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Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court

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The questions

All candidates were invited to respond to questionnaires, although not all chose to participate. Click on a candidate's name to see the unedited response to each question.

Biographical information & experience
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    Brown
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    Shapiro
Dorothy A. Brown
Political party: Democrat
Birthdate: 9/4/1953
Occupation: Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County
Marital status: married
Spouse: Dr. Benton Cook III

Education:

I am a certified public accountant, an MBA and an attorney. My educational background is as follows:

1. Chicago-Kent College of Law, Juris Doctorate, 1996
2. DePaul University, Master of Business Administration - Finance, 1981
3. Certified Public Accountant, February 1977
4. Southern University, Bachelor's Degree - Accounting/Computer Science, Baton Rouge, LA, 1975

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Chair - Cook County Integrated Criminal Justice Information System Committee
Chair Outreach Committee - Illinois Integrated Justice Information Systems Implementation Board
Past President - National Women's Political Caucus of Greater Chicago
Past Treasurer and - Working in the School, Chicago Public Schools
Founder and Chairman - Dorothy Brown Scholarship & Community Development Fund
President - Urban Ministries, First Jurisdiction of Illinois COGIC
Past Board Member - Jobs For Youth, Chicago
Board Member and Secretary - COGIC Charities, Incorporated (National) (2002 to Present)
Board Member (Trustee) - King of Glory COGIC (1997 to Present)
Board Member - First Jurisdiction of Illinois, COGIC, Incorporated
Board Member - Moriah Community Development Corporation
Board Member - Citizen's Action Illinois (2003 to Present)
Past Board Member - First Jurisdiction Bible College (1998-2005)
Past Board Member - South Central Community Services, Inc (2002-2003)
Past Board Member - Illinois CPA Society (2003 - 2005)
Past Board Member - Cook County Bar Association (2002 - 2004)
Past Board Member - Black Women Lawyers Association (2000 - 2001)
Member - NAACP
Member - Operation PUSH
Member - National Association of Black Accountants
Member - Chicago Bar Association
Member - Cook County Bar Association
Member - Black Women Lawyers Association
Member - National Forum for Black Public Administrators
Member - Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
Member - King of Glory Tabernacle Church of God in Christ.
Past Member - Illinois Bar Association
Past Member - Illinois and American Institutes for Certified Public Accountants

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Yes. I was the General Auditor for the Chicago Transit Authority before I was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

None

Diane S. Shapiro
Political party: Republican
Birthdate: 10/16/1956
Occupation: Retired
Marital status: Single
Spouse: N/A

Education:

I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Education/Psychology from Northwestern University and a Master's Degree in Communication/Theatre from University of Illinois at Chicago as well as a certification in Addictions Counseling from City Colleges of Chicago and was 3/4 of my way towards a PhD at University of Illinois at Chicago.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

I am in my second term as the elected Republican Committeeman of the 46th Ward, Past President of International Police Association, Director of Safety and Education for A.B.A.T.E. (a motorcycle rights organization) and Secretary of Italian American Police Association. I am a proud member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, American Israel Public Affairs Coalition (AIPAC), National Rifle Association (NRA) Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), Polish American Police Association, German American Police Association, Hispanic Illinois State Law Enforcement Association (HISLEA), Illinois Police Association, Buena Park Neighbors Association, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Anti-Defamation League and Illinois Route 66 Association.

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

I am in my second term as the elected Republican Committeeman of the 46th Ward and worked for the government of Cook County for 33 years. From 1976-1979 I worked in the Recorder of Deeds Office. From 1979-1984 I worked in the office of the Sheriff. From 1984 until my retirement on 23 September 2009 I worked in the Adult Probation Department.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

My sisters are both attorneys and are employed by the State of Illinois, but both have asked that their identities be protected. One works in the office of Public Aid and the other in the office of Illinois Department of Employment Security. I have never had any contracts with government personally or professionally.

Campaign information
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    Brown
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Brown

Campaign headquarters: 22 W. Washington, Suite 1523, Chicago, IL 60602
Website: www.friendsofdorothybrown.org
Campaign manager: Patricia McCreary
Campaign budget: $100,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Local 399, Operating Engineers $50,000
Naren Patel $25,000
Kaivalya Rawal $24,500
Patrick Arbor, $20,000
Medstar Laboratories, $20,000

Shapiro

Campaign headquarters: 4170 N. Marine Dr. #4A, Chicago, IL 60613
Website: citizensforshapiro.com
Campaign manager: Wants anonymity, please.
Campaign budget: $8,000.00-$10,000.00
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Jack Roeser, $5,000.00, Dr. Leo Stemp, $250.00. Other than that I have been self- funding, as I did in 2008. With just $5,000.00 and many endorsements I was the top Republican vote getter. I am not running for office to earn a supplemental salary, only to be an honorable public servant as I was for 33 years. To me it is all about ethics and grass roots effort. I want to earn your vote personally, for if I am not willing to invest in myself how can I expect others to invest in me?

What will you do to create a system in which lawyers can file all legal briefs online?
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    Brown
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Brown

The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County has already created a system by which lawyers could file all legal briefs online, but we have only been approved by the Illinois Supreme Court to implement the system in the Law Division for the Commercial Litigation case type. This same system could be used for all case types if the Clerk's Office was given approval to expand its system by the Illinois Supreme Court.

I recently received a letter dated August 23, 2012, from the Chief Justiice of the Supreme Court detailing the status of the Court's approval process for efiling expansion in the state of Illinois. In the letter, the Chief Justice states, "I thank you for your cooperation and assistance in working with us in the implementation of final e-filing principles and standards for circuit courts.... I am aware that the timing of the development of uniform e-filing principles and standards throughout illinois' conflicts with your proposed expansion of e-filing in Cook County. Our overall statewide plan is to create uniform e-filing principles and standards to allow any circuit, not just circuit pilot projects, to initiate or otherwise expand e-filing. Although we are prepared to announce uniform e-filing principles and standards, we still need to finalize how best to manage personal identifying information contained in existing documents within the e-filing universe. The E-Access Working Group Committee's review of the Rule changes will allow us to finalize proposed changes with the Conference of Chief Judges and then the full Illinois Supreme Court. I hope that we are able to conclude both processes within the near future. Unfortunately, I cannot give you a specific timetable. Nonetheless, please note that I intend to move this forward as fast as we can reasonably accomplish the review and approval process. Again, I thank you for your cooperation, assistance, and patience."

Shapiro

There is a computerized system already in use by DuPage County, for example, which I will move to have our County Board provide the monies for its installation as soon as possible as we transition away from the archaic present system. There is no excuse for the current computerized system to still be in use as it was dated technology even when it was first installed in the late 1980's under the administration of Clerk Aurelia Pucinski, nor is it acceptable for carbon paper to still be in use for the creation of official duplicate court documents. We must update, upgrade and modernize the entire office of the Circuit Court Clerk of Cook County. I will do everything I can to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse and make the computerized system "user friendly" for all.

Will you take campaign contributions from companies that do business with the Clerk of the Circuit Court?
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    Brown
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Brown

I will continue to comply with all campaign finance laws and regulations as they relate to companies doing business with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Please note that all contracts for companies used by the Clerk's Office are contracts with the County and not the Clerk's Office. The Clerk's Office participates in evaluating proposals but the County Board has the final approval process. Also please note, that I do not participate in the evaluation process for any vendors.

Shapiro

Under no circumstance will I accept monies of any sort from companies that do business with the Clerk of the Circuit Court or any other governmental agency. I will do my elected job, obey my oath of office, uphold The Constitution and be an honorable public servant.

Will you take campaign contributions from employees? Would you accept gifts from employees?
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    Brown
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    Shapiro
Brown

I support the policy of the Cook County Board of Ethics in regards to fundraising and political activity. The policy specifically states, “County officials and employees shall not compel or intimidate any other official or employee to make or refrain from making any political contribution.” Also, the policy states, “Nothing in the Ordinance prohibits a County employee from engaging in activities related to his or her official duties or from voluntarily engaging in political activity on his or her own time (including vacation, personal or compensatory time off.”

I strictly enforce this policy in the Clerk's Office. Every year, I send bulletins to employees stating that they are free to engage in or refrain from political activity, per the Ethics Policy. My position is in line with other Cook County officials.

I will not accept gifts from employees.

Shapiro

I feel that campaign contributions and/or gifts from employees under any circumstance is unacceptable, unethical, illegal and could be considered by extension, as I see it, extortion, bribery or official misconduct. Under my administration these practices will be prohibited, as will requiring employees to purchase tickets to functions of any sort, such as birthday parties, golf outings or picnics.

How will you decide which banks will hold the money over which the clerk of the Circuit Court has custody?
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    Brown
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Brown

The decision as to which banks will hold the money over which the Clerk of the Circuit Court has custody is decided by the Cook County Board of Commissioners. The Clerk of the Court accepts applications from banks desiring to hold funds for the Office, reviews their financial statements and other documents to ensure that they comply with the Cook County Investment Ordinance and then submits them to the Cook County Board for approval. Once approved then the Clerk's Office allocates funds to the varioua banks. In addtion, all of the funds are covered by at least 102% collateral.

I will continue to work with the County Board to ensure that the deposits of the Clerk's Office are placed in safe institutions.

Shapiro

I believe that it should be a consensus of the opinions of those wiser than myself with backgrounds in finance to assist me with making this decision, as well as the consent of the Cook County Board. We must husband our finances wisely, invest for the future and look out for the way our monies are disbursed and maintained as we serve the public. Are we not already facing financial ruin in Cook County if the current policies are allowed to continue unabated and unchecked?

Many lawyers say the Circuit Court clerk's office is inefficient. Do you agree, and if so, what is your plan for improving it?
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    Brown
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Brown

No, I do not agree that the Clerk's Office is inefficient. The Circuit Court Clerk's Office handles over 100 million pieces of paper a year, serves over 5.2 million Cook County residents, and has almost 2 million new cases a year. Even with this magnitude of paper and cases, the Clerk's Office manages to meet its statutory obligations.

The Clerk's offices in DuPage, Will, and Lake Counties serve 900,000, 700,000, and 600,000 residents, and have 309,000, 223,000, and 175,000 cases filed a year. The numbers of cases handled by these counties represent only one division of the Cook County Clerk's Office.

I long ago recognized the challenges in handling huge volumes of paper, particularly court files that must be made available to the public, where documents can be misplaced and sometimes even stolen. I determined that the only way to ensure files are always available is through imaging all documents when they are filed. These are the reasons why I worked hard to get the funds to implement the Imaging and Document Management system (IDMS). Once the IDMS is completely implemented, the problem of missing records will be solved because there will be an electronic image of all documents. To date, the system has been implemented for all civil case types, as well as for juvenile, domestic violence, child protection and child support cases. The system will be implemented in the criminal and traffic divisions in 2013.

I will build on the Office's nationally recognized reputation for innovation during my next term. I plan to help the Chief Judge make court rooms paperless by using the IDMS system and implementing elements of the 21st Century Courtroom demonstrated by the National Center for State Courts, such as computers at judges' benches and attorney desks, overhead and/or computer screens for jurors, and interactive video conferencing.

Shapiro

The office of the Circuit Court Clerk is more than inefficient - it is an embarrassment of wasted money, antiquated technology and absentee, irresponsible leadership. In order to improve the efficiency of the office I intend to be hands-on, actively involved and present in each courthouse on a rotating basis to work with and inspire my employees, serve and respect the judges whose files we maintain, the attorneys and all other court personnel who are employed in the courts. I live by the adage "in order to rule one must also serve". At the same time I will be working with the County Board to install a 21st Century computerized system which will be compatible with and interact with other computerized systems in this state and nation to allow remote filings, online payments of all debts, fees and fines, a search engine to locate cases and review files online. I will lead by example and be an elected official who will restore honor and respect to county government. We will have to spend some money to get the system installed, but in the long run it will save the taxpayers billions of dollars. Lastly, I do not believe that in counties with populations over 3,000,000 residents should elect the Circuit Court Clerk, rather he/she should be appointed by a consensus of the judges. I would hope to work with our legislators and be the last elected Cook County Circuit Court Clerk.

The candidates
Dorothy Brown

Dorothy Brown

 

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The office

The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County oversees an office of 1,800 employees that acts as the official record-keeper for all judicial matters brought into the court. The office serves Cook County residents and more than 400 judges and operates offices in Chicago, Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Maywood, Bridgeview and Markham.

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