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Judge vs. prosecutor for seat on bench

Judge Luis Berones. | Special Sun-Times Media

Judge Luis Berones. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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2nd Subcircuit

Parts of Libertyville, Warren , Shields and Waukegan townships

Updated: January 2, 2013 1:38AM

A career prosecutor is facing a veteran associate judge for an elected judgeship in the 19th Judicial Circuit’s Second Subcircuit.

Democrat Patricia Fix of Gurnee has held a number of positions within Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office during her 18 years as an assistant state’s attorney. She is currently chief of the felony trial division.

“I enjoy working in the criminal justice system. I enjoy the law. This subcircuit opening afforded me the opportunity to pursue something I’ve always wanted to do,” Fix said.

Republican candidate Luis Berrones of Wadsworth was appointed an associate judge in 2007. Elected circuit judges appoint associate judges. Circuit judges also deal with the administration of the court.

No matter how votes are cast come election day, Berrones will preside over a courtroom.

“I think that I have the qualifications to be circuit judge. I’ve been an associate judge for five years and have sat in different divisions,” Berrones said. “I would like to be involved with some of the issues the courts are facing.”

He has noticed an increase in the number of clients who represent themselves (pro se). He is the backup judge for chancery and arbitration divisions.

Berrones said he would like to help find ways to make the court more accessible for pro se litigants.

“When you represent yourself, there is more difficulty navigating civil division. Having pro ses on both sides is hard for judges to make rulings they don’t understand. It becomes difficult for all parties involved,” Berrones said.

Fix said she could use her expertise in areas like cybercrimes. She was the first person in the state to prosecute cybercrimes. She helped created the cybercrimes unit and was the first chief of the State’s Attorney’s Office’s Cybercrimes Unit.

Fix was also the first prosecutor in the court when domestic violence got their own court call in the early 1990s.

“I was the first unit supervisor. I began training in how to handle documenting cases, getting pictures of victims’ injuries and getting signed statements from victims so if they chose not to proceed, we could decide to continue with or without them,” Fix said.

Fix was the first domestic violence courtroom supervisor. She was promoted to chief of the traffic division before she started the Cybercrimes Unit. After that, she was asked to move to the felony trial division.

She has tried more than 1,000 cases during her career as a prosecutor. She has prosecuted more than 25 homicide cases, most recently the bludgeoning homicide case of Daniel Baker, which is still pending.

“If elected, I would do anything requested of me. If I am a circuit judge, I will try to apply the same diligence to my career as prosecutor to the job of judging,” Fix said.

Berrones has presided over traffic court, family court, civil and criminal matters. He worked in the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office from 1983 to 1987. He was a partner in a private law firm for 20 years before he became an associate judge.

In addition to assisting pro se litigants, he said he is interested in helping resolve space issues at the courthouse.

“I think that these are the issues we need to address that I want to be involved in,” Berrones said.

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