The Republican Party of Nunda Township met last Thursday and, while no significant business was conducted, there were enough Precinct Committeemen to have a quorum.
There were also guests from outside the township.
Two judicial candidates presented their qualifications:
- Mary McClellan
- Robert Wilbrandt.
McClellan related that she started in the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office was was seeking the seat vacated by Judge Maureen McIntyre, whom McClellan said mentored her.
Prior to getting her law degree, who was a paralegal for five years in a large unnamed Chicago law firm.
She told of practicing a long list of type of law over fifteen years, including civil litigation, admiralty law, bench trials and jury trials.
“I’ve done a good job in the County Clerk’s Office,” she said, pointing to a reduction in employees from twenty to fourteen.
“That office was in the 17th Century. It went to the Twentieth Century (according to my notes–she probably meant the 21st Century).”
She talked about law being “her passion,” having attended while she was a young mother.
“I’m returning to that,” she said, referring to her extensive experience.
Asked if she would allow cameras in her courtroom, she replied, “Yes, with exceptions for private matters.”
He told of having been a judge “going on twelve years.”
That was after he headed the Public Defenders’ Office for seven years.
He went to that position after practicing law with his father and brother. His father served as General Counsel for Marshall Field’s.
He has served as prosecutor for the Village of Fox River Grove, so “I saw how both sides of the law worked.”
Wilbrandt helped start Turning Point. He remembers having written the first order of protection on the back of an envelope.
Among his civil practice was divorce work.
He spoke of his Master’s Degree in History from Northwestern Universality and how that education had shaped his philosophy of the role I judge should play.
“We’re referees,” he explained, “not policy-makers.”
Continuing,Wilbrandt said, “I believe that in the text [as] originally given, not interpretation.”
The McHenry County Bar Association has awarded him its Distinguished Service Award and he serves on the Illinois Judges Association Board of Directors.
He has taught law at McHenry County College for twenty-five years and tried cases ranging from traffic to murders.
He is helping draft rules for the Illinois Supreme Court with regard to protecting the rights of all in family court.
He is also looking at pro se litigants, that is, those who represent themselves.
That involves “putting forms in English, so they can be understood by normal people.”
He told of the seeking volunteer attorneys to handle parts of cases, e.g.,child support, on a voluntary basis.
In questions from the audience, Algonquin Township Republican Chairman asked about pensions.
“There’s no way not to take it,” interjected Nunda Township Chairman Joe Gottemoller, an attorney and McHenry County Board members.
“Once you’re in, there’s no way to get out,” McClellan added.
Asked about cameras in courtrooms, Wilbrandt extolled “the benefits of transparency [as] outweigh[ing] the dangers that we can mitigate.”
He is helping draft camera rules for the 22nd Judicial District.
Asked when they would be submitted to the Illinois Supreme Court, Wilbrandt said that was up to Chief Judge Michael Sullivan.
I asked about the time judges waste scheduling cases.
“I’m glad you asked that,” Wilbrandt replied enthusiastically.
The judges are in the process of installing a computer program called “Smart Bench.”
Implementation started with electronic filling.
Eventually, attorneys will be told to go to a computer screen and figure out themselves when the next court date should be.
Or as Wilbrandt envisions the process:
“You guys figure it out.”
The other two candidates for the countywide seat at Ray Flavin and Demetri Tsilimigras.