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Proviso Probe

Monday, February 20, 2006

M06, Mary Colleen Roberts candidate for judge

Mary Colleen Roberts is hustling for support to be elected judge. She's running in the Democratic primary against Larry Adolino in the 11th sub-circuit.

I asked her to provide answers to two questions.

1. What are three things voters should know about Mary Colleen Roberts?
2. Why is she running for judge?

1. I have been endorsed by the Chicago Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO). The Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association have determined that I am “Qualified” to serve as Circuit Court Judge in Cook County. Additionally, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois and the Decalogue Society of Lawyers have determined that I am “highly recommended” for election as Judge to the Circuit Court of Cook County. Also, other bar associations, such as the LAGBAC and the Puerto Rican Bar Association have rated me as “recommended” for judicial office.

2. In the sixteen years I have been practicing law, I have cultivated a diverse legal background with practical experience in criminal, civil, and administrative law forums. I have significant courtroom experience both as a trial attorney and as a hearing officer. As a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney and as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the City of Chicago’s Law Department, I have tried sixteen jury trials, hundreds of bench trials and hundreds of hearings on various motions. I have presided over evidentiary hearings on a daily basis in the two and a half years I served as a Hearing Officer for the Circuit Court of Cook County. In addition to a vast amount of courtroom experience, I also have management experience. I was a supervisor in the Municipal Division of the of the City of Chicago’s Law Department. Furthermore, prior to attending law school I was an assistant program manager and program manager of a residential program that provided services to emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children.

3. I am community leader. In 1996, I founded and directed a 5k race to raise money for a community food pantry and a high school health center. I continued in the position of race director until 2001. Since that time I have continued my involvement with the race as a volunteer. The race continues to be a growing success with plans to celebrate its tenth year this coming April. I stay active with the race, working to ensure the event generates more awareness to serving the needs of each of the communities it was designed to benefit. I am also active in community outreach programs sponsored by my church which focus on serving the homeless and less fortunate in the city of Chicago. I have been a member of my church’s governing board and have served two terms as co-president.

Got those three things?

I am a candidate for judge in the 11th Judicial sub-circuit because I am a qualified, experienced and dedicated individual whose entire professional life has been devoted to public service. Since graduating from law school in 1989, I have worked hard to develop a diverse legal background by actively pursuing a career path that allowed me to gain experience in civil, administrative and criminal law. I firmly believe the role of a judge is that of a public servant and it takes a dedicated individual who has experience to fulfill that role. I believe I am that individual and I believe I have the practical experiences that make me qualified to serve the people of Cook County as a fair, reasonable and just judge.

My campaign slogan is “From the Community, For the Community”. I chose this slogan because it sums up my dedication to public service and the experiences, both personally and professionally, I have had throughout my life. For instance, in 1996 I founded and directed the Ravenswood Run 5K race and continued in the position of race director until 2001. The mission of this event is to raise money to support the efforts of a local community food pantry and a Chicago public high school’s on campus health center. I am still involved as a volunteer working to ensure that the event generates more awareness to serving the needs of each of the communities it was designed to benefit. Additionally, I am active in the community outreach programs sponsored by my church which focus on serving the homeless and less fortunate in Chicago.

My professional experience is developed as well. In addition to practicing law in civil, criminal and administrative forums, I have served as a hearing officer in juvenile court. The two and a half years that I conducted evidentiary hearings I listened to evidence regarding the best interest of the child. In conducting these hearings, I found myself sitting in judgment of the parents and relatives of these children. This awesome experience provided me with a glimpse of the magnitude of responsibility that a judicial office holds. Through my time spent in evidentiary hearings, I realized I needed to return to the courtroom, specifically in the civil arena, to round out my legal experiences.

I moved on from that position to the City of Chicago’s Department of Law. There I was able to practice civil law and administrative law. In so doing, I further developed my trial skills and I honed my oral and written advocacy skills.

My involvement in the community, and my determination to cultivate a diverse legal background, has provided me with experiences that have developed my qualifications to be a circuit court judge. Each of these experiences have improved my ability to listen to people, to work with people and to make decisions that effect a common good. In the end, I believe the work of a circuit court judge is to do what I have been practicing all my life, listen to people, work with them and make good decisions based upon what is before me.

Finally, I am running for judge because I am a fair minded, dedicated and honest individual. I believe these qualities are essential to the administration of justice. I trust my election to the bench will bring these qualities to the people of Cook County.

Russ Stewart wrote about the race. Or at least he wrote about Roberts opponent, Larry Andolino.
Andolino's opponent in 2004 was Paula Daleo, a Chicago attorney backed by U.S. Representative Danny Davis' organization. Because Andolino had not been an attorney for at least 10 years, he was found "unqualified" by every bar association. Committeemen Bill Banks (36th) and P.J. Cullerton (38th) delivered 60-40 margins in their wards for Andolino, but he lost by more than 2-1 in Oak Park and the predominantly black wards, and he barely won Leyden Township. Overall, he triumphed by 36 votes, but Daleo filed a challenge, alleging fraud and intimidation by Andolino-supporting precinct captains in absentee ballot procurement. With subpoenas out for many of Banks' captains and with a trial looming, Andolino conceded, thereby avoiding the possibility of a finding of fraud.


  • Let's not forget the reason that anyone running in Cook County wants to be elected a circuit judge: The $140,000 salary with full benefits.

    By Anonymous 36th Warder, at 1:20 PM, February 21, 2006  

  • Also, just to be clear, the reason Andolino was found to be not qualified by the bar associations was not because of some lack of character, but rather because he hasn't been in practice for at least 10 years, as all the bar associations rate someone without this experience as unqualified.

    By Anonymous 36th Warder, at 1:23 PM, February 21, 2006  

  • 36th Warder, what inference do you draw from Andolino conceding in court after narrowly winning at the ballot box?

    Russ Stewart clearly draws the inference that Banks' precinct captains engaged in misconduct that would be problematic to justify in legal proceedings.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 5:18 PM, February 21, 2006  

  • I respect that Mary Colleen Roberts is campaigning hard. Her assistant Erin deserves a bunch of credit for raising Roberts profile.

    But I was unimpressed with Roberts on Arnie Bryant's radio show.

    Roberts characterized her work for the Chicago Liquor Commission as fighting for the little guy. I pointed out to her that the City of Chicago is a huge entity and mostly she was hassling mom-and-pop liquor stores and corner bars. She responded that Chicago government is really a bunch of individuals.

    This answer is really ignorant because it can be applied to any organization, including heinous corporations.

    Then I asked Roberts a question I assumed who be a softball. Of what legal accomplishment are you proudest? She responded her work in juvenile court, but she couldn't talk about any specific cases.

    Because of judicial ethics Roberts can't reveal her positions on issues and she can't talk about her most important legal work. And she wasn't quick on her feet enough to respond with her proudest accomplishment that she could talk about.

    My conclusion is that I would not want Roberts handling a complicated motion in a case I was involved in.

    But as another judicial candidate pointed out, there are a certain number of judge slots that don't require scintillating intellect--like the judges that marry people in the basement of city hall.

    Erin said Mary Colleen Roberts might have had a bad day when I questioned her. Maybe.

    I acknowledge she's one of the hardest campaigning candidates running in the Proviso subcircuits. And being hard working ain't a bad thing.

    The job may pay $140,000 per year, but from what I've seen of the judges processing dozens of motions in an hour, they work pretty hard too. At least when they are working.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 5:28 PM, February 21, 2006  

  • First of all, I think the site is really put together well, and I'm glad you're talking about this race, because it's important.

    I'm a supporter of Mary Colleen Roberts, and her former trial partner at the big bad city of Chicago, so take this how you want. Knowing Mary, and having been in front of countless judges in my career, I want Mary to win because she will make my life, and the lives of my clients and opponents better. Having a judge who is there because she understands the legal issues and deals with people fairly, rather than because he faithfully knocked on doors and waited his turn for the call from the political machine, makes life better for everyone, no matter what side of a lawsuit they're on.

    Carl, don't you think judging someone's legal capabilities based on a quick answer on a radio show is a little cheap? Perhaps the bar associations and organizations endorsing Mary did just a bit more research than you did.

    Look at your choice in this election. Vote for the more qualified candidate. If you do that, Mary will win, and so will the residnets of Cook County.

    By Anonymous Jordan Marsh, at 9:40 PM, February 21, 2006  

  • I don't think Andolino himself was involved in the fraud, but the kind of people who were backing him are the kind of people who it would definitely not be a surprise if they were involved. It's kind of similar to how I think with Jim Rowe accusing Don Harmon's people of throwing a bottle through his window. There's no way Harmon would support that and he'd immediately stop it if he heard word some one would do that on his behalf. But if you go to senatorharmon.org and look at the machine names endorsing the guy, it's not unthinkable that one of them might have done it on his behalf.

    All in all, a vote for Andolino is a vote for the machine.

    By Anonymous 36th Warder, at 11:50 PM, February 21, 2006  

  • Nyberg states "36th Warder, what inference do you draw from Andolino conceding in court after narrowly winning at the ballot box"

    Carl, you and the self-proclaimed "political analyst" (read: unsuccessful attorney) Russ Stewart, are totally irresponsible in posting your uninformed comments regarding Lawerence Andolino.

    I have lived in the Maywood area all my life and Mr. Andolino has been an asset to the community for as long as I can remember. His mother started a community group which Mr. Andolino currently runs and he is always available to help anyone in the community with any issues that they may have. Until this election, I had never even heard of Mary Roberts. Oops, I forgot to put "Colleen" in the middle there, I don't want the voters to forget she's "Irish". Does she have no shame? Is this her only election platform?

    Also, glad to see the corp counsel support his former "trial partner" for judge. What an endorsement!

    Ms. Roberts has come out of the woodwork, added an irish name, and now tries to get on the bench via a subcircuit that she never once helped until she needed something.

    Mr. Andolino has been a community leader his whole life. No one better understands the needs of the community and the people better than Mr. Andolino. If you have any actual FACTS regarding Mr. Andolino's integrity or his previous campaign, I would love to hear them. Until then, you and Mr. Stewart should perhaps focus on the NUMEROUS community projects, time, and devotion Mr. Andolino has shown his community.

    Clearly neither one of you live in the Maywood area because if you did, you would realize what every member of this community already knows. One canadate has been an important part of this area his entire life. The other involves herself in this community only when she needs something.

    Luck 'o the Irish to ya Ms. Roberts. You're going to need it.

    By Blogger Paddy Harmon, at 1:04 PM, February 22, 2006  

  • I'm sorry, I have lived and been active in Maywood for over 40 years plus the same amount of time in Elmwood Park, where I taught, and in Oak Park, where my church is, and, in all of that time, I have NEVER heard of Mr. Andolino which is not an attack on him but on the previous writer's comments about all the things he has done. The first time I heard of him was when Alderman Banks sponsored him for the subdistrict judicial slot two years ago. For all I know he may have done many "good" works in Leyden and the 36th ward but, I am pretty sure, nothing, or next to nothing, in Maywood. Just want the "record" to be accurate.

    By Anonymous Gary Woll, at 9:49 PM, February 22, 2006  

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