Judge David E. Schwartz Profile
By Clarissa R. E. Myers
From the February 2019 Issue
Judge David E. Schwartz’ down-to-earth smile welcomed me into his chambers at the Downers Grove Field Court, and his humor and friendly countenance immediately put me at ease. As he humbly began to describe the distinguished career that led to his appointment on September 26, 2018, for the Office of Associate Judge for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court to fill the vacancy created by Judge John W. Demling, I found myself reflecting on all the important roles Judge Schwartz has played: student, brother, father, trial attorney, partner, mentor, and now, associate judge.
As a student, Judge Schwartz received his Bachelor of Arts in Business from Illinois Wesleyan University, and he earned his Juris Doctorate from DePaul University College of Law in 1983. After law school, Judge Schwartz quickly learned multiple areas of the law including village prosecution, family law, criminal defense and traffic, and real estate, while employed with Soffietti, Johnson, Teegen & Phillips from 1984 to 1990. “I learned the language of trial and how to speak to clients and the judge; it was a great way to learn on your feet.”
From 1990 until his appointment to the bench, both Judge Schwartz and his brother, Allen were employed with the Chicago-based law firm of Maddux and Associates, which is now known as Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz. During his career there, Judge Schwartz became an experienced trial attorney practicing in the areas of medical malpractice and personal injury, where he saw over thirty jury trials to verdict. “I learned as I went along, and I always felt it was the best way to learn – on your feet. I also learned from other attorneys as to how they try their cases, and I learned that the most important thing is to be yourself and run with it.”
Judge Schwartz also described how he and his brother learned the practice of law together for 28 years, relying on each other, trusting each other, and feeling passionate about the law and trial work, together. As a child, Judge Schwartz wasn’t sure what he wanted to be when he grew up, but he knew that he wanted a career that was fun, interesting, and challenging, all of which he found through the practice of law with his brother.
After becoming a partner in the firm, Judge Schwartz continued to gain more experience as a trial attorney, to mentor and teach the newer attorneys, and also to mentor his son, who joined the firm as an attorney in the year 2010. After 8 years of practicing law with his son, parental pride shone in Judge Schwartz’ twinkling eyes as he said, “He’s a fantastic lawyer. Sitting there as a dad and having my son at counsel table when the jury bought back a verdict was a great feeling.”
Many influences contributed to who Judge Schwartz is today, including his parents, his brother, other attorneys and judges. Judge Schwartz credits his father with being his number one fan, encourager and supporter. “Even when I wasn’t the best kid on the team, my dad would always say to me, ‘You were the best one out there.’ ” While working with his brother, Judge Schwartz learned to be fair-minded and moderate, to treat other attorneys with respect and civility, and to still advocate zealously for clients. Additionally, after watching a video on attorney Gerry Spence, a famous trial attorney, Judge Schwartz learned an important lesson that he continues to practice: just be yourself.
As for judges that have influenced him, Judge Schwartz described that Judge Maddux “taught me through trying hundreds of cases to be a good lawyer, to be organized, and to have a passion for the law and trial work.” After learning from law division judges such as Judge Hollis Webster, Judge Ted Duncan, Judge Dorothy French-Mallen, Judge Robert Kleeman, Judge Ken Popejoy, and Judge Ron Sutter, Judge Schwartz observed that “It’s important to be fair. Every ruling the judge made was to try to get it right; it didn’t matter which side the ruling came down on.”
As associate judge, Judge Schwartz excitedly spoke about his new role and his contribution to the public in his salt of the earth style. “I loved being a lawyer, but now that my kids are mostly grown and married off, I wanted to give back and serve. My entire career has given me enormous courtroom experience, so the courtroom is the best place that I can contribute.”
The best advice he received was to not take things personally, but to be calm, quiet and work though the situation. “It’s not about the judge,” said Judge Schwartz in his modest way, “the center of attention is the litigants, the attorneys and resolving the problem.” Judge Schwartz believes that a good judge is moderate, listens to both sides, treats everyone the same, and is endowed with the qualities of a good temperament and patience.
Talking about his family was the highlight of the interview, where Judge Schwartz described his closeness with his parents, siblings, and his children. He was delighted to tell me about the accomplishments of his two brothers and of their success. In addition to his son, the attorney, he has 3 daughters, two of whom are teachers and one who is a doctor. Many stories of his four children and his adorable grandchildren were shared with a cheery smile. More than anything else, he relishes spending time with his family, whether it be at dinner, attending sporting events, or just watching television and talking about his grandchildren. He also enjoys the weekly “Dads’ Breakfast”, where he gathers with other fathers for discussions about kids and life. In his spare time, Judge Schwartz can be found traveling, playing golf, or spiking the volleyball on the opposing volleyball team.