New judges debut in Chicago bond court as experienced jurists prepare for reassignment

Update November 1 — Chief Judge Timothy Evans announced today that Judge David Navarro will be the new acting presiding judge of the Pretrial Division. Judge Mary Marubio will be his top deputy as supervising judge, Evans said. Typically, the presiding judge is not expected to handle day-to-day court bond court duties in his new position. Marubio will likely continue to hear cases.

Evans did not make any announcements about Judge John Lyke’s new role, but Lyke was seen hearing felony criminal cases in the 26th Street criminal courthouse last week.

The chief judge’s statement also did not identify who will be replacing Navarro, Lyke, and a third judge who is expected to be reassigned from bond court duties.

The winds of change may be blowing through Chicago’s bond court hearings. At least one of the six judges who determine bail conditions for people charged with crimes in Chicago is moving to a new assignment, and courthouse insiders tell CWBChicago that even more changes are coming.

Officially, a spokesperson for Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans said on Monday that they had not heard of any significant changes in the bond court judge line-up. Two days later, all three of the city’s bond court sessions were heard by judges who had never done it before. Evans’ spokesperson did not respond to an inquiry about the new judges on Wednesday.

Here’s what we know and what may be in the works:

Judge John Lyke, who has been hearing bond matters for about three years, told court workers at the end of Sunday’s felony bond session that he would no longer be working in the pre-trial division, which is responsible for bail hearings.

Lyke gained a reputation for setting the most restrictive bail conditions of the six bond judges. And he is easily the most quotable of the group.

When one worker speculated on Sunday that Lyke might be replacing a particular criminal trial judge, Lyke claimed he didn’t know where he would be going. But he said a good “crew” would be coming in to handle bond calls, which led to speculation that additional changes were coming.

Left to right: Judge Maryam Ahmad, Judge Barbara Dawkins, and Judge Kelly McCarthy.

CWBChicago has learned that three new judges have recently shadowed Lyke and other seasoned bond court jurists to learn the ropes. On Wednesday, the new judges took over all three of the city’s bond calls with experienced judges observing:

  • Judge Kelly McCarthy, who worked 17 years as a lawyer and supervisor in the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender before being elected to the bench one year ago, handled extradition matters and Branch 66, which consists mainly of murder and high-level sex crime cases.
  • Judge Barbara Dawkins handled misdemeanor matters. She is a former prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and was appointed to an associate judgeship earlier this month.
  • Judge Maryam Ahmad, who lost a 2016 campaign to become a judge, most recently served as the Juvenile Justice Bureau Chief in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Like Dawkins, she was appointed to an associate’s position this month. Ahmad is the Immediate Past President of the Chicago Bar Association. She heard Wednesday’s felony bond cases.

It’s safe to assume that one of the new judges will be filling Lyke’s shoes. So, what about the other two?

Nothing has been announced, but reliable courthouse insiders suggest that Lyke and one other veteran bond court judge will be moving to new roles in the criminal division. A third experienced bond court judge is expected to be promoted, which will take him away from day-to-day bond court work. A fourth sitting bond court judge will likely be promoted to fill his current position, but they will continue to handle cases.

Our understanding is that all of the puzzle pieces should be in place within a week. We’ll keep you posted.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is