Judge Bryan S. Chapman

(From the February 2017 Issue)

This past July, the Circuit Court of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit appointed Bryan S. Chapman as an associate judge to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Jane Mitton. Judge Chapman is currently assigned to the Downers Grove field court where he presides over traffic and local ordinance matters.

Judge Chapman’s interest in the judicial process began as a high school student in Olathe, Kansas, just outside of Kansas City. During high school, Judge Chapman participated as a student attorney and later student judge in “Olathe Youth Court” a diversion program sponsored by the Olathe School District and Johnson County District Attorney’s Office. This experience allowed Judge Chapman to see close-up the interplay between statutes, facts and the goals of the justice system.

Judge Chapman graduated from Anderson University in Indiana and the University of Missouri-Columbia law school. While in law school, Judge Chapman was a summer associate at Clausen Miller. He spent his first two years after law school working for Clausen Miller as an associate handling mostly insurance coverage litigation and business tort matters. After Clausen Miller, Judge Chapman worked in the Chicago office of the California based Sedgwick LLP, where he handled insurance related litigation, such as extra-contractual liability, as well as business torts across the country. Prior to assuming the bench, Judge Chapman maintained a similar practice at the Chicago law firm of Hinkhouse Williams Walsh LLP.

While Judge Chapman grew up in the Kansas City area, DuPage County served as a “home away from home” throughout his childhood. Judge Chapman affectionately recalled spending summers and holidays with his maternal grandparents and extended family in Glen Ellyn. Whether it was playing baseball on the fields behind Ben Franklin Elementary, 4th of July parades, or visiting “Perry” the mastodon at Wheaton College, many of Judge Chapman’s best childhood memories took place in DuPage County. As a result, upon graduation from law school Judge Chapman permanently relocated to DuPage County where he eventually met his wife, and now has a family of four, soon to be five!

Judge Chapman believes that his role as a judge is to faithfully apply the law in a manner that helps parties navigate the legal system. To Judge Chapman, this means giving parties an opportunity to be heard, and making decisions that are clear and understandable. When asked about his biggest challenge in transitioning from an advocate to a jurist, Judge Chapman said the biggest adjustment is, not surprisingly, being “the decider,” as opposed to the advocate. He described the transition as “learning to get comfortable in one’s own skin” as a judge. Recognizing that many of those who currently appear before him will have minimal to no additional exposure to the court system, Judge Chapman views his role as a traffic court judge as a unique opportunity to provide the DuPage County community with confidence and trust in the judicial system.

For those attorneys who may find themselves in front of Judge Chapman in the future, he encourages attorneys to “keep the main thing the main thing,” and to be prepared on contested motions as well as provide courtesy copies in advance.  Judge Chapman noted that as a practitioner, he always appreciated “the judge who was well-versed in the parties’ arguments as well as the legal authority relied upon during oral argument.” For younger lawyers, Judge Chapman encourages them to immerse themselves in the work, and to volunteer for tasks that may seem a little bit above your level at first. Additionally, Judge Chapman noted that “the young lawyer should always ask a more senior lawyer how any particular assignment fits into the larger strategy of a case. It is good for the younger lawyer to learn about the bigger picture and why a seemingly remote task can be crucially important to a case, and it is good for the senior lawyer who could probably also benefit from a conversation that requires putting the pieces of the puzzle together.”

Judge Chapman is active in local church, enjoys reading, road biking, and is an avid baseball fan.