Callis

Knight

Hylla

Three of four circuit judges running for retention in the Third Judicial Circuit have provided responses to an Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL) survey.

The answers provided by Judges Ann Callis, John Knight and Dave Hylla, who were recently endorsed by the ICJL, appear in their entirety below.

Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder did not complete the survey. The ICJL recommended Crowder not be retained in the Nov. 6 election.

Circuit Judge Ann Callis

ICJL: State the main reason why voters should return you to the bench.

Callis: As Chief Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit since 2006, I have worked closely with my colleagues to introduce a series of important court reforms that have helped ensure greater fairness and transparency in our court system. These include allowing cameras in the courts, mandatory medical malpractice mediation, pre-trial arbitration of smaller civil cases, the opening of sealed cases to the public, bipartisan appointment of associate judges and limits on forum shopping.

ICJL: What actions have you taken as a judge of which you are most proud?

Callis: We have introduced some innovative programs into our courts that have become models for other court systems. Of the many special programs we have created, I am most proud of two recent ones. Our special Veterans Court helps troubled veterans get the help they need to get their lives back on track. Our mandatory home mortgage foreclosure mediation program puts mortgage lenders and homeowners together to negotiate resolutions that will stop foreclosure. More than 50 area families have saved their homes through this program.

ICJL: Name and describe one change you would make in the Illinois court system.

Callis: I would urge the continued support for the creation and sustainability of Problem-Solving courts in the State of Illinois. In Madison County, our Veterans' Treatment Court, Mental Health Court and Drug Court have all successfully reduced recidivism and lowered the cost of incarceration for our community. Thus, I would urge the increased priority of our Probation Departments throughout the state, as they play a primary role in the successes of these specialty courts, and our justice system.

ICJL: One prominent Illinois judicial evaluation survey asks attorneys to evaluate candidates on Integrity, Impartiality, Legal Ability and Temperament. Critique yourself in these four areas as to how you personally approach your job as a judge?

Callis: As chief judge, in many ways I am the public face of our local court system. I have spent many hours speaking at local organizations trying to help people better understand our courts and how it impacts their lives. Because of that role, I have worked hard to introduce programs to ensure greater fairness and greater access to our courts for all people, from injured workers to business owners. And, as a judge, I have brought that same focus on fairness and impartiality to my rulings.

Also, as the public face of the courts, I work hard not only to live up to my own standards of integrity, but to avoid any appearance that would call my integrity into doubt.

As to my legal ability, I have extensive experience in criminal law as both a prosecutor and a trial judge. Since becoming a circuit judge, I have broadened my experience by overseeing dozens of complex civil trials, as well. As to my temperament, I believe lawyers who practice before me would consider me tough, but fair.

Circuit Judge John Knight

ICJL: State the main reason why voters should return you to the bench.

Knight: Service in the United States Army helped me to develop self-discipline and a positive work ethic. Eighteen years as a county's chief prosecutor gave me necessary courtroom experience, as well as a deep respect for our system of justice. I understand the importance of maintaining the integrity of the court system and I am committed to that goal.

ICJL: What actions have you taken as a judge of which you are most proud?

Knight: The temptation is to recite one or two events that have received positive public response. However, I derive the most pride from being part of a system that works, day after day, to resolve disputes, large and small, each being of equally enormous importance to the parties involved.

ICJL: Name and describe one change you would make in the Illinois court system.

Knight: I believe that a judge, much like a referee, is charged with ensuring a level playing field and fair play, not with making the rules. I believe that a good judge, like a good referee, strives to enforce the rules as written and should decline the invitation to express personal opinions about those rules.

ICJL: One prominent Illinois judicial evaluation survey asks attorneys to evaluate candidates on Integrity, Impartiality, Legal Ability and Temperament. Critique yourself in these four areas as to how you personally approach your job as a judge?

Knight: Each of the four categories are important, and I would add "work ethic." I make a conscientious effort to respect the dignity of the court system and to give attention to each of those categories on a daily basis. A self critique of my performance is a recurring thought, but I believe would be of little value to others.

Circuit Judge Dave Hylla

ICJL: State the main reason why voters should return you to the bench.

Hylla: Because since being elected Circuit Judge in 2006, I have made every decision and tried every case based on the law and the facts, without regard to who the parties were and without regard for potential political consequences or popular opinion. And if allowed by the voters of Madison and Bond Counties to serve in this office for another six years, I will do the same in the future.

ICJL: What actions have you taken as a judge of which you are most proud?

Hylla: I am most proud of providing equal access to a fair and impartial court for all parties. I am also proud of working to continue to improve our Court. As I told the voters in 2006, I believe that mediation should be an important part of our court system.

Immediately after being elected, I worked with the medical and legal communities as chairman of our circuit court committee to establish one of Illinois' first mandatory mediation programs for medical negligence cases. The statistics reported to the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts for the first four years (2008-2011) show that over 40 percent of the cases mediated have been successfully resolved without the need for trial.

ICJL: Name and describe one change you would make in the Illinois court system.

Hylla: The people have given the authority to make changes to the court system to the legislative branch. However, I think the legislature should give serious consideration to public financing of judicial elections. There are many pros and cons to any system considered to select judges but public financing would put candidates on equal footing as to ability to campaign and still allow the people to vote and select their judges.

ICJL: One prominent Illinois judicial evaluation survey asks attorneys to evaluate candidates on Integrity, Impartiality, Legal Ability and Temperament. Critique yourself in these four areas as to how you personally approach your job as a judge?

Hylla: I am very proud of the ratings I received in the 2012 ISBA Judicial Survey in these areas, Integrity – 94.97%, Impartiality – 91.19%, Legal Ability – 96.23% and Temperament – 94.94%. However, I
believe that every judge should strive to 100% ratings in all areas,
especially Integrity and Impartiality.

These ratings are the views of lawyers who represent all parties, plaintiffs and defendants, doctors and patients, employers and employees. Nearly every ruling is for one side and against the other. Therefore, I understand that one might never reach the desired 100% rating. However, I do rate myself at 100% in the areas of integrity and impartiality. I have promised myself to make every ruling based on what I believe the law and facts to be without outside influence, sympathy or bias.

These are the same instructions I give to each juror in every case that I preside over. I expect that much from them and I demand that much from myself.

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