Judge since: 2000
Coghlan served as a assistant state’s attorney for 13 years before his election to the bench. For three of those years, he also worked as a firefighter. As a judge, Coghlan has previously presided over felony preliminary hearings, bond court, traffic matters, and domestic violence matters.
Bar Association ratings
This year: The CCL rated Coghlan not qualified, saying that while some lawyers find Coghlan fair, “other lawyers, particularly those who are non-white, believe that he can be condescending and otherwise disrespectful toward non-white lawyers and defendants in his courtroom.” The CBA rated Coghlan as qualified and the ISBA recommended him for retention.
Past: Coghlan was rated positively by the CBA, CCL, and ISBA in 2012.
Notable: Coghlan Coghlan has had family on the bench: his cousin, Mary Ellen Coghlan, has been a Cook County judge since 1995 and is now the presiding judge of the Probate Division. An uncle, Martin D. Coghlan, was first appointed to a vacancy on the circuit court in 2007, but lost his election the following year. An Injustice Watch review identified several issues in Coghlan’s past. He is currently being sued by two men who say he worked with disgraced Chicago police detective Reynaldo Guevara to frame them for murder; the two spent 23 years in prison before being exonerated. (Coghlan denies the accusations in court filings). Last year, an Illinois Appellate Court panel took a case away from Coghlan and assigned the case to a new judge after Coghlan denied the post-conviction petition of a prisoner who contended he was wrongly convicted for the second time, even after the Appellate Court ruled the petition should move forward. Coghlan’s retention is being opposed by progressive community groups, and in September, the Cook County Democratic Party took the rare step of voting not to support his retention. Injustice Watch’s review found Coghlan is among the harshest judges for sentencing among the 24 Criminal Division judges who presided over 1,000 or more cases in the past six years.