2009 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence Recipient

Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans

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Chief Judge Evans
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Timothy C. Evans, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., has been named recipient of the 2009 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence by the National Center for State Courts. One of the most prestigious judicial honors in the country, the Rehnquist Award is presented annually to a state court judge who exemplifies the highest level of judicial excellence, integrity, fairness, and professional ethics. Chief Judge Evans is the first judge from Illinois to receive the award, which was established in 1996.

Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts will present the award to Chief Judge Evans during a ceremony at the United States Supreme Court on November 19, 2009.

One of the nation’s highest judicial honors, the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence is named in honor of the late United States Supreme Court Chief Justice. It is awarded annually by the National Center for State Courts and honors state court judges who have demonstrated exceptional judicial leadership skills to address issues affecting their communities.

NCSC President Mary C. McQueen said Chief Judge Evans was chosen for “his innovative leadership in spearheading advancements in the administration of justice in Illinois.”

McQueen said that, in addition to being honored as a judge who exemplifies the highest level of judicial excellence, integrity, fairness and professional ethics, Chief Judge Evans is recognized for the following achievements:

  • Supporting and managing the development of a new Domestic Violence Courthouse, which opened in 2005.
  • Appointing women and minority judges to high profile supervisory positions in the court system to more closely reflect the communities they serve.
  • Reducing the time from arraignment to disposition in felony cases, which helped to reduce the jail population.
    Expanding the use of problem-solving courts, including a new Mental Health Treatment Court for eligible criminal defendants.
  • Establishing a separate section in the Chancery Division to help with the staggering number of mortgage foreclosure filings.
  • Sweeping reforms of bail setting procedures, creating a fairer system of pretrial justice.

Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald, Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, has described Chief Judge Evans as a “stellar judge administrator,” while judges in the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Criminal Division, including Presiding Judge Paul P. Biebel, Jr., credit innovative reforms made by Chief Judge Evans as helping to “change the culture of the court” to respond to the needs of a large and diverse urban community.

First elected Chief Judge in September 2001 by unanimous vote of the circuit judges, Timothy C. Evans is currently serving his third term. As Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Judge Evans has administrative authority over the circuit’s approximately 430 judges, including 15 presiding judges; an annual budget of almost $204.9 million; nine courthouses; and more than 2,800 employees who work in 13 non-judicial offices providing probation and other court-related services.

The Circuit Court of Cook County is the largest of the 22 judicial circuits in Illinois and one of the largest unified trial court systems in the country, serving Cook County’s diverse population of more than 5million residents.

Chief Judge Evans has a 40-year history of excellence in public service that includes service as an assistant corporation counsel for the City of Chicago’s Law Department, a deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Investigations and an elected member of the Chicago City Council where he served for 18 years. In 1992, he was elected to the Cook County judiciary as a circuit judge and within three years, he rose to presiding judge of the Domestic Relations Division. He was appointed presiding judge of the Law Division in 2000, where he served until his election as Chief Judge.