Wednesday, July 30, 2014

CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE: Jim Yoakum, Wyandotte County Judge race

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I emailed questions to all three judicial candidates for this year's primary. All three candidates received the same questions. I will publish them as they come in. 

Today, we feature Jim Yoakum. 

1. Why are you running for office?

I'm running for office to make a difference in the place that I have called home my entire life.  For Wyandotte County.  Throughout my personal life and professional career, I have received so much from so many people from this county.  I'm running because I believe I can make a difference.  The District Court is where the 'law' most touches the lives of everyday people.  It's where we go for a contract case, a divorce, a probate matter, a juvenile issue or a criminal matter. As an attorney who has practiced in each of those areas of the law, I know that an experienced and well qualified Judge can make all the difference.  I'm asking Wyandotte County for the chance to do just that....make a difference.

2. What are your qualifications for being a judge?

I have been a practicing attorney in Wyandotte County for 17 years.  During that time I have handled cases for well over a thousand people.  I represent individuals with every day problems.  I have practiced law in nearly every area that an attorney can practice in.  I tell people all the time; ask your friends, ask your neighbor or ask your attorney.  If you do you will find someone here in Wyandotte County that I have represented.  I am one of 10 local attorneys that are responsible for handling all of the juvenile offender and child in need of care appointments for this county.  I was the municipal court prosecutor in Edwardsville, Kansas for six years.  I have extensive criminal and civil experience.  I believe that my legal experience would be an asset to the local bench because I could handle nearly any docket that I was assigned to.

3. To follow-up, whether it's a particular case you tried or career achievement, what are you most proud of about your legal career so far?
As a juvenile contract attorney I am one of ten Wyandotte County attorneys who handle all of the Juvenile offender and child in need of care cases for indigent clients. Juvenile Court can be both rewarding and heart breaking.  One of the most powerful and devastating legal moves that the State can do is to take custody of children.  It is at that time that I am appointed to represent some of these parents.  These parents are as low as they can possibly be.  Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don't.

My absolute proudest moments are when parents listen to the advice I give them, follow Court Orders, work hard on themselves, and get their children back.  Those cases are the ones that make me feel the best about myself and the entire legal system.    

4. What is your philosophy in rendering justice?

A judge should be a humble public servant.  A Judge should treat everyone with respect, be fair and impartial, and follow the law.

5. With it being "budget season" in Wyandotte County: Do you feel that there's room for improvement when it comes to efficiency of the Court? If so, do you have ideas that would help make the court more efficient?

There is always room for improving the efficiency of the court and all judges should strive to do so.  However, financial decisions are not the job of a judge and commenting on them is against judicial cannon.  In our three branches of government it is the legislature's duty to finance the court and make decisions involving the 'purse'.  Any judge or judicial candidate who makes claims that they can save tax money for citizens doesn't understand the process and should stop making those claims.

6. What sets you apart from your opponents in this race?

Experience. Community involvement. Sense of community. Humility. Dedication to Wyandotte County.  Knowing exactly who I am and what I want to accomplish.

7. If you are elected, what are your top three priorities?

Treat everyone with courtesy and respect.  Administer my courtroom as efficiently as possible. Be a fair and impartial Judge that follows the law.