H. Yvonne Coleman
Democratic candidate for Cook County Circuit (5th Subcircuit (Banks Vacancy district)
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 was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to become a Circuit Court Judge in March 2017. Prior to my appointment, twelve local bar associations conducted an intense investigation and evaluation of my entire legal career, my experience, and by background. All twelve bar association rated me "qualified" or "recommended" to serve as a Circuit Court Judge.
I am permanently assigned as a trial judge in the non-jury civil section of the Municipal Department. I conduct trials and contested motion hearings involving breach of contract and tort (personal injuries and property damage) lawsuits. Before my appointment as a judge, I practiced law in Illinois for almost 30 years (since 1988). I chose to become a lawyer because of the importance of laws in the daily lives of all citizens. I wanted to be an advocate for those who needed a voice to protect their rights within a complex legal system of laws and procedures. I've always believed that every citizen should have access to the courts and access to justice.
My legal experience is varied and diverse and includes private practice as well as service in the public sector. My legal background includes general law practice and family law. During the past 10 years in private practice as a solo practitioner, I concentrated in civil litigation, civil rights, and employment law representing clients in state and federal court.
My public sector experience includes employment with the State of Illinois as Chief of the Civil Rights and Disability Rights Bureaus and with the Illinois Department of Employment Security as manager and chief hearing officer of the appeals division which conducts and adjudicates administrative hearings for claims of unemployment benefits. Throughout my legal career, I have been a strong and outspoken advocate for access to justice and served as Executive Director of the Community Law Project, Inc., which was a nonprofit free legal services program for individuals and families who could not afford legal representation.
While in private practice, I was active with bar associations and recently served as President of the Cook County Bar Association (CCBA) Foundation which is a nonprofit affiliate of the CCBA and provides pro bono legal clinics, community legal education forums, and law student scholarships. Becoming a judge has been my career goal for many years.
I am deeply honored and humbled to serve as a Circuit Court Judge. I am a public servant and my guiding principle is to treat everyone in my courtroom - lawyers and litigants - with dignity and respect. My strong work ethic is demonstrated by my commitment to analyze and decide each case based on the facts and the law while efficiently managing a heavy caseload. I ensure that every voice will be heard and I am committed to achieving justice and fairness in all my decisions.
Tell us something we would be surprised to learn about you.
I am devoted to my career but it would surprise many to learn that I am also a very devoted and loving grandmother. (Let's keep this a secret for now!)