PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chief Judge Evans begins series of sweeping changes throughout the court system

Released On 12/03/2010

As he prepares to be sworn in for his fourth term as Chief Judge on Monday, Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans today announced major changes in the Circuit Court that include the appointment of new Presiding Judges and Supervising Judges in almost half of the court's divisions and districts and the creation of a new division dedicated to elder law matters, the Elder Law and Miscellaneous Remedies Division.

Chief Judge Evans said, "I want to be clear that these changes I am undertaking in the court system are designed to ensure that the Circuit Court of Cook County remains on its current trajectory as a model court for the nation."

In addition to the ten appointments announced today, Chief Judge Evans said he expects to announce additional adjustments at the court's executive management level in the near future. He also indicated that reviews of the structure and operations within the court's divisions and districts are forthcoming. In addition to the creation of the new division dedicated solely to elder probate matters, he said, "Further significant changes to the court are to be expected."

The Circuit Court is made up of six geographical districts and 10 divisions: Law, Chancery, County, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Justice, Child Protection, Probate, Criminal, and Elder Law and Miscellaneous Remedies. Each is administered by a Presiding Judge appointed by Chief Judge Evans.

Chief Judge Evans announced seven (7) new Presiding Judge assignments, which are effective December 6, 2010, as follows:

  • Judge Moshe Jacobius, who was serving as Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division, has been named Presiding Judge of the Chancery Division to succeed Judge Dorothy Kirie Kinnaird who retired;
  • Judge Carole Kamin Bellows, a veteran judge in the Domestic Relations Division, will succeed Judge Moshe Jacobius as Acting Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division;
  • Judge Mary Ellen Coghlan, a judge in the Probate Division, has been named Presiding Judge of the Probate Division to succeed Judge Henry A. Budzinski who retired;
  • Judge Patricia Banks, a trial judge in the Law Division, has been named Presiding Judge of the soon-to-be created Elder Law and Miscellaneous Remedies Division which will hear those elder law matters formerly heard in the Probate Division;
  • Judge Edmund Ponce de León, who was serving as Presiding Judge of the west suburban Fourth Municipal District, has been named Presiding Judge of the County Division to succeed Associate Judge Mark Ballard who served as the division's Acting Presiding Judge following the retirement of former Presiding Judge Patrick E. McGann last August;
  • Judge Cheyrl D. Ingram, a judge in the west suburban Fourth Municipal District, will succeed Judge Edmund Ponce de León as Presiding Judge of the Fourth Municipal District; and
  • Judge Michael P. Toomin, a judge assigned by the Illinois Supreme Court to the First District Appellate Court, has been named to succeed Judge Curtis Heaston as Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Justice Division, who has been assigned to serve as a Supervising Judge within that division.

Biographical information on the Presiding Judge appointees is attached.

In addition to the assignment of Judge Curtis Heaston as a Supervising Judge in the Juvenile Justice Division, Chief Judge Evans also announced two other Supervising Judge assignments:

  • Judge James G. Riley, a veteran judge of the Probate Division, has been named as the Supervising Judge of the Probate Division; and
  • Associate Judge Mark Ballard has been named as the Supervising Judge of the County Division.

The supervising judge appointments are also effective December 6, 2010.

Biographical Information on New Circuit Court of Cook County Judicial Appointments

Honorable Patricia Banks
Judge Banks was elected a circuit judge in 1994 and immediately began serving in the Domestic Relations Division. In 2001, she was assigned as a trial judge in the Law Division where she presided over medical malpractice, personal injury, construction and product liability litigation matters. In addition to her regular judicial duties, Judge Banks is Chairperson of the Illinois Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinating Committee (2009 to the present). Also, she has served on the governing bodies of numerous professional organizations including the National Bar Association, the Cook County Bar Association, The Chicago Bar Association, and the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association. Judge Banks has served on the Illinois Judicial Conference faculty and as an adjunct professor for DePaul University College of Law where she taught professional responsibility. She also taught ethics and professionalism at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Judge Banks began her legal career in 1972 as a staff attorney in the Solicitor's Office of the United States Department of Labor. From 1973 to 1974, she worked as a staff attorney for the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities and in 1974, she joined Sears Roebuck and Company as a staff attorney in its corporate headquarters. Judge Banks was in private practice with LaFontant, Wilkins and Fisher from 1978 to 1980, and then with her own firm from 1980 to 1994. Judge Banks received a B.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago (formerly Chicago Circle) in 1969 and her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison, Wisconsin, in 1972

Honorable Carol Kamin Bellows
Judge Bellows was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court as a circuit judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County in November 1986 and was later elected a circuit judge in 1988. She was immediately assigned to the Domestic Relations Division in the Richard J. Daley Center where she has served continuously for the last 24 years. Since 1987, she has lead a team in the Domestic Relations Division made up of three trial judges and one post decree judge. Judge Bellows hears all matters assigned to the team from time of filing, through pretrial and up to final assignment for trial. In addition to her judicial duties, she is currently serving on the Senior Lawyers Committee of the Illinois State Bar Association.

Judge Bellows was in private practice for 26 years before taking the bench. She began her legal career practicing with her father, Alfred Kamin. From 1962 to 1972, she was a law clerk for the chief justice of the Illinois Court of Claims. In 1973, she became a partner at Bellows & Bellows. Immediately prior to becoming a judge, Bellows was a partner at Reuben & Proctor. From 1977 to 1978, she served as the president of the Illinois State Bar Association, becoming the first woman in the country to serve as a president of a state bar organization. She also was the first woman to serve on the ISBA's Board of Governors, from 1969 through 1979. She received a B.A. from the University of Illinois in 1957 and her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law in 1960.

Honorable Mary Ellen Coghlan
Judge Coghlan was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court as a circuit judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County in March 1995 and was later elected a circuit judge in 1996. After initially serving in the First Municipal District, Judge Coghlan was assigned to the Criminal Division in August 1995. She initially presided over narcotics cases and was appointed Supervising Judge of the Night Narcotics Division in 1997. After her assignment to the day division, Judge Coghlan presided over felony bench and jury trials. For the last nine (9) years, Judge Coghlan has been assigned to the Probate Division hearing both adult guardianship and decedent's estate matters. In addition to her regular judicial duties, Judge Coghlan served on the Illinois Judicial Conference Study Committee on Complex Litigation by appointment of the Illinois Supreme Court from 2001 to 2009. She chaired the committee from 2005 through 2007. In 2003, she was appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court Special Committee to Study Courtroom and Judicial Security.

Judge Coghlan began her legal career as an associate attorney at the Coghlan, Kukankos and Cook law firm, where she worked from 1981 until 1982. From 1982 until 1987, she served as a felony trial assistant in the Cook County Public Defender's Office. Immediately prior to becoming a judge, Judge Coghlan was employed from 1987 until 1995 as an assistant attorney general in the General Law Division of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, where she represented state agencies and officials in administrative proceedings and in civil lawsuits in both state and federal court. She received a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Champaign in 1978 and her J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1981.

Honorable Cheyrl D. Ingram
Judge Ingram has served as a circuit judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County since her election in 1992. From 1992 to 1994, she was assigned to the Domestic Relations Division in the Richard J. Daley Center hearing matters pertaining to divorce, child support, custody and orders of protection. In 1994, she was assigned to the Fourth Municipal District in Maywood, Illinois, where she hears a variety of matters, including civil jury and non-jury cases; pre and post trial motions; all motions on mandatory arbitration; forcible entry and detainer; small claims; wage and garnishment; replevins; bond hearings; and demolitions. In 1997, she was dually assigned to the Law Division hearing all Law Division cases filed in the Fourth Municipal District. In addition to her regular judicial duties, Judge Ingram has served on the governing bodies of the Illinois Judicial Council Executive Board, the Illinois Judges Association, and the Illinois Judicial Council Foundation, of which she was also a founding member. She also has served on the Fourth Municipal District Civil Practice Committee and the Presiding Judges Suburban District Civil Procedure Subcommittee.

Prior to becoming a judge, Judge Ingram was a career public defender in the Office of the Cook County Public Defender from 1979 through 1992. While an assistant public defender, she served in the Abuse and Neglect Division, the Juvenile Division for Neglect and Delinquency, the Felony Trial Division and the Multiple Defender Unit. She received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin in 1974, as a three years graduate with a double major in History and Political Science and her J.D. from The John Marshall Law School in 1978, as a two and a half year graduate.

Honorable Moshe Jacobius
A 19-year veteran of the bench, Judge Jacobius was first appointed a circuit judge by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1991 and assigned as a trial judge in the Domestic Relations Division where he served continuously until January 2000 when he was assigned to the Chancery Division. Judge Jacobius was elected a circuit judge in November 1994. He was appointed Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division in June 2000. In addition to his presiding judge duties, Judge Jacobius serves on the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Child Custody Issues and the Illinois Supreme Court Special Committee to Study Courtroom and Judicial Security. He also is a member of the Circuit Court of Cook Cook County Executive Committee and has served on the court's Associate Judge Nominating Committee.

Prior to becoming a circuit judge, Judge Jacobius spent sixteen years in the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. During his career in that office, he first served as an assistant attorney general from 1975 to 1982 prosecuting cases and defending Illinois agencies and officials. He was appointed Chief of the Industrial Commission Division in 1982, supervising both in-house and outside counsel in the defense of workers' compensation claims of Illinois employees before the Illinois Industrial Commission. From 1983 to 1988, he served as Chief of the General Law Division where he oversaw 37 attorneys responsible for general civil litigation in the areas of civil rights, civil service and government regulation. In 1988, he became Counsel to the Attorney General and remained in that senior management position until his appointment to the Cook County bench. Judge Jacobius also worked as a teacher for the Chicago Board of Education from 1969 to 1974. He received a B.A. in History in 1967 and an M.A. in History in 1969. from the University of Illinois. He received his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1975.

Honorable Edmund Ponce de León
Judge Ponce de León was elected a circuit judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County in 1996 and was immediately assigned to the Domestic Relations Division. In 2001, he was assigned to the Law Division hearing complex litigation matters in the Commercial Section. In March 2002, he was appointed Presiding Judge of the Fourth Municipal District. In addition to his presiding judge duties, Judge Ponce de León serves on many Circuit Court of Cook County committees, which include the Executive Committee, the Forms Committee, the Automation Committee and the Associate Judge Nominating Committee.

Before becoming a judge, Judge Ponce de León was in private practice concentrating in commercial litigation in both state and federal court. His practice included select real estate, taxation litigation and adoptions. He also served as special counsel to the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee for a variety of matters, including complex taxation issues. He received a B.A. in Political Science from Northeastern Illinois University in 1979 and his J.D. from The John Marshall Law School in 1984.

Honorable Michael Toomin
Justice Toomin was appointed an associate judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County in 1980 and was elected a circuit judge in 1984. He has served almost his entire judicial career in the Criminal Division, hearing more than 630 murder cases and presiding over more than 400 jury trials. In 1994, he was appointed a Supervising Judge in the Criminal Division and in 2000, he was named Acting Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division. In August 2008, he was assigned to the First District of the Illinois Appellate Court. In addition to his regular judicial duties, Justice Toomin currently serves as the Chair of the Special Supreme Court Committee on Capital Cases. He formerly served as a Commissioner of the Clear Initiative, which was created to reform and review the Illinois Criminal Code. He previously served as the Chair of the Committee on Criminal Law and Probation Administration of the Illinois Judicial Conference, as Vice-Chair of the Cook County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and the Chair of the Illinois Senate Criminal Justice System Task Force. From 1983 to 2000, Justice Toomin was an adjunct professor at Northwestern University School of Law where he taught litigation and trial practice. He also participates in the training and continuing legal education of judges and attorneys throughout the state.

Prior to becoming a judge, Toomin served as a felony trial assistant in the Cook County Public Defender's Office from 1967 to 1969. He later entered private practice concentrating in the defense of criminal cases in federal and state court. Following his service in the United States Marine Corps (1956 to 1958), Toomin received a B.A. from Northwestern University in 1962 and his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1967.

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