysfunctional, the more important it is that the judicial system earn their confidence and trust. I believe that I have the background, experience, temperament, perspective and judgment to earn the confidence of the lawyers and litigants who appear before me and to make a meaningful contribution to the legal system by continuing to serve as a judge.
What was the most interesting case you handled as a lawyer?
One of my most interesting cases was one of the first cases I tried (with James P. Chapman) in the early 1980s, Orrico v. Beverly Bank, 109 Ill. App. 3d 102 (1st Dist. 1982). A young man who was diagnosed with schizophrenia received a large Social Security disability payment which he deposited in a local bank.
The bank allowed him to withdraw the funds even though his mother had obtained a court order appointing her the guardian of his estate. He took the money to a local park on a summer evening, showed the wad of money around at the park and was then robbed and murdered later that night.
We received a jury verdict in our wrongful-death case against the bank, the trial court entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict and the appellate court reversed. It was a sad and compelling story with very interesting legal issues of causation and opinion evidence.
What would you consider your greatest career accomplishment?
I feel very fortunate that I can look back over my career as a trial lawyer and think of many instances in which I was able to help severely injured and disabled people and their families turn their lives around by obtaining funds for quality medical treatment, retraining, education, counseling and to meet ordinary, day-to-day living expenses. To have played a role in helping a family recover from a devastating injury to a family member is very gratifying.
What qualities do you plan to bring to the bench?
Independence, experience, diligence, patience, an open mind and respect for litigants, lawyers, court personnel and the system itself.
One additional candidate in this race — Tom P. Kougias, a sole practitioner — did not respond to the Daily Law Bulletin’s survey. Kougias is rated as qualified by The Chicago Bar Association and not qualified for the circuit court by the Chicago Council of Lawyers. Kougias had no reports filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections.