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Name: Susan Fayette Hutchinson Age: 50 Title: Appellate Justice, 2nd Judicial District Date elected to bench: November, 1994 There’s a very judicious reason 2nd District Appellate Court Judge Susan Hutchinson keeps a cat named Molly in her Woodstock, Ill., chambers. “It’s both a mouser and a stress reliever. It hasn’t caught any mice yet, but it has helped with the stress,” Hutchinson said. Stress is a major issue in the life of a judge and one he or she isn’t always adept at dealing with, Hutchinson noted. This jurist ought to know. Hutchinson is chair of faculty for a yearly seminar run by the Illinois Supreme Court’s education committee called “Managing Judicial Stress.” And she has seen scores of her colleagues struggle with various demons peculiar to their special calling. “We all come from the world of lawyers, which is very collegial, to the world of a judge, which is very isolated. There are rules about who you can talk to or associate with, and it’s just the kind of life that leaves little outlet for the stress of the job,” Hutchinson said. The good news, according to Hutchinson, is that even older judges can still be taught how to develop stress-coping skills, their stressful lifestyles notwithstanding. For instance, the high court committee’s stress management course includes a heart risk appraisal, a Myers-Briggs (personality) Type Inventory and tips on nutrition and exercise. “I think we’ve had something like six or seven instances where the seminar has been credited with saving a judge from having a heart attack,” Hutchinson said. Most important issue facing the judiciary: “Just the sheer number of cases we now deal with, both in criminal and civil cases,” Hutchinson said. She explained: “If you look at the new avenues that are being opened for negligence suits — for instance, that HMOs can now be sued for institutional malpractice — even a single instance like that can have an enormous impact on our caseload. “One thing we as appellate court judges have to be careful about is that we still closely review every case that comes before us,” Hutchinson added. “We should make sure that we are only seeing the cases we are supposed to be seeing. And when we get a case that we don’t have jurisdiction, then we need to make it clear why we shouldn’t and publish that information so other lawyers don’t make the same mistake.” Rise to the top: A 1971 graduate of Quincy University, Hutchinson earned her JD in 1977 from DePaul University College of Law. She worked for four years as McHenry County, Ill., assistant state’s attorney, before being appointed an associate judge from 1981 to 1992. She became a full 19th Circuit judge in 1992 and served in that capacity until she was elevated to the appellate court in 1994. Hutchinson is a member of numerous charity boards and professional associations, including Hospice of Northern Illinois, the National Association of Women Judges and Youth Service Bureau of McHenry County. Proudest moment on the bench: “Probably just getting to certain levels on the bench is the proudest feeling I’ve had: becoming a circuit judge and an appellate judge. Also, whenever dealing with juvenile cases, if you felt like you made a decision that was going to help a child, you really felt like you had done your job that day.” Toughest problem ever resolved: “Again I would say it was some of the juvenile cases,” said Hutchinson, who spent about half of her 13 years in the 19th Circuit in juvenile and family court. “You would just get to know these families very well. There was a pair of twins that were actually on my way to work, and I used to even stop by to check on them. One time the mother said she couldn’t get them up to go to school. I went up and rousted them out. They were very surprised to see me. I remember one could only think to say that I looked shorter off the bench. There was a feeling that one of the boys was leading the other down the wrong path. Well, many years later it was actually the other boy, who we thought had the better chance, before me in felony court. I had to sentence him to over 12 years in prison for selling LSD. It is at times like that where you are just incredibly frustrated with your job.” The best judges are those who: “Listen carefully.” The best lawyers are those who: “Are prepared. I had an appellate judge once tell me that with all the types of cases you are expected to handle, you can’t possibly know all there is to know about them. And, so, you have a perfect right to ask the lawyer in front of you to have the supporting research you need to make your decision, or to leave it for you that day. I know I’ve done that. And, it’s amazing the times when, not only do they not have [the requested case law], they don’t have a clue what it might be. I do think we have a number of lawyers in our area who are single practitioners who don’t have the support staff to get some of that work done, go to court and still have a life. But at the same time, it has to get done.” Hobbies: “I like to cook. I have lots of cookbooks I like to read and play around with.” Family: Judge Hutchinson is married to Steven J. McArdle, a Woodstock attorney. The couple’s son is Lee Steven McArdle, 9. Last book read: “Executive Orders” by Tom Clancy. “I really like his stuff. I suppose I’m addicted to it. I’ll get done with everything I have to do at about 10:30 p.m., and then if I pick up one of his books, I’m up until 2 or 3 a.m.”

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