Meet Judge Sanjay Tailor
Judge Sanjay Tailor, an 19-year veteran judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, is the first Asian American presiding judge in Illinois. Since 2003, he has served in five different Divisions of the Circuit Court (Municipal, Domestic Relations, Law, Chancery, and presently the County Division), making him one of its most experienced jurists. On January 4, 2021, the Illinois Supreme Court elevated him from Associate Judge to Circuit Judge, and Chief Judge Timothy Evans named him Presiding Judge of the County Division, where mental health, adoption, property tax, election, civil asset forfeiture, and other civil matters are heard.
Judge Tailor started practicing law in 1991 as a litigation associate at Chapman and Cutler, where he represented investors in securities fraud, corporate bankruptcy, and commercial law cases. While at the firm, he represented individuals on a pro bono basis, in both civil and criminal cases. In 1995, he joined the First National Bank of Chicago as in-house counsel, where he worked on bank regulatory matters and a merger with another national bank. Between 1996 and 2003, he litigated a wide range of high-profile and high-exposure cases as an Assistant State’s Attorney in the Civil Actions Bureau of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, including medical malpractice, commercial, constitutional, and civil rights law cases. He represented the County and its officials in state and federal trial and appellate courts – including a case before the United States Supreme Court – and rose to Deputy Supervisor of the Torts and Civil Rights Section.
Judge Tailor was appointed Associate Judge in 2003, and for the next several years was assigned to the Municipal Division, where he heard tort and contract, collection, and traffic cases. During this time, Judge Tailor and a colleague started a help desk to assist the many litigants on the collection call who could not afford an attorney. In 2006, he was assigned to the Domestic Relations Division, where he heard divorce, parentage, and domestic violence cases, and assisted hundreds of litigants in resolving their disputes by agreement. Between 2009 and 2016, he was assigned to the Law Division - in the Commercial and Tax and Miscellaneous Remedies Sections - where he heard contract and business disputes, legal malpractice, state and local taxation, worker’s compensation, unemployment, and eminent domain disputes. Between 2016 and 2020, Judge Tailor was assigned to the Chancery Division, where he heard many complex and high-profile cases, including claims seeking injunctive relief, class actions, constitutional challenges to government action, insurance coverage disputes, corporate and partnership governance disputes, trust and estate disputes, administrative review, and other civil cases.
In the course of his 19 years on the bench, Judge Tailor has presided over dozens of cases that have been covered in the media.
Judge Tailor has been a member of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Judicial Education for ten years, and was instrumental in introducing the study of implicit bias and procedural fairness in the continuing judicial education curriculum. He was also a member of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Judicial Performance Review for six years, which oversees a mandatory program in which judges are anonymously reviewed by members of the bar and then receive feedback and engage in dialogue with specially trained judges.
Judge Tailor is a cum laude graduate of Loyola University of Chicago School of Law and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in biological sciences from the University of Delaware. He is a fellow of the 2007-2008 class of Leadership Greater Chicago. He has taught an advanced course in Illinois civil practice litigation at Loyola for the last 18 years, and has published in both legal and scientific journals. Judge Tailor is a past president of the Lawyers Club of Chicago, the second oldest bar association in the City.
Before his appointment to the bench, Judge Tailor was active in the Democratic Party. In 1994, he was a full-time volunteer on Dawn Clark Netsch’s gubernatorial campaign, where he helped formulate policy positions while on a three-month leave of absence from his law firm. He also served on the board of Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century, a grass-roots organization of young Democrats centered around progressive policies. In addition, he served on the board, and chaired the public policy committee, of the Indo-American Democratic Organization, the oldest South-Asian American political advocacy organization in the United States.
In evaluating Judge Tailor for the position of Circuit Judge, the bar associations have uniformly found him to be an exceptional judge. For example, in finding him "highly qualified," the Chicago Bar Association said, "Judge Tailor is highly respected by his fellow judges and the lawyers who appear before him in court. Judge Tailor is an experienced jurist highly regarded for his knowledge of the law, integrity, diligence, work ethic, and excellent demeanor and temperament." Similarly, the Chicago Council of Lawyers said, "Judge Tailor is a highly respected jurist who is praised for his knowledge, his preparedness, and his temperament. He has excelled in every judicial position to which he has been assigned. The Council finds him Well Qualified for the Appellate Court." Likewise, the Illinois State Bar Association found Judge Tailor to be "highly qualified," and the Decalogue Society of Lawyers found him "high recommended."
Judge Tailor is an active member of the community. Most notably, he is a past board president and director of Apna Ghar, a domestic violence agency serving the Asian American community in Chicagoland. In addition, for the last 25 years he has served on the board of BPI (Business and Professional People for the Public Interest), a public policy institute - and recipient of the MacArthur Foundation award for creative and effective institutions - that has advocated for a more just Chicagoland for over 50 years.
Judge Tailor is married, has three children, and lives in New Trier Township.