About Judge Michael A. Forti
In September 2016, Judge Michael A. Forti was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the Circuit Court of Cook County. Like most new judges, Chief Judge Timothy Evans assigned Judge Forti to the Traffic Division in the First Municipal Department, located at the Daley Center. Although he had never practiced criminal law, Judge Forti has ably overseen dozens of misdemeanor trials, contested motions to quash warrants, and challenges to driving on a revoked/suspended license. More recently, he was assigned his own court room and adjudicated a variety of landlord/tenant issues. Those cases, brought under the Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act, can be very challenging but Judge Forti has handled this high-volume and emotionally-charged call with sensitivity, always respecting all litigants, whether they are landlords or tenants. Effective August 7, 2017, Chief Judge Evans transferred Judge Forti to the Domestic Relations Division.
Prior to his judicial service, Judge Forti has had a distinguished career as an attorney in Chicago for over 30 years. A native of St. Louis, he learned early on the values of hard work, honesty and fairness which were reinforced by his Jesuit training at St. Louis University High School. He went on to college at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and worked on Capitol Hill to finance his education. Despite holding a part-time job, he graduated with honors in three years and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Judge Forti is a 1980 graduate of the Northwestern University School of Law and has practiced in both the private and public sectors. After rising to partner in one of Chicago’s pre-eminent law firms, Bell Boyd & Lloyd (now K&L Gates), he joined the City of Chicago’s Department of Law, where he spent 17 years representing the interests of city residents. As a Deputy Corporation Counsel he had extensive “First Chair” trial responsibilities representing the City and its employees in many high-profile cases. These cases frequently were ones of “first impression” including the defense of the City’s gun ordinances. From Constitutional cases in federal court to zoning and contract disputes filed in state court, he is recognized as a talented attorney and dedicated public servant doing his part to keep Chicago the great city it is.
Judge Forti also served as the Chief Counsel to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) prior to becoming a judge. In that role, he served as the General Counsel for one of the largest state agencies, with an annual budget of $26 billion. He handled the legal aspects of many of Governor Pat Quinn’s legislative accomplishments, including bringing high speed rail to Illinois.
After 30 years of law practice in Chicago’s courtrooms and board rooms, Judge Forti has earned high praise for his intellect, professional demeanor, and integrity. He is justly proud of his record of public service and how his work has helped to make Cook County a safer and better place to live.
Judge Forti is a 40-year resident of Lakeview, where he lives with his partner.