Aspiring to the 20th Circuit: QA with Judge Patrick Young

Ann Knef Oct. 27, 2005, 10:45am

Editor's note: Patrick M. Young, 57, is seeking election to the 20th Circuit Court of St. Clair County. If he runs unopposed in the Democratic primary election in March, Young will square off with appointed Republican Judge William Norton in the general election.

Young received his bachelor of arts degree from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in 1971; and his juris doctor degree (with distinction) from John Marshall Law School in Chicago in 1976.

He has been an assistant public defender and assistant state's attorney in St. Clair County and has worked in private practice in criminal and civil law. He has handled product liability and personal injury cases.

Young has been an associate judge since 1996.

Q: What prompted your decision to run for circuit judge in 2006?

A: I have always aspired to be a circuit judge, handling major civil or criminal cases. During the 20-plus years that I have practiced law and during the nine years on the bench, I handled cases of the nature that a circuit judge would handle and have over 100 jury trials as a lawyer and a judge.

Q: How will you make your case for election to the voters?

A: I believe my experience as a practicing attorney speaks to my qualifications.

I have been a partner in law firms involving both prosecution and defense of civil cases. Early in my career I was an assistant state’s attorney, prosecuting felonies and numerous murder cases. After leaving the State’s Attorney’s Office, I was appointed Chief Public Defender of St. Clair County by the circuit judges during which times I supervised six full-time attorneys in the defense of indigent clients.

During my years of private practice, I was voted by the members of the St. Clair County Bar Association as that organization’s President from 1989 to 1990.

I was awarded the highest ethical rating of "A.V." in Martindale Hubbell by my peers in the legal profession.

As an associate judge, I have been retained by the Circuit Judges twice. In the poll taken by the Illinois State Bar Association, I have received a 92 percent and 93 percent vote in favor of my retention among the lawyers who practice in front of me.

Those are high percentages of which I am proud.

Q: What is your disposition toward raising funds to run a judicial campaign?

A: In a perfect world I think campaigns should be run without private or corporate contributions. The fact is, campaign funding continues to grow to new heights due to the influx of funds from partisan interests.

I hope that such fund raising will not lead to a negative impact that was acknowledged in the recent Supreme Court race.

Q: This newspaper has focused its attention on St. Clair and Madison Counties because of their high number of major civil filings. Is the attention warranted?

A: The venue rules of this state are very clear where a plaintiff can file his complaint and if that is abused, the Court should transfer that case to the appropriate jurisdiction or dismiss the case, when these issues are brought to the Court’s attention.

I am not aware of there being any extremely high filings of cases for a county of our size. If the legislature wishes to change the venue statutes, that’s their prerogative and the courts will and should enforce any valid statutes passed by the legislature.

Q: The Illinois Judges Association is encouraging its members to take measures to restore public confidence in the judiciary. Do you believe the judiciary is under attack? If so, what is the contributing factor?

A: I do believe the judiciary is under attack and in many cases the attack is completely unwarranted.

The contributing factors are partisan groups whose agenda is to influence the opinion of prospective jurors or voters in favor of their personal or political agendas.

These so called “consumer groups” base ridiculous claims against a judiciary that must stand mute and thus I can’t defend myself due to the Code of Judicial Conduct that precludes a judge from communicating upon pending or impending proceedings.

Make no mistake, I certainly agree that anyone has the right to criticize any judge’s decision, but should not swath the entire judiciary with the same brush based on that decision.

Q: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers faced tough criticism for having no experience on the bench. Is that view elitist?

A: I don’t believe that view to be elitist, but I do believe it to be unwarranted.

If a nominee has previous judicial experience, such as Chief Justice Roberts, it is much easier to get a feel for that person’s judicial philosophy and thus make the task confronting the constitutional duties of the Senate much more directed.

Having said that, I personally don’t believe that prior judicial experience is necessary, especially for a court of review such as the Appellate and Supreme Courts of our country. The Supreme Court has had many fine justices who lacked prior judicial experience.

Q: What components of news coverage would make for a good legal journal?

A: Having experienced reporters, lawyers and retired judges explaining the workings of the judiciary and the nuances of legal opinions would be helpful to reporting the court system accurately.

Q: Can you provide a courtroom anecdote in which you have been either uplifted, humbled, surprised or saddened?

A: Having been the first presiding judge of St. Clair County’s Domestic Violence court there were many instances when I’ve been saddened by the abuse that occurs in a relationship between two people who at one time loved each other and in many instances, still believe they do love each other even in spite of the abuse.

One memorable event was during a bench trial of a husband for domestic battery to his wife while boating on the Kaskaskia River with another couple.

The wife was horribly beaten by her husband. The whole side of her face was swollen beyond recognition.

The wife of the other couple and the victim both testified to the event and identified photos of the horrible beating that had taken place.

The other male companion was called as a defense witness and denied that the events even took place. At that time, I advised him of the nature of perjury in light of the overwhelming evidence already presented. He quickly changed his testimony to purge himself of perjury and corroborated the horrible beating that took place in his presence.

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