CHICAGO — The Illinois Supreme Court announced Thursday that Justice Rita B. Garman of Danville will be its next chief justice, succeeding current Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride.
Garman was chosen unanimously by her fellow justices to succeed Kilbride, whose term concludes Oct. 25. Garman will become the 119th chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court when her three-year term begins on Oct. 26. She will become the second woman in Illinois to be chief justice and the second woman to head one of the three branches of government in Illinois.
Garman first wore the judicial robe in 1974 as an associate judge in Danville in the 5th Judicial Circuit and on Jan. 7 will mark her 40th anniversary as an Illinois judge.
"I am honored and humbled to have been chosen by my colleagues to serve as Chief Justice," Garman said Thursday in a news release. "This office has been held by many great jurists, several of whom I have served with and count among my friends. I welcome the challenges and the responsibility that go with the role of Chief Justice because I know that I can count on the support of my colleagues at all levels of the judiciary and the members of the Illinois bar."
Garman has served on the Supreme Court since Feb. 1, 2001.
Her judicial career began at the age of 30 as an associate judge in Vermilion County in 1974. She was elected a Circuit judge in the 5th Judicial Circuit in 1986, and served as presiding Circuit Judge in Vermilion County from 1987 to 1998, when she was assigned to the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District. She was elected to the Appellate Court the following year. Garman was appointed to the Supreme Court, effective Feb. 1, 2001, to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of former Chief Justice Ben Miller. She was elected to the Supreme Court for a 10-year term in 2002 and retained for a second term in 2012.