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James Holderman

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James Holderman
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Title:   Senior Judge
Position:   Seat #19
Appointed by:   Ronald Reagan
Active:   4/4/1985-12/30/2013
Chief:   2006-6/30/2013
Senior:   12/31/2013-Present
Preceded by:   98 Stat. 333
Succeeded by:   John Robert Blakey
Personal History
Born:   1946
Hometown:   Joliet, IL
Undergraduate:   University of Illinois, 1968
Law School:   University of Illinois College of Law, 1971

James F. Holderman is a judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He joined the court in 1985 after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan. He became Chief Judge in 2006 and served in the position until June 30, 2013.[1] On December 31, 2013, Holderman took senior status.[2]


Holderman received his B.S. from the University of Illinois in 1968 and his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1971.[2]

Professional career

  • 1993-Present: Adjunct professor, University of Illinois College of Law
  • 1986-Present: Adjunct professor, John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1983-2000: Lecturer, University of Chicago Law School
  • 1982-1984: Adjunct professor, Northwestern University School of Law
  • 1981-1983: Adjunct professor, Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • 1978-1985: Private practice, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1972-1978: Assistant U.S. attorney, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1971-1972: Law clerk, Honorable Edward McManus, Northern District of Iowa[2]

Judicial career

Northern District of Illinois

On the recommendation of Senator Charles Percy, Holderman was nominated to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by President Ronald Reagan on February 25, 1985, to a new seat created by 98 Stat. 333 which was approved by Congress. Holderman was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 3, 1985 on and received his commission on April 4, 1985. Holderman has served as the chief judge of the court from 2006 until June 30, 2013. He took senior status on December 31, 2013.[2]

Notable cases

Illinois housing for the disabled case (2009)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Stanley Ligas, et al. v. Barry S. Maram, et al, 1:05-cv-04331)

Judge Holderman de-certified a class action lawsuit brought by nine Illinois citizens who suffered from down syndrome. The group had sued to compel Illinois officials to move them into community-based settings, and generally to be placed in the least restrictive setting appropriate to their needs.[3]

The ruling issued by the judge said that the settlement proposal was "considerably broader than was necessary" to address the plaintiff's case against the State of Illinois.[3] Holderman de-certified the class and ruled that Mr. Ligas and the other plaintiffs may continue to pursue their cases, but not as a class-action lawsuit.

Mr. Ligas, who has down syndrome and holds a job, sued the state in 2005 in order to leave a 96-bed site for placement in a small residential home. The lawsuit alleged that Illinois officials declined to provide funding for the placement in violation of provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Social Security Act.[3]

"The judge (Holderman) in no way ruled on the merits here," said Barry Taylor, a lawyer with Equip for Equality, a group which represented the plaintiffs. "No one disputes that Illinois has not done enough to provide services for people with developmental delays," Taylor said after the ruling was issued.[3]

Judge Holderman's ruling halted a proposed settlement between the plaintiffs and the Illinois Department of Human Services. The settlement would have ordered for all adults who live in institutional settings to be evaluated annually, to see if they are eligible to move into a group home.[3]

Former Governor Rod Blagojevich trial (2009)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (United States, v. Rod Blagojevich, et al., 1:08-cr-00888)

Holderman presided over parts of the corruption trial against former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. The judge granted prosecutors permission to release incriminating recordings to attorneys for Blagojevich and the other individuals secretly taped in the conversations.

Federal prosecutors sought to release the recorded conversations after the Illinois House panel that was investigating Blagojevich requested information that might help them reach a decision. The panel was investigating Blagojevich's actions in order to decide whether he would be impeached. Holderman indicated the tapes might have been subsequently released to the special investigative committee.[4]

Prosecutors had said the release of too many recordings could damage their investigation but offered to make available four calls in which Blagojevich allegedly sought campaign contributions in exchange for signing legislation that diverted casino funds to the state's horse racing industry. This allegation was also noted in the FBI indictment linking Blagojevich to quid pro quo transactions, in which he indicated an intent to trade the open Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama for political favors. As Governor, Blagojevich had the sole authority to appoint someone to the seat.[4]

Additionally, earlier in the proceedings, on January 5, 2009, Holderman granted a motion by US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald to extend the deadline for obtaining an indictment against Blagojevich.[5]

The judge accepted Fitzgerald's argument that the case had grown too complex to obtain an indictment within the usual 30 day deadline.[5] Holderman said that "the ends of justice served by the extension outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendants to a speedy trial".[5]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
NA-New Seat
Northern District of Illinois
Seat #19
Succeeded by:
John Robert Blakey

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