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Erika Harold

Erika Harold is a litigation attorney at Meyer Capel, P.C. in Champaign, Illinois where she handles complex commercial and...

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Jonathan Amarilio

Jon Amarilio is a partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister in Chicago. He represents individuals, small businesses, state and...

Episode Notes

In this special, two-part edition of @theBar, host Jon Amarilio sits down with the Democratic and Republican candidates in the race for Illinois Attorney General: Kwame Raoul and Erika Harold. Rather than a search for politicized sound bites, these interviews delve deeper into who the candidates are, how they grew up, why they’re running, and how they view the Office of Attorney General in an increasingly partisan age. Tune in before Election Day and join the conversation.



The Illinois Attorney General Election Edition, Part II: Erika Harold



Jon Amarilio: Hello everyone and welcome to CBA’s @theBar, a podcast where young and youngish lawyers discuss with our guests legal news, topics, stories and whatever else strikes our fancy.

I am your host Jon Amarilio of Taft Stettinius & Hollister, and joining me on the pod with me today is Republican Candidate for Illinois Attorney General Erika Harold.

Erika, welcome, thanks for joining us.

Erika Harold: Thank you for having me.

Jon Amarilio: It’s a pleasure to have you. So, usually we provide a little bit of an intro, bio for our guests and then we launch in the issues, but I’d really like to do something different with you today.

I’m interested to learn about you as a person and I think a lot of our listening audience would be too, the person behind the candidate, so to speak.

So, where are you from?

Erika Harold: I am from Champaign-Urbana, that’s where I was born and raised, then graduated from Urbana High School and the University of Illinois and then most people know that I funded my education at Harvard Law School through the scholarships I won in the Miss America Pageant.

Jon Amarilio: Okay, so you grew up in Champaign-Urbana, right?

Erika Harold: Yes.

Jon Amarilio: And what are your parents do?

Erika Harold: My mom is a counselor at a community college and my dad is a small business owner.

Jon Amarilio: What kind of business does he have?

Erika Harold: Satellite installation.

Jon Amarilio: Any siblings?

Erika Harold: I’m the oldest of four and I’m probably the classic oldest child, so I was kind of an organizer of my siblings. One of the things that stands out about my family is that every one of my family, except for me, is an exceptional athlete.

My parents met when they were student athletes at the University of Illinois, I have a sister who ran track in college, another sister who played volleyball in college and my brother ran track in college, and I sat on the sidelines cheering for them.

Jon Amarilio: And studying, I mean, Harvard.

Erika Harold: And studying, but you have to know where your talents lie and where they do not.

Jon Amarilio: Yeah. So you went to the University of Illinois?

Erika Harold: I did. I studied Political Science and History.

Jon Amarilio: Okay, and then you took time off after that to participate in the beauty pageants or did you go straight to law school?

Erika Harold: I’d applied to law schools and got accepted to Harvard Law School which was my first choice and was really excited until I saw how much it was going to cost and how outside the realm of economic possibility that was, it’s probably something that everyone who’s listening to this can relate to and my parents —

Jon Amarilio: I am still paying those loans off.

Erika Harold: Everyone is, and my parents said they thought it was a terrible idea for me to even consider going to Harvard Law School because there just wasn’t the money to help pay for that. And I had an adviser at the University of Illinois who said if you’ve been accepted to Harvard Law School and that’s your dream you need to find a creative way of paying for it, and she encouraged me to consider entering the Miss America Pageant that year as a way of earning scholarship money, and I did not grow up competing in pageants, but I saw there was that opportunity and I called Harvard Law School’s admissions office and asked them if I became Miss America that year, would they hold my spot?

Jon Amarilio: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait… that’s a lot.

Erika Harold: You said you wanted – you said you wanted to know —

Jon Amarilio: No, no, no, that’s good, that’s good.

Erika Harold: — the story behind.

Jon Amarilio: That’s good, I’m just — I am observing, I am observing. So, okay, all right, so you get into Harvard.

Erika Harold: Yes.

Jon Amarilio: Had you ever competed in a beauty pageant?

Erika Harold: I’ve competed twice in college to earn scholarship money because I was paying for my education.

Jon Amarilio: Okay, so this wasn’t just totally out of the blue —

Erika Harold: Wasn’t totally out of the blue, not totally out of the blue.

Jon Amarilio: If I become Miss America? Okay.

Erika Harold: I competed twice in college.

Jon Amarilio: Okay, because you were a Miss Illinois, right? Was that one of the competitions or is that part of the Miss America thing? I’m horribly ignorant about this contest.

Erika Harold: I’m surprised you didn’t do all your pageant research before this, but it’s the Miss Illinois program as part of the Miss America Organization, and so I competed twice in the Miss Illinois Pageant when I was in college —

Jon Amarilio: Got it.

Erika Harold: — U-of-I, because I needed to earn money to pay for school, and I didn’t win but I had enough success to be able to earn some scholarship money and then was looking to go to law school and I thought that those days of competing in the pageants were behind me.

Jon Amarilio: Yeah, and then you are Miss America.

Erika Harold: Right.

Jon Amarilio: Yeah, that little thing.

Erika Harold: You take one more shot at it.

Jon Amarilio: Right. So why did you want to go to law school?

Erika Harold: I wanted to go to law school because probably starting in high school I wanted to have a career where I’d be able to be an advocate for other people and that came from my own experience in high school being the victim of severe racial and sexual harassment. It started out with name-calling and teasing, taunting and it was occurring at a time in which schools did not view protecting students from harassment as being a key obligation.

Jon Amarilio: This was from other students in your high school?

Erika Harold: Yes.

Jon Amarilio: Okay.

Erika Harold: And the Supreme Court had not yet ruled that schools had a affirmative obligation to protect students from harassment, and so, many times officials within the school almost turned a blind eye towards it. This harassment persisted for several months, it escalated to vandalism of our family’s home on multiple occasions, and ultimately escalated to a death threat and the school officials could not convince me and my family that I would be safe going there, and so I had to transfer to another high school.


And, that was a very formative experience for me in many respects. It occurred at a time in my life when I was trying to figure out what my identity was and what my core values would be, and it also was a time in my life where I understood what it felt like to be powerless and marginalized because I was being discriminated against on the basis of characteristics over which I had no control, and I did not have people who were advocating on my behalf. And that experience of feeling that there was no proper resolution for me is what made me decide to become an attorney.

Jon Amarilio: So when you decided to go to law school for all those noble reasons, did you have an area of the law in mind that you wanted to practice?

Erika Harold: I did not. I just knew I wanted the skill-set to be an advocate, and I didn’t know exactly what I wanted my legal career to look like, I did know that I wanted to be involved in justice issues in some capacity, but I didn’t have an idea of this is the kind of law that I wanted to practice.

Jon Amarilio: Sure. And so you graduated from Harvard?

Erika Harold: Yes.

Jon Amarilio: Imagine that —

Erika Harold: Debt-free.

Jon Amarilio: Debt-free that’s —

Erika Harold: Debt-free, I have to say that.

Jon Amarilio: But that opens up some possibilities for you?

Erika Harold: It does.

Jon Amarilio: And then you went to in a private practice, correct?

Erika Harold: Yes.

Jon Amarilio: At Sidley?

Erika Harold: Yes.

Jon Amarilio: How long were you at Sidley Austin?

Erika Harold: I was at Sidley Austin for about two-and-a-half years.

Jon Amarilio: Okay. What did you do when you were there?

Erika Harold: I was in their Complex Commercial Litigation group. They also had a Death Penalty Litigation group where the firm took on various cases in Alabama, because Alabama was one of the only states I believe that didn’t provide Appellate Counsel in the post-conviction proceedings, and so I was involved in that.

Jon Amarilio: Yeah. So, you were at Sidley for two-and-a-half years?

Erika Harold: Yes.

Jon Amarilio: And then you went to Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, correct?

Erika Harold: Yes.

Jon Amarilio: And for those of our listening audience not in Chicago, that’s a mid-sized law firm in the city.

Erika Harold: Yes.

Jon Amarilio: Why do you transfer?

Erika Harold: I wanted some more courtroom experience and they had a not-for-profit practice group that also was in alignment with some of the constitutional issues that I was focusing on as well. But I had great experiences at both law firms and can’t say enough about the quality of training that I believe I received and the quality of colleagues that I met in both firms.

Jon Amarilio: So then you decided to move home, right?

Erika Harold: Yes.

Jon Amarilio: Why?

Erika Harold: I ultimately realized that what I wanted to do in the next phase of my life and career would be to run for public office, and in order to do that in a way that would be most authentic to my roots, it needed to be where I was born and raised. And so I moved back to Champaign-Urbana, and I practiced at a firm there called Meyer Capel, it’s got about 40 attorneys, we have an office in Champaign and an office in Bloomington, and I handled many of the same types of cases that I was handling when I was in Chicago, but I wanted to have that foundation where I was born and raised.

Jon Amarilio: So, you said you realized that you wanted to run for public office, how did that come about? Is that something you’d been thinking about for a long time or did something happen and you realized you wanted to get involved?

Erika Harold: Ever since I was really young the idea of running for office and being engaged in public service was something that I thought was very noble, and something that I hoped to do at some point in life. I didn’t have a specific target of when that would occur or what that would look like, but I believe that our democracy requires people to become engaged and become involved, and to put themselves in the arena as Roosevelt would say.

Jon Amarilio: Quoting a Democrat, careful.

Erika Harold: I need some Democrats to vote for me in this election as well.

Jon Amarilio: So, 2012 was the first time you ran for office, is that right?

Erika Harold: It’s 2013.

Jon Amarilio: Okay.

Erika Harold: In 2012, I didn’t actually run for office, there I was being considered to replace somebody who had won a Congressional nomination, but I never became an actual candidate.

Jon Amarilio: Okay. And so what happened in 2013.

Erika Harold: So I want to make clear that I’ve only lost one race at this point in time.

Jon Amarilio: That’s not where I was going. I was just trying to understand.

Erika Harold: Although I have been told Lincoln lost many, many races, so —

Jon Amarilio: That’s — yeah, not a bad model. So, 2013, you ran for a congressional seat?

Erika Harold: Yes.

Jon Amarilio: Why?

Erika Harold: I felt that I had life experiences that would make me a great candidate in that District because it was the 13th Congressional District and it has a high concentration of colleges and universities, and I thought that I would be able to offer something to that District. I ultimately did not prevail. I lost in the primary. I earned enough votes though to be able to live to fight another day.

Jon Amarilio: What would you say you learned from the experience?


Erika Harold: One of the things that I learned is that you need to say why you think you are the best person for the job. At the time it felt kind of awkward to be making those sorts of arguments and I found myself saying what my qualifications were and laying out where I stood on issues, but not necessarily making a case why I thought I was the best person for the job.

And I found that voters really do want you to make that case for them and that’s one of the things that I have brought into the Attorney General’s race. And if you can’t make a good case for that, you shouldn’t be in the race, but you need to make a strong case about why your candidacy will serve the interests of the voters.

And so it’s not about saying you are a better person, it’s about saying that what you bring to the table at that point in time will best suit you to be the kind of advocate that the people need you to be.

Jon Amarilio: So why the Attorney General’s race? The congressional seat that was pure politics, right, purely political position I should say. The Attorney General position is a more delicate balance, which I hope we will be able to get into later, but what made you decide to run for AG instead of running for a congressional seat again?

Erika Harold: A couple of key reasons. First of all, I thought that the way the office was being operated at that point in time wasn’t necessarily serving the interests of all Illinoisans. I believe that the politics should be taken out of the office and I thought that with my background, I would be able to help do that. Sometimes you need someone who comes from an outsider perspective to be able to help take politics out of things.

There were also some key legal issues that I thought the office should emphasize more. One, fighting public corruption; two, criminal justice reform. I have been involved in criminal justice reform measures for more than a decade and I felt that that was an area where the Attorney General could uniquely move the debate forward in many respects.

Jon Amarilio: You don’t often hear criminal justice reform being part of the platform of a Republican candidate. Why does that interest you in particular from your days at Sidley working on the death penalty cases?

Erika Harold: That was part of it, but a very big part of it is for the past 11 years I have served on the National Board of Directors of a group called Prison Fellowship. It’s the nation’s largest outreach to inmates and their families. And in that role I have done prison ministry in prisons throughout the country.

I have also been involved in advocating for bipartisan criminal justice reform measures and through that work I have been able to interact with people whose lives have been impacted by the criminal justice system in many different facets. I have spent time talking to young people whose parents are incarcerated and that has a tremendous impact upon their lives.

Also, there are issues of women who are incarcerated and their lives are uniquely impacted by the incarceration in ways that many men’s lives are not impacted. And there are a variety of issues that intersect when it comes to our criminal justice system. There is the economic issue of the fact that we spend a lot of money incarcerating people and the recidivism rates continue to be high.

There is also an equal protection and due process component, where oftentimes people’s sentences are predicated upon whether they were able to afford good representation.

And then you talk about the larger issues of what should the purpose of a criminal justice system be. Is it purely punitive or should we be focused on rehabilitation? Should we be focusing on giving people second chances?

And in Prison Fellowship, we look at the restorative justice model, where you are not just looking to punish people, you are looking to try to restore the things that you can. And so you are bringing in victim’s impact statements, you are trying to figure out how you can help an offender and their family be able to repair some ruptures that might have occurred there.

And there is also some international work that Prison Fellowship has been involved with and looking at some of the restorative justice efforts that happened in Rwanda, for example, really offers a different way of viewing the criminal justice system. And being able to be the Attorney General and focus Illinoisans’ attention on these issues, I think offers a unique way of moving forward, especially in light of the consent decree that will be in place.

Jon Amarilio: Again, for our audience outside of Chicago, why don’t we describe what the consent decree is that we are talking about first?

Erika Harold: Absolutely. Towards the end of a campaign you start using phrases as if everybody has been involved in this conversation when in actuality many people are focusing on this race for the first time, I think, since we are just about three weeks out.


But about a year ago Attorney General Madigan sued the Chicago Police Department as a result of the Department of Justice’s report that delineated some of the elements of misconduct and reforms that needed to be made within the Chicago Police Department and a consent decree will be entered by a federal judge. That’s an agreement between the State of Illinois, the Chicago Police Department and various stakeholders, and it will set forth reform measures that need to be instituted, and a federal judge will appoint an independent monitor to make sure that those benchmarks are attained, and that compliance is met.

Jon Amarilio: Perfect summary, thank you.

Erika Harold: Thank you. So if there is anything you would like to add, feel free to do so.

Jon Amarilio: No, no, not at all. So you were saying that the next Attorney General’s job will be in large part shaped by the development of the consent decree.

Erika Harold: As it relates to some of the justice issues, because the consent decree will be in place, so it will be a federal order and the next Attorney General will be the person who is responsible for going to court and trying to pursue vigorous compliance with that.

And many of the elements of that consent decree do point towards some of those larger justice issues. So focusing on community policing, protecting people’s civil rights and civil liberties, making sure that you have Trauma Informed Care and that you are taking into consideration the way in which law enforcement interact with people from a variety of backgrounds, and making sure that they have the proper training to be able to respond effectively to people.

Jon Amarilio: So I take it you don’t support the DoJ’s attempts to blow up the consent decree then?

Erika Harold: I do not, and I think that a very transformational moment is occurring here within the City of Chicago and we need to continue building upon that and it would be a shame if those efforts were undone.

Jon Amarilio: And on that bright note, I think it’s a perfect time to take a quick break.


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Jon Amarilio: And we are back. So Erika, you mentioned before that you weren’t overly pleased with the role that the current Attorney General of Illinois Lisa Madigan has been doing. One of the things that she has been doing over the past couple of years especially is filing lawsuits against the federal government on a range of issues. I think over 30 some lawsuits on the travel ban, on deportation of DACA recipients, on family separation at the border, net neutrality, really you name it. These are obviously all hot button political issues, but also —

Erika Harold: You are just ticking them all off.

Jon Amarilio: Yeah, right. But at their core they are also legal issues, right?

Erika Harold: Right.

Jon Amarilio: Do you agree that those types of suits should be brought by states’ Attorneys General, is that within their bailiwick?

Erika Harold: It depends. So some of those lawsuits I would have filed, others I would not. But the determination wouldn’t be based on whether I agreed with the federal government’s action; it would be based on whether the federal government had exceeded the scope of its constitutional authority.

And when I talk about taking politics out of the office, that’s exactly what I mean. I wouldn’t view it as being my job to file a lawsuit against the federal government if they actually had constitutional authority, but if they exceeded the scope of their constitutional authority, it would absolutely be my obligation to file such a lawsuit.

So an example of a lawsuit that I would have filed involves when the federal government was seeking to withhold from the State of Illinois funding from law enforcement communities based on some of the immigration laws that Illinois has. I don’t think there is a constitutional basis for the federal government to withhold that money. Our laws were written to comply with federal law and therefore there is no constitutional basis for them to withhold those funds.

And so I would have filed a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that any interpretation of Illinois law that rendered it as being somehow non-compliant with federal law would be an arbitrary interpretation and contrary to the plain meaning of the statute and therefore Illinois should have its law enforcement funds. And it’s not based on ideology; it’s based on approaching this job as being the advocate for the state, the advocate for the state’s laws.


Jon Amarilio: And that is the ideal, right, the blind application of the law, but tell me if you disagree, but I see this duality when you have an elected Attorney General, which all states do to my knowledge, because it is inherently a political position in an elected office, but it’s also the chief law enforcement officer of each state. Do you see a tension there or do you think that it can be impartially managed fairly cleanly?

Erika Harold: I actually think you can take the politics out of it, because many of the responsibilities of the Attorney General, they are statutory and they are not based upon politics.

So for example, when you have consumer protection laws, you have certain data privacy issues that you can enforce, I don’t view that as being a partisan issue. I view that as trying to identify lawsuits that would properly protect the people of Illinois.

Jon Amarilio: But those things have become somewhat partisan in today’s world, right? You see, for example, the Trump administration undermining the Consumer Protection Bureau openly. I am just trying to kind of understand where you are coming from on these issues.

Erika Harold: I think that if — the way I view the role is that if the federal government has constitutional authority to do something, the separation of powers within our system of governance allows them to do that and therefore you wouldn’t actually have a valid lawsuit to file, because they would actually have constitutional authority to take the action. And so I would want to file lawsuits that had legal merit and make sure that my determinations were based on legal reasoning as opposed to political reasoning.

Jon Amarilio: Sure. But resources are finite.

Erika Harold: Correct.

Jon Amarilio: Especially in the State of Illinois, right?

Erika Harold: They will always be finite in the State of Illinois.

Jon Amarilio: And so you have got to prioritize, right?

Erika Harold: Yes.

Jon Amarilio: How do you figure out that priority when you are Attorney General?

Erika Harold: One of the ways that you make sure you are making proper use of resources is picking the lawsuits that have the greatest legal merit. So that’s one issue.

Additionally, it’s looking to find issues that are about saving people money broadly and highlighting priorities that are not about partisanship, because that makes it more likely that you will be able to get the kind of cooperation and collaboration across the state that’s necessary.

So, another issue that I have highlighted that I think meets all of those objectives is trying to exercise more of a leadership role with respect to the opioid epidemic. Right now in Illinois, like many states, we have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. In 2016 alone nearly 2,000 Illinoisans died of opioid-related overdoses. And there is much that the Attorney General can do as being the convener of stakeholders throughout the State of Illinois to be able to focus efforts on streamlining treatment and augmenting prevention resources.

And I have been conducting roundtables in communities throughout Illinois during the course of the campaign to focus specifically on the opioid epidemic. And I make clear that it’s not a partisan roundtable, because I want the participation of every stakeholder, so mental health providers, treatment providers, law enforcement, community officials. And then we talk about what are the programs within your communities that are working and how can the Attorney General be a better advocate at the statewide level to make sure that we can start to bend the curve on some of these issues.

And one of the things that has come up is this concept of a database that has real-time reporting of the facilities that have openings for people who are seeking treatment. That’s really important because one of the things that law enforcement talks about is programs called Safe Passage Programs, where they give somebody who they might otherwise arrest the ability to go into treatment. That’s only effective if you are able to quickly know where in Illinois those openings are.

And I was really surprised to find that there is not such a database and at the Attorney General level, you have the ability to convene the relevant stakeholders and push people towards adopting something like that, because you have this unique bully pulpit, this unique opportunity to weigh in on criminal justice issues and to push people forward in ways that hopefully will save lives and save resources.

Jon Amarilio: So just to take it back to the role of the Attorney General a little bit, likelihood of success would be one factor you would consider. You would be looking for non or bipartisan issues that are not hot button political issues at the time. Are there any other qualifying factors you would be looking to when determining the priorities for your administration?

Erika Harold: The starting point would be the statutory responsibilities, because the statutory responsibilities are those responsibilities that no other actor within state government is empowered to do.


So, for example, the State of Illinois, their representative, if they are sued is the Attorney General’s office. So, making sure that you have the resources to provide proper representation in those cases, that’s important. The Attorney General’s office is also in-charge of the Charitable Trust Bureau, so Illinois Charities do reportings. There’s a backlog with respect to those filings. So making sure that backlog gets addressed.

Another arena is the Public Access Counselor. The Attorney General’s office is in-charge of the Public Access Counselor that enforces compliance with Freedom of Information Act.

Jon Amarilio: That’s a nightmare job.

Erika Harold: And it’s a huge job.

Jon Amarilio: Yeah.

Erika Harold: It’s also really important because we need more disclosure of key documents within government and part of preventing corruption from occurring in the first place is making sure that you’re empowering citizens, media and watchdog groups with the information that they need to be able to monitor the local government, and there’s a backlog of requests for opinions from requesters, they want the Attorney General to weigh in if they’ve not been able to get the documents they’ve requested.

And so, in terms of setting priorities for the office, the starting point is what does the Illinois Attorney General Act empower and require the Attorney General to do because your resources need to go there first, because if you don’t do that job nobody else will.

Jon Amarilio: So, when you mentioned “corruption” something came to mind and it was — I can’t remember how long ago it was, you’ll have to forgive me, but it was a headline that I saw that concerned me because the good governance message that you’ve just been talking about, I think all reasonable minds can agree upon, but there was something that the current Governor Bruce Rauner Republican said something to the effect of, I’m summarizing here, but it was, I hope Erika wins so she can go after Mike Madigan and open public corruption investigation into him, and for our listeners, Mike Madigan is the longtime Illinois Speaker of the House Democrat, chief rival of the Governor Rauner.

And when I heard that it wasn’t — I guess the way I heard it wasn’t a good governance message so much as it almost sounded like encouraging a political prosecution. How did you hear it? What did you make of it?

Jon Amarilio: I didn’t see him as saying that he wanted me to go into Office and actually try to prosecute a particular person. I think he was talking about the frustration that many people have in Illinois with some of the entrenched political interests. But I’ve always made clear from the very beginning that fighting public corruption is not about targeting political opponents and I would not be going into Office seeking to open investigations against particular political officers because that’s an abuse of power.

What I’m talking about is systemic reform of governance and trying to take away some of the conflicts of interests that occur within government and empower people to be more proactive in monitoring government.

Jon Amarilio: Fair enough.

Erika Harold: So, another topic I was hoping we could touch on, it looks like we’ve got time is the politicization or at least the perceived politicization of the judiciary. We’ve seen really intense flashes of this lately during the Justice Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings before the Senate, perhaps most notably when Justice Kavanaugh blamed his problems or attributed his problems during the confirmation hearings to a Clinton-led Democratic conspiracy that I know got a lot of attention.

But this is really an issue that’s been building for decades, I think you’ll probably agree. Friend of the pod, Justice, a retired judge I should say Richard Posner has been really dismissive of the US Supreme Court saying it’s more of a political body than a properly functioning court. Chief Justice Roberts has really been pushing back on that especially in the last few days.

If you were to take off your politician cap for a moment and put your lawyer cap on, where do you think all this is headed?

Erika Harold: I don’t think it’s headed to a good place because you don’t want to undermine people’s confidence in the judiciary. You want the judiciary to be one of the branches of government that does provide that check in that balance on the other branches of government and when people start to lose respect for the judiciary then fundamentally people start to lose respect for the rule of law.

Jon Amarilio: Right.

Erika Harold: And I would hope we could get back to a place where people are able to evaluate people’s judicial philosophies and try to recognize that you may not agree with each candidate or each nominee on every issue but you’re trying to evaluate them in a more dispassionate way, and so if you look at for example Scalia or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both people that today would be viewed by many as politically polarizing nominees, but both of them were overwhelmingly confirmed during the time in which they were nominated by the respective presidents.


And I think people were able to step back, look at their credentials and to evaluate whether they were within the mainstream of legal thought and not try to say do I think this person is going to vote this way on this issue, because the reality is most of the cases that come before the Supreme Court, most of the judges are going to agree on the outcome because it’s determined by legal precedent, and I would hope we could get back to that kind of a place but it’s going to be a challenge because we are very far from that point.

Jon Amarilio: We are.

Erika Harold: Very, very far.

Jon Amarilio: Yeah, how do you think we can get back to that place or I went to a talk recently by a former Solicitor General of Illinois, Carolyn Shapiro, and one of the points she made was that we were never really in that place to begin with and she made a very convincing argument for it, but at least the public perception, which is very important for the rule of law reasons you were talking about before is it’s important from that the public perceive that we were in that place or that we can get back to that place, how do you think we can do it?

Erika Harold: Well, I know you asked me to take my politician hat off, but one of the reasons why I am running for Attorney General and partially talking about taking the politics out of this is that is a way of moving us back towards that place. The Attorney General’s office is an independent constitutional office where you are handling issues in a way that should be more judicious, it should not always be about the politics and the fact that so many people take issue with the fact that you could just try to apply the law says far more about where we are in society as opposed to whether it’s realistic or not because there was a time when people viewed the role of Attorney General is being just all of the things we’ve discussed, as trying to apply the law fairly, as trying to figure out what the statutes require, trying to balance all the interests of the people of Illinois and then taking action there.

And my focus on taking the politics out of the office is because I think that is ultimately what restores respect for the rule of law, it’s what makes people accept outcomes that they may not agree with but if they understand the process by which they got there, it feels a little bit more as if it’s something that they could handle because they know next time maybe they will get a result that they like.

But if it always feels partisan and it always feels political then people are always going to fight on grounds that are highly partisan and we’re talking past each other.

Jon Amarilio: With a conversation book and that masterful, I think would be a shame if we did anything but take a break at this point.


Advertiser: This episode of @theBar brought to you by One Legal, America’s top-rated court filing solution. One Legal’s simple workflows and local support make it easy to file in large and complex courts like Cook, Marion and LA Counties. Chicago Bar members get up to 15% off. Learn more at


Jon Amarilio: And we are back. So Erika, last obligation today.

Erika Harold: All right.

Jon Amarilio: It’s a game we call Stranger than Legal Fiction. Rules are really simple, at least in theory. I did a little bit of poking around the interwebs. I found a rule, a law, I should say, that is real and on the books in Illinois, but weird and probably shouldn’t be, and then I just made another law completely.

Erika Harold: Okay.

Jon Amarilio: Your job is to distinguish strange legal fact from fiction, and hopefully, tell us why, I want to see how the mind works. You are ready to play?

Erika Harold: Okay, very good. I’m ready.

Jon Amarilio: All right, option number one, in Champaign, Illinois, pretty close to your hometown.

Erika Harold: Yes, it is.

Jon Amarilio: It is illegal to serve a carbonated alcoholic beverage after 11 p.m.? Right, ruminate on that.

Erika Harold: Okay.

Jon Amarilio: Option number two, in Joliet, Illinois, it is illegal to mispronounce the name of the town?

Erika Harold: You could really go both ways on that, but I’d have to say perhaps the law that exists is the second one, Joliet, that it’s illegal to mispronounce the name of the town.

Jon Amarilio: Why? Are you peeking in my notes?

Erika Harold: I’m not peeking.

Jon Amarilio: 34:48.

Erika Harold: I’m not peeking at your notes. I’d have to guess that it’d be really hard to vote against a law where you’re calling for the proper pronunciation of your town’s name, and nobody would want to be seen as lacking civic virtue and community pride.


Jon Amarilio: Although probably some constitutional problem, so back right, yeah.

Erika Harold: So, that’s my best shot.

Jon Amarilio: And you’re right.

Erika Harold: All right.

Jon Amarilio: So, mispronouncing Joliet is a misdemeanor subject to a $5 fine. I did a little poking around as to how this law possibly came about. It turns out that town counselors were sick and tired of some people pronouncing the name of the town Jauliet, and they decided to do something about it, however, unconstitutional it might be.

Jon Amarilio: And you might have just earned yourself a fine for mispronouncing.

Jon Amarilio: Well, I’m not there.

Erika Harold: Okay, okay, so it only applies if you are there.

Jon Amarilio: So I don’t think they can really exercise jurisdiction over me, right, come and get me, Joliet. All right.

Erika Harold: Fighting words.

Jon Amarilio: Yeah, and that’s going to be our show for today. I want to thank our guest, Erika Harold, for joining us in what has been a really interesting discussion. Thank You, Erika.

Erika Harold: Thank you for having me.

Jon Amarilio: Wish you the best of luck in the coming election.

I also want to thank everyone here at the CBA who makes this machine run, including our executive producer, Jen Byrne, and our sound crew, Ricardo Islas and everyone at the Legal Talk Network.

Remember, you can follow us and send us comments, questions, episode ideas or just troll us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @CBAatthebar. Please also rate and leave us your feedback on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Google Play or wherever you download your podcast, it helps us get the word out.

Until next time, for everyone here at the CBA, thank you for joining us, and we will see you soon @theBar.


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Episode Details
Published: October 29, 2018
Podcast: @theBar
Category: Legal News

Young and young-ish lawyers have interesting and unscripted conversations with their guests about legal news, events, topics, stories and whatever else strikes our fancy.

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