Welcome to Arthur Wesley Willis for Judge


Known to his family and good friends as Wes, Arthur Wesley Willis is a devoted husband and father, who has dedicated his career to defending the rights of those in need.

Born and raised in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side, Wes is the youngest of Sylvia and Frank’s six children.  He followed in the footsteps of some of his siblings by attending the University of Illinois in Champaign.  Wes graduated from the College of Communications earning a Bachelor of Science degree in News-Editorial Journalism in 1994.

It was as a freshman undergrad at the U of I that Wes met his wife, Julie, whom he married while they were both students at University of Illinois’ College of Law.  They have been married 24 years and have three children.

Rarely will you find a person who goes through the expense of attending law school for the sole purpose of becoming a poorly paid Public Defender, but Wes is such a person.  It was while an undergrad that he decided to dedicate himself to a career of serving those with no voice and limited means.  He believed then and to this day, that protecting the rights of the poor, ensures that we can all feel secure in the rights guaranteed us by our Constitution.  A man of faith, raised in the Lutheran Church, Wes believes that Christ, while living among us, was the ultimate public defender.  His way of following Christ was to become one as well.

As a Public Defender for over 23 years, Wes has tried all manner of cases.  He and his colleagues in the Office have seen the worst our society has to offer.  Yet Wes firmly believes that everyone he comes into contact with deserves to be treated with respect and compassion. He is highly respected by all who have witnessed his work.

Serving as a Public Defender is not the only way he has been able to dedicate his professional experience to those in need.  He has been able to do so through his work with MLER, as well.  Minority Legal Educational Resources, or MLER, is a Bar Exam training program whose mission is to increase bar passage rates for minority law school graduates.  Because of his belief in that mission, Wes served as both an instructor and board member for the organization for many years.

Now is the time for Wes to move forward in his career.  As a Judge Wes can reach out and serve even more people than he is able to as a Public Defender.  He can make a positive impact on even more lives.  He wants to see that everyone who steps into a courtroom is stepping onto a level playing field.  All should be treated fairly and with respect.  He feels that young, non-violent offenders should be granted the opportunity to turn their lives around and become productive members of society without the stigma of a felony conviction following them around for life.  He believes all crime victims should be compensated and drug addicts rehabilitated.

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The Best Qualified Candidate

Personal Background and Service

  • Youngest of six children, born and raised in the 21st ward of Chicago‘s south side.
  • Father of three, married 24 years to his college sweetheart.
  • Elder serving at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Country Club Hills.
  • Deligate to the National Convention of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Professional Background and Service

  • Attorney with the Office of the Cook County Public Defender, with over 23 years of trial experience.
  • Member of Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
  • Former instructor and Board member for Minority Legal Education Resources (MLER).
  • 1994 graduate of the University of Illinois, College of Law.
  • AFSCME Local 3315 Steward and Executive Board member.

Get Involved

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Vote Democratic March 20, 2018


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