U.S. Bankruptcy Judge LaShonda Hunt has worn many hats over the course of her three decade long legal career. She is now hoping to have a lifetime appointment as the capstone of her legal career.
A native of Chicago, Hunt grew up in public housing and attended Chicago public schools before receiving a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1992 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in 1995.
After graduation, Hunt worked as an associate at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP and, in 1998, joined the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit as a staff attorney. In 2001, she left to clerk for Judge William Hibbler on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, subsequent to which Hunt joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.
In 2006, Hunt joined Just the Beginning Foundation, which seeks to encourage interest in legal careers among those from disadvantaged communities and then joined the energy company Exelon as assistant general counsel, moving to subsidiary Corn Ed in 2009.
In 2010, Hunt returned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, staying until 2015, when she became chief legal counsel for the Illinois Department of Corrections. In 2017, Hunt was appointed to be a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Northern District of Illinois. She currently serves in that role.
Hunt is also a past president of the Black Women Lawyers Association. See Legal Scene of 518 New Lawyers Have Seen, Legal Monitor Worldwide, May 9, 2016.
History of the Seat
Hunt has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. This seat opened on October 4, 2022, when Judge Charles Norgle took senior status.
Like fellow Northern District nominees Nancy Maldonado, Lindsay Jenkins, and Jeffrey Cummings, Hunt was recommended for the federal bench by Illinois senators in December 2021.
Before she became a bankruptcy judge, Hunt held a variety of legal positions, including in private practice, in house, and in government. However, the largest chunk of her career has been spent in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. Among the cases she handled there, Hunt represented a warden of a Leavenworth, Kansas prison in defending against a federal habeas corpus action. See Moore v. Olson, 368 F.3d 757 (7th Cir. 2004). After a district court judge found that it had jurisdiction over the Kansas-based warden and that venue was proper, and subsequently ruled against the petition, the prisoner appealed. See id. On appeal, Hunt did not reraise a venue challenge to the district court’s decision, which the Seventh Circuit found was now waived. See id. at 760. The Court, however, affirmed on the merits of the petition. See id. at 761.
Hunt also argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in defense of a Board of Immigration Appeals decision denying a Polish native’s petition to reopen her immigration status after finding that the plaintiff had failed to comply with a voluntary departure. See Zmijewska v. Gonzales, 426 F.3d 99 (2d Cir. 2005). The court remanded the case to the BIA for further analysis. See id. at 104.
Hunt has served as a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge since her appointment in 2017. In this role, she presides over bankruptcy cases as a trial judge, with her rulings subject to appeal to the district courts and courts of appeal.
Among her decisions as a bankruptcy judge, Hunt rejected a proposed payment scheme by a debtor in bankruptcy that would allow her to pay her attorneys at the same priority level as her car loan to Ford. See In re Williams, 583 B.R. 453 (N.D. Ill. Bankr. 2018). In another opinion, Hunt declined to find that a loan of $80,000 taken out by a debtor was dischargeable in bankruptcy and that the lender failed to meet her burden to show that the loan was taken out through misrepresentation. See In re Wielogosinski, 628 B.R. 547 (N.D. Ill. Bankr. 2021).
In 2021, Hunt authored an article discussing her tips for effective advocacy from trial attorneys. See Hon. LaShonda Hunt, Dicta, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Observations on Trial Practice from the Other Side of the Bench, 40-10 ABIJ 26 (Oct. 2021). Among the tips in the article, which include emphasizing one’s theory of the case and effective use of discovery, Hunt describes the trajectory of her own legal career, noting that she is a “jack-of-all trades who knows a little about a lot.” See id.
Having cut her teeth in many different areas of law, Hunt would enter the federal bench with a deep understanding of civil law, although without requisite criminal experience. However, given her ability to thrive on the bankruptcy court without ever having practiced bankruptcy law, Hunt could reasonably argue that she has the skills to successfully learn and administer criminal law as well as she can on the civil side.
I don’t deep dive into the judges like you all do so I’m curious how you’d all grade Bidens confirmed nominees so far.
From reading the comments here I feel like it’s
A – 15%
B – 40%
C – 30%
D – 10%
F – 5%
Here are my grades for each Biden circuit court nominee;
Ketanji Brown Jackson – A+
Candace Jackson-Akiwumi – A
Tiffany P. Cunningham – A-
Eunice C. Lee – A-
Veronica S. Rossman – A-
Gustavo Gelpí – B
Myrna Pérez – A+
Beth Robinson – A
Toby J. Heytens – A-
Lucy Koh – B-
Jennifer Sung – A
Gabriel P. Sanchez – B+
Holly A. Thomas – A+
Leonard P. Stark – B-
Alison Nathan – A
Stephanie D. Davis – B+
J. Michelle Childs – D- (Would have been a C if she was nominated to the 4th)
Roopali Desai – A+
John Z. Lee – B-
Andre Mathis – A-
Salvador Mendoza Jr. – B+
Lara Montecalvo – A-
Sarah A. L. Merriam – B+
Florence Y. Pan – D
Arianna J. Freeman – A+
Doris Pryor – A_
Tamika Montgomery-Reeves – A
Dana Douglas – B
DeAndrea G. Benjamin – A_
Cindy K. Chung – A_
Maria Araújo Kahn – D+
Nancy Abudu – A+
Rachel Bloomekatz – A+
Brad Garcia – A (Possibly an A+)
Julie Rikelman – A (Borderline A+, no question if she was a little younger)
Anthony Johnstone – A-
Michael Delaney – C+
I took off some points for age, not a very progressive background & if they were a district court nominee which required additional SJC & floor time to confirm their successor.
For any of you that use Wikipedia, I have finally finished updating the ages for all of the judges on both the DC court of appeals & Superior court of DC. The judges have been put in the correct order of seniority based on age. All but two Obama, Trump & Biden judges have profile pictures for both courts… Enjoy
LikeLiked by 2 people