Monday, January 07, 2008

Eileen O'Neill Burke: In her own words

Eileen O'Neill Burke is a candidate for the Pucinski vacancy in the 10th Judicial Subcircuit.

One of the greatest accomplishments that any judge can have is that the litigants who practice in front of them feel that they received a fair hearing and that they were treated with respect. The experience of having been both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, has given me what I believe is an essential qualification to be a judge, the ability to see both sides and to be fair. I am the only one in my 10th Subcircuit race who has this experience.

While at the State's Attorney’s Office, I worked in the appellate division for many years. During that time, I wrote and more than argued over 35 cases before the Appellate Court. I wrote and argued three times before the Illinois Supreme Court. I supervised the writing and filing of over a hundred briefs by junior assistant state's attorneys. I also trained them on how to prepare and argue a case before the Appellate Court.

Having this time to focus solely on research, writing and concentrating on the nuances of case law and statutory interpretation was a rare opportunity for any lawyer. Because of this experience, I have the ability to research any legal issue quickly as well as analyze complicated legal matters in an efficient and thorough manner. Because I was a supervisor, I learned how to teach what I knew to others while having them maintain their own style and work methods. One gratifying result of this experience is that colleagues routinely turn to me with legal issues or when they are looking for case law.

After I left the State's Attorney's Office, I started my own practice. Starting and running my own practice has given me added respect for those who go out and have to earn their own paycheck. Having my own business has required hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit, which will serve me well on the bench. I have litigated both criminal and civil matters. I have been in every courthouse in Cook County. I have observed the different styles and temperaments of a wide variety of judges. The judges that I have found to be the most effective are those that have a good grasp of the law, a lot of common sense and the ability to treat each and every person who comes before them with respect. I have all of these qualities.

The CBA found that I "have an outstanding temperament and possess all the requisite qualifications to serve as a Circuit Court judge." I have received Qualified, Recommended or Highly Recommended from every bar association, ISBA, Women’s Bar, Cook County Bar, Northwest Suburban Bar, Asian Bar, Lesbian and Gay Bar, Puerto Rican Bar, Decalogue Society of Lawyers.

The most compelling reason one should find me to be a fit candidate for judge is my abiding belief in and respect for the legal philosophy on which our society is based. Confident in my knowledge of the law, I feel I could, without bias of personal feeling, serve as an instrument through which the law could be administered in a fair and equitable manner. I would approach the bench as the classic icon of justice: blindfolded yet measured. As a judge, I would be honest, efficient, and fair minded.

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