Judge since: 2006
Howard began her legal career practicing with a limited law license to represent indigent litigants in Washington state. She later taught business law at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and was also a session attorney for the Washington State Senate Judiciary Committee. She worked as a Cook County assistant public defender for nearly two decades before being elected judge. She presided over traffic and small claims cases before being transferred to the Criminal Division.
Bar Association ratings
This year: Both the CCL and the CBA rated Howard as qualified. The ISBA recommended her for retention. The CBA said “Judge Howard is an experienced judge and is well regarded for her knowledge of the law and good temperament.”
Past: All three bar associations rated Howard positively when she ran for retention in 2012, citing her good temperament.
Notable: Howard has presided over a number of high-profile criminal cases. Last year she gave five years of probation to a woman who, at age 19, had hidden her pregnancy and then dropped her newborn baby out of a window. The woman had pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. She also presided over the case of a tanning salon owner accused of several rapes, blocking certain prosecution evidence against him but later finding him guilty of criminal sexual assault and sentencing him to 13 years. The severity of sentences imposed by Howard ranks her in the middle among the 24 Criminal Division judges who have handed down 1,000 or more sentences in the past six years, according to Injustice Watch’s analysis of sentencing data.