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Gerald Cleary

Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (10th Subcircuit (Suriano Vacancy district)

Gerald Cleary

Gerald Cleary

Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (10th Subcircuit (Suriano Vacancy district)

Law School: Loyola University Chicago, Juris Doctor Undergraduate: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Bachelor of Arts (Political Science)
Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division, State of Illinois
Past Political/Civic Experience
In 2015, I was appointed judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County by the Illinois Supreme Court. In 2016, I was re-appointed judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County by the Illinois Supreme Court, my current position.

Responses to our questions

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

I am the most qualified candidate in my judicial race because I am an experienced judge and trial attorney. I am knowledgeable of the law, I have a reputation for fairness and I am independent. I decided to become a judge after I reached the top of my profession as a partner of a large litigation law firm.

However, I realized that I was not professionally satisfied and I determined that I wanted to serve the public. I quickly found that becoming a judge would best match my passion for the law with my goal to serve the public.

I became a judge in 2015 after I received a recommendation from the Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke Judicial Evaluation Committee. In 2016, I was re-appointed a judge after I received a recommendation from the Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis Judicial Evaluation Committee. My current judicial assignment is in the Chancery Division that handles legislative/administrative reviews, preliminary/permanent injunctions, declaratory judgments, mortgage foreclosures and mechanic liens. I preside over 3,000 mortgage foreclosures cases.

I was promoted to the Chancery Division after one year in the First Municipal Department where I handled the trials of civil claims, misdemeanors and petty offenses. Prior to becoming a judge, I practiced civil litigation in Cook County for over 25 years.

I represented major corporations, insurance companies, municipalities and individuals in complex tort and commercial disputes involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. I tried many cases to jury verdict and I have always been a proponent of alternative dispute resolution. I participated in hundreds of mediations and I am a certified mediator and arbitrator. I know the adverse affects of prolonged litigation from the board room to the kitchen table and I will endeavor to minimize delays and costs while maintaining a fair process.

My experience and background provides much needed professional diversity and a unique perspective to the bench that will best serve the people of Cook County. It is the consensus of the bar that I am qualified to remain a judge because of my knowledge of the law and my reputation for fairness. Martindale-Hubbell, the world's most trusted legal resource, conducted a strenuous peer review and awarded me a rating of "AV Preeminent" which is, "the highest rating possible in both legal ability and legal ethics reflecting the confidential opinions of the bar and judiciary."

Finally, all the bar groups from the Alliance of Bar Associations found me "Recommended" or "Qualified" to be a judge. I am the only independent candidate in my race that is not beholden to political officials or special interests. These are difficult and challenging times for the state of Illinois with pressing issues of pension reform, education reform and tort reform, among others.

Any legislative attempts to resolve these types of issues will be litigated. I am assigned to the Chancery Division and I will have the opportunity to hear these disputes. Unlike some other candidates, my campaign is neither financed nor influenced by politicians or special interest groups that have an interest in matters likely to come before the court.

My independence is imperative to be an effective judge so that the people of Cook County can be assured that my decisions will be fair and based on the law and not outside influences.

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

It was 1984 and the University of Illinois football team was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1964 Rose Bowl victory. As a doorman at Kam's, the popular U of I bar, I bounced two of the nastiest, meanest linebackers in the history of the NFL and the Illini: Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke. Now when I say "bounced", I mean to say that I kindly asked them to leave because the bar had been closed for an hour. I had walked back to the pool room several times before I got the nerve to tell the rowdy group that it was closing time. Fearing the worst, I was greatly relieved when Butkus gave me a beer and he and Nitschke told me some Bear/Packer war stories as we walked out of the bar.

Candidates for Cook County Circuit (10th Subcircuit (Suriano Vacancy district)