Swansea attorney Katherine Ruocco is seeking election in 2018 for circuit judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit.
She aims to fill the judicial vacancy created by Circuit Judge Jan V. Fiss’s retirement. The 20th Judicial Circuit includes the counties of Monroe, Perry, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington.
Ruocco, 50, is a native of the St. Louis metropolitan area and recently finished a four-year term as an elected village of Swansea trustee (2013-2017). Ruocco has worked in the legal and financial industries for nearly 30 years, and has been a practicing attorney since 2003. She will run in the Republican primary election to be held on March 20, 2018.
Ruocco says she sees a bright future for Southern Illinois, but recognizes the many challenges facing the 20th Judicial Circuit. She specifically emphasizes the need to increase transparency, build the public trust, and foster productive and meaningful community dialogue. Ruocco believes that her education and diverse work experiences make her uniquely qualified to serve effectively as circuit judge.
Ruocco’s professional career began in the business world. Starting as a bilingual operator at Western Union (and Communication Workers of America Union member), she rose to work in IT Development at Ceridian, and ultimately became an International Management consultant at Ernst & Young LLP. There, Ruocco travelled globally managing enterprise-wide projects for
Fortune 500 companies. Having owned and operated several small businesses of her own, however, Ruocco’s focus eventually shifted away from high-level corporate work. She joined Edward Jones and found her calling in serving families and individuals. As an attorney for the Edward Jones Trust Co., Ruocco found she could offer broader legal services in private practice. For 15 years, Ruocco has practiced law in the St. Louis metropolitan area at Ruocco Law Office LLC. She is licensed in Missouri and Illinois.
Ruocco has litigated trials (representing both plaintiffs and defendants) and practiced in a wide variety of areas, including: administrative law, business associations, medical malpractice, family law, debtor protection, estate planning, probate, and real estate transactions. Ruocco Law Office LLC currently focuses on elder law. Ruocco has worked as an accredited VA attorney with the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2008. She is a veterans advocate and has been an appointed guardian, conservator, and VA Fiduciary. Ruocco also serves as a legal resource for AARP, Alzheimer’s Association, and other organizations that assist seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. Most of Ruocco’s veteran services are performed pro bono, due to her deep gratitude and respect for our military.
When asked about her interest in serving as judge, Ruocco first explained she feels blessed that her elder law practice allowed her to serve many oft-overlooked populations (e.g. seniors, veterans, children, and people with special needs). However, she believes that 15 years of extensive client practice has given her the experience and judgment to transition from client representation to the bench.
Ruocco stated: “The public deserves an independent judge who follows the letter and spirit of the law, and remains free from political and personal influence. The judiciary shouldn’t be a haven for insiders with past or present business, employment, or personal judicial relationships. The people of Southern Illinois deserve an independent judiciary that promotes public confidence and remains fair, impartial, and devoted to justice for all. If elected, I’ll be that judge who is wholly fair and impartial – that judge who decides cases only after careful, thorough analysis of the facts and law. I’ll act with the integrity, fairness, and humanity that the people of Southern Illinois expect and deserve.”
Ruocco emphasizes judges’ duty to avoid any appearance of impropriety. For example, local lawyers often make substantial monetary donations to judicial campaigns. This can lead to situations where judges decide cases argued by these same lawyers – their campaign contributors. To keep politics out of the courtroom, Ruocco pledges to disqualify herself from all cases where any party or representative has contributed a sum of $200 or more to her political committee.
Ruocco earned her B.S. Business Administration from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis, her MBA from Lindenwood University, and her Juris Doctorate from Saint Louis University School of Law (SLU Law). To help keep her community safe as an emergency volunteer, Ruocco recently completed her EMT First Responder training at Southwestern Illinois College. Ruocco attends Grace Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois. She is married to anesthesiologist Eric M. Ruocco, who practices at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville. They have four children: Amanda, Candace, Alexander, and Michael. Amanda is a public school administrator in an underserved Metro East community. Candace graduated from Katherine’s alma matter (SLU Law) and serves with her husband in the U.S. Marine Corps. Alex studies Criminal Justice at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois. Michael is a sixth-grader at St. Clare School in O’Fallon, Ill.
— The Illinois Business Journal