Hon. John W. Darrah See Rating Details
District Judge See Comments
N.D.Ill.  
Average Rating:5.0 - 23 rating(s)
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Ratings

*Temperament:   (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
*Scholarship:   (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
*Industriousness:   (1=Not at all industrious,10=Highly industrious)
*Ability to Handle Complex Litigation:    (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
*Punctuality:    (1=Chronic`y Late,10=Always on Time)
*Evenhandedness in Civil Litigation:    (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
*Evenhandedness in Criminal Litigation:   (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
Flexibility In Scheduling   (1=Completely Inflexible,10=Very Flexible)
General Inclination Regarding Bail (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Pre-Trial:   (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
Involvement in Civil Settlement Discussions:   (1=Least Involved,10=Most Involved)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Trial:    (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Sentencing:    (1=Most Lenient,10=Most Harsh)
Typical Discount Off Guidelines for Cooperators:    (1=10%,10=100%)
  Items marked with (*) are averaged into the displayed overall rating
Comments



What others have said about Hon. John W. Darrah


Comments


Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 21297
Rating:5.3
Comments:
I was shocked at jury trial before Judge Darrah, as I had never been treated so unprofessionally and in such a biased manner by a trial judge, state or federal, in 25 years, and counsel for a co-defendant stated similar sentiments.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 21042
Rating:4.0
Comments:
I agree with the comments that he is erratic and unpredictable, tends to pick sides, and often is not particularly civil to lawyers. He is reasonably intelligent, though as also noted, not always listening. He seems to like to present a "tough guy" image. Not the least qualified judge on this bench, but overall pretty mediocre.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 20667
Rating:4.0
Comments:
Darrah is a blithering idiot. He denied an MSJ and found a question of fact on an issue that both sides agreed on. He has a nasty temper, especially when confronted with his own stupidity. I've been in front of bad judges before in my 25 or so years of practice, but he is by far the worst federal court judge I have ever seen.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 20646
Rating:3.2
Comments:
Terrible hair-trigger temper; does not really listen. Misunderstands or misstates litigants' arguments. Ducks issues he does not want to decide. One of the worst federal judges I have appeared before in 40+ years - even when he ruled for me because he got angry with the other side. He rules against whomever he is angry with on that day. Flat-out ignored direct 7th Circuit precedent and 3 decades of consistent US Supreme Court decisions -- without even a comment. Scary and unpredictable.

Other

Comment #: 18967
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
Justice Darrah is in my pro-se litigant opinion fair and respects the law. Give him well written briefs, properly cited, and he will and does his job very well. Respect his knowledge and he respects your arguments whether you are a defendant or a plaintiff. Judge Darrah can tell when you are telling the truth and he has a right to demand honesty and that respect. I don't care how someone got their job, but I do care how he or she does their job. I was a pro se litigant and Judge Darrah held me accountable as he should. As is said, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse..." (Jarman v. Carlisle) Judge Darrah knows the law and so should anybody that goes before him or any Court for that matter.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 18164
Rating:2.2
Comments:
hot tempered, erratic, and biased. one of the worst.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 18145
Rating:1.4
Comments:
In terms of civil cases, he seems to pick a sige - the defense, and then go after one or more of the plaintiff's attorneys. Showed bias and prejudice to the plaintiff in this case which had to be noted by the juryu.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 18134
Rating:1.5
Comments:
Judge Darrah is petty, and thin-skinned. He also cannot separate his personal opinions from his legal rulings, and tends to rule depending on the personality of the lawyer making the argument. Being in front of him is an awful experience.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 13741
Rating:9.5
Comments:
I first appeared before Judge Darrah in 1990. He has always bent over backwards to allow me every opportunity to advocate my client's position. He was always fair and impartial. He always conducted himself professionally. He always studied and knew the facts and issues of every case before him. He also always articulated an incrediblec knowledge of the current status of the law. I can say that he did not always rule in favor of my client but he did always follow the rule of the law; which is his job. I have been involved in cases throughout northern Illinois and Judge Darrah is one of the finest and most knowledgeable judges that I have ever appeared before.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 12597
Rating:3.6
Comments:
Judge Darrah, a former suburban "small potatoes" traffic-ticket defense lawyer, got on the bench though political pull rather than merit - his Addison Illinois partner was Jimmy Ryan, the former DuPage County "dandy" State's Attorney, Illinois Attorney General who failed in his gubernatorial candidate bids. 

Beware, as he's known as erratic, two-faced and though not dumb, dim. 

Unfortunately, for those who wind up before him, it seems his rulings pretty much depend on his subjective prejudices, whether they will make him look good or which side of the bed he's gotten out of that morning.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 11712
Rating:8.3
Comments:
I agree with my colleague below. "Underestimate him at your peril".
One of the hardest working judges I have met too.
I do not agree that he is temperamental. If you aggravate him, repeatedly quoting Seventh Circuit precedents prior to his ruling, he will give an appropriate remark to you.
He pens down exhaustive pages during trial/hearing of several weeks duration. That is a 10/10 for industriousness in my book.
In complex cases, he gives very fair well though out opinions that follow the law.
It is the responsibility of counsel to enforce your case. Even handed in every case, he will see very quickly if the defendant has been over-charged by the government. If so, he will do everything possible to bring this to the middle. Now, which judge does that? In the matter of a discount for cooperation, this also stems from the entire case and I have seen anywhere from 80%-30%. His Opinions on Seventh Circuit precedent, combine Judge Darrah's scholarship with why "The Greatest Living American Jurist" is wrong.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 11616
Rating:9.3
Comments:
The hardest working judge I have seen in my 40 year career. Considering his enormous case load, no judge can focus on any one case. Hence the adverse comments others state below.

If you as competent counsel, make him see that there is unfairness against your client, he then spares no effort while being fair to both sides, to make sure the defendant is treated fairly.
He reads and re-reads prolonged several week long testimony and applies the law and nothing else. If the government has been wrong, he states it as such. He is temperamental though.

If he disagrees with appellate remand back to him, he states why he disagrees, while following appellate court is wrong.

The appellate court may think they have the best brains and the Harvard degree but Darrah is much better in applying the law.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 11514
Rating:2.0
Comments:
dupage county's judge. reflects a very pro-employer, pro-corporate bias. I agree that he is slow to learn, but i don't agree that he ever gets it, nor that he cares.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 8594
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
Having just come off several years with Judge Darrah, I will offer this advice (rather than presume to "rate" him): give him time. If you have a strong case, he will see it. If you have a weak one, he will see that. He does not necessarily get it all at once, and to that degree things take longer, but he most certainly does get it, and he is a lot smarter, even shrewd, than he may first appear. You can underestimate him at your peril. Bring him along slowly, honestly, and carefully, and you will be treated fairly. Overall, a very good judge.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 8576
Rating:2.2
Comments:
Keen to involve himself in settlement. Seemed to show bias however for the wealthy litigants.

Other

Comment #: 8214
Rating:2.0
Comments:
"Do you know, young man, how much money it's going to cost you to defend yourselves against Jones Day?"

Sigh. He has a point, but is encouraging the wrong behavior rather than working to bring some honor back to his profession.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 7303
Rating:5.8
Comments:
Two things struck us about Judge Darrah.
First, he had a completely erratic temperament. On some days, he was gracious and indulging, and on other days, angry and imperious. He granted a number of motions on two-days notice, without giving parties an opportunity to submit responsive documents. We found that we could not predict how he would react on any given day to any given action.
Second, we found him to be incurious and wrong. His decision in our case was unanimously and scathingly reversed by the Seventh Circuit. He seemed to be committed to an outcome, even if it lacked judicial support. This was coupled with evidentiary rulings that Judge Darrah acknowledged were contrary to Seventh Circuit authority.
Not a judge I would want for a complex case.

Other

Comment #: 5991
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
Judge Darrah reads everything -- which is all that can be asked of a judge. He has an excellent memory which is beneficial in prolonged cases. He is fair in the most positive sense.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 5273
Rating:6.5
Comments:
Reasonable to deal with. However, like many federal judges, he can be inflexible.

Civil Litigation - Govt.

Comment #: 3681
Rating:3.4
Comments:
Known as lazy and dim. Erratic. Unpredictable temperment.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 2835
Rating:6.0
Comments:
Personable but loves himself more than anything. The key to him is sucking up.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 2643
Rating:8.5
Comments:
Somewhat a split the baby judge, somewhat state court like in demenor. But becuase of the rules, and his intelligence he is better than the state court judges you will see.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 2528
Rating:8.5
Comments:
Darrah is a good judge. His biggest problem is his INFLEXIBILITY regarding scheduling. He has a hard and fast rule that motions for summary judgment MUST be filed and presented 21 days from the close of discovery. The rule, in my humble opinion, permits plaintiffs (with weak cases) to stall on discovery and then force defendants to order transcripts on an expedited basis in order meet the timeline. He also is known to extend discovery, but not alter the summary judgment deadline. Admittedly, that happens rarely, but has been known to happen. Such a thing seems to reflect an insensitivity to the costs of civil litigation. Otherwise, I have no other complaints. He is fair, impartial, and tends to get the law right most of the time.