Laura Washington Interviews Eileen O’Neill Burke

Cook County State’s Attorney

Editor’s Note: Laura Washington is a Chicago Tribune contributing columnist and political analyst for ABC 7-Chicago.  She brings more than two decades of experience as a multi-media journalist who covers local and national politics, race, and social justice. As part of the Cliff Dwellers Journalist Series, Washington was in conversation with the two leading candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Cook County State’s Attorney. This highly competitive contest for an open seat comes at a crucial time, amid questions and challenges around public safety and criminal justice in Chicago and the suburbs. In her first interview, Laura spoke with Clayton Harris, a University of Chicago lecturer. At this event, Washington spoke with former Appellate Court Justice Eileen O’Neill Burke who has served more than 30 years as a prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge.  A fourth generation Chicagoan, Eileen was born and raised on the Northwest side by a single mother after her father died at an early age.  She attended St. Mary of the Woods Grade School and Marillac High School before graduating from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and Chicago-Kent College of Law. Ten days after Illinois’ primary election on March 19, Eileen O’Neill Burke was announced the winner of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s race. Burke’s margin was about 1,500 votes out of more than 527,000 cast. Only 17.94% of registered voters in suburban Cook County and 25.7% of registered voters in Chicago voted in the March 19 primary. Penny Wilson of The Cliff Dwellers introduced the program.

Transcript of Eileen O’Neill Burke Interview

by Laura Washington

Penny Wilson (PW): Welcome to the Cliff Dwellers. We’re a warm community  of artists and art lovers.  And during lunch hours, we  frequently gather together  at the members table.  This is a specially  marked table at the club  where we eat lunch, tell  stories, and exchange ideas  on a wide range of topics.  For the evenings, our newly  established journalist series  aims to bring about a similar experience.  We gather here to hear stories, very  timely, interesting,  and important stories.

The difference is that they’ll come to us  through a gifted moderator  engaging with today’s newsmaker.  In honor of Hamlin Garland,  the novelist and founder of our club,  John McDermott, a past club president  and founder of the Chicago Defender,  and our distinguished late member  and Pulitzer Prize winner Roger Ebert,  a brilliant journalist  and critic on cinema.

These Cliff Dwellers programs celebrate  the art of journalism under  the banner of today’s story.  For today’s story,  we’re excited to spotlight  Laura Washington, a maker of deep  and interesting conversation.  Washington is a Chicago Tribune  contributing columnist  and political analyst for ABC 7 Chicago.  She brings more than  two decades of experience  as a multimedia  journalist who covers local  and national politics,  race, and social justice.

And here tonight, Washington will engage  with Eileen O’Neill Burke, former  appellate court justice,  and now seeking the Democratic nomination  for Cook County State’s attorney.  This is today’s story.  And there’s not a minute to waste.  So please help me warmly  welcome Laura Washington  and Eileen O’Neill Burke  for an important and  masterful conversation.  (audience applauding)

Laura Washington (LW): I know, yeah.  A lot of pressure.  That’s a pretty high bar  you’re asking us to achieve.  But we’re  going to do our best, right?  We’re  going to try.  Welcome everyone, and  thanks for being here tonight.  I was saying to  someone at the table earlier  that it’s so, it feels so  good to see voter interests  and to see folks like you who are  spending your evening  coming out to find out  who these candidates are  and what they’re really about  as opposed to just  looking at those campaign ads  and flyers and mailers  and all those other things  that don’t really tell you the truth.  So you’re  going to get some  facts and some truth here tonight  and I really appreciate you joining us.  And welcome.  Thank you. Welcome.  Thank you, I’m looking forward to this. 

And first let me just introduce you.  Eileen O’Neill Burke  brings deep experience  in the justice system  beginning with a 10 year stint  as a Cook County State’s Attorney  where she handled felony appellate cases.  After that, she worked as  a criminal defense attorney  trying felony cases in both  adult and juvenile courts.  She also was elected,  she was later elected  to the Circuit Court of Cook County  where she served her eight years.  In 2016, she was elected Justice  of the First District  Appellate Court in Cook County.  There she issued more  than 800 written decisions  in both civil and criminal cases  and reviewed more than  1,800 trial court decisions.  She has also served as President  of the Illinois Judges Association  and has led that  organization’s classroom education efforts  to grade school and high school students.  Ms. O’Neill Burke has also  served as a youth counselor  in her church and trustee for the Park  Ridge Library Board.  She’s been married for 33 years  to her handsome husband over here  and is a mother of  four young adult children.  Welcome.  Thank you.  He’s as handsome as ever, right? 

Eileen O’Neill Burke (EOB): Yes, he is.  He looks exactly the same.  (laughing)

LW: So thank you for being here tonight  and I know you’ve been  on the campaign trail  and it’s been a busy one  and I’m really glad  you’re taking the time  to share your agenda with us.  So could we just start off by you sharing  what you see as the  highlights of your professional career  and why you think those  are the right qualifications  to be the next Cook  County State’s Attorney? 

EOB: So I have been on every  single side of the justice system  as a prosecutor, as a defense attorney,  as a trial court judge and as an  appellate court justice.  I’ve seen what effective  prosecution is and what it isn’t  and the question I  get asked most often is  why would you do this crazy thing  or as my husband like to  put it, “You want to do what?”  And so my answer for why I  want to do this is pretty simple  and I think it’s an  answer that many of you share.

I love Chicago.  I was born and raised here.  I grew up on the northwest side.  I met my husband here first  day, first year, law school.  We raised our four children here.  My family has been here for generations.  My great grandmother  was a baby in Chicago  during the Great Chicago Fire.  I’m not giving up on Chicago.  I want my children to come back here  and raise their children here  but I want them to live  in a city that’s safe.  I want them to live in a city  where you don’t have to  worry about going out at night.  I want them to live in a city  where you don’t have to  have a game plan in your head  of what to do if you’re carjacked.  I want that for all of us  in every single neighborhood,  in every town in Cook County  and we don’t have it right now  because our justice system is not working  and we can make it work for everyone.  You don’t have to believe me.  Anybody who reads the news  or watches the news at night  could tell you it’s not working.  You could ask any victim, any witness  or even any defendant if  they think the justice system’s  working just fine right now  and I think they would tell you it is not  but we can fix this  and that’s why I stepped  down from the appellate court.  That’s why I’m running.

So you talk about,  rightly so, about the crime  and some people are really,  many people throughout the city  are really concerned  about the crime on all levels,  violent crime, retail  theft, that kind of thing  but when we think about crime fighting  we usually think about the police.  You’re not the police  and the Cook County State’s  Attorney is not the police.  What role does the Cook  County State’s Attorney’s Office  have in fighting crime  and how will you  apply your skills to that?  So the Cook County  State’s Attorney’s Office  is the backbone of the  criminal justice system.

Every single case is  evaluated by a state’s attorney.  The state’s attorney determines who to  charge with a crime,  what to charge them with.  Now under the Safety Act they make the  initial determination  if someone should be detained pretrial.  They decide whether somebody  gets a break and gets a plea  or whether that case goes to trial  and they make a  recommendation at sentencing.  So at each and every step  of a criminal prosecution  the state’s attorney  is the primary actor.

What’s happening right now in  the state’s attorney’s office  is they are woefully understaffed.  Basic things are not getting done.  Women are having trouble  getting an order of protection  because there’s no  state’s attorney available  to process the paperwork.  Defendants are  sitting in custody for years  waiting to go to trial  because no state’s attorney has been able  to comply with discovery or if they have  nobody’s available to try the case.  So on every single side nobody is getting  a fair shake right now because they’re  woefully understaffed.

So for anybody who’s  ever been a state’s attorney  they will remember the very first time  they stood up in court and they said  I am here on behalf of the  people of the state of Illinois.  It is a feeling of pride  but it’s also a  feeling of responsibility.  And the responsibility is you are there  as an advocate for the victim.  We seem to have gotten a  little bit away from that mission  of the state’s attorney’s office.  So what’s happened right now is  because of this understaffing  there is no supervision going on.  There is no training going on.  We’ve lost all the  institutional knowledge  that was in the  state’s attorney’s office.  So the people who would do the training,  who would do the  supervising are no longer there.  We need to fix that and we  need to fix that quickly.  And I know I’m going on–

LW: No, no, no, no. Jump in.  You’re a lawyer so you know how to talk.  (laughing)  So yes, the office is understaffed  and something needs  to be done about that.  What would you do specifically to,  I mean it’s partly a  problem of recruiting,  it’s partly a problem of morale.  What measures would you take from day one  to fix that problem? 

EOB: So I became a state’s attorney in 1991.  There were 2,300  applications for 50 spots.  It was a highly coveted job  because that was the  place you wanted to go  to learn how to be a trial attorney.  So what I want to do,  and I’ve already started  recruiting other retired judges  saying come back with me,  let’s figure out an educational program.  Let’s develop a  curriculum for each and every level  of the state’s attorney’s office  where we study the  Constitution, the case law,  the statutes that govern that division.  And let’s focus on what  are the courtroom skills  that are necessary for you to be  effective at your job.  This is going to be like getting  a master’s degree in trial work.  My goal is to set the gold standard  for prosecutor training  in this entire country.  I want everybody looking  at what Cook County is doing  because we’re  going to  get our crime rates down  and we’re  going to get  that off as fully staffed.  So that’s for the felony trial division.  That’s for people who  want to learn how to be  the best trial attorney they can be.

I also want to create a  restorative justice bureau.  And everybody throws that term around  restorative justice,  but I want to tell you  exactly what I’m talking about.  Restorative justice  courtrooms are for nonviolent felons.  They’re for specific types of offenders  like people  struggling with drug addiction,  mental illness, prostitutes, veterans.  They’re a collaborative  approach with the judge,  the defense attorney,  and the state’s attorney  to figure out what does this person need  to get back on track.  What do they need to become  a productive citizen again?  They’re actually having  success in these courtrooms.  Their repeat offender  rates are significantly less  than any other type  of felony prosecution.  They’re working.  So not only does it make us  morally better as a society  if we can get people turned around  before they turn to violent crime,  but it’s fiscally better.  These programs cost a  fraction of what it costs  to incarcerate somebody.  So I want to front load resources  and really develop the most innovative  and effective restorative justice bureau  in the entire country.  And if we do that, we’re  going to appeal  to a completely  different type of law student  than the one who wants to be  the hard charging trial attorney.  We’re  going to attract people who are better  at the softer skills,  people who want to learn  how to work with  multiple governmental agencies  in getting people back on track.  And that’s how we’re  going to  get the office re-staffed.

LW: So talk a little bit more about  restorative justice.  As you say, people throw  that term around all the time.  We have a system in place now.  What is  going to be different  about what you are going to do?  Are you  going to build up that system  and add more services?  What exactly are you  going to do?

EOB: So what I want to do is,  so they’re scattered all over the county.  So there’s some in  Avondale, there’s some in Lawndale.  So there’s a couple different things  that are happening right now  with the restorative justice courtrooms.  They are studied and  applied for those specific types  of offenders that I told you about.  The current  administration has converted them  to 83% of them are now gun courtrooms.  They defer prosecution.  Why are you shaking your head, Roseanne?  Why are you saying no?  Yes, it is.  Apple Seed Foundation just  came out with a study on this.  And they said they’re using them  as gun restorative justice courtrooms.  They’re not being used for what their  intended purpose is.  So what they’re doing is,  they’re gun deferral programs.  If you do not have a background,  you go to one of these programs  and prosecution is deferred.  We are in the middle of  a crime wave right now.

This city and the  county are awash in guns.  And they’re not just any guns.  They’re guns that have been  converted to automatic weapons  with a switch and an extended magazine.  When you do this to a gun,  it makes it very difficult to control.  They just spray bullets.  We’re seeing the  ramifications of these guns all over.  The two boys who were shot  at Washington and Wabash,  20 shots rang out in five seconds.  It’s one of these guns.  The officer who was  shot at state in Walton,  the offender was found  with one of these guns.  The mass shooting in  Lawndale where 15 people are shot,  it’s one of these guns  because they can’t control them.  So what can the Cook  County State Attorney do  about getting those guns off the street?  I can go on forever.  I mean, because a lot of  what you do is on the back end.  I mean, the crimes have been–  No, we determine who goes into  restorative justice.  But I’m just saying, but the  crimes have been committed.  The guns have been  already on the streets.  By the time you get there,  the crime is, the terrible  violence has already happened.  So what can you do in your role to get  guns off the streets  to cut back on the guns?  We have a tool and the  tool is not being used.  It’s the assault weapons ban.  The assault weapons ban has  elevated the class of offense  and it has extended the term of sentence.  We are not using that.

So to your point of, okay,  the horse has already left the barn,  what are you  going to do?  I did criminal defense for eight years.  I can tell you right now,  the criminals will know  that things have changed.  If we seek detention each and every time  somebody’s using an assault weapon,  if we are seeking a jail term,  each and every time somebody  is using an assault weapon,  the behavior will change.  There needs– And  that’s not happening now  on day one under Kim Fox.  That is not happening now.  That is not happening now.  I spoke at an event a couple weeks ago  and a young man came up  to me afterward and said,  “Judge, I am in bond court right now.  “We are begging to ask for detention  “on assault weapons cases.”  And they are saying, “No,  we can’t ask for detention.”  Which leads me into the Safety Act,  if we can go into that.  Okay, so–  Just to remind everybody  what the Safety Act is.  So the Safety Act is a fundamental change  to our justice system.  The Safety Act fundamentally changes  how we approach pretrial detention.  So we’ve all seen that  judges used to set a bond  commiserate with the  seriousness of the offense.  So the more serious the offense,  the higher the bond would be.  And we’ve all seen that a murder  would be a million dollar bond.  That was judges way of  keeping someone detained pretrial  if they presented a  danger to the community.  So now the Safety Act says,  “No, we’re not  going to  look at money anymore.  “Our criterion is going to be,  “are you a danger to the  public or are you not?”  That’s our sole criterion.  We are the first state in  the nation to try to do this.  And I think we can all agree  that should be what the criterion is.

If you’re not a danger to the public,  you don’t need to be incarcerated  before you’re found guilty.  So it should be, are  you a danger to the public  or are you not?  But the Safety Act  also fundamentally changes  the state’s attorney’s  role in pretrial detention.  Now in order to detain anyone,  the state’s attorney needs  to file a petition to detain.  If the state’s attorney does not file  that petition to  detain, it doesn’t matter  if the offender is a  serial killer or el Chapo,  it doesn’t matter.  Judges have to release the offender.  That’s a significant change  and it’s an exponential expansion  of the state’s attorney’s role.  So judges knew this change was coming.  Judges were, and believe it or not,  judges get really pissy when you mess  with their discretion.  They get really angry about it.  So they were asking, it’s  rolled out all over the state  and there hasn’t been an issue with it.  But all over the state,  other than Cook County,  they have structure,  training, criteria in place.  Judges have been  asking, what is your criteria  for detention?  So they’ve never gotten it.  They still don’t have it.  From the state’s attorney’s office.  From the state’s attorney’s office.

So let’s keep in mind, Bond  Court is one of the first stops  in a state’s attorney’s career.  You’re 25, 26 years old.  That’s who’s making our detention  determinations right now.  That’s who’s making all the decisions.  So we need to have structure,  training, criteria in place.

LW: Okay, so you’ve been fairly critical  of the current occupant  of the office, Kim Fox. 

EOB: I tried not to, because  I’m not running against her.  I’m critical of the  policies which my opponent has said  that he will adhere  to all of her policies.

LW: Okay, well I’m not  sure that he would agree  with that characterization.  But Kim, so how, would you  describe your leadership style  and tell us how it’s different  from Kim Fox’s leadership style  in terms of what you think is wrong  with the way she’s  been running the office? 

EOB: So, well I’ll tell you exactly what  happened in the office.  When missteps happened in  the state’s attorney’s office,  and I think we all know what they were,  instead of saying I own it, my mistake,  she would fire her  chief of felony prosecution.  She would fire her first assistant.  And when that happened, there was a  stampede out the door  of supervisors and  first-heirs, and I will tell you why.

In every state’s attorney’s career,  there will be a case  that blows up on you.  We’re talking about  the Jesse Smollett case.  That one, or the Adam Toledo case,  and there was two or  three where people were fired.  Okay.  Rather than saying,  okay, I made a mistake.  Okay.  So, when that  happened, there will be a case  that blows up on somebody.  That’s just the nature of what we do.  I’m not talking about  misconduct or malfeasance.  I’m just talking about  that’s what our cases are like.  And when that happened, people thought,  well, if that happens to  me, I don’t want to be vilified  or fired, or my boss  will not have my back.  Everybody left, but what  has left is the institutional  knowledge in the  state’s attorney’s office.  That is a fundamental problem.

So now we have maybe two  attorneys per courtroom  at 26th Street, you  should have three attorneys  handling a docket of about 300 cases.  You have two attorneys handling a docket  of about 700 cases now.  So the chance of something blowing up  has become exponentially greater,  because there is more work  than can be done in a day.  There is just a  constant accumulation of work.  So my opponent has said  that the solution to that  is they need to work harder.  Well, that’s just not possible.  I know that they are working  as hard as they possibly can.  We need to get the office re-staffed.

LW: Okay, so to answer the question about  what would you have done differently  in the Jussie  Smollett case, for example,  you said that Fox did  not own up their mistake.  I would not have fired my supervisors.  Okay, so is that the only thing  that went wrong with that case? 

EOB: No, there was a myriad  of things that went wrong.  How would you handle it differently?  So once you recuse, and  this is true as judges too,  if you recuse from a  case, you are not allowed  to even talk about anything on that case.  You are completely  separate from this case.  You don’t talk to any of the parties.  You don’t talk to the lawyers.  You don’t talk to other  judges about that case.  You are walled off from that case.  That never happened in Justice Smollett.  That was one.  You know, and Adam Toledo,  that was a judgment call.  And when you make a judgment call,  well, okay, sometimes it comes back.  That is not the right judgment call.  You don’t fire people over that.

LW: So one of the things  that relates directly  to a lot of the street  crime is the retail theft issue,  which has been very hot in the news.  And there’s been a big debate  about the way Kim Fox has handled that.  You explained what the  issue is with retail theft  and what your position is on it? 

EOB: So the retail, the  felony retail theft statute  reads that the value  of goods to be a felony  is $300 or a buck.  Kim Fox decided that  she will not prosecute  if the value is less than $1,000.  So I took an oath as a judge,  I’ll take the same  oath as state’s attorney,  and then I will uphold the law.  The law is $300 or above.  If there’s an appetite to change the law,  the correct way to do  that is go to Springfield  and get the threshold lifted to $1,000.  It is not appropriate  for an office holder  just to say I’m not going  to prosecute those crimes.  We’ve seen the  ramifications of these crimes.

We’ve seen Walgreens,  CVS, Target, Walmart,  they’re closing all over  the city and the county  because they cannot stay in business.  We’ve all seen people  walk into Walgreens,  open their backpack and  fill it up and walk out.  So the Retail  Merchants Association last week  asked me to go on a  tour of a couple of stores.  So I went to a  Walgreens in Little Village  and I went to a Home  Depot in Little Village.  So when we went into Walgreens,  the amount of mitigation  measures that are in place  were astounding.  Everything is locked up.  They had to remove  their emergency exit doors  because thieves were using that.  They had to hire  security that has to be there  at all points of the store.  Because they did a study  that people will only wait  three minutes once they ask for somebody  to come unlock something,  they almost have to have a  one-to-one customer-to-worker  ratio in order to  accommodate their customers.  I’ve been in a lot of Walgreens lately  and I haven’t seen that.  They don’t have a one-to-one customer.  They don’t have the staff for that.  They don’t show them.  I think this is a crowd  that may get this reference.  Anybody ever watched  Little House on the Prairie?  It’s become almost like Mr. Olsen  standing at the counter  unlocking everything to get it for them.  That is just, they were saying to me,  they cannot keep doing business this way.  They cannot stay in  business by doing this.  And it’s a direct  ramification of this policy.  So, but, let me go one step further.

So, that doesn’t mean  every single person arrested  for retail theft should go to jail.  So, if you don’t have a background,  you get arrested for retail theft, you  can do theft school.  You complete the class,  you don’t get arrested again,  it’s gone, it’s off your record,  it doesn’t permanently harm you.  And then you grade it up  to supervision, probation,  and jail time if the offense  or the offender’s background warrants it.  That’s what prosecutorial discretion is.  It is not just saying  I’m not  going to prosecute  because we’ve all seen  not prosecuting crime  doesn’t deter crime, it promotes crime.

So, one of the other things  that the Walgreens employees  did tell me when I was  there was it started out  where one guy had come in,  fill up a backpack and leave.  Then it became five guys had come in,  fill up whatever they had and leave.  Now it’s morphed into five guys come in,  they fill up their backpacks,  and they pepper spray  the workers that are there.  The behavior is accelerating.  It’s getting grossly disproportionate  because there is no  prosecution taking place.  So, you would make exceptions in cases.

LW: When Clayton Harris was  here, he talked about this  and as you know he has a different  threshold than you do.  And he says that there’s  going to be a kid  that’s  going to come in that  wants a cell phone or something.  The kid with a cell phone example, right.  And the child doesn’t have a record,  are you  going to prosecute cases like that?  How are you, what is   going to be your threshold  or your measurement for cases  that shouldn’t go to felon to felon? 

EOB: I’ve explained this to him a couple times  and I’m kind of disappointed  he’s still using that example  because the 11 year old is  prosecuted in juvenile court.  She’s not prosecuted  under the criminal code.  That’s a completely different system.  And we can go into juvenile court  and how it’s different  from the criminal court,  but an 11 year old is  not tagged with a felony.  They’re not tagged with a felony.  It wouldn’t be a  prosecutor for a felony regardless.  But a 17 year old who has no record.  17 year old still in juvenile court,  under juvenile court, 18, 19.  Then we’re under the criminal code  and they don’t have a  background, they do theft school.  They don’t get arrested again.  We’re done, then they don’t  have anything on the record.  That is not, that’s  what the law requires.

Mr. Harris has also  said that the shopkeeper  should put the expensive  stuff in the back of the store.  That’s putting the burden  of crime on the retailers  and that’s just not right.  We don’t get to  abdicate our responsibility  by saying, well, it’s  up to the shopkeepers.  You’ve got to put your  expensive stuff in the back.  Okay, so it’s been pretty  hot on the campaign trail,  especially the last couple weeks  as I’m sure you can  feel better than anyone.  There have been a couple controversies  I want to talk to you about.  One of them is around  the issue of this young boy  that was prosecuted in  a wrongful murder case.  Clayton Harris says,  Clayton Harris is running an ad  that accuses you of  being behind that conviction,  conviction of a 10 year old black boy.  That conviction was later overturned.

LW: Can you explain the  circumstances of that case  and what your response to the charge  that not only he is making,  but his allies are making,  that you wrongfully  prosecuted a 10 year old boy  for the murder of a, for a murder? 

EOB: So 30 years ago, I  prosecuted an 11 year old  who had confessed to the brutal murder  of his elderly next door neighbor.  His attorney made the  decision to put him on the stand  where he repeated the confession.  Neither the juvenile,  his mother, or his attorney  ever claimed that that  statement was coerced in any way.  There was no motion to suppress.  Nobody ever said that  statement was coerced.  So went up on appeal,  appellate court affirmed,  Supreme Court denied review.  Eight years later, the  case went to federal court  and the officer who had  investigated in this case  had been accused of malfeasance in a  different juvenile case.  Based on that, the  federal court said his attorney  had erred by putting him on the stand  and not trying to get  that statement thrown out.  His attorney was ineffective.  Neither that court or any other court  has questioned my conduct in  that case or any other case.  The only time my role in that case has  ever been questioned  has been by Mr. Harris and his allies  who brought this up 30 years later.

So I will tell you  this, a bedrock quality  for every single judge  that we are evaluated on  is honesty, ethics, integrity.  If you don’t have those qualities,  you will never get found  qualified to be a judge.  I’ve been evaluated by  dozens of our associations  multiple times and each and every time  they have found that I am ethical,  I have integrity and I am honest.  That would have never  happened if the facts of this case  were true or as Mr.  Harris represents them.

LW: Well, as he represents them.  So you’re saying that  the boy’s attorney erred  and that led to this–  To the reversal.  To the reversal.  At any time did you, you had no inkling  that this police officer was involved  in this kind of coercive activity.  You had no inkling, no  understanding of that at all,  all the way up until it was– 

EOB: Absolutely.  If I had any inkling, Laura,  I would have never prosecuted that case.  And that federal court opinion,  it’s a fairly easy to understand case.  Either Mr. Harris  doesn’t understand the case  or he’s intentionally  chosen to distort the facts.  And the reason why that’s so significant  is we can’t have a chief prosecutor  who’s willing to be  dishonest or distort the facts  in order to generate  political buzz for himself.  That’s a disqualification for this job.  So he all, one of the  things he and his supporters  also say is that you’ve  never expressed any regret.  Now you say you didn’t do anything wrong  and you didn’t make a mistake.  Should you, do you feel  badly about how that turned out  for that little boy?  I wish I had the ability  to see into the future.  Although if I did, I might  not be sitting here right now  for this whole campaign idea.  But this, but I didn’t have the ability  to see into the future.  And so I wish I had that ability to see  that the officer had  done something wrong.  But I didn’t have the ability.  And there was no allegation from anyone  that he had done anything wrong until  several years later.  So do I regret not being  able to see into the future?  Not really.  Do you feel badly about  what happened to that boy?  He went home to his family.  He never spent a day in custody.  And so I’m  going to leave it at that.

LW: Okay.  He was never found  innocent by that case, by the way.  They just said that his statement  should have been challenged.  Do you believe he still, do you still  believe he’s guilty? 

EOB: I believe he had  something to do with it, yes.

LW: The other big issue in the campaign  or one of the other big  issues in the campaign  has been fundraising.  And Clayton Harris sent  out a fundraising appeal  this morning.  You’ve probably seen it  or you heard about it.  In it he knows that you have donated,  he knows the fact that  you’ve donated $100,000 personally  to your own campaign, which in fact  lifted the state’s limits  on campaign contributions to all the  candidates in the race.  He then goes on to say  that you have accepted, quote,  nearly $1 million in huge checks  from dangerous right wing  anti-choice Republican donors.  The same people who  have funded Donald Trump,  Mitch McConnell, Dr. Oz,  Kelly Loeffler and worse, unquote.  Now you’re running as a Democrat  and you have raised according to WTDW  about $1.9 million for your campaign.  And the bulk of that, those  contributions come from members  of the Chicago financial community  and many of them have  given to Republican candidates. 

EOB: And Democrats. And Democrats.

LW: So how would you respond to that charge? 

EOB: So one of the first things  that I was kind of surprised  about in this  campaign was they accused me  of being a Republican.  That was a little  shocking because I voted  in every Democratic  primary since I was 18.  I was the Democratic  candidate for judge in 2008  and I was slated by the Democratic Party  for the appellate court in 2016.  So that was all a little  bit of a surprise to me.  It was a surprise to my family as well  who were also generations of Democrats.

So with regard to the campaign,  I have received over  2,000 donations from people  all over the county  from every kind of place  and socioeconomic status  and I’m really proud of that.  I’m really proud of the  cross section of this county  that has supported me.  I’ve also received the support  of 13 different labor unions.  I grew up in a union household.  My dad died when I was very young.  I went to college on the  union life insurance money.  Unions have responded to that  because I’m a poster  child for union membership.  I can tell you right now  that union membership matters.  Sometimes it matters more to the children  than the members themselves.  So I have received support  from all over this county  from people who are vested in Chicago,  for people who are vested here  and want to see this city  thrive and I’m proud of that.  And so I kind of wish  he would spend some time  figuring out what his game plan is  and how to fulfill the mission  of the state’s attorney’s office  because I still haven’t heard it.  But he seems to want  to just spend his time  going through each and  every one of my donors.

LW: There’s a lot of money there though.  We’re not talking  about some change in terms.  We’re talking about tens  of thousands of dollars  that have come from people  who are either Republicans  or who have Republican interests. 

EOB: I guess the implicit statement in that  is I’m somehow going  to adopt their views.  Well, I’ve spent 30  years in the justice system  and nobody has ever  influenced my views on anything.  The only thing that influences my views  is the law and the  facts of each and every case  and I will continue to do that.

LW: Okay.  In response to that  charge, you’ve also said you feel  that it was sexist for  them to accuse you of– 

EOB: You know, I will tell  you when we broke the caps,  they said Judge Burke and her husband,  lawyer John Burke, broke the caps.  I was like, have they ever said that  about a male candidate?  Have they ever said he  and his wife broke the caps?  No, they’ve never said that.  Or then they went  into my husband’s clients  and they were like, look at this client.  In 1978, they had an OSHA violation.  I was like, I was in seventh grade  when they had an OSHA violation.  So a lot of that is kind of sexist, Laura.  You don’t see them going  into a male candidate’s wife’s,  you know, oh, give us  a list of her clients.  Give us a list, you don’t see it.  And we’re seeing it all the time.  And I will say that kind of surprised me.  Because as a judge, I really never,  I would never say I experienced sexism.  I would never say, you  know, being an Irish female  was a benefit on that ballot.  It was not a detriment.  And now all of a  sudden, I’m kind of getting  shelled with that, so.

LW: You have a double Irish name, which you– 

EOB: I do, yeah.

LW: And you’re proud of it, and  do you think it will help you? 

EOB: Burke isn’t as great as it  used to be a few years ago.  Absolutely not.  We’re not related, though.

LW: I know, that’s actually  come up in the news, right?  Because Burke helped you get  on the bench at some point,  right? 

EOB: Burke helped every  judge get on the bench.  You know, I mean, and then,  oh, that was the other thing  they accused me of, is  like, I had somehow paid Burke  to get my appellate court spot, which  is absolutely ridiculous.  We’ve supported Democratic  candidates all over the board  for years.  And all of a sudden, it  was like, well, guess what?  Every other lawyer in  Chicago gave Ed Burke a donation.  So I mean, did I give  him a donation in 2015?  Yeah, but it wasn’t like  he said, well, now we’re  going to make sure  you are unopposed to run  for the appellate court.  That’s ridiculous.  The whole thing is just ridiculous.  And I feel like I’m just  going to keep responding  to these ridiculous things.  I have a record a mile  wide and a mile deep.  I made 3,000  decisions on the trial court.  I made 800 decisions  on the appellate court.  And the most they can dig  up on me is 30 years ago,  I prosecuted someone where I was never  accused of wrongdoing.  So my brother tells  me, as only siblings can,  my brother says, wow, you  really are a boring person,  aren’t you?  I’m like, yes, I am.  I’m very boring.

LW: OK, speaking of family, you  come from a police family.  Share with us your family  connections to police officers. 

EOB: So my dad, my  grandfather, my great-grandfather,  were all Chicago policemen.  I am very proud of that.  I’m proud of their service.  My dad left the police department  when I was very young, and  he went to work for a union.  And I respect the police  officers very, very much.  They’re out there  literally every single day,  risking their lives.  And I think sometimes their children  are more aware of the  danger that they’re in every day  than they are.  So yes, I’m proud of that.

Can I tell one story?  My grandfather was a  mounted policeman on State Street,  and my grandmother was a  model at Marshall Fields,  and she liked his horse.  So she would go to the  Marshall Fields cafeteria,  and she would get sugar cubes, and she’d  go out on State Street and  give his horse the sugar cubes  every day, and that’s how they met.

LW: That’s wonderful.  So the police and  prosecutors work closely together.  They have to, right?  So how would you describe  that working relationship?  And given that some folks have concerns–  some people in the community particularly  have concerns about trust when it comes  to police officers–  what can you do as a  state’s attorney to address that? 

EOB: And let’s acknowledge that.  There have been problems with racial bias  and policing and prosecution.  I think we can all  acknowledge that that has historically  been a problem.  So what I want to do is, as judges,  we took racial bias  training every single year.  We’re going to do that  for state’s attorneys.  We’re going to make sure each  and every one of our state’s  is well-versed and  knows how to recognize it.  But we need to have a working  relationship with the police.  We absolutely have to.  The police are our main,  if not our sole witness,  on each and every case.  They’re responsible for  getting us all of our witnesses,  all of our evidence,  all of our statements.  We have to have a working  relationship with the police.  There is no trust  between the police department  and the state’s  attorney’s office right now.  So what I want to do is, I want to put up  a hard and fast wall  between the state’s attorney’s office  and a special prosecution  unit each and every time  an officer is accused of misconduct,  unconstitutional  policing, or a police shooting.  Those special  prosecutors will be attorneys  of the highest legal  reputation in this county.  They will conduct the  investigations and the  prosecutions of officers  for the simple reason of,  we cannot be investigating and  prosecuting officers on one hand  and on the other hand asking their  colleagues and their partners  to come help us build cases.  It just doesn’t work.

The other thing I want to do is,  I want to take brand new  cadets out of the academy  and partner them with  brand new state’s attorneys.  And I want to put  them in a one-week class.  In that class, we’re  going to cover things  that they’re going to  see every single day.  So the first day is  going to be Terry stops.  What are the parameters of a Terry stop?  What is the case lawsuit?  Terry stops is when an officer has a  reasonable suspicion  of criminal activity, they can stop  somebody and question them.  So it’s important that we know exactly  what the parameters are.  Exactly what does the  Fourth Amendment say with regard  to stop and search from people?  Then the next day, we’re  going to talk about Miranda.  When do you have to Mirandize somebody?  Then the next day, we’re going to talk  about how do you treat juveniles  differently than adult offenders?  We’re going to go over the Cons