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Chicago Council of Lawyers - Federal Judicial Evaluations

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Federal Judicial Evaluations

Chicago Council of Lawyers Releases Evaluation of U.S. District Judges in Chicago (2006)

The Chicago Council of Lawyers released in April 2006 a 25-page report detailing its evaluation of United States District Judges in Chicago.

The Council's evaluation was conducted by a group of more than 50 lawyers and reflects the views of more than 1,000 lawyers with active federal court practices in Chicago.

The evaluation of each judge was based on the results of a 30-question written survey and personal interviews with at least 40 lawyers who had substantial recent experience before that judge. The Council's written survey requested information regarding the amount and nature of the respondent's experience in federal court, then posed specific questions about each judge's legal ability, integrity, temperament, decisiveness, and diligence. It was mailed to 3,250 members of the Federal Trial Bar selected at random by the Clerk's Office, as well as to all Assistant United States Attorneys in the Chicago Office and all staff lawyers practicing with the Federal Defender's Office in Chicago. The Council also conducted personal interviews of more than 800 lawyers Each interview included questions regarding the judge's legal ability, quality of written opinions, decisiveness, diligence, integrity, judicial temperament, fairness, respect for the rule of law, and independence from political and institutional influences.

Click here to download the report.

Evaluation of United States Magistrate Judges Sitting in Chicago

The Chicago Council of Lawyers has released its evaluation of nine United States Magistrate Judges sitting in Chicago. This evaluation is the third in a series of federal judicial evaluations conducted by the Council. The Council released its evaluation of sitting federal district judges in Chicago in 2006, followed by the 2007 release of its evaluation of sitting federal district judges in Chicago who were on senior status.

The evaluation is the product of a non-partisan process overseen by a group of over 30 lawyers, and incorporates views expressed by over 475 active federal court lawyers in Chicago. The Council utilized written questionnaires and personal interviews in developing an evaluation report for each judge.

On the whole, these magistrate judges in Chicago are held in high regard by the lawyers who appear before them. Malcolm Rich, Executive Director of the Council, stated, "By shining rare public light on the characteristics of the most highly regarded magistrate judges, the Council hopes that such characteristics will become the benchmarks for future magistrate judge appointments and will inform the federal judicial selection process."

Click here to download the report.

Chicago Council of Lawyers Releases Evaluation of Sitting Federal Judges in Chicago on Senior Status

The Chicago Council of Lawyers released its evaluation of 11 sitting federal district court judges in Chicago who are on senior status. These are judges who have volunteered to take senior status, allowing them leeway in the number and type of cases they will hear. The Council first evaluated federal judges in 1972, believing that the public deserves to know how our federal judges are viewed by the lawyers who appear before them.

The evaluation is the product of a non-partisan process overseen by a group of over 30 lawyers, and incorporates views expressed by over 575 active federal court lawyers in Chicago. The Council utilized written questionnaires and personal interviews in developing an evaluation report for each judge.

Most of these judges came to the bench in an era preceding the highly partisan and political world of the current federal judicial nomination process. On the whole, these senior U.S. judges in Chicago are held in high regard by the lawyers who appear before them. By shining rare public light on the characteristics of the district's most highly regarded judges, the Council hopes that such characteristics will become the benchmarks for future federal judge nominations.

Click here to download the report.