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Meet the candidates for Illinois Supreme Court Justice. Each candidate tells his or her story in an interview with Attorney Howard Ankin. This Illinois Supreme Court Candidate Forum is brought to you by Ankin Law. Candidates running in the primary election were contacted to be in included the forum as a public service. Learn more about the candidates and remember to vote on Tuesday, March 17.

Justice Margaret S. McBride
Justice Margaret S. McBride
Justice Nathaniel R. Howse
Justice Nathaniel R. Howse
Justice Cynthia Y. Cobb
Justice Cynthia Y. Cobb
Justice Jesse G. Reyes
Justice Jesse G. Reyes
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Read Supreme Court Candidate Bios

Margaret Stanton McBride,Appellate Judge First District, 4th Division

Margaret Stanton McBride was born in Evanston Illinois. She received her B.A. degree from Newton College of the Sacred Heart in Newton, MA, and her J.D. degree from DePaul University College of Law. She served in private practice from 1976 to 1977 and then as a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney from 1977 to 1987. Judge McBride was appointed to the Circuit Court in 1987 and elected a Circuit Judge in 1990. She served in the First Municipal District, Criminal, Law and Chancery Divisions of the Circuit Court. When elected to the Appellate Court in November 1998, Judge McBride was the Presiding Judge of the Third Municipal District.

With 32 years of outstanding service on the bench, Justice McBride is running for Illinois’ highest court because she is committed to a legal system that is fair, impartial, independent, and upholds the rule of law.

McBride has earned highly qualified, exceptionally well-qualified and highly recommended bar association rating throughout her judicial career. She was endorsed by the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald in her successful bid for the Illinois Appellate Court and by the Chicago Sun-Times in her successful run for the Circuit Court.

Justice McBride served for 10 years as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney, and in 1987 was appointed a Cook County associate judge assigned to hear criminal cases. She presided over hundreds of trials, both juries and bench.

With outstanding bar ratings and newspaper endorsements Justice McBride won election to the Appellate Court, the state’s second highest court, in 1998. She has authored over 2,000 decisions in criminal and civil appeals and serves on numerous committees devoted to improving the administration of justice in our State.

Justice McBride has won several awards for her service, including her groundbreaking work as the first Chair of the Cook County Circuit Court’s Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. While in the State’s Attorneys Office she created the first child sexual assault victim/witness advocacy room, which now bears her name.

Justice McBride is married and has two children.

Cynthia Y. Cobbs,Appellate Judge First District, 3rd Division

Cobbs received her undergraduate degree from Morgan State University in 1972 and her master’s in social work from the University of Maryland. After working for several years as a social worker in Maryland clinics, Cobbs went on to received her J.D. degree from the IIT—Chicago Kent College of Law in 1988.

Cobbs previously held the post of director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. She worked in this position from March 1, 2002, until joining the Cook Judicial Circuit Court in 2011. She was both the first
woman and the first African American to serve as director of the Administrative Office.

Judge Cobbs has worked as a clinical social worker, research attorney, judicial law clerk, staff attorney, chief legal counsel, state court administrator, circuit court judge, and now, as a Justice on the Illinois Appellate Court, I am more than prepared for this next step in my professional journey. I have learned a lot of law and how to apply it, fairly, to a set of facts. My years as the Director of the Illinois Courts taught me much about the work of our Supreme Court and all that is involved in administering our judicial branch of government. But, more than that, I know from the whole of my life’s experiences, what it means to be a good judge.

Without question, the fair and timely disposition of legal disputes is critically important work for every judge. No less important is working to ensure fairness and access to justice for every person who stands before a judge in our courts. But being a good judge requires even more than that. “As judges, we are also citizens, role models and public servants. And as such, we have a profound responsibility to serve the communities in which we live, to mentor our youth, and to conduct ourselves with dignity, honor and humility. Being a good judge is about being accountable and accessible to those individuals we vowed to serve.”

As the eighth born of nine children, Cobbs was taught early in life that generosity of spirit and strong values, coupled with hard work and education were the keys, not to great wealth, but to good success.

Cobbs is a lifelong Democrat and a proud resident of south suburban Cook County with her husband Austin.

Nathaniel R. Howse Jr.,First District, 3rd Division

Justice Nathaniel R. Howse, Jr. received his undergraduate and law degrees from Loyola University of Chicago. He was in private practice for 22 years before becoming a judge. He represented clients before the Illinois Circuit Court, the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court, the Federal District Court and the Seventh
Circuit Court of Appeals. In November 1998, Justice Howse was elected to a six-year term to the Office of Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. In November 2004, he was retained by the voters of Cook County for another six-year term. In August 2009, Justice Howse was assigned to serve as an Appellate Court Justice for the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, by the Illinois Supreme Court. In November 2012, Justice Howse was elected as a Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, where he currently serves.

Born in a small town in Tennessee, Justice Nathaniel Roosevelt Howse attended segregated schools while his family suffered under Jim Crow. Despite earning a Master’s Degree, the only job his father could find was the overnight shift at a bomb factory.

Justice Howse and his family became part of the Great Migration of African-American families from the South to Chicago.Working days and studying nights, his father earned a law degree and went on to practice law here in Chicago. Following in his father’s footsteps, Justice Howse became an attorney as well. He focused on election law to ensure that underdogs who wanted their voice heard weren’t knocked off the ballot by the Cook County machine.

Justice Howse was a lead attorney for the Harold Washington Party, where he worked to ensure that candidates from every community had a fair shot to run for office. He was elected to the Cook County Circuit Court in 1998, where he served with distinction until 2009, when Howse became a Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court, where he still serves.

He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Loyola University of Chicago and lives with his wife, Patricia in Chicago.

Jesse Reyes,Appellate Judge First District, 4th Division

Jesse Gregory Reyes received his B.A. degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his J.D. degree from the John Marshall Law School. He has been a member of the judiciary since December, 1997, serving both as an associate and elected judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Raised in the Pilsen and Bridgeport neighborhoods, Justice Jesse Reyes was the oldest of four children and the only one to attend college. In 1997, Reyes was elected an Associate Judge by his peers on the circuit court. In 2006, Reyes became the first Latino to lead the Illinois Judges Association.

Judge Reyes was elected to the Appellate Court in November, 2012 becoming the first Latino elected to the
Appellate Court in Illinois. Reyes is the founding member and the current President of Diversity Scholarship Foundation. He is also a founding member and the former President of the Illinois Judges Foundation.
Reyes and his wife Terry live in Chicago’s Southwest side; their daughter Renee is currently a second-grade teacher.