James Etchingham began his legal career as Assistant City Attorney, Park Ridge, Illinois and was involved in drafting Municipal ordinances, advising the Mayor, City Council, and zoning Board’s, defending municipal litigation and the prosecution of municipal ordnances and traffic matters. He also served as Village Prosecutor for the Villages of Barrington and Norridge.
Jim practiced 17 years before his appointment as Cook County Circuit Court Judge by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1994. As a private attorney, Jim had a general litigation practice and tried over 25 juries to verdict involving matters of plaintiff personal injury, personal injury defense, and criminal and DUI matters. Jim partnered with the Honorable Sam L. Amirante (retired Circuit Court Judge) from 1980 until Sam’s appointment as Counsel for the Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy.
The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Etchingham as a Cook County Circuit Judge in March 1994. He was initially assigned to the Chicago Traffic Court hearing traffic violations, and Drunk Driving cases issued by Chicago Police Officers. Shortly thereafter, he served in the First Municipal District hearing civil personal injury cases.
In August 1995, Judge Etchingham was transferred to the Third Municipal District, Rolling Meadows, hearing disposition motions, bench and jury trials in the felony division, presiding over a variety of felony matters, including capital murder, murder, criminal sexual assault, burglary, drug cases, etc.
In May, 1998, Judge Etchingham was appointed as an Associate Judge of the Circuit Court, First Municipal District, where he sat in a variety of drug, preliminary hearings, and misdemeanor and felony courtrooms.
From November, 1999 to January, 2012, Judge Etchingham served in the Third Municipal District, Rolling Meadows hearing a wide variety of Criminal and Civil matters, including housing court, paternity court, civil motions, bench and jury trials and landlord and tenant matters. In addition, he sat on the misdemeanor jury call.
From October, 2005 to his retirement, he was assigned primarily to the Domestic Violence call hearing bond court, motions and both misdemeanor and felony cases, including attempted murder, aggravated domestic battery, felony, felony endangerment to a child, violations of order of protection, etc. In addition, he heard and approved civil and criminal orders of protection. He was dually assigned to the Domestic Violence Division and the Third Domestic Division.
He has served as a guest lecturer for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Education and the Northwest Suburban as Association related to the issue of defense of Drunk Drivers.
He has been and currently is a member of the Chicago Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Committee, Illinois Judicial Association, and the Northwest Suburban Bar Association where he served as a chair, bench bar relations Committee. He has also been a member of the Justinian Society of Lawyers. In June, 2011, Judge Etchingham received the NWSBA’s highest and most prestigious award for his distinguished public service.
During tenure as a judge, Judge Etchingham has tried more than 75 civil, misdemeanor, and felony jury trials.
As license weddings officiate, he is able to preside over marriage and civil union ceremonies in the State of Illinois.
As a specially trained mediator, he is able to arbitrate business disputes, domestic relations issues, commercial/business disputes and personal injury matters.