James Paul Pieczonka has been a Cook County attorney for over 28 years. He was born in 1956, raised on the Northwest side in the City of Chicago, and has resided in Cook County all his life. James was raised by his parents, who were married for over 61 years, and he grew up in a household with two brothers and two sisters.
James has worked hard to become a first generation attorney. Starting at 18, he was employed full- time for the Chicago Police Department and part-time as a real estate agent as he worked his way through a local college (Northeastern Illinois University) and while attending the John Marshall Law School (J.D., June 1983). He was admitted to the Illinois Bar and became a licensed attorney in November 1983, became an Illinois real estate broker in December 1983, and a real estate license instructor in 1991.
James is a firm believer in family values, a strong work ethic and helping all people. In October 1977, during college, he married his wife, Lucy, and had three children: Thomas (31), Michael (29) and Diana (27). This October, James and Lucy will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary. James and his family have lived in Glenview for over 23 years since 1988. Their children attended elementary (Glenview) and middle school (Northbrook) in the West Northfield District and then Glenbrook South High School. Thomas, graduated Arizona State University with an engineering degree in Construction Management and is currently a First Officer Pilot with a major airline. Michael, born just before James graduated law school, graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign (Sigma Chi) with a degree in accountancy. He is a CPA, former IRS agent, an attorney with a Chicago Law Firm and has obtained a LLM in Federal Tax Law from the John Marshall School of Law. Diana, graduated from Illinois State University with an undergraduate and master’s degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She is currently working as an Early Childhood Speech Pathologist in a Glenview Public Elementary School District.
Over one-third (1/3) of James’ legal career was dedicated to interpretation and enforcement of the Illinois Income Tax Act as an Administrative Law Judge for the Illinois Department of Revenue. While serving full-time for over 10 years as a tax judge from November 1985 to January 1996, he gained substantial legal knowledge and litigation experience. He presided over tax trials with Illinois Assistant Attorney Generals as prosecutors and private attorneys representing the taxpayers. His jurisdiction was Income Tax appeals of audit deficiencies and claims for refund under the Illinois Income Tax Act.
As a Tax Judge, James was trained and developed all the judicial traits to be a productive, well-rounded judge and conducted all his hearings or trials in the same manner as a circuit court judge. James issued independent and impartial decisions that ranged from individual Taxpayer’s claims for refund of $12.00 to millions of dollars in corporate deficiencies under the principals of unitary taxation and business vs. non-business income. As a Tax Judge, James gained extensive experience for over 10 years in making impartial findings of fact and interpreting and enforcing the law from a judicial standpoint and ability to make fair, timely, well-reasoned and at times difficult decisions. Most importantly, his ten (10) plus years of experience conducting hearings as a Judge has trained him to listen to the facts; remain open-minded, just, fair, impartial, unbiased; develop an even temperament and be respectful to practicing attorneys and litigants. He interacted daily with a wide array of individuals from diverse cultures consisting of farmers, high wealth individuals, pro-se taxpayers, tax objectors, Fortune 500 officers and directors, sole-practitioner attorneys, mid-sized firm attorneys and world-wide firm attorneys from McDermott, Will & Emory, Jenner & Block, Kirkland & Ellis, and Baker and Mckenzie.
James’ exposure to a broad spectrum of individuals has taught James how to exercise control over court proceedings; communicate orally and in writing, articulate in a logical manner, and bring closure to cases. Additionally, from his experience as a tax judge he has demonstrated independence, honesty, integrity, patience, courtesy, tact, compassion, neutrality and humility in performing judicial functions.
Currently, James is the principal of the Law Offices of James P. Pieczonka, P.C.. Over his 28 year career, his private practice has included a wide variety of causes of action and court forums, contested trials, contested proceedings and settlements. His practice was not limited to a single field of law. James has been active and has practiced in Cook County in the Chancery, Law, and Municipal Divisions. His litigation experience includes evictions, divorce, foreclosure defense, contract litigation, housing, juvenile, special remedies, property damage, real estate and probate/guardianship cases. James has litigated civil and criminal cases in the Daley Center (1st Dist.), Skokie (2nd Dist.), Rolling Meadows (3rd Dist.); Maywood (4th Dist.), Bridgeview (5th Dist.), Markam (6th Dist) and 26th St. and California. He has personally handled three (3) First District Appellate Court Appeals, including an Appellate Oral Argument, petitioned the Illinois Supreme Court regarding a complex zoning case and participated in several jury trials.
Additionally, as a private attorney, James was involved in a complex zoning, multi-issue and multi-party case against a municipality regarding the protection of a landowner’s property rights due to the downzoning and de-valuation of the landowner’s property. James fought for the landowner’s rights for over ten years. The litigation involved years of discovery, a 14 day trial, an interlocutory appeal to the Appellate Court, a final appeal to the Appellate Court with oral argument and a Petition to the Illinois Supreme Court. This case has taught James to understand how important it is to litigants to bring closure to a case and how costly litigation can be to everyone involved.
In sum, over his 28 years, James was a former Tax Judge for the Illinois Department of Revenue and presided over thousands of cases. He was involved in 10 years of complex zoning litigation with a municipality regarding the protection of a landowner’s property rights. He has jury trial experience in personal injury, DUI, and recently tried a property damage case for wrongful demolition of a building to jury verdict. James has handled three (3) Appellate Court Appeals and petitioned the Illinois Supreme Court. During his private practice legal career, he litigated all types of issues in all the Cook County Court Divisions and Districts and was general counsel to several small businesses. His practice involved transactional work in real estate, zoning, corporations, contracts, trusts and estates, tax, real estate litigation, development, and most recently, loan workouts and foreclosures. Additionally, in February 2011, James was appointed as a Hearing Officer for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
We believe James’ 28 years as an attorney in Cook County and his experience as a Tax Judge for over 10 years has taught him to be independent, fair and impartial. James has a great reputation for having an excellent temperament, being independent, honest, trustworthy, compassionate and experienced. He upholds respect for the law, attorneys, his clients and opposing litigants. If elected, James will implement his attributes to serve the Citizens of Cook County as Judge of the 12th Subcircuit.