A federal prosecutor who assisted with the prosecution of imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been appointed to the Cook County bench, along with a longtime Chicago lawyer who was tapped to fill the vacancy left after the retirement of the presiding judge over the county’s criminal courts.
Tuesday, the Illinois Supreme Court and state Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman announced the selections of Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton to serve as a circuit judge in the Cook Circuit’s 12th Subcircuit and Chicago lawyer John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. to serve as an at-large circuit judge.
Hamilton’s appointment comes to fill the void left by the June 15 retirement of Circuit Judge Sandra Tristano.
Tristano had served as a municipal department judge, assigned to Cook County’s Third Municipal District in the county’s courthouse in suburban Rolling Meadows.
According to a release from the Illinois Supreme Court, Hamilton, 44, had served at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago since April 2001. For the past three years, she has served as deputy chief of the office’s Public Corruption and Organized Crime Section. In that role, she oversaw the office’s public corruption cases, as well as federal grand jury investigations and trials involving corruption, organized crime, complex financial fraud, money laundering, tax, health care crimes, narcotics, firearms, violent gang activity, child exploitation and prostitution.
While a federal prosecutor, Hamilton served on several prosecution teams handling high-profile public corruption cases, including the successful prosecutions of Blagojevich, convicted political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko and certain members of terrorist organization, Hamas.
Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hamilton served as a litigation associate concentrating in complex commercial litigation at the Chicago firms of Katten, Muchin & Zavis, from 1996-1998, and Grippo & Elden, from 1999-2001.
She lives in Cook’s 12th Subcircuit, which includes parts of Maine, Wheeling, Elk Grove, New Trier and Northfield townships.
“I am honored to serve the citizens of Cook County and the 12th Judicial Subcircuit,” Hamilton said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to continuing my commitment to public service with the hard work, integrity and fairness that this position demands.”
Lyke, 50, was selected to fill the vacancy left in the county’s judicial ranks following the July 6 retirement of Cook County Circuit Judge Paul P. Biebel Jr., who had served as presiding judge over Cook County’s criminal courthouse at 26th and California in Chicago.
According to the release from the state Supreme Court, Lyke brings more than two decades of legal experience to the bench, including service from 1994-2000 as an assistant Cook County State’s Attorney, where he worked in the office’s community prosecution, felony trial, felony review, grand jury, homicide and sex, juvenile and traffic divisions.
He has run his own private practice since 2000, handing criminal defense and personal injury matters. Lyke also served as an administrative law judge for the city of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection from 2006-2011.
Before attending college and earning his law degree, Lyke served in the U.S. Army as a communications specialist from 1982-1984 and Illinois National Guard as a communications sergeant from 1984-1988.
“I am very thankful for Justice Charles Freeman and the other justices for their faith and trust in my ability to do the job of judge,” Lyke said.
Lyke will begin serving on the bench July 16, while Hamilton’s appointment becomes effective July 17.
Both new judges’ appointments will end Dec. 5, 2016, when voters will select judges for those positions in the 2016 General Election.