Commissioners and Staff

Commissioners


Kathleen Pantle
Alternate/Acting Chair 
(Retired Circuit Court Judge)

Kathleen Pantle served as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County for over 19 years.  For eleven and one-half years, she sat in the General Chancery Division where she presided over complex civil cases, including cases seeking injunctive relief, declaratory judgments, administrative review matters, disputes involving real property, and commercial litigation.  Prior to be assigned to the Chancery Division Judge Pantle served in the Criminal Division, the Juvenile Justice Division, and the First Municipal Division.

Judge Pantle was an Assistant Cook County Public Defender for over fourteen years before joining the bench.  She served in the Homicide Task Force for nine years.  She also served in the Felony Trial Division, the Appeals Division, and the Post-Conviction Relief Unit.

Judge Pantle served on the Illinois Supreme Court Pattern Jury Instructions Committee for Criminal Cases for nine years, including two years in which she chaired the Committee.  She also served on the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Education for five years.  Judge Pantle is the co-author of the "Arrest, Search, and Seizure" chapter for the IICLE publication Defending Illinois Criminal Cases.

Judge Pantle is a frequent speaker at seminars.  Along with Illinois Appellate Court Justice Mary Anne Mason, Judge Pantle presented on the following:  "Common Issues in Criminal and Civil Cases", "Restrictive Covenants in Employment Agreements", "SOJs, Disclosures, and Recusals", and "Declaratory Judgments".  Judge Pantle was also a co-presenter on a CBA seminar on e-discovery and an Education Conference co-presenter on evidentiary issues in criminal cases. 

Judge Pantle was a coach of the DePaul University School of Law Trial Team from 2002 through 2012. DePaul won the Georgetown White Collar Crime Competition in 2006. 


Steven A. Block

Commissioner
(Former Prosecuting Attorney)
Steven Block is a partner at the national law firm Thompson Hine LLP where his practice focuses on white-collar criminal and regulatory matters and internal investigations. Before joining the firm, Mr. Block was a federal prosecutor and deputy chief with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, where he investigated, prosecuted and supervised hundreds of cases involving a wide range of criminal offenses, tried 10 cases to verdict and briefed and argued nine cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. During his almost 10 years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Block focused primarily on investigating and prosecuting complex corruption cases, including cases involving bribery, embezzlement, and obstruction of justice. In addition to corruption cases, he investigated and prosecuted financial crimes including mortgage fraud, bankruptcy fraud, tax evasion, insider trading and complex wire and mail fraud schemes. Mr. Block then served as chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, where he supervised more than 70 prosecutors and investigators handling cases involving racketeering, public corruption, financial crimes, murder and law enforcement misconduct.
Robert Loeb
Commissioner
(Law School Professor)

Robert Loeb is an Adjunct Professor of Law at DePaul Law School.  He is a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago, and previously served as an Assistant State's Attorney at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
Liliana Dago
Alternate Commissioner
(Former Public Defender)
Liliana Dago was an Assistant Public Defender at the Office of the Cook County Public Defender for nearly thirty years. In the span of her career, she represented clients charged with criminal offenses in both adult court and the Juvenile Justice Division. She brings to this commission her continued commitment to public service and thorough knowledge of the pre-trial, trial, and post-trial stages of the criminal justice system.
Autry Phillips
Alternate Commissioner
(Public)

​Mr. Phillips is executive director of the Target Area Development Corporation. Target is a regional grassroots social justice organization which performs many functions in the community, including interrupting and preventing gun violence, facilitating offender community and workplace re-entry and advocating for criminal justice reforms.

Stephen J. Thurston, Sr.

Commissioner (Public) ​


Reverend Stephen Thurston brings a lifetime of community service to the Commission.

Thurston serves as the Pastor and CEO of New Covenant Baptist Church in Chicago, where he oversees the church congregation and serves as chairman of the board of directors. He has been with the church since 1979.

Thurston's community service outside of his church includes being a member of the NAACP and a former president of the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. He also previously served on the Illinois Ethics board from 2008 to 2011.

Thurston received a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy from Bishop College. ​


Tim Touhy
Commissioner (Public)
Tim Touhy is a longtime public relations and public affairs consultant with keen insight into criminal law and civil litigation. He previously served as a spokesperson for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, working closely with former Cook County State's Attorneys Cecil A. Partee, Jack O'Malley and Richard A. Devine as well as their top prosecutors. Tim also served as an assistant press secretary to former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar. He has spearheaded local, regional and national public relations campaigns as a vice president at the public relations firm of Hill & Knowlton in its Chicago and Washington offices. He has worked closely with Rob Warden, executive director emeritus and co-founder of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, on criminal justice reform issues and abolition of the death penalty in Illinois.


Vanessa del Valle
Alternate Commissioner
(Law School Professor)
​Vanessa del Valle is a clinical assistant professor of law at the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Her work focuses on enforcing the civil rights of individuals involved with the criminal justice system. She represents victims of police misconduct and prisoners in Illinois correctional facilities. She also represents community organizations seeking to end abusive policing tactics. She has also litigated suits to address issues facing immigrant communities.

Del Valle joined the MacArthur Justice Center in November 2015 after serving for two years as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Rubén Castillo in the Northern District of Illinois. In 2013, del Valle received a law degree from Stanford Law School. She majored in political science at Yale University where she received a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in 2010.
​Chair
(Retired Circuit Court Judge)
​Vacant
​Commissioner
(Criminal Defense Lawyer)
​Vacant
​Commissioner
(Public)
​Vacant
​Commissioner
(Former Public Defender)
​Vacant
​Alternate Commissioner
(Criminal Defense Lawyer)
​Vacant
​Alternate Commissioner
(Former Prosecuting Atty)
​Vacant
​Alternate Commissioner
(Public)
​Vacant
​Alternate Commissioner
(Public)
​Vacant


Staff

​Rob Olmstead
Executive Director
Before joining the Commission as Staff Attorney in 2014, Mr. Olmstead worked as an Assistant Attorney General in Illinois and as a Law Clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Harry D. Leinenweber in Chicago.  While attending The John Marshall Law School, Mr. Olmstead designed and conducted corporate fraud and theft investigations for the Vander Weele Group in Chicago; he also participated in investigations as a legal intern at the Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor, and the Office of General Counsel to the Illinois Governor.  Before becoming an attorney, Mr. Olmstead worked for 13 years as a reporter and editor at the Daily Herald newspaper, covering federal and Cook County courts, Cook County government, the Illinois Gaming Board and public corruption.
DeAndrea Brown
Administrative Assistant
​DeAndrea Brown is a May, 2016, graduate of Eastern Illinois University where she obtained a bachelor's degree in sociology and a pre-law minor.  She was immediately hired upon graduation as a legal assistant in a private law office, where she worked before joining TIRC in January, 2018. Before college, Ms. Brown worked supporting disabled individuals with their daily living needs and obtaining greater independence.
​Katarina Durcova
Attorney
​Ms. Durcova has dedicated most of her legal career to public service within the Cook County criminal justice system. She previously served as a Staff Attorney in the Office of the Chief Judge at the Cook County Criminal Division, where she reviewed and analyzed incarcerated individuals' post-conviction petitions. She also served as an Assistant State's Attorney at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
​Aryn Evans
Pro Bono Liaison
Aryn Evans is a Staff Attorney and Pro Bono Liaison for the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission. Prior to joining TIRC in 2020, ARyn worked in private practice as an Associate at Sidley Austing LLP in Chicago. Aryn earned her J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, and her B.A. in Psychology for the University of Michigan. In addition to her law practice, Aryn is also an artist and certified mindfuness and yoga teacher.
​Michael Knight
Attorney
​Mike Knight graduated from the John Marshall Law School in 2013, and spent the next seven years practicing law with his father at a small law firm in the western suburbs, concentrating in the representation of clients injured in car accidents or through medical negligence. Before that, Mike attended the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, worked as a paralegal, played percussion in a band, and volunteered teaching basic computer skills to Spanish-speaking immigrants. He joined the Commission in 2021. 
​Anthony Marin
Attorney
Anthony joined the Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission in 2020. He received his J.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Law and his B.A. in Philosophy from Loyola University Chicago. Anthony grew up in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago and is now happy and proud to be practicing restorative justice in the area.
​Luana Montoya
Attorney Supervisor
​Luana Montoya has dedicated her career's work to public service and government.   She is a lifelong Chicagoan, having left only to attend college at Harvard University, where she studied government, and then law school at the University of Illinois.  Luana began her legal career as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the City of Chicago's Department of Law.  She then went on to the City Council and the Department of Finance, serving in claims administration and legislative director roles.  In joining the Commission in 2020, Luana looks forward to applying her dedication to public service to its mission.  
​Demetria Norris
Attorney
​Demetria Norris is a Contract Attorney for TIRC, and has been practicing law in the state of Illinois for approximately 14 years.  She has done so in the area of Adult Guardianships for 5 years, has served as an arbitrator for Cook and Will Counties 6 ½ years, and has also briefly practiced in the area of commercial litigation.  Prior to her legal career, Demetria worked in Social Services, particularly in Child Protective Services, Disability Adjudication Services, and Domestic Violence Case Management. At home, Demetria is a full-time devoted wife, mother of a rescue dog, and an avid scrapbooker.
​Jerry Wynn
Attorney
Jerry Wynn is a graduate of Western Michigan Cooley Law School. He earned both a Master`s Degree in Public Health with a concentration in Health Care Administration and a Bachelor`s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Jerry, has held leadership positions in both the healthcare and public health sectors including Stroger Hospital, Ingalls Hospital, Rush Medical Center. He served as the Deputy Executive Director of the Northwest Indiana Health Department Cooperative. He also directed major grant programs for the State of Illinois. He was also appointed to the Illinois HealthCare Reform Task Force by former Governor James Edgar. Jerry, worked as a prosecutor for the City of Chicago Law Department prior joining the Commission.  Jerry is committed to the work of the Commission and its role to achieving social justice. Jerry, is also a member of the Chicago, Cook County and Illinois State Bar Associations.