Hon. Suzanne B. Conlon See Rating Details
District Judge See Comments
N.D.Ill.  
Average Rating:3.5 - 19 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. Suzanne B. Conlon


Comments


Court Staff

Comment #: 19866
Rating:3.4
Comments:
She's very smart, but paranoid, with no sense of humor - a toxic combination. If she suspects you're playing games or plotting against her (which is often), she will lash out relentlessly. Her strict adherence to procedural rules and deadlines is maddening. At her core, she is concerned only with her reputation. If you're wondering how bad this can be, I've seen grown men break down after leaving her courtroom. Some posters here think it's worth it for "speedy resolution" of their cases. It's up to you to decide if she's worth the pain you will endure.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 18005
Rating:6.8
Comments:
I tend to agree with the first comment. Horrific temper and a horrible human being. But if you know what you're getting into with respect to inflexible scheduling and want a speedy resolution, I think she can be a fine judge. I have found her opinions fair and well-reasoned if a bit cursory.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 17981
Rating:1.3
Comments:
A disgrace to humanity. I was happy to see the barely concealed scorn dripping throughout Judge Syke's reversal of her opinion in ACLU v. Alvarez. It is richly deserved. I think the lawyer below must made an error, giving her a rating of 10 but writing "[a] judge with a well-deserved, bad reputation" I recently had a case assigned to her. Fortunately, based on our past experiences, opposing counsel agreed to proceed before a magistrate.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 17830
Rating:10.0
Comments:
A judge with a well-deserved, bad reputation.

Civil Litigation - Govt.

Comment #: 13548
Rating:1.3
Comments:
Simply the worst. Her temperament has always been horrific, but I never minded this because I thought she was a decent judge. And that may have been true years ago when she was an active judge who paid attention to her cases and spent more than a few days a month in chambers. That is no longer the case. Recent experiences with Judge Conlon have been disastrous. One, in particular, springs to mind.

I was recently involved in a complex, multi-party case with Judge Conlon. Some of the parties settled while my client did not. The case was one in which the court needed to approve the settlement. Somehow, the judge concluded that all parties to the case had settled when that was clearly not the case. In fact, my client filed a motion objecting to the settlement the DAY after the motion for settlement was filed. The judge nonetheless approved the settlement the same day the opposition was filed and the day after certain parties moved for approval of the settlement. At an emergency hearing, the judge blamed the settling parties for being deceptive and misleading by submitting an 'agreed order' approving the settlement. According to the judge, an 'agreed order' between parties settling their claims that clearly did not include the remaining parties in the case, was designed to mislead her into believing the settlement was executed by ALL parties in the case. Her interpretation is indefensible and patently unreasonable.

The settlement affected the rights of many of the non-consenting parties, so the judge appropriately vacated the order for good cause (notwithstanding her refusal to admit an error on her part in approving the settlement in the first place). But the damage was done and could not be undone. For case-specific reasons that cannot be discussed in a public form, the judge's approval irrevocably and detrimentally altered the rights of each of the non-consenting parties. Vacatur was unable to return my client and other parties to the status quo.

By all accounts, the judge works remotely the majority of the time. My only thought as to how this possibly could have happened is that the judge failed to review the setttlement motion with even a modicum of care, and in her haste to get the case off her docket, approved it before even receiving the opposition motions. I am not sure how she is informed of pending motions when she is away from chambers, but I doubt that she is sitting on a computer combing the dockets. Any delay in receiving relevant pleadings is disastrous when a judge fails to review the parties' papers with due care and rules with undue haste. As this judge does.

I have come to the belief that litigants should have to consent to have a senior judge preside over a case just as we must consent to have a magistrate judge preside over all aspects of a case and try the case.

Court Staff

Comment #: 13407
Rating:1.3
Comments:
I agree with comment 13364. Clerking for her was one of the more unpleasant experiences of my life. I was so happy to return to private practice. You cannot help but learn a lot from the clerking--it is, by nature, a valuable experience. Regardless of the judge. But prospective clerks looking for a modicum of congeniality in office relations and a bit of mentorship should look elsewhere. Given her personality and the quality of life when she was in chambers, I am still undecided as to whether it is a good or bad thing that she is almost never there.

Court Staff

Comment #: 13364
Rating:1.3
Comments:
The lawyers do not know the half of it. Most are fortunate in that they only encounter her periodically. She's not dumb (though may of her opinions can be described as cursory and lacking analysis at best). But she is mean, biased, mercurial, insecure, and vengeful. A case study against lifetime tenure. Her law clerk attrition rate is unprecedented in the Northern District, and probably the among the federal judiciary at large. In the last two years alone, 3 have ended their clerkships early. In the past (not so much recently), she also made a habit of firing courtroom deputies and secretaries for no reason. These days, she doesn't keep a secretary. She's only in chambers about 1 week a month. During that week, one of the floaters is unfortunate have to fill the role. Fortunately, her clerks and the courthouse at large are spared from her the majority of the time as she is away three weeks of the month at her vacation home, 'working remotely.'

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 13091
Rating:1.3
Comments:
The fact that my client recently prevailed in a case before her does nothing to enhance my opinion of this judge. When she was nominated, various organizations such as the Chicago Council of Lawyers rated her as not qualified to be a judge. Then early in her career, the Chicago Bar Association concluded she is not fit to be a judge. Unfortunately, some 20 odd years later, she has not improved. She is extremely unpleasant. I pity her poor law clerks and support staff and marvel that anyone could work under her.

But for a litigant, a bigger issue than her poor disposition is her overall case management and scheduling. Her substantive opinions themselves are hit or miss. They can be well-reasoned (It is hard to say how much of that is attributable to her; from my own experience as a clerk, I suspect she is the type of judge who rubber stamps opinions her law clerks write). But while opinions themselves can be appealed, a trial judge can faciliate or hinder effective adjudication of a case in many ways besides issuing opinions. Judge Conlon compromises the ability to put on a good case with her inflexibility and adherence to rigid and inappropriate deadlines. It may not be an issue for simple matters. But for complex matters, the schedule is not tenable, and she gives little input to mutual wishes of both parties.

I suppose there are some positives. She does promptly rule on motions. These days, she also seems to leave oversight of settlement conferences to the magistrate, which can be a boon if a competent magistrate is assigned. I remember her being more involved years ago. Overall, having a case assigned to her is unfortunate.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 13048
Rating:2.0
Comments:
She has no consideration for the individuals and attorneys who appear before her. In a recent case, Conlon demanded counsel be ready to try the case in 48 hours when a preceding case was pushed. It is very unreasonable to expect attorneys to be able to drop everything (other trials, appellate arguments, depositions, etc...) and be ready to appear before her on demand. Coupled with an extremely short temper and generally nasty demeanor, unwillingness (or inability) to rule on complex issues, and extreme inflexibility on scheduling, appearing before her is a very unpleasant experience. I advise counsel to consent to a magistrate on any complex cases that appear likely to go to trial. The Northern District has many fine magistrates, all of whom would be preferable to this judge.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 12902
Rating:1.6
Comments:
Conlon is the worst judge I've ever encountered. A true fascist.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 12548
Rating:4.0
Comments:
Judge Conlon is extremely inflexible -- a model of form over substance in her intractable adherence to her schedule and arbitrary rules. If she can get out of making a decision, she will do so by any means possible. For instance, in a complex matter, both sides had agreed on every jury instruction except for 2, which were case determinative. When we approached Judge Conlon to make a decision as to the appropriate instruction to be given to the jury, she told us that if we did not agree, she would refuse to instruct the jury and would declare a mistrial. We forced an agreement on the instruction. I know of anothere case where the sides could not agree, and Judge Conlon declared a mistrial after 2 weeks of evidence and closing arguments because she refused to decide which instruction should be given. She is known as the most reversed judge in the Northern District. Additionally, she is stern and humorless and often treats people in her courtroom with disdain. One of the worst judges I've been before.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 9728
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
She's older than she looks, and it shows.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 4515
Rating:2.4
Comments:
I don't know why Judge Conlon stays on the bench, since she appears to hate her job and everyone around her. She does not try to be fair, she just tries to assert herself.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 3675
Rating:6.3
Comments:
This judge is not a human being. She is cold and calculating and has no respect for any human decency. She does not seem to like anyone, I mean, anyone. Dealing with her is a very unpleasant experience.

But, in a twisted way, I like having her in my cases since she pushes lawyers hard to move their cases along and decides promptly. Yes, she is a pain, but she hates and is mean to EVERYONE, plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers, clerks, U.S. Marshalls, etc.

If you could get over dealing with her mercurial ways, you may get speedy and well-reasoned justice for your client even if the process may be very painful for you.