Durbin, Duckworth Forward Recommendations For Central District Of Illinois District Court Judge To White House

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today sent a list of names to the White House to consider for a forthcoming Springfield-based federal district court judicial vacancy in the Central District of Illinois. 

Based on recommendations made by the screening committee the Senators established in the Central District, Durbin and Duckworth have forwarded the names of the following three individuals to President Biden for consideration: Colleen Lawless, Johanes Maliza, and Rhonda Perry.

“We appreciate the opportunity to provide assistance and input in filling judicial vacancies, and we look forward to working with you to ensure a fair and swift confirmation process after you submit a nomination to the Senate,” the Senators wrote in a letter to President Biden.

In May, Durbin and Duckworth established a screening committee to review applicants to be a Federal District Court Judge in the Central District of Illinois. Their screening committee is comprised of distinguished members of the Central District’s legal community.

The committee has carefully evaluated candidates by reviewing their professional records and application questionnaires, contacting references, and conducting interviews, and has submitted their findings and recommendations to the Senators.  Durbin and Duckworth have interviewed the finalists, reviewed their records, and consulted with each other regarding their qualifications. 

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

Biographical descriptions of those recommended by Durbin and Duckworth today are below:

Colleen Lawless: Lawless has served as an Associate Circuit Judge on the Illinois Seventh Judicial Circuit Court since January 2019.  She is currently assigned to the family division in the Sangamon County Courthouse.  She previously practiced at Londrigan, Potter & Randle P.C. in Springfield, serving as an associate (2009-15) and a shareholder (2015-18).  Her practice focused on employment, banking, and family law, and she practiced in both state and federal court.  She received her B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University (2005) and her J.D. cum laude from Northern Illinois University College of Law (2009).

Johanes Maliza: Maliza is currently Of Counsel at the Chicago and Cleveland offices of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan, & Aronoff.  He joined the firm in July 2021 and his practice focuses on commercial litigation matters.   From 2017-2021, he served as an assistant federal public defender in Springfield, where he handled a broad range of criminal cases and appeals.  From 2010-2016, he worked as an associate at Jones Day in Cleveland.  He received his B.A. from Stanford University (2003) and his J.D. from Harvard Law School (2010).

Rhonda Perry: Perry has worked as an attorney for the University of Illinois since 2006 and has served as the legal counsel to the University of Illinois Springfield since 2014.  In this capacity she provides advice and counsel to the University administration in a variety of legal practice areas.  She previously worked as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Champaign (2000-06), as an associate at Meyer Capel, P.C. in Champaign (1999-2000), and as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Champaign County (1998-99).  She received her B.A. (1993) and J.D. (1998) cum laude from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.