CHIEF JUDGE TIMOTHY C. EVANS
Timothy C. Evans serves as the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, the largest of the 24 judicial circuits in Illinois and also one of the largest unified court systems in the world. More than 1 million cases are annually filed in the court, which serves Cook County’s 5.2 million residents.
Chief Judge Evans oversees about 400 judges whom he assigns throughout the court’s 10 divisions and six geographic districts. He also oversees an annual budget of $277 million and about 2,600 employees who work in 15 non-judicial offices providing court-related services such as probation, courtroom interpreters and the supervision of children in the courthouse.
Chief Judge Evans was first elected Chief Judge in September 2001 by unanimous vote of the circuit judges. He was subsequently re-elected in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019. In recent years, Chief Judge Evans has implemented a series of groundbreaking initiatives, including signing an order to assign public and private defense attorneys to represent arrestees while they are still in custody at the police station. He also changed the cash-bail process to state that monetary bail should be set in an amount that a defendant can afford.
As Chief Judge, Evans has brought sweeping reforms to the court that are both innovative and compassionate. His efforts include improving pretrial services operations, opening a courthouse solely dedicated to domestic violence matters and expanding the use of courts that address mental health treatment, veterans support, drug rehabilitation and support to defendants charged with prostitution. He also opened the state’s first Restorative Justice Community Court in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. To serve the members of the public who have court business, Chief Judge Evans has expanded child-care centers throughout the system to ensure that all court facilities have Children’s Rooms.
Throughout his career, Chief Judge Evans has advocated for equal opportunities for all, including women, minorities and the LGBTQ community. Women and minorities comprise a majority of the presiding judges who manage the court’s divisions and districts.
Various organizations have honored Chief Judge Evans with dozens of awards for judicial excellence, distinguished service and humanitarian causes. Academic scholarships have been established in his name. In 2009, he became the first judge from Illinois to receive the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence from the National Center for State Courts. The award is one of the most prestigious judicial honors in the country and has been presented annually since 1996 by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In 2017, Chicago Lawyer magazine named Chief Judge Evans the Person of the Year.
Chief Judge Evans is a 1965 graduate of the University of Illinois. He received his J.D. from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago in 1969.
Upon graduation from John Marshall, Chief Judge Evans embarked on a lifelong pursuit of public service. He entered city government in 1969 when he joined the City of Chicago’s Law Department as an assistant corporation counsel. He later joined the City of Chicago’s Department of Investigations, rising to deputy commissioner. In 1973, voters elected him to represent the 4th Ward of the City Council, a position he held for 18 years while maintaining a private law practice.
With the election of Harold Washington as mayor in 1983, Chief Judge Evans assumed the coveted post of floor leader of the City Council. He also chaired several committees, such as the Finance, Budget and Health committees.
In 1992, he ascended to the Cook County judiciary as a circuit judge. Three years later, he was appointed the presiding judge of the Domestic Relations Division. In 2000, he was appointed presiding judge of the Law Division, where he served until his election as Chief Judge.