Robert Gettleman

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Robert Gettleman
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Court Information:
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Title:   Senior Judge
Position:   Seat #8
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   10/11/1994 - 5/5/2009
Senior:   5/5/2009 - Present
Preceded by:   John F. Grady
Succeeded by:   Gary Feinerman
Personal History
Born:   1943
Hometown:   Atlantic City, NJ
Undergraduate:   Boston U., B.S./B.A., 1965
Law School:   Northwestern U. School of Law, J.D., 1968

Robert William Gettleman is an Article III federal judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He joined the court in 1994 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. On May 5, 2009 Gettleman assumed senior status.[1]

Early life and education

Gettleman received his undergraduate degree in 1965 from Boston University. He earned his Juris Doctor from Northwestern University Law School in 1968.[2]

Professional career

From 1868 to 1970, Gettleman served as a law clerk for two former federal court of appeals judges, Latham Castle and Luther Swygert in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. From 1970 to 1994, Gettleman was a private practice attorney in Chicago.[2]

Judicial career

Northern District of Illinois

Upon the recommendation of former Illinois U.S. Senator Carol Mosley Braun, Gettleman was nominated to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by President Bill Clinton on August 16, 1994, to a seat on the court vacated by John F. Grady. Gettleman was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 7, 1994, and received his commission on October 11, 1994. He assumed senior status on May 5, 2009.[2]

Notable cases

Abbott Labs allegedly attempts to avoid paying employee benefits (2012)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Myla Nauman, et al., v. Abbott Laboratories, and Hospira Inc.,, 04-cv-7199)

In July of 2008, Gettleman presided over a case involving Abbott Laboratories and Hospira. The case involved whether Hospira deprived payments of health and retirement security benefits to employees and retirees and also called into question if the case violated EIRSA (Employment Insurance Retirement Security Act). Judge Gettleman denied Abbott's and Hospira's motions for a summary judgment because he concluded that there were genuine disputes between plaintiffs' and defendants' versions of the facts that needed to be resolved at trial. "The Court's ruling clears the last remaining hurdle for the plaintiffs to seek restitution for Abbott Labs' violations of federal law that caused 10,000 people to lose valuable retirement benefits," said Steven Sprenger, counsel for the plaintiffs at the law firm Sprenger + Lang. "We are anxious to get this case to trial as quickly as possible."[3] To reach this stage, plaintiffs have had to overcome Abbott's and Hospira's "scorched earth" defense of the claims that has strung out the litigation for almost four years since their complaint was filed in November 2004. First, Judge Gettleman denied defendants' motions to dismiss the claims. Then, in December 2005, he granted plaintiffs' motion to certify a class of about 10,000 persons, a decision that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals refused to disturb when challenged by defendants. And now, after the discovery process has been completed, he denied defendants' motions for summary judgment.[3] On February 3, 2012, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's decision ending the case.[4]

Required moment of silence ruled unconstitutional (2011)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Dawn S. Sherman, a minor, through Robert I Sherman, v. Township High School District 2014, et al., 1:07-cv-06048)

In November of 2007, Gettleman issued a preliminary injunction barring a suburban school district in the Chicago-land region from implementing a recent Illinois law mandating a moment of silence at the start of classes, calling the statute too vague and "likely unconstitutional."

U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman made the decision at a hearing on a lawsuit brought by local atheist activist Rob Sherman over issues related to the separation of church and state. Sherman sued Township High School District 214, in which his daughter is a freshman at Buffalo Grove High School. Gettleman said the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act isn't specific enough about what is a "moment" and when it should take place. It also may cross the line into unconstitutionality by giving students a choice to pray, the judge said.[5] The statute states that students shall be given an opportunity for silent prayer or reflection on the anticipated activities of the day. That would in essence tell a child "you've got to think about praying," Gettleman said.

In May of 2008, Gettleman ruled the statewide ban fully unconstitutional, barring all Illinois school districts from a mandated moment of silence.[6] After an appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals the ruling was remanded back to the lower court for further review.[7]

Kevin Trudeau: infomercial fraudster case (2010)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Federal Trade Commission, v. Kevin Trudeau, 1:03-cv-03904)

Judge Gettleman was the presiding judge in the case of famed television pitchman Kevin Trudeau. Trudeau was sued by the Federal Trade Commission over deceptive business practices. The judge found Trudeau in contempt of court on February 10, 2010 after failing to show up in court on short notice to explain why thousands of his customers sent him e-mails in support of Trudeau. As a result of the actions, the judge has asked Trudeau to come up with $50,000 for bail and to surrender his passport on February 11, 2010.[8]

Gettleman sentenced Trudeau to 30 days in prison on February 17, 2010 and Trudeau was ordered to turn himself in to federal authorities by February 18, 2010. Trudeau's attorney filed an emergency appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.[9] Only hours before Trudeau was expected to report to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago to begin serving his sentence, the Seventh Circuit reversed Judge Gettleman's ruling. As an order of the Seventh Circuit ruling, Trudeau was expected to post bail and surrender his passport along with no contact via e-mail with Judge Gettleman. The Seventh Circuit scheduled another hearing for February 23, 2010.[10] Judge Gettleman dismissed a request from Trudeau to travel to Canada for business engagements on February 24, 2010.[11] Gettleman ordered that Trudeau had to remain in the Northern District of Illinois while the Seventh Circuit deliberated on his appeal.[11] A three-judge panel from the Seventh Circuit ordered, on May 20, 2010, the contempt of court conviction issued by the judge to be thrown out.[12]

In the initial case, Trudeau was found guilty of consumer fraud and fined $36.7 million dollars, a number reached by multiplying the number of books he sold through his infomercial by their cost. Trudeau appealed this ruling to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals where the ruling was affirmed.[13]

Red light camera suit (2009)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Parveen Idris, et al. v. City of Chicago, et al., 1:06-cv-06085)

In January of 2008, Robert Gettleman dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the City of Chicago's method of using cameras to ticket drivers who fail to obey red lights, according to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Judge Gettlemam ruled that the plaintiffs complaint failed to state claims based on equal protection and substantive due process.[14] The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Gettleman's ruling on January 5, 2009.[15]

Chicago Sanitation Commish. corruption trial (2009)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ((dead link) United States, v. Alfred Sanchez and Aaron Delvalle, 07-cr-0149)

On December 22, 2009, Judge Gettleman issued an order that former Chicago Streets Commissioner Al Sanchez should be have a new trial after evidence found that a government witness lied during his first trial. In ordering a new trial, Gettleman also threw out the conviction of Al Sanchez. What led to Sanchez having his conviction thrown out was Brian Gabriel lying to a judge about the criminal activity in which he engaged.[16] After Sanchez's new trial, which began on July 6, 2010, he was found guilty again.[17] He was sentenced to 30 month in prison. Sanchez appealed the ruling to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the lower court's ruling.[18]

See also

External links


  1. Future Vacancies in the Federal Judiciary
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Gettleman Biography from the Federal Judicial Center.
  3. 3.0 3.1
  4. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, "Myla Nauman, et al., v. Abbott Laboratories, and Hospira Inc., February 3, 2012
  5. "Judge bans moment of silence in suburban district" Chicago Tribune, November 14, 2007
  6. "Illinois' schools 'moment of silence' ban extended" USA Today, May 29, 2008
  7. Chicago Tribune, "Moment of silence may be back," January 14, 2011
  8. stays jail sentence for infomercial pitchmanail-deluge.html Chicago Breaking News "TV pitchman held in contempt for e-mail deluge on judge," February 11, 2010
  9. Chicago Sun-Times "Infomercial king Trudeau gets 30 days in prison," February 17, 2010 (dead link)
  10. Belleville Daily News "Court stays jail sentence for infomercial pitchman," February 18, 2010
  11. 11.0 11.1 Chicago Sun-Times "Judge denies Trudeau request to travel to Canada," February 24, 2010 (dead link)
  12. Chicago Sun-Times "Kevin Trudeau off the hook for contempt citation," May 20, 2010 (dead link)
  13., "FTC v. Kevin Trudeau: The Seventh Circuit Rules," December 13, 2011
  14. "Federal Judge Throws Out Traffic Camera Lawsuit - Good Result For Chicago, Illinois Personal Injury Lawyers?" Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 22, 2008
  15. Leagle "Parveen Idris, et al. v. City of Chicago, et al.," January 5, 2009
  16. "WBEZ" Second Chance for Former Streets and San Commissioner, December 23, 2009
  17. "Chicago Sun-Times" Judge sets corruption retrial for Chicago official, January 19, 2010
  18. Leagle, "U.S. v. DEL VALLE," March 20, 2012
Political offices
Preceded by:
John F. Grady
Northern District of Illinois
Seat #8
Succeeded by:
Gary Feinerman