Name: Mary Elizabeth McClellan
Home: Holiday Hills
Office Sought: 22nd Judicial Circuit Court vacancy of Honorable Maureen McIntyre
Occupation: Attorney/County Clerk
Education: Juris Doctor
Elected Offices held: McHenry County board, McHenry County Clerk
Facebook: Friends to Elect Mary McClellan
1) What skills, qualities or experience do you have that separate you from your opponents?
I have civil litigation and criminal experience where my opponents’ have mostly criminal experience and limited civil experience. My experience started with McHenry County State’s Attorney’s office and then into private practice where I defended civil rights cases for the Sheriff of Cook County and admiralty cases in the Northern District of Illinois. I then returned to public service in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office and served 6 years handling complex litigation, civil rights, enforcement of building and zoning, election law and labor & employment. I have personally tried many cases, both bench and jury trials, and have written and won several Appellate arguments. I have five years of experience as a paralegal for SNR Denton law firm during law school and 13 years of experience as a trial lawyer. Unlike any of my opponents, I have civil litigation experience and administrative skills to help make decisions that determine the operation of the courthouse. As a full Circuit Judge, you not only are serving on the bench but that person must contain the administrative skills to help operate the function of the court house which includes jury pool and other functions of the court administration. I have the legal skill and the temperament to be fair. With 18 years of experience I want to guarantee equal access to justice for all citizens. I have kept politics out of the Clerk’s office I will do the same as a Circuit Court Judge.
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?
I have a strong moral behavior in my personal life and would absolutely carry that to the Bench.
Our legal system is based on the principle that an independent, fair and competent judiciary will interpret and apply the laws that govern us. The role of the judiciary is central to American concepts of justice and the rule of law. Intrinsic to all provisions of this code are precepts that judges, individually and collectively, must respect and honor the judicial office as a public trust and strive to enhance and maintain confidence in our legal system. The Judge is an arbiter of facts and law for the resolution of disputes and a highly visible symbol of government under the rule of law. This is Judicial Code of Conduct I will serve McHenry County as a Circuit Court Judge.
I bring a depth of real-life experience to the bench. I believe passionately that justice is for all, and that every person appearing before the court deserves even-handed, unbiased judgment. I have an ingrained sense of fairness, a deep respect for the court system and an unshakable conviction that justice can be achieved with that system. I possess an undeniable strength of character, and the courage to follow the right course, even though that course may be unpopular. I have integrity to remain impartial, regardless of the identity, race, gender, political status or wealth of the parties who will appear before me.
However, moral behavior is not the only thing that is important, one should be mindful a judge has discretion and that should not be abused. A judge’s personal opinion should not get in the way of the law.
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?
Low-level offenders who have been arrested and can't come up with enough money to get out of jail can get a rehearing of their bail amount, under a plan signed into law. Known as the Bail Reform Act, the new law creates new rights for people in custody at Illinois jails and aims to move away from requiring people charged with relatively minor crimes to post cash bail as a condition of their release. This Law was enacted in 2017 and not enough cases have been tried or not enough research has been done to tell if it does enough for poor people, however, it certainly is a step in the right direction.
4) Is there a Justice on the Supreme Court that you admire? Who and why?
I would rather not choose a Justice from the Supreme Court as this seems to bring a political notion as to my choice. However, I will say I have clerked for a Northern District Judge and State Court Judge that I admire and respect as they truly reflect the integrity and honesty of the judiciary of which I have the pleasure to be a member.
5) How will your party affiliation influence your actions as a judge?
Party affiliation has no influence in the judiciary just as it has no influence in the County Clerk’s office where I have served McHenry County residents for the last three years.
6) Do you think cameras should be allowed in McHenry County courtrooms? Why or why not?
Cameras can have a place in the courtrooms but there are areas of protection such as juvenile, family law matters and domestic violence, just to name a few, that would not be in the best interest of those who are seeking justice.