Pubdate: Fri, 17 Mar 2000
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2000 Chicago Tribune Company
Contact:  435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611-4066
Author: James E. Gierach


OAK LAWN -- On March 10 the Tribune reluctantly endorsed one of my
opponents, a Democratic candidate for judge who is confronted with
$370,000 in outstanding federal and state tax liens. The Tribune
endorsee is one of five judicial candidates vying for the Democratic
nomination for the Cook County 15th Subcircuit. The Tribune
endorsement noted the troubling tax liens and commented on the other
choices. Two candidates had been criticized as prosecuting attorneys
by courts for prosecutorial abuse and improper argument resulting in
the reversal of convictions. A fourth candidate was found to have
"inadequate legal ability" according to two bar associations. And the
fifth candidate was noted to be a "competent attorney" (found
qualified or recommended by all nine bar associations), but he had
also been a zealous and outspoken critic of the drug war.

James Gierach, the Tribune editorial commented, is a "competent
attorney," but his "strong advocacy [as an attorney and private
citizen] raises questions about his ability to be impartial on the

I say, "Objection, your honor. Speculative, hypothetical and
unfounded." There is no reason to suspect my ability to be impartial.

First, judges follow the law, they don't make it.

Second, as an attorney representing a municipality with a
zero-tolerance drug policy, I have done my duty. For example, when the
highest-ranking civil service applicant recently tested positive for
marijuana during his pre-employment physical, I drafted the letter
that advised the applicant that his drug test results disqualified him
for village street-sweeping. My partiality was to my client, my duty
and the law.

Last, one of my opponents holds and another has held supervisory,
drug-war prosecutorial positions. The Tribune has endorsed one of
those candidates. It is incongruous and disingenuous for the Tribune
to repeatedly editorialize concerning endless drug-war failures and
harm but not question the impartiality of a tax-defaulting, drug-war
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