Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-09-19
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



POLITICS Michael Forti becomes newest openly gay Cook County Judge
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Michael A. Forti to the 8th Subcircuit vacancy recently created by the passing of Justice Laura Cha-yu Liu, making Forti the latest member of the LGBT community who is now a Cook County judge.

Forti's appointment became effective Sept. 30 and ends Dec. 3, 2018. He ran in 2012, but lost to Jessica O'Brien.

Forti recently talked with Windy City Times about the appointment, LGBT issues and hypothetical cases.

Windy City Times: What do you feel is duty, first and foremost, as a judge?

Michael Forti: Well, the area that I've been assigned—like most judges—is in the municipal district. I assume we'll be handling traffic matters in circuit court, and that's where I'll begin my substanative assignment.

WCT: You were deputy corporation counsel for the city of Chicago for 14 years. Give me some idea of what you handled there.

Forti: It was a very, very interesting job. I served first as a chief and then a deputy for a division that changed its name many times, but I think the best way to describe it was as a division that handled complex litigation—and some of the most interesting cases involved the Constitution.

So there were individuals who challenged city ordinances, alleging constitutional violations—those cases came to us. And some of the most interesting—one of which went to the U.S. Supreme Court—[involved] defending the city's gun ordinance. So we were at the forefront of addressing Second Amendment concerns, and the U.S. Supreme Court found there was an individual right, pursuant to that amendment.

I was fortunate enough to have some great bosses during the time I was there, and we worked on cases involving redistricting challenges to the closure of Meigs Field, so it was very exciting.

WCT: Did you deal with police-misconduct cases?

Forti: My division touched on that, but we were primarily focused on other constitutional matters. There was a separate division that was formed that handled those cases, which are very challenging. I think people are overwhelmed—that is, they've had tremendous case loads. However, that's no excuse for not being on top of your cases, but I empathize with some of those folks.

WCT: You also were chief counsel for the Illinois Department of Transportation, which would seem to be a nice segue for what you'll do as a judge.

Forti: Well, that was probably the most interesting and challenging job I've ever had. Coming from Chicago, having gone to Northwestern for law school and having lived in East Lake View and having worked for the city, many of us end up thinking that the entire state is synonymous with Chicago. But there is a big, big state south of [Interstate] 355.

Working in Chicago and Springfield was the breadth of Illinois, and I came to appreciate that. I helped that I'm originally from St. Louis, so I was familiar with the east side of downstate Illinois. That job was fascinating because I was really responsible for all of the legal issues, on some level, for the department. And at that time, under Gov. Quinn's leadership, the department was very active, whether it be high-speed rails, improvements in the railway system or dealing with the highway system. It was a very exciting time to be in IDOT.

WCT: Moving back to your judicial post, how did you find out you'd be appointed?

Forti: I had been in discussions with [Supreme Court Justice Charles] Freeman, and I needed my evaluations by the various boards to be updated. I was confidant I'd be found qualified; at the end of the day, I was actually traveling on the bus when I got the good news. This, of course, is something that I've wanted to do for many years. This is the culmination for a more-than-five-year journey.

WCT: What do you think of election of judges, versus appointment?

Forti: As a policy matter, I think it's a very interesting question—and I know that Illinois is different from other jurisdictions in terms of elections versus appointments. I think, in the end, it's best to look at Illinois as somewhat of a hybrid system—so appointments fill vacancies, but ultimately anyone who is appointed to the circuit court must run on their own.

I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both systems. Some understandably [ask] if we're getting the most qualified in elections when the electorate may not be familiar with judges. On the other hand, people say perhaps the appointment system is best—but then, you may question who is making the appointments and if there are political agendas to that. So, at this moment, this hybrid system works. I'm honored to be appointed, but I'll have to prove to voters in 2018 that I'm worthy of remaining in my position.

WCT: I received an email this very morning from Lambda Legal about a report, "Justice out of Balance," that discusses the lack of LGBT judges throughout the country, among other things. On finding, for example, said there are only two transgender and zero openly bi judges in the United States. What, in your opinion, can be done to increase the number of LGBT judges?

Forti: That's a really good question.

I recognize that when I was thinking about my run in 2012 and this journey, there have been great strides with the LGBT community—with marriage equality being the most prominent—but that, in the legal profession, some of those issues have been lagging. For example, even though I greatly admire [current Cook County Judge] Sebastian Patti and [former Cook County Judge] Tom Chiola, they are back in the '90s—that's 20 years ago. I can't think of many judicial appointments in the Eighth Subcircuit of LGBT individuals, so I'm honored that it's time for a qualified LGBT candidate to be appointed.

Now, fortunately though, in the Eighth, there are several judges who have been elected, and I count those individuals as my colleagues. Judge Ehrlich is someone I've worked with, and he ran and won, so I think the Eighth is open to electing openly gay candidates. I encourage lawyers who are openly LGBT to go into the law and seek out appointments, because we are lagging in that area. Being qualified is the number-one criterion, but it's a bonus if you bring a different perspective—and I think LGBT judges do that.

WCT: Here's a hypothetical: If you, as a judge, could've sat on any case throughout history, which one would it be?

Forti: [Smiles] That's a really tough question. I think one that comes to mind, around the time I was born, was the Supreme Court decision in [Brown v.] Board of Education; that was a critical case that changed the trajectory of the country. I also believe that Thurgood Marshall was one of the lawyers on that case, and seeing him as a practicing attorney would be very interesting.

I think Loving v. Virginia would be very interesting. The movie [Loving] was at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it did very well. That case, too, was the precursor for those who advocated for marriage equality for the LGBT community.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Homophobic Daley Plaza rant caught on video 2018-09-20 - Windy City Times received a video of a man—holding a clipboard and wearing a t-shirt supporting Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle—using anti-gay ...

Gay News

State Dept Cannot Rely on Binary-Only Gender Policy to Deny Passport 2018-09-19 - ( Denver, CO, September 19, 2018 ) — A U.S. District Court Judge today ruled that the U.S. State Department exceeded its authority ...

Gay News

BYP100's Charlene Carruthers on being Black, feminist and queer 2018-09-19 - Despite the fact that, in Chicago, Charlene Carruthers and I are neighbors, the only time we can find to have this conversation is ...

Gay News

DeRay Mckesson, fighting for Black lives 2018-09-19 - By the time this interview was conducted Sept. 7, DeRay Mckesson, one of the most visible Black Lives Movement organizers, was already on ...

Gay News

Women's March Chicago announces event expansion 2018-09-17 - On Sept. 12, at the corner of Jackson Boulevard and Columbus Drive in Grant Park, board members from Women's March Chicago ( WMC ...

Gay News

HRC calls for halt to Supreme Court confirmation process 2018-09-16 - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to halt the Supreme Court confirmation process ...

Gay News

Massachusetts AG Maura Healey at LPAC event 2018-09-16 - Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey attended a small gathering for the national LGBTQ political action committee LPAC Sept. 12 at an event hosted ...

Gay News

EI PAC calls on Gov. Rauner to stop contributing to anti-gay candidate 2018-09-14 - Statement from John Litchfield, Chair of the Equality Illinois PAC, which is dedicated to securing and defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, ...

Gay News

Lambda, 18 LGBT groups urge Senate to reject Trump nominee Stephen Clark 2018-09-12 - ( Washington, DC — Sept. 12, 2018 ) Today, Lambda Legal joined with 18 national, state and local LGBT civil rights organizations to ...

Gay News

MOMBIAN LGBTQ parents making their mark in the world 2018-09-12 - LGBTQ parents, as a whole, are pretty awesome. We raise our children as successfully as anyone else ( as decades of research has ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.