Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Longtime head of Cook County Public Defender’s Homicide Task Force retires
Courthouse fixture Kulmeet “Bob” Galhotra spent 30 years representing indigent defendants in Cook County.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times
by Andy Grimm

Longtime head of Cook County Public Defender’s Homicide Task Force retires

Courthouse fixture Kulmeet “Bob” Galhotra spent 30 years representing indigent defendants in Cook County.

By Andy Grimm@agrimm34

Share this story

Kulmeet “Bob” Galhotra, longtime head of the Cook County Public Defender’s Murder Task Force, speaks to the Sun-Times editorial board during his 2015 campaign for 29th Ward alderman. Galhotra retired this week after 30 years as a public defender.
Sun-Times Media

In an era of email, text messaging and cellphones, Google, and online legal databases, the two dozen lawyers on the Cook County Public Defender’s Homicide Task Force often conduct a large amount of research by shouting questions at each other from across the office.

Usually, the toughest inquiries have been yelled in the direction of supervisor Kulmeet “Bob” Galhotra, known for his encyclopedic knowledge of case law and, more importantly, the temperament and taboos of the judges who decide the fates of the 400 or so indigent murder defendants on the team’s case roster.

But when Galhotra’s peers head into 2020, they’ll have to pick up the phone to pick his brain.

Galhotra, 53, retired this week from his duties at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue.

“Oh my God, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Assistant Public Defender Julie Koehler, who met Galhotra as a law school clerk and this year sat second-chair with him during the trial of Kamel Harris who was acquitted in the murder of a 2-year-old.

“I usually don’t have to move from my desk. I yell, ‘Hey, Bob!’ across the hall and he yells back exactly what I need. He’s seen everything.”

Born in India — where he’d already been nicknamed “Bob” by family members, for either Bobby Kennedy or the Bollywood film “Bobby” — Galhotra moved to Chicago with his family at age 5.

“I think there was snow on the ground the day we got here. There isn’t even a word for snow in Punjabi,” recalled Galhotra.

Galhotra’s brother became a doctor, and his hard-working immigrant parents were concerned when Galhotra switched his college major from engineering to English. After an internship writing technical manuals, Galhotra realized writing about engineering was too dull for his tastes, and signed up for law school. He pictured himself doing corporate law, drawing up contracts and litigating disputes.

“The first time I walked into a criminal courtroom when I was with the law clinic, that was it for me. It was just so interesting,” said Galhotra, who was hired as an assistant public defender just two days after he took the bar exam in 1990.

Galhotra has since taken on 30 murder trials in front of juries, and nearly 100 others in bench trials.

“He really does an amazing job of connecting with juries,” said Kathryn Lisco, a Task Force lawyer who met Galhotra when they both worked in Juvenile Court. “The story of the case you have to tell is what it is. It’s the way you tell the story.”

Galhotra, who ran for 29th Ward alderman in 2015, is leaving the Criminal Courthouse on something of a hot streak, having won acquittal in Harris’ case this summer, and brokering a plea deal for Andrew Warren, who was charged with former Northwestern University professor Wyndham Lathem in the murder of Lathem’s boyfriend.

Over the years, Galhotra — who intends to keep practicing law as a private attorney as well as taking on adjunct professor duties at his alma mater, IIT Kent Law School — has become known for his diplomatic, pragmatic style, something of a throwback among some of his younger, more combative peers. But he also draws praise for his deep knowledge of the increasingly technical aspects of criminal law in an era when defense lawyers have to be experts in everything from DNA to cellphone technology.

But his skill managing the at times large egos of a staff of smart, opinionated people sets him apart, said longtime Assistant Public Defender Marijane Placek.

“You could compare the job to herding cats,” Placek said, “but he’s also a lion tamer.”



Recent Headlines

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: 1,645 new known COVID-19 cases reported as state releases $46 million from federal relief act to 2,655 small businesses
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Looting has city, county, state officials pointing fingers in all directions
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
The Daily Line

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: 3 states removed from Chicago’s travel quarantine list; 1,549 new confirmed cases, 20 deaths reported
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Chicago Tribune

County, federal courts closed today
Monday, August 10, 2020
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

State’s Attorney Kim Foxx bristles at insinuation her office’s handling of earlier cases emboldened looters
Monday, August 10, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Foxx bashes ‘dishonest blame games,’ calls for ‘honest conversation’ after night of looting
Monday, August 10, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago needs leaders, not elected officials looking for scapegoats
Monday, August 10, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Foxx Pushes Back on Criticism From Lightfoot, Brown After Looting
Monday, August 10, 2020
WTTW News

New Cook County ethics rules due for September resurrection as appointed board nears 6-month hiatus
Monday, August 10, 2020
The Daily Line

Kim Foxx drops more felony cases as Cook County state’s attorney than her predecessor, Tribune analysis shows
Monday, August 10, 2020
Chicago Tribune

How we analyzed Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s record on dropped cases
Monday, August 10, 2020
Chicago Tribune

State offering $5,000 grants for tenants struggling to pay rent amid pandemic. Here’s how to apply
Monday, August 10, 2020

Preckwinkle: Dramatic rise in suicides among Cook County's Black population
Sunday, August 09, 2020
Daily Herald

1,382 New COVID-19 Cases in Illinois, 8 Additional Deaths
Sunday, August 09, 2020
WTTW News

‘The need remains critical’: Rent and mortgage relief arrives as state, county announce $320 million in grants
Saturday, August 08, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle Announces COVID-19 Recovery Rental Assistance Program
Saturday, August 08, 2020
Journal and Topics Online

Aug. 7 Brings a Disturbing Trend: Evanston Had 12 New COVID-19 Cases, Suburban Cook County Had 535, and the State Had 2,084
Friday, August 07, 2020
Evanston RoundTable

Cook County Officials Launch Rental Assistance Grants for Suburban Residents
Friday, August 07, 2020
WTTW News

County launches $20 million rent help program
Friday, August 07, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

‘We’re in really, really uncharted territory,’ Kim Foxx says of gun violence in Chicago
Friday, August 07, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP