A judge's most important quality is 'listening' ability, Judge Braun tells WJOL's Slocum
Will County Associate Judge Ben Braun, who last week declared his candidacy for Will County Circuit Court, sat for an interview this week with WJOL 1340 AM's Scott Slocum, and Braun revealed what he believes is the most important quality for a judge.
“What I tell young people when I'm doing a presentation in a school is the most important quality for a judge is not speaking ability, it's listening,” said Braun. “It’s the ability to hear people, to hear them out. Everybody has to walk out of a courtroom whether they win or lose feeling like they got a fair hearing, and like they had their say. While they may disagree with your ruling, it's important that they feel they were heard.”
Braun has served in his current position for 11 years and previously spent 19 years practicing law in the county. He is seeking to fill the position opened when Will County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Rozak retired this year.
The judge revealed to Slocum's listeners that he has been endorsed by Rozak, as well as two former Will County chief judges: Stephen White and Gerald Kinney.
He also spoke of his humble beginnings that brought him to Will County.
“When I was a junior in high school, I started driving an ice cream truck and of all things my route started in Frankfort and then New Lenox,” said Braun. “The last half of the route was on the east side of Joliet so I came to know that part of the county at that point. When I graduated from law school in 1986 and started looking for jobs, I saw there was an opening with a firm in Joliet. I really thought I'd be here a year or two before going downtown and never left.”
“Yeah, you kind of fall in love and get comfortable here, don’t you?” asked Slocum.
“It's a fantastic area and Will County is a wonderful place to live,” said Braun. “Joliet is a fantastic place to practice law. It's small enough that you get to know everybody pretty quickly and that's still the case, but it's large enough that you get to handle significant cases just as if you were working in Chicago.”
Braun previously served as an attorney, specializing in family law, both as a partner at Stefanich, McGarry, Wols, and Okrei, Ltd. and in his own firm. In 2006, the Will County circuit judges selected Braun to become an associate judge, making him the sole candidate among approximately 35 to be selected for the honor.
The judge also explained to Slocum’s listeners the difference between being an associate judge and a circuit court judge.
“Scott, at the trial court level in Illinois, there are associate judges and circuit court judges. In Will County, we have 36 judges total, 20 of whom are associate judges,” explained Braun. “The associate judges are appointed by the circuit court judges and serve four year terms. The circuit court judges are essentially the managers of the courthouse.”
Continued Braun, “There are 16 circuit court judges in this county and they're essentially responsible for handling the higher profile calls, appointing the associate judges, and supervising the courthouse. The presiding judges of the individual divisions tend to be circuit court judges.”
Braun said that he feels his experience as an associate judge, as well as his experience as a practicing lawyer qualify him to for the circuit court. He said his campaign will be circulating petitions this fall to be on the ballot for the March 2018 Primary and November 2018 General Election.
As the Will County Gazette reported earlier this month, Braun filed for office with more than $30,000 in campaign funds.