Judge speaks on role of fathers
A Will County judge delivered a powerful message on the importance of fathers in the upbringing of children at a statewide conference on Saturday.
“I know, based on my own personal experience, how important it was to have my father in my life,” said Judge Jessica Colon-Sayre, speaking at the annual symposium presented by the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood.
She said just as her father played an important role in her upbringing, her husband is instrumental in raising their children now.
Without him, she said, she would not have the time to commit to serving as a judge, let alone to run for election to the 12th Judicial Circuit in Will County.
Colon-Sayre is now an associate judge who sits in Family Court. She has also served in criminal court, as both a prosecutor and as a judge, and she compared the two: “Criminal law is where bad people act their best. Family law is where good people act their worst.”
Council Chairman Jeffery M. Leving, in his remarks, called for state legislation to begin contested custody proceedings with the presumption that equal shared parenting is in the best interest of the children. Currently this is not the statutory starting point, so these hearings can be a free-for-all, Leving says.
Judge Colon-Sayre said she agrees: She favors equal shared parenting.
The symposium was held Saturday at the Joliet Public Library in downtown Joliet – the first public event in the McGuire Room since the library’s grand re-opening after an extensive renovation.
The symposium also featured speeches by Doug Kasper of the Non-Violent Cities Project in Joliet; the personal testimony of Deonte Moore, who said his father was a Gangster Disciple who was murdered, but whose uncle was the first black student to graduate from the University of Florida and went on to be a federal judge; Maureen Gorman, president of the Fatherhood Educational Institute; and Imam Charles Muhammad of Al-Aqsa Community Center in Plainfield.
The Council also gave its first Outstanding Illinois Father award to Dave Dahl of Chatham, Illinois, who attended the symposium with his sons Clifford, 25, and Isaac, 19, and his wife Corrina.
The Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood is a state board established by the governor and General Assembly in 2004 to promote paternal involvement in the upbringing of their children.