The longtime clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County may be retiring from politics in 2020 but plans to remain active by starting a foundation to help entrepreneurs and those needing help with expungement.
“I will be fully vested [in my pension] at 20 years and I felt like this is the perfect opportunity to take myself and others to a higher level,” Brown told the Defender. “I plan to start a foundation to help entrepreneurs start a business and to continue helping people expunge their criminal records. Once my term expires next year, I have no plans to run for another elected office.”
She also plans on volunteering more at her South Side church.
“I am a Christian and I love the Lord,” she added. “So, you can expect to see me more at my church.”
During her tenure Brown has sponsored an expungement summit annually to assist people with arrests, misdemeanor convictions and criminal records sealed from the public.
“There are many goals I reached and many things I am proud my office accomplished, but if I had to point to one thing I am most proud of that would be expungements,” said Brown.
In 2008, Brown advocated for the release of Alton Logan, who was convicted of killing security guard Lloyd Wickliffe during a January 1982 robbery at a McDonald’s located at 11421 S. Halsted St.
Logan, 66, was largely convicted on testimony from three McDonald’s employees who said he was the murderer.
After spending 26 years behind bars, Logan was freed April 2008 after Andrew Wilson, a convicted cop killer serving a life sentence, confessed to the crime, according to Wilson’s attorneys. Bound by an oath of confidentiality, the attorneys kept the admission a secret until after Wilson died in prison in November 2007.
“Logan’s dramatic story speaks volumes about the cracks in the justice system and how easily people can fall through those cracks if they do not have money or connections,” Brown said. “My dream is to make the statement, ‘Justice for All,’ have literal meaning: equal justice for everyone, regardless of their race, gender, education or economic status.”
Looking back on her career as clerk Brown said among the first things she changed after being elected in 2000 was to install voicemail.
“Yeah, believe it or not, there was no voicemail system at the clerk’s office, but of course we (have it) now,” she said.
As an attorney and certified public accountant, Brown was elected to a fourth term as circuit court clerk in 2016, despite the Cook County Democratic Party endorsing another candidate. She previously ran for city treasurer in 1999; Chicago mayor in 2007; and president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 2010. Before she entered politics, Brown had worked for the Chicago Transit Authority as an auditor.
“Patience is what the next clerk will need to have if they are going to do this job correctly,” said Brown.
Critics speculate that Brown is retiring with hopes that a federal probe into her office selling jobs would go away. However, Brown, who has never been charged with any wrongdoing, dismissed that notion.
“My decision to retire from politics had zero to do with the feds or any investigation that may be going on,” contends Brown, a wife and mother.
Those who know her best would describe Brown as “a woman with a servant heart,” she said.