About Judge Sarah Johnson

Judge Sarah Johnson:  In her own words. 

I was raised in a small town with values that guide me to this day.  My mother was a social worker and my father was a family physician – one of the “old fashioned” doctors who made house calls, was adored by his patients and could not walk through the grocery store without being stopped at least five times.  Growing up, the two most important qualities my parents instilled in my sister and I were hard work and service.  As a social worker, my mother ensured I was always aware of my larger community and the need to improve our community through service.  

Upon graduating from high school, I attended John Carroll University where I began to focus on an area of service I was passionate about: supporting young people in need.  I began tutoring a young boy with autism through the Cleveland Clinic and became involved in the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) organization. 

After graduation, I took a leap of faith and decided to move to Chicago, sight unseen.  I enrolled at John Marshall Law School and developed a love for Chicagoland and its diverse communities. I loved my classes in trial advocacy, legal writing and torts.  Through hard work, I was able to earn positions on multiple moot court teams, including the ISBA Moot Court Competition, while making Dean’s List.

After graduating from law school, I joined a mid-sized insurance defense firm in Chicago.  Over the next two and a half years, I tried over forty civil cases to jury verdict, took countless depositions, and participated in hundreds of arbitrations through Cook County’s Mandatory Arbitration Program.  It was through these experiences that I developed a strong knowledge of the Rules of Evidence, learned how to conduct myself in a courtroom, and truly experienced what it meant to be a trial lawyer. 

Outside of the courtroom I began to learn what it meant to be a Chicagoan when I began to volunteer as an evening tutor with Mercy Home for Boys and Girls. 

In 2009, I joined Cunningham, Meyer & Vedrine (CMV) – one of the city’s preeminent medical malpractice defense firms.  It was at CMV that I honed my skills as a trial lawyer; participating in all aspects of pleadings, discovery, expert discovery, mediation, arbitration and trial.  While motion practice and trial requires zealous representation, I was steadfast in my ethics and maintained good working relationships with counsel on the opposing sides of my cases.  I tried over twelve complex medical negligence cases to jury verdict. 

During this time I served on the Auxiliary Board at Northwestern Medicine, Co-Chaired the Clement Mom’s Service Committee at St. Clement’s Church, joined Misericordia’s Women’s Board, tutored students at the Montessori School of Englewood, and supported the Juvenile Protective Association, an organization started by Jane Addams to serve the needs of children living in underserved communities.  

Eventually, after speaking with mentors, judges, and my family, I decided to seek a Judgeship so that I could serve our community by providing equal justice under the law. I was appointed by Supreme Court Justice Joy Cunningham to fill a countywide vacancy created by the retirement of Hon. Catherine Haberkorn.  Since being sworn in, I have worked hard to be respectful and transparent with each litigant who appears before me.  I explain the reasoning behind my decisions and give litigants the opportunity to ask questions.  

Family remains an important part of my life.  My husband Bob and I welcomed our first son in 2014 and our second son in 2017.  Watching them grow into the compassionate, creative and vibrant people they have become brings tremendous joy.  Bob and I enjoy coaching our sons in baseball and soccer – albeit with varying degrees of success.  In 2022 we welcomed a Mini Bernadoodle, Hoyne, to our family.  We truly love our community and it is a tremendous honor to serve all the people of Cook County as a Judge.