Judge Thomas More Donnelly has an extensive record of service and integrity dating back to the beginning of his legal career in 1986. He began his career clerking for Justice Mary Ann G. McMorrow and became an Associate Judge in 2003. He was promoted to Circuit Judge by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2021, and is now running for election to that position.
During his many years of judicial service, Judge Donnelly has presided over a wide variety of cases in courts devoted to everything from civil jury trials to consumer debt cases to domestic violence cases to criminal misdemeanor jury trials to felony preliminary hearings. Judge Donnelly works hard. He has conducted over 300 jury trials and 1,000 bench trials, and is always in the top half of Law Division judges for case depositions.
Prior to becoming a judge, Donnelly served as an Assistant Public Defender from 1988-2000. He rose through the ranks of that office, including service as Supervisor of Training (1990-1993), Supervisor Northside Felony and Misdemeanor Courts (1993-1996), and Post-Conviction Supervisor (1996-2000).
Throughout his legal career, Donnelly has maintained his role as an educator – a deeply meaningful personal calling. After graduating from Loyola University’s School of Law in 1986, Judge Donnelly stayed involved in the Loyola system as an Adjunct Professor and Instructor. He has also served as a faculty member of the National Judicial College and a guest lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, Washington and Lee Law School, Marquette Law School, and Notre Dame University. In addition, he regularly advises Illinois judges statewide on ethics questions.
Judge Donnelly has been a proponent of innovative reforms to improve the justice system. Initiatives with which he has been involved include:
• Restorative justice legal reform (enacted in 2021)
• Consumer protections from debt buyers (enacted in 2019)
• The Highway Safety & Mandatory Insurance for All Act (enacted in 2012)
• Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Pretrial Practices (Bail Reform) (2018-2020)
• Illinois Supreme Court Statutory Court Fee Task Force (Reducing Court Fees and Costs) (2018-2022)
Judge Donnelly has won several awards for his work, service, and commitment to the legal community. These include:
• Hon. Mary Ann G. McMorrow Distinguished Service Award, PAD Law Fraternity (2020)
• Impact Award from the Center for Disability and Elder Law (2019)
• Harold Sullivan Award, Illinois Judges Association (2018)
Judge Donnelly is an active member of the Illinois Judges Association, and has served as a Board Member (2015-2017) and a Committee Chair (2017-2019). He was a member of the Catholic Lawyers Guild Board of Governors for many years, was President of that organization from 2015-2016, and was awarded Catholic Lawyer of the Year honors in 2014. Outside of the legal community, Judge Donnelly has served as the Vice President of the Greater Rockwell Organization and as a member of the School Board at Queen of Angels School.
Judge Donnelly is married to Anne Wicker. They have four sons and reside in the Lincoln Square neighborhood in Chicago’s 47th Ward.