Judge James M. Varga is a Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. He is assigned to preside over jury trials in the Law Division in Chicago. He has presided over record jury verdicts, including the record of $387.4 million. He was elected in 1994 and retained in 2000 and 2006. He began his career with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, where he was a member of the prosecution team against John Gacy, the serial killer of thirty-three boys and young men. He graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 1978, where he attained the distinction of associate editor of the law review. He graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1975, where he attained a perfect cumulative academic grade point average.
In addition to presiding over 100+ jury trials in the Law Division, reported in the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter, Judge Varga teaches. He was on the faculty teaching Illinois judges at the Illinois Judicial Education Conferences in 2012, 2010, and 2004. He has returned to Notre Dame Law School to join the faculty for the Intensive Trial Advocacy course and to lecture and judge student trials.
Judge Varga has published professional articles. His article, “A Short Guide to Using Cross-Examination to Impeach Experts,” is published in the September 2012 issue of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Illinois Bar Journal. Beginning in 2008, he conducted three years of jury studies. The purpose of the articles is to have trial lawyers and law students who aspire to be trial lawyers rethink and retool their trial advocacy in light of psychology, behavior, and changes in life styles and technology. The trilogy of articles, “Beyond the Verdict: Jurors Speak Out,” “Beyond the Verdict II: Jurors Evaluate,” and “Beyond the Verdict III: Jurors Pick Parts of Trial,” are published in the Illinois State Bar Association’s Bench & Bar newsletter 2011-2012.