Chief Judge Evans appoints Judge Dickler Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division and Judge Patti Presiding Judge of Domestic Violence Division
Released on 5/4/2012 2:45:30 PM


Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced he has appointed Circuit Judge Grace G. Dickler, who had been serving as the Presiding Judge overseeing the recently established Domestic Violence Division, as Presiding Judge of the court’s Domestic Relations Division. At the same time, Chief Judge Evans also announced he has appointed Circuit Judge Sebastian T. Patti, a former supervising judge of the First Municipal District’s Housing Section and Appellate Court justice, to succeed Judge Dickler as Presiding Judge of the Domestic Violence Division.

Chief Judge Evans said, "Before I asked her to lead the new division dedicated to domestic violence last year, Grace Dickler had amassed almost two decades of experience as a judge in the Domestic Relations Division; only one other judge of those judges currently assigned to that division of the court has served there longer."

Evans continued, "Judge Dickler also has first-hand experience with the Domestic Relations Division system wide, having first served in the Richard J. Daley Center and later in the suburban Second Municipal District in Skokie. The depth and range of her experience and perspective, in addition to her practical wisdom and administrative skills, make Grace Dickler an ideal choice to now head the Domestic Relations Division."

Chief Judge Evans also acknowledged Judge Dickler’s considerable progress in helping the court to provide both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence with court based services that seek to end the cycle of violence. Recently added services include much expanded free legal representation for victims without lawyers and the development of a questionnaire to assist in the on-site assessment of the needs of victims entering the courthouse. Criminal defendants are now also required to appear in court more frequently to ensure they are complying with court orders.

In announcing his appointment of Judge Sebastian T. Patti to succeed Judge Dickler as the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Violence Division, Chief Judge Evans said, "Judge Patti has been blazing trails in the Circuit Court since he became a circuit judge in 1995. He served a decade as the effective and respected supervising judge of the high profile Housing Section of the First Municipal District, and most recently, he was selected by the Illinois Supreme Court to serve as a Justice for the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District."

Chief Judge Evans added, "Sebastian Patti is an individual of great ability, intelligence and integrity, and I have the utmost confidence that the Domestic Violence Division will benefit under his direction."

The appointments are effective July 18, 2011.

Biographical Information for Judge Dickler

A 23-year veteran of the bench, Judge Dickler served as an associate judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County from 1988 until her election as a circuit judge from the 12th Subcircuit in 2006. From 1988 to 1991, she was assigned to the First Municipal District hearing a variety of matters that included traffic matters, contract disputes and bail setting proceedings. In 1991, she was assigned to the Domestic Relations Division where she presided over all aspects of matrimonial law, first in the Richard J. Daley Center and then later in the Second Municipal District in Skokie.

In 2008, Chief Judge Evans asked Judge Dickler to chair the Circuit Court of Cook County Committee on Domestic Violence Court, and in 2010, he appointed her to serve as the first Presiding Judge of the new Domestic Violence Division.

Prior to becoming a judge, Judge Dickler served as an immigration judge for the United State Immigration Court in Chicago from 1986 to 1988. From 1982 to 1985, she served as an administrative law judge for the Illinois Human Rights Commission. From 1981 to 1982, she was a supervising attorney for the Travelers and Immigrants Aid Society of Chicago.

She was admitted to the bar in 1978 and began her legal career with the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow. From 1979 to 1981, she was a sole practitioner in general litigation.

Judge Dickler was born in Cuba in 1954. She received her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law in 1978 and her B.A from DePaul University in 1975.

Judge Dickler replaces Domestic Relations Division Acting Presiding Judge Carole Kamin Bellows. Judge Bellows, who served as Acting Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division since December 2010, will resume her previous assignment in the Domestic Relations Division. Judge Bellows is the only other judge who has served longer than Judge Dickler of all the other judges currently serving in the division, Dickler with 19 years and Bellows with 25 years.

Biographical Information for Judge Patti

Judge Patti was initially appointed a circuit judge by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1995 and was then elected a circuit judge in November 1996. After a brief stint in the First Municipal District, Judge Patti was assigned to the Child Protection Division from 1995 until January 1998, hearing abuse and neglect matters. In 1998, he returned to the First Municipal District and was assigned to the Housing Section where he presided over City of Chicago building code violations, zoning matters and forfeiture actions for illegal drug houses. He was elevated to supervising judge of the Housing Section in June 1999. While there, he supervised seven judges hearing matters pertaining to building code violations and compliance brought by the City of Chicago and Cook County which impact the health and safety of occupants and the community.

In August 2009, when he was assigned to the Illinois Appellate Court, First District by the Illinois Supreme Court for a one and a half year period. Judge Patti returned to the Circuit Court in January 2011 and was immediately assigned to the Chancery Division where he presided over a general Chancery calendar hearing a broad range of cases such as environmental class actions, employment disputes, and pension board related matters.

Prior to becoming a judge, Judge Patti was the associate regional counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 1979 to 1995. He was responsible for judicial and administrative litigation, including trial and hearing practice, under all federal environmental statutes enforced by the EPA. During his 18 years at the EPA, Judge Patti litigated major actions as lead or co-lead government attorney against a number of diverse defendants. His work at the EPA earned him numerous government awards, including the United States Government Bronze Medal for Toxics Litigation in 1984 and 1988, the United States Government Bronze Medal for Clean Water Act Litigation in 1992 and the United States Government Distinguished Service Award in 1993.

Judge Patti also worked as a staff attorney for the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C., and as law clerk to District Judge Herbert W. Walton of the Tenth Judicial District of Kansas.

Judge Patti was a member of the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Professional Responsibility and a faculty member of the Illinois Judicial Conference. He also served on the Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Sexual Orientation Awareness in the Circuit Court of Cook County and the Housing Court Advisory Committee of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Judge Patti received his J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1978 and his B.A. (cum laude) in History/Zoology from Duke University in 1975. He and his partner, Garrison Clarke, live on Chicago’s north side.

Chief Judge Evans established the Domestic Violence Division in 2010 to improve processing of civil and criminal domestic violence matters by combining them in a single court division and to better coordinate the delivery of court and community-based services to all those involved in domestic violence disputes. The Circuit Court’s Domestic Relations Division hears matters concerning dissolution of marriage and civil union, as well as issues involving child custody and visitation, parentage and child support.