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 was created on January 15, 1831 and named after Daniel P. Cook, Member of Congress and the first Attorney from the State of Illinois.
   
     
     
     



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

Unemployment rate unexpectedly falls
Friday, June 05, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

$140M renovation to transform old Cook County Hospital into hotel, office complex nearly complete
Friday, June 05, 2020
WLS ABC 7 Eyewitness News

How badly will COVID, looting hurt CPS finances?
Thursday, June 04, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Jail releases could be spreading COVID-19 in community, study suggests
Thursday, June 04, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Daily COVID-19 cases dip under 1,000, but officials warn it could take 2 weeks to see if protests prompt uptick (LIVE UPDATES)
Thursday, June 04, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County state’s attorney’s office says it will review allegations that Chicago cops pulled woman from car by her hair and placed knee on her neck
Thursday, June 04, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Report: 1 in 6 Chicago COVID-19 Cases Can Be Tied to Cook County Jail
Thursday, June 04, 2020
WTTW News

Cook County campsites, dog parks among amenities reopening
Thursday, June 04, 2020
Daily Herald

Rapper Vic Mensa: ‘The real looting is the looting of the body of George Floyd’ and other African Americans killed by police
Thursday, June 04, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

‘We’re Here To Pray For Peace’: Faith Organizations March In Bronzeville To Protest George Floyd Killing
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
WBEZ News

The Spin: Politicians pivot to police reform | For Lightfoot, Preckwinkle and others, George Floyd death a painful reminder of racism in their lives | Chicago begins reopening
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Chicago Tribune

‘COVID-19 Adjustment’ may lessen Cook County property taxes in light of pandemic
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
JD Supra

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Chicago Tribune

More positive results for antiviral drug remdesivir in battle against COVID-19
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Live Updates: Looting Causes Food Shortages; Security Firms See Spike In Demand
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
WBEZ

So many were killed by gunfire in Chicago Sunday, the medical examiner brought in extra pathologists for the autopsies
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Social distancing measures remain in place at county jail
Tuesday, June 02, 2020
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Protests and peace: Pritzker, Preckwinkle, Cupich call for ‘peaceful action’ to stem ‘contagion’ of racism
Tuesday, June 02, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

With Dozens Being Shot Every Day, Anti-Violence Groups Continue Working Amid Looting And COVID-19
Tuesday, June 02, 2020
WBEZ News

Judge tells Cicero no more surprise visits at nursing home where more than a dozen died from coronavirus
Tuesday, June 02, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

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