Judge Peter J. Vilkelis
Judge Peter Vilkelis has worked in the Courts of Cook County, in a variety of roles, since 1973.
From 1973 to 1980, while in college and law school, he was a deputy court clerk for the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County. In that position, he gained insight into and understanding of the “nuts and bolts” of our court system.
In January, 1981, he was sworn in as an assistant Cook County state’s attorney. In his nine years in that office he worked in Criminal Appeals. Thereafter, he worked at Juvenile Court, where he prosecuted Juvenile Delinquency cases as well as working in Child Abuse and Neglect. He was then assigned to the Special Prosecutions Bureau where he worked in the Gang-Grand Jury Unit which focused on long-term undercover investigations of drug-dealing street gangs in Chicago. Finally, he was assigned to the Criminal Division where he prosecuted cases at 26th and California. Among the judges before whom he worked were Justice William Cousins, Jr.and Judge Richard Neville. As an assistant state’s attorney, he prosecuted numerous murders, rapes, armed robberies and other serious felony cases. In April of 1990 he entered private practice.
For the next 20 plus years he was a sole practitioner, concentrating in the defense of criminal cases in State and Federal Courts. At the time of his appointment to the bench, he was a member of the Capital Litigation Trial Bar (CLTB) as a designated lead counsel. He was also named to serve as a member of its screening committee, which evaluated other lawyers who wished to be members of the CLTB.
In addition to defending cases in Cook County, he handled cases in Will, DuPage, DeKalb and other Illinois counties. His practice included not only Federal Court in the Northern District of Illinois, but also the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the Western District of Michigan, the Western District of Texas, Minnesota District Court and the District of Columbia District Court.