Sebastian Patti and Tom Chiola

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Sebastian Patti (right), Circuit Court Supervising Judge; Tom Chiola (Left), Circuit Court Judge, Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Ron Schlittler.

Sebastian Patti

Born February 10, 1953

Cook County Circuit Court Supervising Judge

Chicago, Illinois

5 million constituents

Career Overview

Appointed March 1995

Elected November 1996

Re-elected 2002

Tom Chiola

Born March 18, 1952

Cook County Circuit Court Judge

Chicago, Illinois

5 million constituents

Career Overview

Elected November 1994

Re-elected November 2000, 2006

In this photograph, Sebastian Patti and Tom Chiola are outside of their offices in the Daley Center. The plaza is home to the huge “Chicago Picasso” as the sculpture behind them is commonly called.

About Sebastian Patti from Out and Elected in the USA

Before being appointed to the bench, Patti served for 18 years as the associate regional council for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where he earned awards and recognition for his litigation related to toxic waste and clear water.

In June 1999, he was named supervising judge of the First Municipal District Housing Court Section. In an announcement about his new post he said, “It’s a wonderful opportunity, I’m truly excited. The possibility of hearing cases and managing an entire section of the court is a daunting proposition, but I have a couple of wonderful judges who supervise me… and I propose to do my best to be efficient and fair.”

Lambda Legal defense and Education Fund attorney Heather Sawyer said, “it is a well-deserved promotion and also a blessing for the Chicago community.” She added, “All of the housing issues come before [the housing division], including landlord-tenant disputes. As a day-to-day issue, housing is one of the most important things for a number of people.”

In his position, Patti serves as a member of the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Professional Responsibility and a faculty member of the Illinois Judicial Conference. He also serves on the Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Sexual Orientation Awareness in the Circuit Court of Cook County and the Housing Court Advisory Committee.

About Tom Chiola from Out and Elected in the USA

Chiola became the first openly gay candidate to be elected to any federal, state county or municipal office in Illinois when he won his campaign for Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. He handles civil jury trials.

Prior to his election, Chiola served as the General Council for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, which licenses doctors, dentists, nurses, architects, engineers, and several dozen other professions. While serving as the Chief Administrative Law Judge for the department, he heard a variety of complex cases including physician malpractice resulting in severely injured patients, multi-million dollar fraud on public programs by pharmacists and inappropriate prescribing by “diet doctors.”

With the advent of the AIDS epidemic and the lack of legal service providers for people facing the effects of the virus, Chiola helped organize the first pro bono project for people with AIDS in Chicago in 1986. He now serves as a fund-raiser for a meals-on-wheels program. He also serves as a driver for the program, and he and his partner help stock shelves at the program’s grocery store.

Over the years, Chiola has worked with his contacts in state government and coalition groups lobbying for inclusion of sexual orientation in the Illinois Human Rights Act. His mother, a former Ms. Senior Illinois, was one of the witnesses in support of the bill and her testimony was broadcast on television through much of the state, and on National Public Radio.

For information on a touring exhibit version of Out and Elected in the USA: 1974-2004, contact Ron Schlittler at

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