Join me and Judge Fred Foreman — Mr. Lake County — as we discuss topics as various as Nat King Cole, Donald Trump, Mentoring and Leadership. We also cover past and recent politics and Judge Foreman’s illustrious career, which included terms as the Lake County State’s Attorney, the US Attorney for the N.D.Ill, and the Chief Judge of the 19th Judicial Circuit of Illinois.
Judge Fred Foreman’s illustrious career has included positions with the Lake County Public Defender’s Office, Lake County State’s Attorney (including 3 terms as the Lake County State’s Attorney), appointment as the United States Attorney of the Northern District of Illinois, two-time delegate to the Republican National Convention, Circuit and Chief Judge of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit as well as time spent in private practice. His breadth of legal and political experience has brought him into contact with people of all walks of life and has made him a teller of some extraordinary stories.
Judge Foreman spent much of his youth in Lake County and graduated from Warren Township High School in 1966. His father was in radio promotion and his connections in that arena led to many interesting celebrity guests in the Foreman home including Nat King Cole and Brenda Lee, among others. After high school graduation, Judge Foreman served in the Air Force Reserves. After finishing his military career, he worked as a teamster for Pepsi and went to night school, being the first in his family to attend college. He then attended John Marshall Law School at night while working a day job. Upon law school graduation, Judge Foreman came back to Lake County to work at the Public Defender’s Office.
Judge Foreman’s job as a public defender taught him the importance of establishing a good relationship with his clients and to relish and look forward to going to trial. These experiences served him well when he transitioned to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office. At 32, Judge Foreman ran for and won the office of the Lake County State’s Attorney; running and serving in that capacity for 3 terms. Judge Foreman maintained that tougher crime policies, the building of a modern, larger Lake County Jail and a juvenile justice system that could identify the issues of juvenile offenders were some hallmarks of that era that helped Lake County stay ahead of much of the gang activity that plagued big cities.
During his time as the Lake County State’s Attorney, Judge Foreman was twice a delegate to the Republican National Convention. In 1990, he was appointed as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Northern Illinois by then President George H. W. Bush. Following his term as the U.S. Attorney, Judge Foreman went into private practice in Chicago with Freeborn & Peters. After 11 years in private practice, Judge Foreman ran unopposed for Circuit Judge in Lake County and served as Chief Judge of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit in 2012.
Throughout his career, Judge Foreman has both been mentored, and has been a mentor to others. Two important mentors to Judge Foreman have been former Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court Thomas Moran and Sam Skinner, Chief of Staff to President Bush. Lessons learned from mentors include the importance of taking care of your family and own business first, putting the careers of others before your own and not being a busybody. Throughout his legal career, Judge Foreman has acted as a mentor to others which he likens to being a coach. Traits of a mentor include an eye for talent, being a good encourager as well as holding people accountable for their actions. Paramount is the lesson that the most important goal is not winning, but seeing that justice is served. A lesson that Judge Foreman learned from watching the Watergate hearings is that the cover-up is often worse than the crime. Judge Foreman maintains that a good way to find a mentor is through volunteering at civic organizations.
As for today’s political climate, Judge Foreman finds both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders “amusing” and their rise is something that no one could have anticipated. However, their popularity has been fueled by the frustration of the middle class who do not feel that they are getting a good return on the investment of their tax dollars which has led to anger at a federal (and state, in the case of Illinois) government that is too big. Moreover, the political system is controlled by a proliferation of special interests that frustrates the citizenry.