Monday, February 13, 2012

Rodolfo (Rudy) Garcia: In his own words

Justice Rodolfo (Rudy) Garcia is a candidate for the O'Brien vacancy on the Illinois Appellate Court.

I was appointed to the Appellate Court in March 2003 by the Illinois Supreme Court as a felony trial judge for 7 years at 26th & California. On the Appellate Court, I worked directly with two of the court's most distinguished members, Warren Wolfson and Robert Cahill. I set as my professional goal to write opinions of the first order as those written by Judges Cahill and Wolfson.

Judge Wolfson is one of many retired judges on my Lawyers' Committee. The Committee includes retired Supreme Court Justices Thomas Fitzgerald, Mary Ann McMorrow, and Benjamin Miller. Retired Appellate Court Judges Bill Cousins, Gino DiVito, Mike Gallagher, Tom Rakowski, among others, have lent their names to my Committee based on their familiarity with my opinions.

With 9 years on the Appellate Court come primary election day of March 20, 2012, I believe I've approached the high bar set by the distinguished judges that now support my candidacy. The evaluations by the bar associations reflect the high caliber of my work on the Appellate Court.

I was rated "Highly Qualified" by the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois and the Cook County Bar Association. The Chicago Council of Lawyers rated me "Well Qualified." The Council remarked, "Judge Garcia is praised for being well prepared for oral argument and issuing well-reasoned, well-written opinions." The Chicago Bar Association noted, "Judge Garcia ... is well regarded for his knowledge of civil and criminal law, writing-skills, strong work ethic, and

The difference between my evaluations and the evaluations of the other candidates in my race is that the considered opinions of the four listed bar associations were based on my performance in carrying out the duties and responsibilities of an Appellate Court judge. The evaluations of the other candidates that sit as judges can only be based on their performance at the Circuit Court level. Having served as both a Circuit Court judge and an Appellate Court judge, substantially different skills are required to perform at a high level on a court of review.

As the Chicago Bar Association guidelines for the evaluation of Appellate and Supreme Court candidates state: "[A] Candidate for the Supreme Court and the Appellate Court should be required to have engaged in some form of practice, or to have had trial bench experience, which produced some measurable accomplishments demonstrating their ability to reason thoroughly and communicate with clarity in writing, as well as the courage to make decisions."

Based on the more than 140 opinions, 15 special concurrences, and 15 dissents, I have published, and made available for review at my website, there is no question that I have demonstrated the ability to reason thoroughly, communicated with clarity in my writings, and exercised the courage to go against the grain when the law and the facts dictate that I disagree with my colleagues, including at times Judge Wolfson and Judge Cahill.

The question for the voters of Cook County is why they should replace a well regarded Appellate Court judge with a candidate with no experience on a court of review. While "past performance is no guarantee of future performance" when it comes to an investment fund, past performance is the only real measure of a judge's future performance. My judicial performance has been measured in doing the very work Appellate Court judges do. In fact, I have served on the Appellate Court longer than I served on the Circuit Court. As of 2012, I am now the eighth most experienced Appellate Court judge of the 24 that sit on the First District. My performance on the court has earned overwhelming support in the Legal Community, with more than 150 prominent and practicing lawyers. The full list of my supporters can be viewed at my website.

In sum, every objective factor points in favor of keeping a dedicated, hard-working, conscientious judge on the Appellate Court. If you as a voter value experience, integrity and qualifications in a judicial candidate, then the choice for the O'Brien vacancy is clear.

Keeping a consensus good judge on the Appellate Court is as simply as 1, 2, 3. Punch ballot number 123.

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