Romani proud of long career on criminal bench

Ann Knef Oct. 18, 2006, 3:54am

Circuit Judge Charles Romani

The Record asked Third Circuit Judges Ann Callis, Charles Romani and John Knight to answer a few questions to help voters decide whether or not to retain them on election day, Nov. 7.

Circuit judges seeking retention must get a 60 percent "yes" vote to earn another six-year term.

Following are questions submitted to and answered by Judge Romani.

Q.What should voters know about your record? Why should you be retained?

A.I have spent virtually my entire career in criminal law, first as a prosecutor, then as Bond County State's Attorney and, now, as a Chief Judge of the Criminal Division. I have spent over 23 years on the bench, trying more than 30 first-degree murder cases, including eight death penalty cases and nine life sentences.

Because of my experience, I was one of only two Southern Illinois judges asked to serve on the Special Supreme Court Committee on Capital Cases.

Q.Madison County's negative reputation has more to do with matters involving the court's civil division, where large damage awards are at stake. Your docket does not include major civil cases. Is this an important distinction for voters?

A.It certainly is. The criminal division has not received the same criticism, nor has it been involved in the same controversies. I'm proud of the work we do serving the public in the criminal courts.

Q.Is Madison County's "plaintiff-friendly" reputation deserved?

A.Ultimately, it is the juries, not the judges that have the biggest impact on whether a county is perceived as more friendly to one party or another. Historically, Madison County has been a heavily industrialized county with a jury pool made up of workers experienced in manufacturing and industry.

I believe that our juries have been sensitive to the way an injury can affect a working family. Today, Madison County is changing as more and more people who work at white-collar jobs in St. Louis make our area their home. I think we have seen a change in our juries as our population has changed.

Q.Should the public have confidence that all parties are treated fairly in Madison County?

A.This is the critical question as people review any court system. I believe that any person who comes through the doors of this Court must be able to expect fair and equal treatment and I will continue to support efforts to restore public faith and confidence in our courts.

Q.Is it important to have a (politically) balanced court? Or does that not really matter?

A.We need less politics in our local courts; not more. It is the character and qualifications of an individual judge that should be the determining factor for voters; not their political affiliation. I believe voters want fair, honest, qualified judges who will follow the law rather than partisan judges elected to pursue a political agenda.

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