Public Interest Law Initiative

2015 Distinguished Public Service Award: Chief Justice Rita B. Garman

Posted on: January 5, 2016

2013 Justice Rita B  GarmanChief Justice Rita B. Garman has served on the Supreme Court of Illinois since 2001 and as Chief Justice since October 2013. She began practicing law in Danville with the Vermilion County Legal Aid Society. Later, she became an Assistant State’s Attorney and then entered private practice in Danville. She eventually held every possible
position in the judiciary, and is the first Chief Justice to have done so. Chief Justice Garman is only the second woman to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court and is presently the longest serving female judge and second longest-serving judge in Illinois.

A champion of public interest law and strong advocate for pro bono, Chief Justice Garman believes that pro bono service is not only admirable, it is a professional and societal obligation. She has also been very supportive of PILI’s Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees, helping promote pro bono legal services around the state.

Frequently recognized for her contributions, Chief Justice Garman is a past recipient of the Harold Sullivan Award for Judicial Excellence from the Illinois Judges Association and the Spirit of Lincoln Award from the Abraham Lincoln Association. Chief Justice Garman is a member of the Vermilion County Bar Association, the Illinois
State Bar Association, the Iowa State Bar Association, and the Lincoln-Douglas Inn of Court, and is a graduate of the University of Illinois and the University of Iowa College of Law.

“In her journey from legal aid lawyer to Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, Rita Garman has embraced public service. She has
opened doors for other women lawyers, encouraged judges to improve their skills, and led efforts to make the justice system in our state more fair. Chief Justice Garman inspires everyone who values the Rule of Law.”
– Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis

Learn about the recipients of PILI’s other 2015 Awards »

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