Hon. Timothy Evans (’69) Delivers 192nd Commencement Address, Receives Honorary Degree

Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans will receive an honorary degree at the Jan. 15, 2012, commencement for The John Marshall Law School.

The 3 p.m. ceremonies will be at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, 301 E. North Water St. The law school will award 133 JD, 5 MS and 40 LLM degrees.

The law school also will honor Professor Ardath Hamann with the Leadership and Dedicated Service Award; Professor William Mock with the Leadership in the Profession Award; Professor Steven Schwinn with the Recognition of Scholarly Achievement Award; and Profession F. Willis Caruso with the Leadership and Dedicated Pro Bono Service Award. Judge Charles Norgle of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois will receive the Adjunct Teaching Award in recognition of his 25 years of dedicated service as an adjunct professor.

The valedictory address will be delivered by graduate Robert Olmstead. The commencement address will be given by Evans.

Since graduating from The John Marshall Law School in 1969, Evans has served the public as an attorney, an elected official and a member of the judiciary.

Evans directs more than 400 judges and 2,300 employees serving in the largest circuit court in Illinois—and one of the largest unified court systems in the world—supporting judicial, probationary, and other court-related services. The Circuit Court of Cook County handles more than 1.5 million cases annually. Judge Evans manages an estimated budget of $129 million.

Evans was first elected to the bench in 1992. He was named presiding judge of the Domestic Relations Division in 1995. In 2000, he was named presiding judge of the Law Division, where he served until being elected to his current position as chief judge in 2001, when he was elected by unanimous vote of the circuit judges. He won re-election in 2004, 2007 and 2010.  He is only the fourth person elected chief judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and is the first African-American to serve in the position.

During his 10 years as chief judge, Evans has put innovative court reforms in place. His notable achievements include his efforts to establish or expand the use of problem-solving or specialty courts dedicated to mental health treatment, veterans support, drug treatment, and support to persons charged with prostitution. He launched the first court-wide division dedicated to hearing solely domestic violence matters. He has implemented critical changes to the court’s bail-setting process, expanded free legal services for low-income and self-represented litigants, and introduced free mediation services for homeowners facing foreclosure. He also has expanded child care services for parents and guardians attending court.

Evans’s four decades of dedicated public service began in 1969 as assistant corporation counsel in the Torts Division of the City of Chicago Law Department. He later served as deputy commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of Investigations. First elected 4th Ward alderman on the Chicago City Council in 1973, he served for 18 years, including a four-year term as council floor leader under Mayor Harold Washington. During his tenure as alderman, he chaired the Finance, Budget, and Health Committees.

Throughout his career, Chief Judge Evans has been an outspoken voice for equal opportunities for women and minorities. At the court’s executive level, in particular, he has championed excellence and diversity. He has appointed 14 of the 17 division and district presiding judges, and half of those appointments have been women, minorities, or both.

He has been honored with dozens of distinguished service and humanitarian awards, and has had academic scholarships established in his name. His outstanding efforts have been acknowledged with lifetime achievement awards from the Illinois Judges Association, the Association of Corporate Counsel, and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois. In 2009, Chief Judge Evans became the first Illinois judge to receive the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence from the National Center for State Courts—one of the most prestigious judicial honors in the country.

For additional information, contact Marilyn Thomas, director of Public Relations, at 6thomas@jmls.edu or at (312) 360-2661.

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