Monday, February 17, 2014

Patricia S. Spratt: In her own words

Patricia S. Spratt is a candidate for the countywide Neville vacancy. Her punch number is 155.

Good judges are those who have integrity, intelligence, experience, fairness and good compassionate judgment. I have all those qualities.

At lease one writer believes that only artificial intelligence can qualify as a good judge as it alone is capable of rendering truly fair and impartial decisions. Under this view, all sources of the law would be loaded into a database that would reach a decision devoid of any human influence. This approach, however, shows a lack of understanding of what makes a good judge.

I was blessed to have been raised by highly intelligent, fair-minded and tolerant parents who freely dispensed practical wisdom formed from their own life’s experiences—often laced with a good dose of humor but never with heavy-handed discipline—to guide their children’s development. Once in the workforce, my exposure to those very same human factors continued. I went to Loyola Chicago School of Law at night while I worked for a judge whose unfailing ability to reach a decision that is legally sound, inherently fair, often humorous, but always devoid of sharp or unkind remarks, was a unique and invaluable learning experience.

The influence of these extraordinary persons on my life has lead me to the conclusion that the traits common among the very best judges include (1) mastery the mechanics of the law and (2) the ability to decide cases and treat individuals with human respect. I believe I possess these traits.

I have worked in the legal system, in one capacity or another, continuously since I was 17 years old—that’s 47 years. I delayed completion of my education for several years while I took care of my Mother, who suffered from emphysema and Alzheimer’s disease. During those years I worked as a legal secretary. Ultimately, I completed my education at night while continuing to work during the day. For the last 22 years as a lawyer, I have developed all of the technical skills required of a good judge, and in the doing have earned the respect of my colleagues, opposing counsel, judges before whom I have appeared, and each of the bar associations whose ratings I have received to date.

I have had spectacular successes for clients, and more than a few disappointing losses, in state and federal trial and appellate courts. But I am most proud of the work I did for the City of Chicago. I was a member of the legal team that represented the City in a matter that resulted in the City enacting a more effective Minority and Women Business Enterprise (“MWBE”) program than was previously in place. I met individually with numerous minority and women business owners to obtain from them anecdotal evidence of existing discrimination that prevented them from competing in the local construction industry for City construction contracts. The evidence I obtained lead to a strong new City MWBE Ordinance that provides previously unavailable opportunities to minority and women owned businesses.

In addition to practicing law fulltime, I have been involved in various after-hours professional and community endeavors. In 2012 I was appointed to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Professional Responsibility. I was an Adjunct Professor at Loyola Chicago School of Law where I taught Appellate Advocacy for eight years. Also for eight years I coached the Hubbard High School Mock Trial Team in the city-wide high school mock trial competition, and in each of those years the team brought home the first place trophy. For a number of years I have been a moderator and a speaker for continuing legal education courses focused on appellate practice. Finally, since 2006 I have provided significant volunteer and pro bono legal services to PAWS Chicago, Inc., Chicago’s largest no-kill animal humane organization.

Through all of my years of practice I have had, and continue to have, a deep and abiding respect for the law. Every day, with every case, I learn something new. But the highest calling for a lawyer is to be a judge. Members of the judiciary have a much greater effect on society as a whole than do lawyers individually. I have been in the company of many great judges during my career, all of whom have inspired me to set my goals high to do more and contribute more in aid of the equal application of the law across all sectors of society. I can think of no better way to accomplish this goal than by becoming a judge.

All of my life’s experiences honed my commitment to use all of my skills to the very best of my ability in the service of others. The path that lead to my candidacy has been populated with incredible role models and mentors, exposure to whom has nurtured in me the development of the human qualities required of a good judge. It is, therefore, my intention to use my experience, talents, and all of those life’s lessons in service to the public, the law, and the judicial system to make a difference in effectuating full, fair, and efficient justice.

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