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Chief Judge Ruben Castillo

Judge Ruben Castillo has been appointed the new Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The main duties of a Chief Judge include supervising administrative matters, such as grand jury empaneling, handling whistleblower suits filed under seal, and considering applications from the federal government to install wiretaps or conduct other forms of electronic surveillance. Carol Marin goes one-on-one with Castillo, the first Hispanic Chief Judge to hold this position on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.

Outgoing Chief Judge James Holderman's seven-year term just ended. Holderman will return to active status with a full caseload. Read our Q&A with him below.

How would you describe the job of the “Chief Judge,” and will you miss it after seven years?

The job of being a federal court chief judge has been described as being “the first among equals.” That is an apt description. Chief Judge Castillo hit the right tone in his remarks at his installation on July 2, when he explained how he was open to all ideas on how to do things better, not only from his fellow judges, but from all people inside and outside the court.

In some ways, I will miss it. Being chief judge was a wonderful opportunity to serve court and country in a way only a few judges have. I feel fortunate to have been able to complete my full seven-year term.  I do, however, look forward to being able to focus once again on helping the parties in the cases assigned to me resolve their disputes. I will not miss the frequent interruptions of my judicial work caused by courthouse problems that need immediate attention, such as a courthouse water line break flooding a judge’s chambers or an unexplained box left in the courthouse environs.

Is it difficult to move from a judicial role to an administrative role?

Fortunately, new chief federal judges do not have to give up their cases and are still able to serve in a judicial role. The administrative role is an added group of responsibilities with which we here in the Northern District of Illinois are fortunately assisted by a great group of people headed by our Clerk of Court Tom Bruton.

What advice would you give Chief Judge Castillo?

My advice would be “to continue to do what you have announced you will do.” Chief Judge Castillo has announced some great ideas, and I know will be a great chief judge. I look forward to working with him in my new role as a regular active judge of our court as he continues to look for ways to improve what we already have accomplished as we continue our judicial services for the people of the Northern District of Illinois.

Alexandra Silets and Kathy Long contributed to this report.