1.) What is the importance of a 6th Circuit Judge to residents of Champaign County?
Our legal system serves and protects our citizens. Judges must be neutral arbiters of the law. In legal practice, each side will advocate an opposing position – be it on procedure, evidence, liability, punishment, or reward. The judge’s duty is to efficiently and fairly decide these disputes while ensuring each side has a fair opportunity to advocate for their position and be heard.
Rarely does a legal case end with every party happy – if there were easy solutions, the matter wouldn’t be in court. It is paramount that the judge know and apply the law evenly and fairly – free from prejudice, influence, bias, and partisanship. While not everyone may be happy in any given case, each of us benefits when rulings are based on the law we have all had a part in shaping. Judges should not make the law, but are sworn to uphold it in accordance with the underlying constitutional principles that shape our system, and their decisions must reflect this.
Finally, a judge must be aware that their decisions have ramifications, not just on the parties before them in a given case, but on others who see and are affected by those decisions. The system must be fair, but it must also be seen to be fair. It is not an exaggeration to say that a just legal system is a pillar of a working democracy, and a judge has a responsibility to safeguard and administer the sanctity of that system.
2.) Why are you qualified to be a 6th Circuit Judge?
I am committed to the safety and welfare of Champaign County; This is my home. I was born here, grew up here, and it is where I live, work, and where I am raising my own family. I’ve been in public service for more than 20 years, devoted to ensuring the safety and well-being of the families in which I’ve worked as a Deputy County Attorney, a Special Assistant US Attorney, a private attorney, and, now, Chief Criminal Deputy for Champaign County.
I have been privileged to represent the people of Illinois in hundreds of serious cases - including multiple 1st degree murders, predatory assaults on children and vulnerable victims, and more violent firearm offenses than I care to remember. A brief reference to a few of the cases I’ve pursued is at www.troylozar.com/experience. The goal of these cases has always been – and must always be – to seek justice.
To that end I have devoted myself to acquiring the knowledge and skill necessary to fairly and intelligently represent the people of Illinois. Unlike a private attorney or a defense counsel, my experience is primarily informed by a responsibility to seek the good of the public, not the best interests of my individual client. For most of my career I have only had one client: The people of the state of Illinois – and one mandate: To do what is right. Now, I want to bring this skill, experience, and belief in always doing the right thing, to the bench.
3.) What areas of Law have you had substantial experience in?
I've worked for multiple state governments, the United States' Attorney's Office, and as a private attorney, in legal areas as diverse as criminal, family, business, tort, real estate/transactional, and estate planning and probate. I've managed an office of lawyers and staff, and headed the juvenile justice arm of a prosecuting agency. Inter-agency cooperation and coordination is critical to the efficient success of any complex system and I've worked with medical, law enforcement, mental health, probation, administrative, and support staff to ensure achieving the goals we set for our agencies.
It's a long, long, stretch to suggest I've done it all - and every day is an opportunity to learn more - but the breadth and depth of my experience will allow me to serve Champaign County efficiently and fairly.
4.) Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter?
Yes. These positions are important - very important. Do your own research. Be informed. Vote for own welfare, but also that of your neighbors, your parents, and future generations.
Our justice system - our legal system - is something to be proud of. When I teach legal procedure, I impress on students how amazing it is our system was designed to literally work against itself in an effort to ensure fairness for all parties involved. The founders created a system in which we can, and should, seek justice for all.
Still, we must improve. Criminal justice reform, civil reform, access to courts, pretrial procedures – these, and more, need to be active discussions, with decisions and changes made based on law, and supported by facts and evidence. I believe in the proper use of drug courts and mental health courts, diversion, second-chance, expungement, and 1st offender, programs, to ensure we do not harm ourselves by stigmatizing good people who have simply made mistakes – but there are also times and serious offenders where the only logical, appropriate, actions must be stern and unequivocal.
Today’s atmosphere seems to call for polarization and extreme positions that are unwilling to debate. I reject this. It is more important than ever that we apply reason, and make measured, informed decisions to keep our community healthy and safe, and work to improve it for each and every one of us.