Candidate profile: Paul Evans

Name: Paul J. Evans

Office seeking: Circuit Judge of the 20th Judicial Circuit, Lopinot vacancy

Party: Republican

Age: 57

City of residence: O’Fallon

Campaign website: paulevansforjudge.com

Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I am running to give citizens the power to make changes in the court system. The rule of a judge in our society is significant, but often overlooked. There is a tendency in our local court system for judges to be selected from among a narrow group of people. I know from knocking on many doors that people have the perception that the courts in Belleville are heavily influenced by “insiders.” I’ve been practicing for 30 years and I am definitely not part of any courthouse insider group. I want people who, upon appearing in front of me, can feel confident that I am not aligned with the established Belleville political machine. I have 30 years of experience; having practiced in a number of different areas of law as compared to a narrow background in just one or two areas. Most of my cases have been representing the average citizen and not some large organization. This gives me an appreciation of how the legal system can impact our lives, and how expensive the legal system can be for many of our citizens. My paramount goal is to serve justice based upon the law and the facts, but I will keep in mind how expensive lengthy delays are for most people, as well as the role that money can have to favor one side or the other in court. I remember many of my clients, often poor and elderly, struggled to access justice.

What is your judicial philosophy? A judge fundamentally must be fair. All sides must be treated equally, and everyone is to operate by the same rules, which are the statutes. Judges need to be patient and tolerant, while at the same time being clear and firm in their Orders. Judges are servants of the public, and not their masters and rulers. Judges should strive to help resolve disputes before them, without going beyond the matter presented.

If you were facing a Judicial Inquiry Board investigation, would you resign? Why or why not? To say that a Judge facing a Judicial Inquiry Board investigation should resign is to engage in the presumption of guilt. This is fundamentally not the American way of justice. Partisan attacks can be launched against any person, including a judge. There should be a thorough and fair investigation made of any type of allegation before any type of decision is made, including those that apply to judges.

What types of cases would you hope to work on and why? I hope to work in cases involving children, the disabled and handicapped, and senior citizens. Over the 30 years of practice in many areas, this has emerged as an area of concern and specialty for me. These categories are all vulnerable populations that need more care and guidance than the general population at large. Working with the populations requires a great deal of patience, which I have.

The St. Clair County judiciary has been the source of some scandal in recent history. St. Clair County Judge Michael Cook, a Democrat, was convicted of heroin possession. St. Clair County Judge Ronald Duebbert, a Republican, faced sex and intimidation charges, but those were dismissed. What could you offer to the voters to ensure that you, if elected, would not bring more scrutiny to the bench? I am nearly 58 years old, I have been married only to one person for more than 32 years, and I have successfully raised three children, including one who is severely handicapped. My life has been lived plainly in the open, and I have always been involved in community actions and activities for the betterment of the community. At this stage in my life, none of this is going to change.