Evanston resident Thomas Cushing is running for judge in the 9th judicial subcircuit, to fill the vacancy of retiring judge Lee Preston. A trial lawyer with 17 years’ experience, Mr. Cushing represented plaintiffs in personal injury and medical malpractice cases and common carrier disputes. He has recently focused on the environment, and served on the committee appointed by Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl to explore the possibilities of a wind farm in Lake Michigan.
At present, Mr. Cushing is of counsel to Christopher Kreid & Associates, with law offices in downtown Evanston. He is a senior advisor for the Delta Institute and an advisor for the Clean Energy Institute. As one of the facilitators of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s program to redevelop former coal plants, Mr. Cushing says he hopes to “bring [the parties] together to design the redevelopment of these parcels.”
After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, Mr. Cushing taught sixth grade for two years, then attended law school at Loyola University of Chicago. With three siblings who are attorneys and the experience of speaking logically and persuasively before a tough audience – sixth-graders – Mr. Cushing says he felt trial work was a natural fit.
“I came out of law school knowing how to try a case,” said Mr. Cushing. He worked with his brother for many years, “representing the little guy against the big guy.” The two brothers, he said, “built up a good reputation with their constituents and with judges.” He was “invited to the Society of Trial Lawyers and [is] and inaugural member of Loyola Law School’s Circle of Advocates.” He has served as an adjunct professor in Loyola’s law school, teaching trial techniques and alternative dispute resolution.
A member of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, Mr. Cushing says he is “pleased to be at the table with the most accomplished trial lawyers.”
Support and Endorsements
Mr. Cushing said he is gratified that a number of former judges and former trial opponents turned out in support of his campaign kickoff. “It’s a point of respect to know that the people I practiced against and before are supporting me,” he said.
Mr. Cushing said that in 2013, the Chicago Bar Association “conducted a current evaluation of my qualifications to serve as Associate Judge of the Circuit Court and found me to be Qualified. The CBA told me that their process last year included only two alternatives, Qualified and Not Recommended.” He added the CBA’s letter advising him of the rating stated, “Mr. Cushing has a wealth of trial experience and is highly regarded by his peers for his knowledge of the law and legal ability.”
The best judges, said Mr. Cushing, are “intellectually highly competent, are good managers and have compassion and humility. It can be a tough balancing act to be highly intellectual and also humble – you can lose track of this humility.” The best judges, he added, are those “who are humble enough to be willing to listen and learn something new from each case. … The mark of excellence in the judiciary is the willingness to read and think and not rule off the cuff.”
“Evanston is a great place,” Mr. Cushing said. “It attracts folks who have a concern for the broader society.” He has lived here for more than two decades, where he and his wife, Ellen, reared their four children. He coached basketball with FAAM for four years and baseball with EBSA. “These organizations are places where all of Evanston comes together,” he said. “It’s such a gift to me and to my kids to have the opportunity to meet and compete with different kids. It gives you a sense of the folks across the community.”
Mr. Cushing volunteers regularly with Connections, where his wife, Ellen, is a member of the board of directors. He also served as school board chairman at St. Athanasius School. For 21 years he served on the Board of Regents at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.
Local supporters of Mr. Cushing include Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and aldermen Mark Tendam, Coleen Burrus and Don Wilson, he said.
Mr. Cushing has three opponents in the March 18 primary election.