Candidate profile: Kevin Hoerner

Name: Kevin T. Hoerner

Office seeking: Appellate Court Judge - Fifth Judicial District

Party: Democrat

Age: 56

City of residence: Belleville, Illinois

Campaign website: www.HoernerForJudge.com & Facebook @ HoernerForJudge

Why are you running and why should people vote for you? The Fifth Judicial District of the Appellate Court covers 37 downstate counties — more than the lower one-third of our State. I am seeking the office of Appellate Court Judge because I have learned, while practicing law over the past 30 years all over Southern Illinois, handling a diverse practice (including primarily trial and appellate work), that people want to be judged by their peers. Not unlike a jury trial where the lawyers involved seek to select a jury that identifies with his/her client, Southern Illinois residents desire the same. My personal background, coupled with my professional career as a lawyer, make me uniquely qualified to serve Southern Illinois as Appellate Court Judge. I intend to serve with honesty and integrity — always acting with fairness and impartiality.

By way of background, I earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1984) and my law degree from the Saint Louis University School of Law (1987). I am the product of a hard-working, blue-collar, middle-class family born to a father who worked most of his life as a union truck driver, and a mother who was a homemaker. As one of 11 children, I was taught the value of hard work, the importance of establishing a strong work ethic, and the importance of taking care of not just your family, but also others in your community — to get involved with community service. I have carried these values with me into my adult life. These are the same values shared by the residents of Southern Illinois.

I am a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, St. Clair County Bar Association (Past President), the East St. Louis Bar Association (Past President) and Appellate Lawyers Association. I am active with numerous charitable and civic organizations, including Land of Lincoln Legal Services, Catholic Urban Programs, Memorial Hospital Foundation, East St. Louis Catholic Grade School Alumni Association, the Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois and Rotary Club, to name a few.

From a professional standpoint, for 30 years my practice has included representing clients from all walks of life, from pro bono matters and individuals, to municipalities and Fortune 500 Companies. I have also served as Special Assistant Attorney General for Illinois and Assistant State’s Attorney for St. Clair County for the past 20+ years. Most rewarding, however, has been my representation of so many hard-working, middle-class families all over Southern Illinois — families just like the one in which I was raised. I have lived and worked my entire life in Southern Illinois.

Finally, I am humbled and honored to have received the highest possible ratings as an Appellate Court Judge candidate, rated “Highly-Qualified” by the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) Judicial Evaluations Committee and “Recommended” by the ISBA Judicial Advisory Poll of Illinois attorneys.

What is your judicial philosophy? Guided by the long-standing principle of “equal justice under the law,” I seek to provide fair and impartial interpretation and application of Illinois law for ALL residents of Southern Illinois.

If you were facing a Judicial Inquiry Board investigation, would you resign? Why or why not? In over 30 years of practice, I have never been the subject of an attorney disciplinary action. Similarly, if elected, I do not anticipate facing a Judicial Inquiry Board investigation because I will serve as Appellate Court Judge with honesty and integrity.

Nevertheless, a judge’s consideration of resignation would necessarily depend on the nature of the investigation, the charges made and the source of the charges. It is difficult, if not impossible, to speculate on what might happen in the future without knowing more, and to do so could, and likely would, encourage baseless and otherwise unfounded charges being made against a sitting judge. However, if an investigation, regardless of the ultimate outcome, was likely to cause diminished public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, resignation may be deemed appropriate under those circumstances based upon Illinois Supreme Court Rule 62 (Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct).

What types of cases would you hope to work on and why? As mentioned earlier, the Fifth Judicial District of the Appellate Court covers 37 downstate counties and handles all appeals made from any one of these counties. Therefore, the types of cases handled by the Appellate Court include all matters, whether civil, criminal or equitable, that originate in these 37 counties. The diverse nature of my law practice over 30 years has prepared me well for service on the Appellate Court.

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? My personal background, education, professional career as a lawyer over 30 years, and my involvement in so many civic and charitable organizations demonstrates my life-long commitment to honesty, integrity, community and public service. If the residents of Southern Illinois choose me to be their next Appellate Court Judge, they will have elected one of their own.