By Stephanie Pawlowski
CHICAGO - The Better Government Association has honored the judge who presided over former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s trial with the civic achievement award.
Judge James Zagel accepted the award Tuesday. He said it’s an honor, but much of it goes to those who investigate and present cases.
“Without first rate investigators and lawyers, there will be really no good judgments in court,” Zagel said. “A good judge is understanding of the facts and knowing the law, and is primarily the product of those professionals.”
Zagel graduated from Harvard Law. He served as an assistant state’s attorney in Cook County, an assistant in the Illinois Attorney General’s office, and was executive director of the Illinois Law Enforcement Commission. He was chief of the State Police for six years.
President Reagan appointed Zagel to district court in 1987. He hears civil and criminal cases in the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois.
Zagel also serves on the U.S. foreign surveillance intelligence court.
Zagel presided over the federal corruption cases of Blagojevich, who is serving 14 years in prison, William Cellini and Tony Rezo. He also presided over the Chicago mob trial dubbed Family Secrets.
Stephanie Pawlowski can be reached at Stephanie.Pawlowski@Cumulus.com