Name: Demetri Pete Tsilimigras
Office sought: McHenry County Judge, 22nd Circuit - Vacancy of the Honorable Judge Maureen McIntyre
Occupation: Assistant State’s Attorney
Education: University of Detroit-Mercy Juris Doctorate/MBA; Western Michigan University BBA
Elected Office held: None
1) What skills, qualities or experience do you have that separate you from your opponents?
I have extensive trial courtroom experience including jury trials, bench trials, and hearings. I have conducted felony, misdemeanor and traffic jury trials. My opponents, according to their literature and websites, have virtually no meaningful jury trial experience as practicing attorneys. One of a judge’s responsibilities is to hear jury trials. It is essential that a judge has experience as a trial attorney from the other side of the bench. I am the only candidate that has prosecuted a felony jury trial. I’ve also been Capital Litigation Certified, an exceedingly rare achievement in McHenry County. I am the only candidate that took a leading role in the creation of all specialty courts and programs which include drug court, mental health court, domestic violence courtroom, first offenders program and the bad check enforcement programs. I am the only candidate to receive the MADD Award (twice) and the AAIM Award. I am the only candidate to receive both the Turning Point Peace and Justice Award and Chair the Domestic Violence Coordinating Counsel for many years.
2) Do you have a strong sense of moral behavior in your personal life and how would that carry over into your decisions on the bench?
Throughout my life, I have always held myself to the highest ethical and moral standards. I have found that, by doing the right thing, it not only makes my own life more rewarding, but contributes to a greater society as a whole. One way this would translate into my decisions as a judge is by ensuring fairness for all and treating every person equally and respectfully.
3) Does the Bail Reform Act do enough to level the playing field for poor people in the criminal Justice system? Why or why not?
The Bail Reform Act is appropriate for nonviolent, low level offenses. Prior to this new law, many nonviolent offenders were spending long periods of time in custody because they could not afford bond. The new law protects from this by having a presumption that any bail set in nonviolent, low level offenses should not be monetary. We must always remember that the purpose of bail is not to be a punishment; rather to ensure Court appearance.
4) Is there a Justice on the Supreme Court that you admire? Who and Why?
The late Justice Scalia. He was a textualist. He did not believe that the Court should be making the law or trying to interpret the intentions of the legislature in making the law. He followed the law as it was written.
5) How will your party affiliation influence your actions as a judge?
Party affiliation will not influence my actions as a judge.
6) Do you think cameras should be allowed in McHenry County courtrooms? Why or why not?
I support restricted camera usage in the courtrooms for the following reasons:
First, the use of cameras in the courtroom allows more transparency. It keeps all parties, including judges and lawyers, honest. The public deserves to see and understand what is going on in the courtrooms.
Second, allowing cameras in court will dispel courtroom myths that are created in movies and TV programs. It helps the media to report what exactly happens in courtrooms. It also provides clarity and equality by sharing all decisions and rulings with the public.
Third, cameras in the courtroom can be a valuable educational tool. It gives the public insight as to how our court systems really work and provides a better understanding of the process.
There should be safeguards regarding the use of cameras, however. The trial judge should keep control over the use of video and audio recording. Judges should have the authority to deny or limit cameras involving certain witnesses such as crime victims, police informants, undercover officers and juveniles. Furthermore, cases involving divorce, child custody, adoption, paternity, commitment, termination of parental rights, and protective orders involving domestic abuse should be prohibited due to the sensitive nature of these types of cases.