The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to welcome Justice Mary Ellen Coghlan, Judge Franklin U. Valderrama, and attorney Kurt Reitz as new Commissioners. The Commissioners were appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court for three-year terms beginning on January 1, 2021.
“Justice Coghlan, Judge Valderrama, and attorney Reitz are well-known for their professionalism and contributions to the bar and their communities,” said Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne M. Burke. “I look forward to working with our new Commissioners to promote civility and professionalism in Illinois’ legal community. In addition, I would like to thank past-Commissioners Judge Jorge Alonso, Judge Debra Walker, and attorney John Kujawski for their years of service and dedication to the Commission.”
The new Commissioners will replace U.S. District Judge Jorge L. Alonso and Circuit Court of Cook County Judge Debra B. Walker, whose terms expired, and attorney John P. Kujawski, who stepped down from the Commission.
Walker served on the Special Supreme Court Committee on Civility, which recommended the establishment of the Commission on Professionalism, and was appointed as one of the Commission’s first Commissioners in 2005. She served as Commission Chair from 2012-2018. Among her many achievements as Chair was the launch of the Commission’s Courthouse Professionalism Training, a CLE seminar that places courthouse personnel in the shoes of patrons for a day.
Justice Coghlan was assigned to the First District Appellate Court in 2019. She was appointed to the bench in 1995 and elected as a Circuit Court Judge in 1996. She served for 24 years in the Criminal and Probate Divisions of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Prior to being assigned to the Illinois Appellate Court, she served as the Presiding Judge of the Probate Division. Before being appointed as a judge, Coghlan was an Assistant Cook County Public Defender and an Assistant Attorney General in the General Law Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
Judge Valderrama was sworn in as U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois in 2020. Valderrama is the first Panamanian American to serve as an Article III judge in the Northern District of Illinois. Prior to joining the District Court, he served as a judge in the General Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Before joining the Circuit Court in 2007, Valderrama was a partner at Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman, the largest minority-owned law firm in Chicago, where he focused on civil litigation.
Attorney Reitz is a Partner at Thompson Coburn LLP in Belleville, IL. He is experienced in the defense of personal injury and property damage litigation including FELA, trucking, product liability, class action, and mass tort litigation. He has briefed and argued numerous cases in the Illinois state appellate courts and the Illinois Supreme Court. He has also briefed and argued cases in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Seventh and Eighth Circuits and has briefed three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I am delighted to welcome Justice Coghlan, Judge Valderrama, and attorney Reitz to the Commission and look forward to working alongside them to advance our professionalism mission,” said Martin Sinclair, Chair of the Commission on Professionalism. “I would also like to express my gratitude for the invaluable contributions of our past Commissioners Judge Alonso, Judge Walker, and John Kujawski. I am particularly grateful for immediate past-Chair Judge Walker, who handed me the gavel of a smoothly running and well-respected organization.”
About the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism
The Illinois Supreme Court established the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism under Supreme Court Rule 799(c) to foster increased civility, professionalism, and inclusiveness among lawyers and judges in Illinois. By advancing the highest standards of conduct among lawyers and judges, the Commission on Professionalism works to better serve clients and society alike. For more information, please visit 2Civility.org and follow us on Twitter @2CivilityOrg.
Laura Bagby, Communications Director