Meet Katherine: working for an independent judiciary

Working Together for Integrity & Justice

Swansea attorney Katherine Ruocco will run for the 20th Judicial Circuit vacancy created by the retirement of the Hon. Circuit Judge Jan V. Fiss.   The 20th Judicial Circuit includes the counties of Monroe, Perry, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington. Ruocco will run in the Republican primary election to be held on March 20, 2018.

Ruocco, 50, is licensed to practice in Illinois and Missouri, and has practiced law for nearly fifteen years in private practice.  Ruocco's Illinois law office is located on West Main Street in Belleville, Illinois.    

Ruocco litigates trials, representing both plaintiffs and defendants, and practices in a wide variety of practice areas including administrative law, family, debtor protection, medical malpractice, estate planning, probate, and real estate matters. Her current practice has transitioned to a focus of elder law.

When asked why Ruocco was interested in serving in the circuit judge position, Ruocco stated that while she feels very fortunate to have served those who are often underserved in her elder law practice, namely the elderly, minor children, veterans and the special needs community, after fifteen years of extensive client practice, she feels she has developed the experience and judgment to transition from client practice to circuit judge.  

Ruocco stated, “Throughout my many years of practice, I have worked with clients and dispute resolution at many levels and circumstances. This vast experience will allow me to better serve the public when I am their judge. The public deserves to have an independent judge who follows the letter and spirit of the law, and is free from political and personal influence. The judiciary should not be a haven for only those who have existing or previous business, employment, and personal relationships with the judiciary. Such practice lends itself to decreasing confidence of the integrity of the judiciary, and fosters the public’s view of the Court as an ivory tower of the powerful elite, where the public’s interest is considered secondary to that of those who serve on the bench. The people of Southern Illinois deserve an independent judiciary which promotes public confidence and that which is fair, impartial, and devoted to justice for all. As a judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit, I will be that judge who is wholly fair and impartial, will decide cases after careful and thorough consideration and analysis of the facts and the law, and will act with the integrity, fairness and humanity that the people of Southern Illinois expect and are deserving of.”

Ruocco has served as an accredited VA attorney with the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2008 and works as a veterans advocate.  She has served veterans in the capacity of guardian, conservator and VA Fiduciary.  She also serves as a legal resource for AARP, Alzheimers Organization and other organizations that focus on assisting the elderly, veterans and the disabled. Most work done for veterans is rendered without cost due to Ruocco’s deep gratitude and respect for our military men and women. 

In addition to practicing law, Ruocco had served as a Village of Swansea Trustee from 2013 to 2017. As a  Village trustee, Ruocco and the Village Board dealt regularly with the review,  amendment, and approval of Village contracts and agreements, union negotiations and resulting contracts, Village litigation issues, Village debt servicing, legal issues related to personnel and independent contractors, real estate transactions, and overall Village administration issues.

Ruocco is concerned with impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in the current practice of local lawyers donating significant contributions to judicial campaigns, resulting in judges then deciding cases represented by their campaign contributors. Ruocco pledges to keep politics out of the courtroom and to disqualify herself from all cases where any party or representative of any party has contributed a sum of $200.00 or more to her political committee.  

Ruocco has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis, a Master of Business Administration degree from Lindenwood University, a Juris Doctorate from Saint Louis University School of Law, and to help keep her community safe and volunteer for emergency assistance as needed, has recently completed her EMT first responder training at Southwestern Illinois College.

Ruocco stated that she believes she has the highest of work ethic, which was required while working full-time with children and attending law school in the evening, and is prepared to roll up her sleeves and get to work for the residents of the 20th Judicial Circuit.

Ruocco was employed by Western Union during undergraduate school and was a member of Communication Workers of America.   

Ruocco attends Grace Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois. She is married to Eric Ruocco, an anesthesiologist practicing at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in O'Fallon, Illinois, and has four children, Amanda, Candace, Alex, and Michael. Amanda is a school administrator at a public charter school, Candace graduated from Katherine’s alma matter, St. Louis University School of Law, and served in the military, Alex attends McKendree University, Lebanon, Illinois, and is studying Criminal Justice, and Michael is a sixth grader attending St. Clare School in O’Fallon, Illinois.