Fifth District candidates Moore and Weber respond to ICJL questionnaire

By Ann Maher | Oct 17, 2016

Fifth District Appellate Court candidates answered a number of questions posed by the Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL) ranging from qualifications to their views on civil litigation reforms. And while both Justice James R.

Fifth District Appellate Court candidates answered a number of questions posed by the Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL) ranging from qualifications to their views on civil litigation reforms.

And while both Justice James R. "Randy" Moore, Republican, and Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jo Beth Weber, Democrat, punted on the question limiting civil damages, they also offered extensive background details that may shed light on their judicial postures.


Moore  

James R. "Randy" Moore:

State the qualifications and experiences that make you qualified to serve on the bench in Illinois.

I have 38 years of legal experience. For nearly 30 years, I was a solo practitioner. I have litigated all kinds of disputes. As an attorney and counselor at law, I advised people concerning their affairs, great and small. That experience is exactly the legal and practical experience needed on the appellate court. I have enjoyed the collegiality of the other justices on the court. Having been married over 40 years, with eight children and eleven grandchildren, I also bring to the court the

life experience it takes to be a good judge. I am independent and impartial, and always make sure to hear both sides of all cases carefully and patiently, waiting to hear all the law and the facts, before rendering a decision. I believe I am the kind of judge I would want to appear in front of if I were myself a litigant.

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 they make you qualified to serve on the bench.

Any judge must have the minimum level of integrity, impartiality, legal ability, and temperament necessary for the office of judge. I am grateful the Supreme Court of Illinois found that I possessed these qualities when I was first unanimously appointed as a First Circuit judge out of a pool of highly qualified applicants in February 2007, and to the Fifth District Court of Appeals in December 2014. I am very appreciative of the confidence placed in me by the Illinois Supreme Court. It is my goal to strive to be worthy of such confidence. I aim to be always growing and improving. A good judge never ceases to improve in every way.

Describe the case in which you are most proud of your work as a lawyer.

It is difficult to select one case out of 30 years as a lawyer. However, there is one case I would point to as somewhat illustrative: The City of Orient v. Old Republic Insurance Co. in Franklin County, Illinois. I was hired by the City of Orient in the late '90s to provide legal work for the contracting and construction of a wastewater treatment facility. A contract was let. When the first contractor failed to follow through with construction, relief was sought through the bonding company. The bonding company refused to pay. My efforts on behalf of the City of Orient to require the bonding company to fulfill its obligations were met with adamant resistance. A new contract was let with a new construction company. Co-counsel was brought in. Suit was brought in Franklin County by the City of Orient. I was deposed as a potential witness for several hours during the course of the litigation. The defendant insurance company employed a large law firm, so large that it took up a large part of a floor of the Sears Tower.

Jury selection began on September 11, 2001. I had to withdraw as counsel on the eve of trial and allow co-counsel to proceed so that I could personally testify on behalf of the City of Orient. On the day of trial, the defendant sought a continuance in light of world events and the potential terrorist threats against the Sears Tower as a possible target. The motion to continue was denied. That night a favorable settlement was achieved after the first day of jury selection.

Not only was the City of Orient wastewater treatment facility constructed, it was paid for after the successful suit. My involvement was so crucial that I became the principal witness on behalf of the City of Orient. The little town was able to get its facility paid for. All this happened in light of the tragic, dramatic, backdrop of a day no one can ever forget. Everyone remembers where they were when they first heard the catastrophic news on September 11, 2001.

Name one change you would make in the Illinois court system.

With congestion in the court system continuing to grow, it is difficult to maneuver cases through the courts expeditiously to final resolution. Consequently, it may be helpful for the Illinois Supreme Court to enact rules to further encourage mediation and alternative dispute resolution. These changes could speed up the process for the parties. They may also bring about savings in other fees and costs.

Are there civil litigation reforms that you would like to see enacted to remedy particular problems that you have detected, either as a practicing lawyer or as a sitting judge? Are there reforms that would benefit the civil justice system? What needs to be changed? Should the enactment of any such changes be the province of the legislature, the Supreme Court or by Constitutional amendment?

The ISBA, as well as the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, have developed lawyer mentoring programs. These should be encouraged, developed, and built upon. Mentoring programs and professionalism programs need to be used more. The legal landscape in Illinois is much more complicated now than it was in 1977, when I was sworn in as a lawyer. Back then mentoring was easier and more commonplace as a matter of informality. Furthering these mentoring programs in today's world benefits not only the lawyers, but also the clients they represent.

I do not presume the role of legislator to suggest changes in the law. That is for the duly elected officials to determine.

Do you believe that our judicial system adequately deters and penalizes frivolous litigation? If not, what reforms would you like to see?

I would not suggest changes in the law as to frivolous litigation. I am not a legislator. I note that rules are now in existence that work well when used. Lately, I have been seeing them applied more often.

Do you believe the Illinois Constitution precludes legislative establishment of limitations on civil damages? Are there or should there be distinctions among economic, non-economic and punitive damages?

As a sitting justice for the Fifth District Court of Appeals, the questions raised could potentially come before the court. Under our Supreme Court Rules, I must respectfully abstain from discussing potential cases or rulings.

Circuit Judge Jo Beth Weber:

State the qualifications and experiences that make you qualified to serve on the bench in Illinois.

I received my Bachelor of Social Work (1988) and Law (1991) degrees from the University of Illinois. I received Honors while

obtaining my undergraduate degree (Dean’s List) and Honors in Legal Writing and Research/Moot Court in law school. Licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois.

Legal Experience

Second Judicial Circuit Judge—12/2012-present. Presiding Judge, Jefferson County, Illinois.

-Responsible for assigning dockets and cases to all judges in Jefferson County.

-Preside over criminal dockets, drug court and first advisements in all criminal cases (I have also presided over civil matters and juvenile cases).

-Founder and first Presiding Judge of the Jefferson County Drug Court.

-Trained Judicial Mediator.

-Ethics educator for Illinois judges at the Judicial Education Conference.

-Judicial Excellence Honoree for Drug Court docket.

Deputy Defender, Office of the State Appellate Defender. 7/2009-12/2012

-Chief Legal Administrator for the Fifth District State Appellate Defender’s Office.

-Supervised a staff of 12 attorneys, 2 law clerks, 1 paralegal, 1 administrative secretary and 3 legal secretaries, with limited resources and a large caseload.

-Managed the caseload for the entire Fifth District Office, with the primary responsibility being to ensure that the Assistant Appellate Defenders provide timely quality representation for the Agency’s clients.

-Continuous monitoring of length of time the case was in the office and the amount of time the attorney had been working on the case.

-Determined and implemented policy on various issues for the Fifth District Office.

-Responsible for overseeing all attorneys’ legal work and ensuring superior work standards were met.

-Corresponded and communicated with all clients and family members in unassigned cases.

-Responsible for determining conflicts of interest in all cases assigned to the Fifth District Office.

-Researched and prepared various motions and responses in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th District Appellate Courts as well as the Illinois Supreme Court.

-Conducted issues conferences with attorneys to assist in spotting various potential issues after the record was read and prior to preparation of Appellate and Illinois Supreme Court briefs and motions.

-Prepared, critiqued and supervised attorneys’ oral arguments for all Appellate Court and Illinois Supreme Court briefs.

-Screened all records coming in to the office to determine if notices of appeal should be amended or if the case should be dismissed.

-Edited briefs, motions and all documents for attorneys, paralegal and support staff.

-Prepared and discussed written evaluations with employees, and if necessary, implemented performance improvement plans.

Associate General Counsel at Southern Illinois University—11/2007-7/2009.

-Litigation Management (construction; trademark infringement; hazardous materials; publishing contracts and various other matters).

-Negotiated, reviewed or prepared over 1,200 contracts ranging from Affiliation Agreements to multi-million dollar contracts, including all Saluki Way contracts.

-Responsible for responding to all subpoenas delivered to the University.

-Responsible for advising and determining the University’s bankruptcy and collection procedures.

-Responsible for determining the University’s responses to all Freedom of Information Act requests.

-Provided advice and support to the President, Chancellor, Vice Chancellors, Faculty and Administrative Staff.

-Responsible for the identification and management of risks at the University.

-Researched state/federal legislation and administrative court decisions and made recommendations.

-Received and investigated various inquiries, complaints, and questions from University administrators and employees regarding various legal issues (i.e., tax law, insurance, risk management, immigration, copyright, patents, delinquent fees, contracts, policies, business practices, constitutional issues, compliance with governmental regulations and legal issues involving students).

-Assisted in writing various policies for the University.

-Responsible for apprising the General Counsel, President, Chancellor, Vice Chancellors and Board of Trustees regarding

significant legal and legislative matters affecting the University.

-Advisor to the University’s Intellectual Property Group.

-Advisor to the Smoking Ban Committee.

-Advisor to the Chancellor’s Advisory Review Board.

-Advisor to the Human Subjects Committee.

Attorney/Senior Law Clerk—Worked for four different Appellate Court Justices—July 1992-November 2007.

-Worked in chambers with successive Appellate Court Justices analyzing and discussing cases that were briefed and argued before the Fifth District Appellate Court.

-Supervised two law clerks.

-Researched and composed appellate court opinions in civil and criminal cases.

-Submitted opinions for review to panel members.

-Managed own case load.

-Critiqued and edited opinions and Rule 23 orders written by other attorneys.

-Reviewed trial court orders and assisted in determining proper disposition on appeal.

Staff Attorney/Law Clerk, Office of the State Appellate Prosecutor, August 1991-June 1992.

-Researched and wrote criminal appellate court briefs on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois.

-Presented oral arguments before the Fifth District Appellate Court.

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 they make you qualified to serve on the bench.

I am running for the Fifth District Appellate Court to ensure that all people and organizations are treated fairly and impartially when they have cases before the Fifth District Appellate Court. Judges must be mindful that the decisions we make have a lasting impact on the people and organizations we serve. I have served the people in Jefferson County in various volunteer capacities my entire life. As the Presiding Judge in Jefferson County, I strive each day to be a fair and impartial judge who is even-tempered and professional, and to treat everyone equally and with respect. I have worked diligently to assist the people on my various dockets with many issues including mental health and substance abuse. I have discovered that when delivering punishment to people with such problems, individualized evaluations, treatment, and follow-up reports to the court result in substantial reductions in recidivism rates. These qualities, along with my substantial appellate experience (see question 1), demonstrate that I am well qualified to be an Appellate Court judge.

Describe the case in which you are most proud of your work as a lawyer.

When I was Associate General Counsel at Southern Illinois University, there was a contractor working on campus who was notorious for not complying with the terms of contracts and eventually leaving most job sites without properly finishing work. Although several universities had issues with this contractor leaving job sites with unsatisfactory work, I was able to convince him to finish the work at our university after several meetings and telephone conversations. The contractor complied with every term of the contract before leaving the University, and we did not have to sue him. This saved the State of Illinois thousands of dollars, and I am very proud of that.

Name one change you would make in the Illinois court system.

As an Illinois Circuit or Appellate Court Judge, it is my job to interpret the laws that the legislature makes; therefore, I want to make it clear that I would not be making any changes in laws as a judge in the Illinois Court system.

If the question generally is asking for a change I would like to see in the Illinois Court system, then I would answer that I would like to see new sentencing guidelines/alternatives for non-violent criminal offenders who are mentally ill or dealing with substance abuse issues. Our prisons are full of people who need mental health treatment and substance abuse services but are not otherwise threats to society. Unfortunately, too many of them go to prison and receive no meaningful help. Most of these people are charged with a new crime upon being released from prison because their underlying problems have not been properly addressed. This vicious cycle is costing taxpayers an inordinate amount of money and is a disservice to the people we serve.

Are there civil litigation reforms that you would like to see enacted to remedy particular problems that you have detected, either as a practicing lawyer or as a sitting judge? Are there reforms that would benefit the civil justice system? What needs to be changed? Should the enactment of any such changes be the province of the legislature, the Supreme Court or by Constitutional amendment?

I believe that these questions call for advisory opinions or are questions that could potentially come before me as a judge. For these reasons, I believe that it would be an ethics violation for me to answer these questions. Therefore, I respectfully refrain from answering them for these reasons.

Do you believe that our judicial system adequately deters and penalizes frivolous litigation? If not, what reforms would you like to see?

I believe that these questions call for advisory opinions or are questions that could potentially come before me as a judge. For these reasons, I believe that it would be an ethics violation for me to answer these questions. Therefore, I respectfully refrain from answering them for these reasons.

Do you believe the Illinois Constitution precludes legislative establishment of limitations on civil damages? Are there or should there be distinctions among economic, non-economic and punitive damages?

I believe that these questions call for advisory opinions or are questions that could potentially come before me as a judge. For these reasons, I believe that it would be an ethics violation for me to answer these questions. Therefore, I respectfully refrain from answering them for these reasons.

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