About Tom and His Connection to the Community

Although legal experience and integrity are among the important qualities a judge should possess, I would like to tell you a little bit about myself personally. I am a lifelong resident of Chicago and the Chicagoland area, and have lived in the Ninth Judicial Subcircuit most of my life. I am technically a first-generation American as my parents, Peter and Anna Kougias, were born and lived in Greece before immigrating to America during and following World War II. I say technically, because my paternal grandfather actually obtained U.S. citizenship and lived here in Chicago during the early 1900s and proudly served in the United States Armed Forces during World War I before returning to Greece. I am very proud of my mother and father who built and operated the family business, Northeastern Fruit and Garden Center, located at Lincoln and Peterson, Chicago for 38 years until they retired in 2013.

I am a graduate of the Chicago Public School system, having graduated from Mary Gage Peterson Elementary School and Frederick Von Steuben High School. After high school, I graduated from Loyola University in Chicago and then went to law school at the Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago Kent College of Law.

I am married to my wife Susan Kougias, a graduate of Mather High School and University of Houston. She is a licensed architect with the commercial architectural firm of Greenbergfarrow. We have two great children, Peter, age 14 and Alexis, age 12; who attend School District 74. We are parishioners at Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church of Chicago, where I have attended since my childhood.

I am also an active member of professional and cultural organizations and have volunteered with the Ronald McDonald House, Oak Lawn, Illinois. At the Ronald McDonald House, I along with, Kathleen Lennon and Jeanine Kelly Banovic, have helped provide food for families of ill children who are in need. I, along with my brother, John, and our church youth group, also served to feed the homeless at the Marquard Center on Ashland, in Chicago for over 10 years. I along with my wife, family, and church youth group have made 2 trips to Israel and Egypt as part of a Holy Land tour.

I am invested in our community and want to see it remain a great place in which to live and raise a family. A strong, yet fair, justice system is essential for our community to remain a safe place where good people want to live with their kids. I will strive to make our community the best it can be by being a thoughtful, fair, compassionate, and honest judge, who is always respectful of those who appear before me in court. I would be grateful for your support in the Democratic Primary on March 15th, 2016 so I can serve our community.

Legal Experience

For over 27 years I have practiced law in both the civil and criminal courts of Cook County. Through significant public and private experience, I have gained a thorough understanding of our entire legal system.

For 20 years, I have dedicated my career to serving the citizens as an Assistant State’s Attorney with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. During my time as an Assistant State’s Attorney, I worked tirelessly for the victims of crimes and to make our community as safe as possible. During that time, I successfully prosecuted hundreds of complex crimes, from misdemeanors, domestic violence cases, and serious felony cases up to and including weapons charges, narcotics, arsons, kidnappings, reckless homicide and first-degree murders. I prosecuted these cases in courthouses located across Cook County, including the George Leighton Courthouse located at 26th and California, Maybrook Courthouse, located in the western suburbs, Bridgeview Courthouse, located in Bridgeview Illinois, the Rolling Meadows Courthouse covering the far northwestern suburbs, and the Skokie Courthouse, that covers the North Suburbs.

In addition to handling hundreds of cases while acting as an Assistant State’s Attorney, I had a number of special community based assignments that allowed me to serve the public in unique ways. Further, I was selected to be part of the Community Prosecutions Unit; this Unit was manned by Assistant State’s Attorneys who were assigned to connect with the community and prosecute those cases that were highly sensitive and of particular importance to the community. The cases that I handled in the Community Prosecutions Unit ranged from harassment to a carjacking of a public official. While assigned to this Unit, I worked in a number of communities throughout the city, including Pilsen, Little Village, Tri-Taylor, Bronzeville, Greektown, the Illinois Medical District and Hyde Park.

Besides prosecuting those cases involving violent offenders that posed the greatest threat to the community, I had additional duties that allowed me to use my skills to connect with and support the community in a variety of ways. I attended community and CAPS meetings to get to know members of the community, learn their concerns, and act as a liaison with the Chicago Police Department. I also lectured at local elementary schools and high schools, in an effort to deter children from using drugs or joining street gangs. Particularly effective was a program I actively participated in where we scheduled mock trial programs at the schools; in these mock trials, students would play different roles in a criminal trial so they could get a better understanding of how the criminal justice system worked and learned the dangers of running afoul of the law.

Another special assignment for which I was selected because of my experience and unique skill sets was my assignment in the Special Litigation Unit, specifically with the Parole Clemency Unit of the State’s Attorney’s Office. While working as one of the attorneys in this unit, I dealt with the most violent offenders of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s who were attempting to get released from their indefinite prison terms by seeking release form the Governor and the Prisoner Review Board. In addition to working to prevent these dangerous individuals from being released into our community, I also helped the family members of their victims firsthand to deal with the complex and emotionally draining process of appearing before the Board to speak against the release of these individuals.

I now continue to serve people in our community, albeit in a different capacity, as a solo practitioner. I now represent and help individuals in need of legal assistance in a variety of areas when they are confronted with a complex criminal justice system. I use my experience to make sure that each person receives their constitutional right to a fair and just trial and ensure that their rights are protected. My work as a solo practitioner has continually reminded me that even as one person the law is more than just business and that I have been able to help change my client’s lives for the better.

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