Carlson saw both sides as prosecutor and defense attorney
By Janet Lundquist firstname.lastname@example.org October 29, 2012 11:08PM
Dave Carlson, Republican candidate for Will County state's attorney, addresses reporters during a press conference by local Republicans asking Democrats if they still support Jesse Jackson Jr.'s re-election. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Political affiliation : Republican
Occupation/Name of employer: Attorney / Founding Partner of Carlson, Zelazo & O’Dekirk, LLC
Marital status: Married with two daughters
Civic involvement: Illinois State Bar Association, Will County Bar Association, Will County Farm Bureau, Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce, Shorewood Chamber of Commerce, University of St. Francis Health Center Advisory Board, Illinois State Rifle Association, National Rifle Association, Will and Grundy Counties Center for Independent Living.
Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?
I have never run for political office before. I have held the positions of Will County assistant state’s attorney, municipal prosecutor and probation officer.
List jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government?
See above. Also, I represented PACE Bus, a division of the RTA in civil litigation matters here in Will County, which included me taking a case to a jury which ultimately saved the taxpayers over a half of a million dollars.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
I will refer to my most recent campaign disclosure to make sure this is accurate.
What is your estimated campaign budget?
Please describe your educational background.
Bachelor of arts from the University of Arizona, 1993 (political science); Juris Doctor from Northern Illinois University, 2001
What legislation will you push for in Springfield over the next four years?
I don’t think it is the state’s attorney’s role to legislate. The position is there to enforce the laws that our elected legislators enact. For justice to be done, the conviction has to withstand appeal. The state’s attorney should focus on justice being served for the victims as well as the community. That being said, I do feel that Illinois needs a concealed-carry law to allow law abiding citizens to protect themselves.
Will you use hearsay evidence in prosecutions as now permitted under the so-called “Drew’s Law”?
As in the answer above, I don’t believe the state’s attorney should be “testing” legal theories on real victims and real cases. It is my understanding that the law proposed by Mr. Glasgow was found to be bad, however the court allowed the evidence to come in under an old theory of law. Mr. Glasgow in fact claimed that this law has roots some 400 years old. If that is true, then the question must be asked, why did these charges take so long in coming? And why did he try to “rewrite” the law? I’m afraid the answer comes back to a common theme of his prosecution style; he timed it for political purposes.
Are too many people prosecuted for low-level drug crimes?
It is how we deal with “low-level” drug crimes, not the number. We have to rethink the approach. Instead of tying up courtrooms and prosecutors, who could be battling the heroin epidemic, we can have a truly effective first offender program which requires treatment of any substance abuse issues without the long-term effects of criminal convictions. This will be particularly effective with small amounts of marijuana. The goal for “low-level” drug crimes should be to stop any substance abuse problem before it starts. This doesn’t work when your main focus is statistics as opposed to solutions. Under my watch it is the solution and justice approach that will prevail.
Should the Will County state’s attorney’s office do more to combat heroin overdoses in Will County?
Absolutely. It is the sole responsibility of the state’s attorney to enforce the laws and protect our county. It isn’t being done. Glasgow looks at this problem through an antiquated lens. We have to take the fight to where this poison is coming from. I have proposed my “Will N.O.T.” plan, the comprehensive prosecutions-based strategy to combat this poison and the killers who deliver it. I will not settle for the continued excuse that it is too hard to prosecute drug-induced homicides. It’s not about statistics as my opponent refers to, but rather prosecutions and justice. The first time someone in Cook County is brought back here to be held accountable for the death of one of our kids, the message will be sent very clearly. I have seen firsthand from my experience in law enforcement what the drug-selling corners of Chicago are about. Glasgow hasn’t. He talks about software combating this problem, I’m about hardnosed prosecution of these killers. This isn’t a video game, these are real lives being lost. Mr. Glasgow has never been on the streets, he has never arrested a drug dealer ... I have.
Do you think it is proper for a prosecutor to overcharge a case to facilitate a prompt disposition?
Absolutely not! The prosecutor has one responsibility … to ensure justice. To overcharge a case simply to resolve a matter is wrong at every level. This is what a prosecutor worried about statistics and political gain does. This is what Glasgow does.
Research has indicated that false confessions and mistaken witness identifications are a leading source of cases in which innocent people are prosecuted. What will you do to address those issues?
Having firsthand knowledge of these issues with the Dorian case, I can say without hesitation, that this is a priority of my administration. It costs the reputation of the accused. It costs the county millions in taxpayer funds. And most significantly it gives the community a false sense of security which ultimately ends up in a lack of trust in the criminal justice system. Illinois has done away with the death penalty essentially because of this issue, yet we are making laws like those used in the Peterson case, which potentially allow for increased wrongful convictions. I believe in the death penalty and I find it ridiculous and illogical that our legislators with the guidance of Mr. Glasgow are content with laws allowing less trustworthy evidence to convict someone so long as they only spend their life in prison. We should be striving to make the system better, not reducing penalties of those convicted because we have no faith in the process.
We can be the example for reform in this area. Under the current administration, Will County has been the poster child for wrongful prosecutions. At the head of all of these prosecutions, there is one common denominator ... Glasgow. It is no coincidence that Mark Brown from the Sun-Times did a cartoon titled “Prosecution for Dummies” and the individual reading it was a Will County prosecutor. Change has to come to this office in the form of new leadership at the top. It is time to restore confidence and integrity to the position of state’s attorney and I can do that.
Updated: December 1, 2012 6:10AM
In the course of his career, Dave Carlson has worked for both sides of law enforcement.
Currently Carlson, 41, is an attorney in private practice in Joliet. He has also been a prosecutor as well as an adult probation officer.
He said his experiences as a probation officer, where he saw the difficulties of people living in high-crime areas firsthand, led him to law school.
After working as a prosecutor under former Will County State’s Attorney Jeff Tomczak as well as current State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow, Carlson, of Plainfield, entered private practice and opened a law firm — Carlson, Zelazo & O’Dekirk, LLC — which handles all types of cases, from criminal defense to family law.
Now in his first run for an elected office, the married father of two is looking to get back to prosecution.
“It’s the most honorable position you can hold as a lawyer,” Carlson said when asked why he wanted to be the county’s state’s attorney. “When people go to bed at night they should know that you’re there to protect them.”
When he worked as an assistant state’s attorney, Carlson said he handled cases ranging from juvenile cases to drugs and violent crimes.
But his work as a defense attorney has been crucial, he said, adding that he believes having worked on both sides of law enforcement will help him be a better prosecutor.
Instead of focusing on new legislation, Carlson said he would make sure justice is served while acting as an advocate for the community.
“You’re there to enforce the laws, you’re not there to legislate,” Carlson said. “We’ve got plenty of good laws on the books that are not being enforced.”
Even so, Carlson said he believes Illinois should have a concealed-carry law as well as the death penalty. The system should be fixed, he said, instead of having things such as the death penalty eliminated because of wrongful convictions.
Carlson also believes the office should do more to combat the epidemic of heroin overdoses with tough prosecution of drug dealers as well as prevention and awareness work with parents, teachers and police.
While a top priority of his office would be sending drug dealers to prison and prosecuting drug-induced homicides, Carlson said he would also like to see an effective first-offender program for drug cases that requires substance abuse treatment.
If elected, Carlson said he wouldn’t anticipate holding the office longer than two terms.
“It’s not a career position,” he said, and limiting the time spent in office takes the politics out of it.