Durbin Questions Circuit & District Court Nominees In Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing
Today’s nominations hearing features two nominees for Illinois: Jeffrey Cummings and LaShonda Hunt, to be United States District Judges for the Northern District of Illinois
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned Jeffrey Cummings and LaShonda A. Hunt, both nominated to be United States District Judges for the Northern District of Illinois, at today’s Judiciary Committee nominations hearing.
“Judge Hibbler was one of my first recommendations to the federal bench. He was an extraordinary jurist and extraordinary person. And I would think it would be a great, positive experience to serve as his clerk. Can you give your own shorthand version of the Hibbler philosophy on judging?” Durbin asked Judge Hunt.
Judge Hunt responded that “Judge Hibbler was an amazing man who treated all of his law clerks like they were family.” She noted that he was gracious, kind, humble, and respectful. “It says something about him that the criminal defendants who he had sentenced would write him a letter thanking him afterwards because he treated them with such dignity and recognized their humanity. That’s the primary lesson I try to take with me every day,” Judge Hunt continued.
Durbin next asked Judge Cummings about the demeanor of a judge and whether or not it is an important factor in the courtroom.
“Judge Cummings, you’ve seen a lot of courts and courtrooms both as a litigator and as a judge,”Durbin said. “The demeanor of the judge is an important factor, is it not?”
Judge Cummings responded that “the demeanor of a judge is incredibly important. Number one in terms of treating everyone who comes into that courtroom with respect and dignity… I think it is also very important for a judge to project humanity to everyone who comes before him or her.”
Durbin then asked Marian F. Gaston, nominated to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of California; Wesley L. Hsu, nominated to be United States District Judge for the Central District of California; and Mónica Ramírez Almadani, nominated to be United States District Judge for the Central District of California, about their experiences in the courtroom.
Durbin also questioned Michael Delaney, nominated to be United States Circuit Judge for the First Circuit, about his representation of St. Paul’s School, a private boarding school in New Hampshire, arising out of a civil lawsuit filed against the school in 2016. Durbin also noted that Mr. Delaney has been rated “Unanimously Well Qualified” by the American Bar Association and has received letters in support of his nomination from numerous organizations and politicians from both sides of the aisle.
Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.
Footage of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.
In October 2021, Durbin and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) announced that they would begin accepting applications from those interested in serving as a Federal District Court Judge in the Northern District of Illinois. The Senators were assisted by a screening committee whose task was to review and vet District Court candidates and advise the Senators regarding the candidates’ qualifications and fitness for the position. In December 2021, the Senators sent a letter to the White House recommending seven candidates for President Biden’s consideration for current and future vacancies on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, including Jeffrey Cummings and LaShonda Hunt.
The Illinois nominees’ biographies from the White House are below:
Jeffrey Cummings: Judge Jeffrey Cummings has served as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Illinois since 2019. Judge Cummings was previously co-managing partner at Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C., where he worked from 1989 to 2019. Judge Cummings served as a law clerk for Judge Ann Claire Williams on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois from 1987 to 1989. He received his J.D. from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, cum laude, in 1987, and his B.A., with high honors, from Michigan State University in 1984.
LaShonda Hunt: Judge LaShonda A. Hunt has served as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Northern District of Illinois since 2017. Judge Hunt previously served as General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services in 2016 and as Chief Legal Counsel for the Illinois Department of Corrections from 2015 to 2016. Prior to that, she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois from 2003 to 2005 and then again from 2010 to 2015. Judge Hunt was Assistant General Counsel at Exelon Company from 2007 to 2009 and Regulatory Outreach Manager at Com Ed, a subsidiary of Exelon, from 2009 to 2010. She also worked as a schools project director for the Just the Beginning Foundation from 2006 to 2007, a staff attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1998 to 2001, and an associate at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP from 1995 to 1998. Judge Hunt served as a law clerk for Judge William J. Hibbler on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois from 2001 to 2003. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan in 1995, and her B.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1992.
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