Chicago Lawyer Magazine has named Judge Timothy C. Evans as its 2017 Person of the Year. Evans serves as the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. He a John Marshall Law School alumnus and a member of its Board of Trustees.
Evans graduated from the University of Illinois in 1965 and received his J.D. from John Marshall in 1969. Upon law school graduation, Evans began a lifelong career in public service. He joined the City of Chicago’s Law Department as an assistant corporation counsel and later became deputy commissioner of the City’s Department of Investigations. In 1973, Evans was elected alderman of the 4th ward, a position he held for 18 years. Evans was first elected to the bench in 1992.
Evans was elected Chief Judge in September 2001. He won re-election in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016, and will soon become the longest-serving chief judge in the Cook County Circuit Court’s history. He is also the first African-American to serve in the position.
Each year, Chicago Lawyer collects nominees for its Person of the Year feature from members of the legal community. The main criterion when considering nominees is whether the person made an impact on Illinois’ legal community in the past year.
Over the past year, Evans signed an administrative order to assign public and private defense attorneys to represent defendants while they are in custody at the police station. He also changed the cash-bail system to ensure that monetary bail is set at an amount the defendant can afford. Additionally, Evans opened the Restorative Justice Community Court to serve the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago.
Throughout his career, Evans has been an outspoken voice for equal opportunities for women and minorities. At the court’s executive level, in particular, he has championed excellence and diversity. He has appointed 14 of the 17 division and district presiding judges, and half of those appointments have been women, minorities or both.
He has been honored with dozens of distinguished service and humanitarian awards and has had academic scholarships established in his name. His outstanding efforts have been acknowledged with lifetime achievement awards from the Illinois Judges Association, the Association of Corporate Counsel and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois. In 2009, Evans became the first Illinois judge to receive the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence from the National Center for State Courts—one of the most prestigious judicial honors in the country.