Durbin Announces Another Bipartisan Screening Committee for Federal Judges in the Northern District

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin today announced the formation of a bipartisan screening committee to assist in selecting Federal District Court Judges for the Northern District of Illinois.  There are currently three vacant judgeships in the Northern District, and the immediate task of the screening committee is to review applications and make recommendations to Durbin for filling current and future vacancies.

The screening committee will be comprised of 13 distinguished Illinoisans drawn from various aspects of the legal profession including former judges, prominent litigators, bar association leaders, and former prosecutors and defenders.  The committee will be co-chaired by former Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine and Patricia Holmes, a partner at Schiff Hardin and former state trial judge and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.  (A complete list and short bios of all panel members is included below.)

“Making recommendations to the White House on judicial nominees is one of the most important jobs I have as a U.S. Senator, and I am particularly pleased that these outstanding Illinoisans have agreed to advise me in selecting the best possible candidates to recommend to President Obama,” said Durbin. 

Durbin, who was first elected to the Senate in 1996, is the senior senator from Illinois.  The senior senator from the President’s political party has traditionally had the lead role in making recommendations to the President for the positions of Federal District Court Judge, U.S. Attorney, and U.S. Marshal in the senator’s home state.

During the Clinton Presidency, Durbin worked closely with Senator Peter Fitzgerald to ensure that the most qualified people for federal judgeships were recommended to the President with bipartisan support in order to secure their confirmation.  Before making recommendations to President Obama, Durbin will consult with Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) who has established a similar selection process in the Northern District.

“Without bipartisan effort in the Senate, it is very difficult to secure the confirmation of even the best qualified judicial nominees,” Durbin said.  “Senator Kirk and I will be working together to submit the most qualified people for federal judgeships and secure their confirmation.”

The application questionnaire is nearly identical to those used by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will help provide insight into potential nominees’ backgrounds and qualifications.  The deadline for submission of completed applications is Friday, September 21, 2012.

The screening committee will review the applications, interview applicants and references, and make recommendations to Senator Durbin.  The screening committee will recommend the names of several individuals to Senator Durbin for each vacancy.

Durbin will review the screening committee’s recommendations, conduct interviews of finalists, and – in consultation with Senator Kirk – submit his recommendations to the President, who will make the final decisions on nominees.

Once the President submits a nomination to the U.S. Senate, the nominee will be reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Senator Durbin is a member, and will ultimately receive a vote in the committee.  If a nomination is approved by the Judiciary Committee, the nominee will receive a vote by the full Senate.

This process is separate from, and in addition to, the screening process for the position of U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.


Judicial Screening Committee for the Northern District of Illinois

Dick Devine (co-chair). Mr. Devine was elected Cook County State’s Attorney in 1996 and served in that role until 2008.  Prior to his service as State’s Attorney, he served as President of the Board of Commissioners of the Chicago Park District and also worked as an assistant state’s attorney, as a mayoral aide, and in private practice.  He currently is a partner at the law firm of Meckler Bulger Tilson Marick & Pearson LLP, where he leads the firm’s white-collar criminal defense and commercial litigation practices.

Patricia Holmes (co-chair). Ms. Holmes is a partner at the law firm of Schiff Hardin, where she heads the white collar crime group.  She previously served as a former state trial judge, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, an Assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County, and Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago.  She served as president of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago and on the Chicago Bar Association board of managers. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the “Top 50 Women Lawyers” by Illinois Super Lawyers.

Demetrius Carney.  Mr. Carney is a partner at the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP.  He is the president of the Chicago Police Board and a former commissioner for the City of Chicago's Plan Commission.  He has been listed in the Best Lawyers in America publication.

Philip Corboy, Jr.  Mr. Corboy is a partner at the law firm of Corboy & Demetrio.  He is past president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, past president of the board of directors of the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, former board member of the Chicago Bar Association, and member of the dean’s council of DePaul University law school.  He has been listed in the Best Lawyers in America and Illinois Super Lawyers publications.

Kevin Forde.  Mr. Forde is a partner in Forde Law Offices.  He is a past president of the Chicago Bar Association, board chair of the Federal Defender Program in the Northern District of Illinois, and counsel to the Federal Judges Association.  He served as a law clerk to Judge William Campbell in the Northern District of Illinois.  He has been listed in the Best Lawyers in America and Illinois Super Lawyers publications.

Betty Jang.  Ms. Jang is an attorney with Axiom in Chicago.  She has previously served as an assistant Cook County Public Defender, an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois law school, an attorney with a national law firm, and in-house counsel for two Fortune 500 corporations.  She was selected as one of “20 Women Who Make a Difference” in the Minorities & Women in Business Magazine, named one of the “Best Lawyers Under 40” by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and received the Young Lawyer of the Year award from the Illinois State Bar Association.

Paul Logli. Mr. Logli is currently President and CEO of the United Way of Rock River Valley. He previously served for 21 years as the State’s Attorney for Winnebago County, and also served as a judge on the 17th Judicial Circuit Court.   Logli is a past president of the National District Attorneys Association, the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association, and the Winnebago County Bar Association.   

Cheryl Niro. Ms. Niro is a principal in the law firm of RobinsonNiro PC where her practice is focused on ethics and professional responsibility.  She was the second woman elected president of the Illinois State Bar Association.  She was president of the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation, and the National Caucus of State Bar Associations.  She also served as the inaugural executive director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, and was a founding director of the National Center for Conflict Resolution Education.  She served as special counsel to past Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan as his liaison to the Illinois child support system. 

Michele Ruiz.  Ms. Ruiz is a partner at the international law firm of Sidley Austin LLP, where she serves as a global coordinator of Sidley’s OTC derivatives practice.  Michele has been the recipient of awards which reflect both her professional and community commitment, including listings in Best Lawyers in America for the past seven years in the field of Hedge Funds, the Rising Stars Award from the Anti-Defamation League (2010), Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s list of 40 Illinois Lawyers Under 40 to Watch (2008) and BTI Consulting Group’s Law Firm Client Service U.S. All-Star Team (2001).  She is also a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow.

Alison Siegler. Ms. Siegler is an Associate Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School and is the founder and director of the school’s Federal Criminal Justice Clinic.  Previously she served as a staff attorney with the Federal Defender Program in Chicago.  She serves on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and of the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  In 2012 she received the Excellence in Public Interest Service Award from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Federal Bar Association.

Juliet Sorensen. Ms. Sorensen is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Law with the Northwestern University School of Law Center for International Human Rights.  Previously, she was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, where she focused on fraud and public corruption cases, and an associate at a national law firm.  She is the Editor in Chief of Eyes on the ICC, a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the study of international criminal law and the International Criminal Court.  In 2010, she was appointed to the American Bar Association's Global Anti-Corruption Task Force.

Barry Taylor. Taylor is the Vice President of Civil Rights and Systemic Advocacy at Equip for Equality, an independent non-profit organization designated by the Governor since 1985 to provide the federally-mandated Protection and Advocacy System services to people with physical and mental disabilities.  Prior to joining Equip for Equality in 1996, Taylor was the AIDS Project Attorney in the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal.  He is the former Chairperson of the Chicago Bar Association's Legal Aid Committee and former Chairperson of the Chicago Bar Association's Mental Health and Disability Law Committee.

Diana White.  Ms. White is the executive director of the LAF (formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation), the largest provider of free legal services in civil cases in the metropolitan Chicago area.  LAF’s full-time staff of more than 80 attorneys and paralegals provides legal help that gets people living in poverty back on their feet and strengthens communities throughout Cook County.  Previously Ms. White was a partner at Jenner & Block and a law clerk to Judge Walter Cummings on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.