Judge Cobbs


Endorsement Judge Cynthia Y. Cobbs Chicago Tribune: Editorial Board

March 1, 2014

Cynthia Cobbs


Democrat candidate for Cook County Circuit, McDonald vacancy

Responses to our questionnaire

Illinois is struggling to balance its budget this year and may face a $12 billion deficit in 2010-11. Please answer the following questions:

Q: Please submit an essay that explains your legal background, why you are qualified for this position and why you seek this position.

I am a graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law and have been a licensed attorney in the State of Illinois since November 1988. Upon completion of law school, I began employment with the First District Appellate Court, first as an attorney in the Appellate Court Research Department and subsequently, as a judicial law clerk for then, Appellate Court Justice Charles E. Freeman. In 1990, Justice Freeman won his election bid for a seat on the Illinois Supreme Court and I was I was invited by him to serve as his Senior Judicial Law Clerk. The Supreme Court sits as the final state court arbiter. Cases disposed by the Court generally present issues of first impression in Illinois; may require construction of statutes and the constitution, or the resolution of a split of opinion on a point of law among the five judicial districts. The work of a judicial clerk on the Supreme Court level requires superior legal research, analytical and writing skills. As Senior Clerk, my work included reviewing the briefs and/or the record of proceedings filed in cases heard by the Court and assigned to Justice Freeman for disposition. I drafted majority, dissenting and concurring judicial opinions on a broad range of complex legal issues. Judicial opinions dispose of claimed errors in the trial and appellate courts, as well as, instruct on the proper construction and application of substantive and procedural law. In addition to drafting judicial opinions, I reviewed and made recommendations on the disposition of both routine (extensions of time), and non-routine (petitions for writs of mandamus) motions, as well as Petitions for Leave to Appeal and Petitions for Reconsideration. After serving as a law clerk, I accepted an attorney position with the Supreme Court’s Administrative Office (AOIC). In that position, I served as secretary to the Supreme Court Rules Committee. Supreme Court Rules govern a range of civil and criminal practice procedures at both the trial and appellate court levels. As secretary, I not only facilitated the work of the Committee, but also presented new and proposed Supreme Court Rules to the Supreme Court on behalf of the Committee and discussed with the Court the intended effect of the proposals on the practice of law, if adopted. Presentation of the proposals to the Court required a clear understanding of the rules and their operation in the practice of law. My additional duties as an AOIC attorney included transactional work such as drafting, reviewing and negotiating contracts and leases with vendors doing business with the judicial branch. During my tenure as an attorney, I was promoted to Chief Legal Counsel. In that capacity, I had responsibility to oversee the work of all attorneys working in the Administrative Office, as well as to advise the Administrative Director regarding any legal issues confronting either a state court judge or the judicial branch, in general. In 2002, I received a call from the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice offering me the appointment as Director of the Illinois Court’s (AOIC). As Administrative Director, I worked closely with the seven Supreme Court justices in supervising and administering Illinois’ state courts. Functioning much like a chief operating officer, I managed the staff of the Administrative Office, developed and oversaw the Court’s nearly $300 million annual budget, and advised the Court on all legal, legislative, administrative and fiscal issues impacting Illinois’ court system and served on various court related committees. By the time of my September 2011 judicial appointment, I had served under five Supreme Court Chief Justices. As a judge, I have been assigned to handle minor and DUI traffic court calls and civil trials, my current assignment. My call consists of breach of contract, subrogation, wage demand, debt collection and general tort claims. I sit in a “high volume” courtroom with status and trials in the mornings and routine and contested motions in the afternoons. As in traffic court, a fair number of defendants appear pro se, which requires particular attention to ensure that both sides, represented and non-represented alike, are heard. My professional legal career more than prepared me to serve as a circuit court judge. The Supreme Court Justices, knowing my legal competence and my work ethic, elected to appoint me. The Chicago Bar Association subsequently found me to be qualified. I have the requisite legal skills, competence and sensitivity to continue to serve. Being a judge is, to me, another form of public service, to which I have devoted my entire adult professional career.

Q: Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.

I am fascinated by the art of interior design and enjoy putting together design elements for living spaces. At one time, I thought about pursuing coursework in that field. Perhaps when I retire, I will find a way to engage casually in the art, gratis, for family and friends.


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