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Issues

We will be posting Luke's position on various issues on this page of our site.  This page will be updated regularly.   If you would like to learn Luke's position on any issue not listed, please contact us.  Luke will respond directly to you and if Luke's position on the issue may be of interest to the general public, we'll post Luke's position on it here as well!  

2nd Amendment

As an attorney, Luke has been the strongest advocate in our area for preserving, protecting, and promoting individuals' rights under the 2nd Amendment.


Role of the Judiciary and the Constitution

The Constitution is the operating charter granted to government by the people, as per the preamble to the United States Constitution, and its written nature introduces a certain discipline into its interpretation.  Likewise, statutes are written by representatives of the people and are intended to mean what they say unless and until amended or repealed.

Luke firmly believes if the Constitution and properly enacted statutes can mean anything with the use of subjective interpretation, then they are rendered meaningless. 

Judges judge; legislatures legislate.


Parental Rights in Abuse and Neglect Cases

As a father of four children, Luke knows there is no greater right or responsibility than the God-given privilege of being a parent.

Good parents deserve the right to parent their children in the manner they see fit, free from interference or intrusion.  Children deserve to have their mothers and fathers in their lives.

 


Plea Agreements involving Serious Crime

The plea-bargaining process, and the negotiated plea agreements that result from that process, are vital to and highly desirable for the criminal justice system.  Prosecutors are typically in the best position to know the strengths and weaknesses of the People’s case.  Despite the foregoing, the Judge must not act as a mere rubber stamp to every plea agreement that comes before the Court, especially cases involving serious and/or violent crimes.

Whether the Court accepts or rejects a plea is left to the sound discretion of the trial judge.  In other words, no plea agreement is reached until the judge approves it.

We often hear of violent criminals getting less incarceration time than drug offenders or other non-violent crimes.  While this is not the norm, our local justice system must make it clear that serious and/or violent crime will not be tolerated.  There is no justification for violent crimes against anyone, especially women, children, and the elderly.

As your Judge, Luke will send a clear message that serious and/or violent crime has no place in our civilized society.  Luke will reject plea agreements that do not bring justice and deter others from committing similar crimes. Luke has zero tolerance for violence and abuse.


Cass County's Needs and Expectations of the Judiciary

Our County’s needs, people, businesses, and government are very diverse.  Having represented these clients across the spectrum provides Luke with unique insight into the role of our judiciary.  While fair, uniform application of the law will always result, Luke recognizes a one-size-fits all approach will not always work and that the Judge must take into consideration the needs and values of the community when the law allows.
Luke is committed to always achieving justice as the County’s Resident Judge.  


Farming and Judiciary

Our local judiciary must have a keen awareness of the legal issues and challenges our County's farmers face.


Bullying and the Law

While bullying has been around long before anyone reading this was a child, it has increased in intensity over the last several years with the advancement of technology.  Additionally, children historically had a two-parent household to provide guidance and support when bullying occurred.  Regretfully, two-parent households have declined significantly over the years.

First off, I would like to acknowledge I do not believe every wrong in the world can be corrected by yet another law or by government.  Far from it.  Parents talking to other parents remains the best solution to most problems that arise between children.  I recall being bullied when I was in the 1st grade by a junior high student on the bus.  My father no sooner got home and learned of it, put me in the car and went to the home of the bully’s parents.  It was the last time the bullying occurred.

With that said, there are some children who do not have parents willing or capable of assisting with resolution of these issues—bully or the bullied.  When parents are unable to resolve these issues on their own, I believe it proper to have appropriate legal recourse available to ensure that bullying is stopped.  With social media, children can be bullied at school and on the internet, leaving no reprieve.  Too many tragedies have occurred as a result.

As a judge, I would take these types of matters very seriously.  The court can provide guidance and enlightenment, while also having the powers given to it by the laws in existence as a failsafe.  All children have the right to learn and grow without harassment, ridicule, or threat of physical violence. 

To learn more about our State’s anti-bullying legislation, please visit:

https://www.isbe.net/Documents/IL-bully-statute.pdf


Alternative Sentencing-- Community Service

Luke would like to see our county’s legal system have a much stronger community service aspect as a sentencing alternative versus just acting as another financial apparatus to collect fines and fees.

Luke's profession prides itself on being more than just a financial business---being a lawyer or a judge is supposed to mean more than just collecting money. There are virtually no rehabilitative qualities with merely fining offenders.

As our Resident Judge, Luke will work with our law enforcement, local churches and community organizations to institute a sentencing program that teaches non-violent offenders who have done wrong to give back to the community and “work off” their punishment. Frankly, the folks that find themselves in this kind of trouble are least likely to be able to pay huge fines.

Instead of paying two attorneys, an interpreter and an entire court and security staff to administer the collection of fines at the rate of $25 per month for months and years on end, it would be much more cost-effective to put these folks to work to benefit the community.

For example, some of our fine citizens recently cleaned up our county’s roads/ditches/fields of debris left from fly-dumping and litter. There is no reason why folks that find themselves on the wrong side of the law shouldn’t also be out doing this kind of work to make our County a better place for all.

Luke is confident the judiciary, law enforcement, and community leaders can formulate a feasible plan to put this into action. It is a win-win solution.

Studies suggest it costs nearly 7 times as much to jail an offender than it does to put him on an electronic monitoring device with community service.  The most cited study involves the country of Australia's legal system.  According to their study, community service sentencing resulted in a 31% decrease in offenders who re-offend as compared to those who had the traditional jail sentence.   

Many Illinois criminal offenses permit community service as a sentencing option.  Yet, Cass and surrounding counties have not implemented programs to take advantage of this.  Luke would make implementation of a pilot program to get community service as a sentencing option a priority.

 

 

 


Child Custody and Visitation

Countless studies show children who grow up in families with both their parents in a low-conflict marriage are better off in a number of ways than children who grow up in single and step-parent households.  These studies reveal one of the primary factors attributable to the difference is having continuous, two-parent parenting. 

In other words, children benefit when their mother and father are actively involved in their parenting.

Despite this overwhelming evidence, our State’s laws and legal system have been woefully inadequate in addressing this issue when formulating child custody and visitation arrangements after marriages fail or when children are born out-of-wedlock.

Prior to the 2016 amendment of the Act addressing custody/visitation in Illinois, it was commonplace to see one parent (typically mom) awarded custody, with the other parent (typically dad) receiving visitation every other weekend and a couple of weeks in the summer.  This was perhaps rooted in the traditional roles of married couples established pre-1960.

“Visitation” four times a month cannot  is not the equivalent and does not constitute two-parent parenting.

Illinois now calls the section of the Act addressing custody/visitation “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities”.  A link to the Act is found below.  The amendment to the Act, at least legislatively, goes a long way at correcting the short-comings of the previous system. 

Judges are still guided by a “best interests of the child(ren)” standard when making determinations on contested issues. Even with these new legislative tools, judges must recognize a parent’s love for their child(ren) doesn’t diminish or end just because their marriage ended. 

Especially now that there is clearer legislative direction, judges must be willing to dedicate the court’s time and energy to formulate arrangements that maximize the input and parenting time of both parents, when both parents are ready, willing and able to be actively involved in their children’s lives.  One-size-fits-all arrangements do not work in today’s dynamics.

 

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Section of Act


Parental Notification

In the case of Hope Clinic for Women, Ltd v. Flores, 2013 IL 112673, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the Parental Notice of Abortion Act, which requires notice be provided to the parent or guardian of an unemancipated minor before abortion services are provided. Exception requires judicial waiver in the case of abuse.


Sexual Harassment and Domestic Violence

The politicization of sexual harassment and domestic violence, with the resultant “my team vs. your team” mentality, detracts from the serious consequences of such behavior. As a father of three daughters and as a matter common decency, I strongly believe our Courts must give these cases the time and attention they deserve. Incorrect decisions have long-term impact on present and future victims, while also having similar devastating impact on persons wrongfully accused.

The declared public policy of our State as set forth in the Human Rights Act is:

“To prevent sexual harassment in employment and sexual harassment in elementary, secondary, and higher education.”

and

“To protect citizens of this State against unfounded charges of sexual harassment in employment and sexual harassment in elementary, secondary, and higher education.”

Similarly, failure to give domestic violence matters adequate consideration can result in returning victims to unstable and abusive environments which can quickly escalate out of control.

Yet, our Courts cannot ignore the consequences of unfounded allegations considering the loss of Constitutional rights, employment, parenting time, and relationships that results.

Regardless of political affiliation, decent people agree there is absolutely no excuse for the repugnant behaviors of harassment and violence.


To properly protect the delicate balance between the rights of alleged victim and the accused, the judge must have sufficient experience in all facets of the law involved---employment, family, criminal and constitutional law, and be willing to handle matters on a case-by-case basis with the level of seriousness deserved.

Luke has successfully represented public and private employers and employees in actions for harassment and discrimination before the Illinois Department of Human Rights. He has also successfully tried numerous civil and criminal cases involving domestic violence, including:

Civil and criminal order of protection actions;

Domestic battery;

Restoration of Constitutional rights of the accused; and

Administrative appeals involving domestic violence before the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.


Personal Opinions in Judicial Elections

Judicial candidates face a unique challenge in Illinois--how to preserve the independence of the judiciary while running in a party-specific political system?

Judicial candidates are cautioned to avoid sharing personal opinions on laws and issues of our times to avoid appearing biased should similar issues come before the candidate as judge.

Yet, as a voter and fellow citizen, you deserve to know the qualifications, experience and character of your next judge. 

Complete avoidance of discussing judicial philosophies in context with current laws and issues reduces judicial elections to nothing more than political gamesmanship. Voters are provided with generic statements of honesty and fairness, while receiving select pictures of the candidates making public appearances or engaging in acts of charity.  

While I am mindful that candidates need to avoid the appearance of future bias, I believe it hurts the integrity of the judiciary to require candidates to be vague, indirect or manipulative.  Our judges must be selected by objective and demonstrable measures such as experience, professional qualifications and, yes, judicial philosophy.

I have and will continue to share my experience, philosophy and opinions with you.  There is much, much more to selecting our next judge than party affiliation or vague statements of fairness and impartiality.  In reality, no one party platform matches our beliefs or all of our concerns.  Many of the topics discussed in today's politics are irrelevant locally.

As your judge, I will always be willing to fully consider both sides of cases that come before me regardless of any personal opinions I may have prior to considering the evidence presented.  Judges must rule on the evidence presented in context with existing law, not what they personally believe the law or outcome should be.  

Again, you deserve to know who you are voting for as your next judge.  Even if there are times you do not agree with a particular interpretation I publicly share, I ask you to evaluate my candidacy and experience as a whole.  I respect you and our electoral process enough to provide you with information relevant to the position.  

As an attorney, I have been called upon to zealously represent my clients' interests, regardless of my personal opinions and relationships. This is not always by choice--it is by oath and professional/ethical obligation.

This can strain relationships, causing those affected to lose sight of the attorneys' roles, to the extent personal animosity arises. Undoubtedly, our judges are called upon to make equally tough decisions, knowing the same type of result may occur.  I will work tirelessly to have command of the law for each case that comes before me and will give it the time and consideration it deserves. I am prepared to make tough decisions based on the law, even when the result may be unpopular with some. 

Rest assured, any judicial philosophy I share is MY opinion written by ME, not "borrowed" from another source and passed off as my own words, as to do so would be dishonest and lack integrity.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions about my experience, qualifications, or simply want to learn more about me.  I maintain offices in Beardstown and Virginia, and live in Ashland.  I can be reached by phone at 217.323.2211, 217.452.3037, or 217.210.1430.  

 


Establishing Veterans Court and Problem Solving Courts

Affected Veterans may come into contact with the legal system for a variety of reasons related to their service, including post-traumatic stress, brain injury, depression, drug use, alcohol dependency, and co-occurring mental illness.

The law already requires each Illinois County to have established a veterans court.  Despite this, there is not a veterans court in our area.  This must and will change.



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