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Cook County, Illinois, names new presiding juvenile judge

Michael Toomin, a long-time circuit judge who participated in the reform of Illinois’ rules for capital cases, was named presiding judge for the Cook County juvenile system, one of the nation’s largest.

"I think I share with (Chief Judge Timothy) Evans the feeling that this (juvenile) court is one of the jewels of the Circuit Court because so much is at stake," Toomin told the Chicago Tribune after being named in December.  

Toomin was appointed an associate judge of Cook County Circuit Court in 1980 and was elected a circuit judge in 1984. He has served most of his judicial career in the court’s criminal division, where he heard more than 630 murder cases and presided over more than 400 jury trials. 

He was appointed the division’s supervising judge in 1994 and acting presiding judge in 2000. He then was assigned in 2008 to the First District of the Illinois Appellate Court, where he also chaired a special Supreme Court committee on capital cases.

Toomin said that he intends to work on reducing the juvenile detention population through diversion and the utilization of viable alternatives to confinement. He is already looking at a plan to match juveniles with mentors.

"I think we recognize that these young kids have potential and they can be saved and become productive citizens,” he said.