Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Linda J. Pauel: In her own words

Linda J. Pauel is a candidate for the countywide Dolan vacancy.

I believe I am qualified for the position of a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County for reasons both personal and professional. Due to my life experiences and education, I possess the integrity, temperament, legal knowledge and ability required to serve as a judge. Additionally, I have had extensive litigation and administrative experience over the course of my eighteen year legal career which has provided me with the necessary intelligence and good judgment required of a judge.

With respect to my personal characteristics such as humility, compassion, empathy, and civility, my family history is relevant. My father grew up in Holland during the Nazi occupation. At 30 he moved to Jamaica where he met my mother, a beautiful mixed-race woman. My mother’s father was a Chinese baker. He worked long hours in his shop leaving my mother to be raised by her extended Chinese family; she never met her African-Jamaican mother. Not long after meeting, my parents fell in love and got married. My father’s family did not attend the ceremony. But all cultural and racial barriers eventually melted away when they met my mother and, later, their brown-skinned grand children.

My early childhood memories are filled with laughter, swimming in the Caribbean Sea, and visiting with family and friends. School was strict: we wore uniforms, spoke only when called on, were disciplined with bamboo canes, and were continuously lectured on good manners and proper behavior. Classes were difficult and homework took hours. But the intensive studying and self-discipline served me well and helped me to excel at all levels of my education.

In the late 1970's Jamaica went through a major social and political upheaval which resulted in horrible violence. My father stood out as a foreigner with his white skin and heavy Dutch accent. After numerous threats on his life we fled to Houston, Texas. At first I was miserable. I looked different, I sounded different, and quite honestly, my rainbow-colored, multi-cultured family embarrassed me. But my home soon became a gathering place for new friends and neighbors. They enjoyed our reggae music, spicy food, and stories of world travels. From that experience I learned some important life lessons: respect peoples’ differences, keep an open mind, and learn to love and be comfortable in your own skin.

I possess a good deal of common sense, the ability to comprehend complex matters, and a compelling desire to do well. Those attributes helped me excel in high school and secure a scholarship to a good college. I graduated in the top two percent of my class at Cornell College with a double major in Political Science and International Relations, and a minor in Spanish. I spent the next year visiting my brother in Texas, working retail in Colorado, de-rouging corn in Iowa, and canvassing for the National Organization for Women in New York. I also traveled to many states including Michigan, Florida, Oklahoma, California, North Dakota and Utah. My exposure to people of different races, religions and cultures only deepened my conviction that, at the most fundament level, most people simply want to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. With that in mind, and hoping to create positive change, I applied to law school.

Law school was challenging but I worked hard and graduated third in my class with high honors. I went to work for Sachnoff & Weaver, a medium-sized law firm in downtown Chicago. As an associate in the litigation department I worked on a variety of cases ranging from securities law, mechanic’s liens, employment discrimination, abortion rights, death penalty defense, to Fourth Amendment strip search violations. It was a great place to work. The lawyers were intelligent, hardworking, open-minded and non-judgmental.

I was still drawn to the public interest sector, however, so I changed my career path to work for the City of Chicago’s Law Department. My first assignment was in the branch courts where I negotiated plea agreements, debated legal issues, and tried case after case. I then worked in the Mayor’s License Commission Unit where I practiced extensively before the Local Liquor Control Commission, the License Appeal Commission, and Chancery Court. Having requested more jury trial experience, I was assigned to the Torts Division where I defended the city against hundreds of personal injury actions. A year later I was promoted to Senior Counsel in the Municipal Prosecutions Division where I supervised the branch court attorneys and worked extensively on issues such as First Amendment protections, constitutional challenges, gang loitering enforcement, tuberculosis containment, HIV testing and animal abuse prevention. After five years I transferred to the position of License Enforcement Unit supervisor. I am now back in Municipal Prosecutions supervising newer attorneys on a variety of matters including Branch Courts, Traffic and Administrative Review cases.

Thus far I have enjoyed an interesting and varied legal career. I have practiced before federal, state and administrative court systems. I have handled bench and jury trials, criminal and civil cases, as prosecutor, defense counsel and plaintiff’s attorney. Over the course of my career, I have had the privilege of practicing before incredibly talented and dedicated jurist from whom I have learned the awesome responsibility that comes with the profession, and the importance of treating even the most zealous adversary with respect, fairness, and civility.

I am equally proud of my accomplishments outside of my legal career. I am the proud parent of two wonderful children, Dylan, 7 years, and Skylar, 5 years. We enjoy participating in many activities including camping, traveling, swimming, basketball, ballet, and triathlon. Before raising children, I played competitive women’s rugby and was selected to play on the Midwest All Stars team. After a 10 year rugby career, I played soccer for several seasons before trying my hand at triathlons. After only one season I entered an iron distance race (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) and placed first in my age group. Clearly I enjoy challenges and am willing to work hard to achieve my goals. These qualities all convey a candidate with the necessary legal knowledge, professional experience, physical and mental ability, integrity, temperament, diligence, and common sense to serve as a Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Thank you for your consideration.

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