Thursday, February 11, 2016

Richard "Rick" Cenar: In his own words

Richard "Rick" Cenar is a candidate for the Howard vacancy in the 10th Judicial Subcircuit.

I seek the position of Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County 10th Judicial Sub-circuit. The length of my legal practice, the depth of my courtroom experience, and the leadership I have exhibited in Cook County courtrooms and in the Office of the State’s Attorney of Cook County, demonstrate my strong qualifications and experience. This experience and knowledge are key to a smooth transition to effective service on the bench. On my website I provide copies of a decade worth of bar association ratings of Highly Qualified, Qualified or Recommended for the position of judge. In January of 2016 the Chicago Bar Association, as well as the Advocates of Society of Polish-American Attorneys, added Highly Qualified findings to my credentials. The consistency of these ratings over time evidences my steady and solid character and the competency of my legal practice. In my personal and professional interactions I strive to be respectful, fair, honest, hardworking, practical and knowledgeable.

I have practiced law in Cook County, Illinois, for over 29 years, twenty-seven (27) of those years as an Assistant State's Attorney. My trial experience (55 jury trials and hundreds of bench trials), evidences my skills in the area of trial and litigation and my understanding of the complexity, importance and effectiveness of the trial process. The leadership roles I have held in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office over the last 22 years further demonstrate my ability to manage people, a courtroom, large dockets of cases, and varying facts and circumstances in a fair, efficient and effective manner.

From December 2002 to the present I have been assigned to the Skokie Courthouse at the Second Municipal District. I have served there as a first chair in felony trial courtrooms and as deputy supervisor. In my current assignment, as the first chair or lead Assistant State's Attorney in Judge William O'Brien's courtroom, my responsibilities include management of over 300 felony Chicago criminal cases and the direct supervision of other, less experienced, Assistant State's Attorney's in the courtroom. Previously, as deputy supervisor in District 2, I supervised 35 attorneys, 5 investigators, and 10 administrative staff members. I assumed the responsibility for overseeing the prosecution of all crime in the north suburbs and four Chicago felony courtrooms.

Some of the important matters I have prepared and presented during this time (several of which were the subject of substantial press coverage) include: the vicious beating of an 9 year old girl by her mother and father in Des Plaines which caused her death; the murder and armed robbery of a restaurant owner in the Old Orchard food court in Skokie; the prosecution of Terry "Tank" Johnson, a Chicago Bear football player, for violating his probation; and the prosecution of another Chicago Bear football player, Lance Briggs, for leaving the scene of an accident. Each case impacted our community in vastly different ways, yet required the same careful attention to and balance of the interests of offender, victim, witness, family, business, community consistent with the laws designed to protect

From January 1999 to December 2002 I was a Trial Supervisor in the Juvenile Justice Bureau, Child Protection Division. In that capacity, my responsibilities included the direct supervision of attorneys assigned to six courtrooms dedicated to the protection of child victims of abuse and neglect, weekly training for approximately 50 ASAs, and assisting in the preparation and filing of DCFS cases for court involvement. I personally litigated child abuse and child death cases both at Juvenile Court and at the Criminal Courts located at 26th and California. I also prosecuted the first juvenile murder case in Illinois where a minor-respondent was sentenced to both a juvenile sentence and an adult sentence.

From 1994 to 1999 I served as a first chair or lead Assistant State's Attorney in several felony trial courtrooms at the Criminal Courts at 26th and California. During that time period I also tried several high profile cases, including the murder of an attorney and his client during a deposition conducted in a downtown law office.

I am a lifelong resident of Chicago, married to a fellow member of the bar, Kara Cenar. We have 3 children: Samantha, age 25; Tom, age 23; and Ricky, age 19. My wife and I continue to live in the Northwest side of Chicago Edgebrook community, where we have raised our three children since 1993. I have mentored and coached grade school boys and girls in basketball and baseball for 20 years at St. Mary of the Woods School and at various park districts in our neighborhood. Coaching has given me the opportunity to demonstrate positive values and to serve as a role model for our youth. I have been privileged to share my life experiences with these young boys and girls with the goal of supporting them as they grow in the development of confidence and self-esteem.

I believe my legal experience, service to the community, and strong family ties make me an excellent candidate for 10th Sub-circuit Judge.

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