Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bar Associations Honor New Chief Justice

By Charlie Ingrassia

The Association recently had the privilege of cosponsoring a luncheon honoring Chief Justice Rita B. Garman of the Illinois Supreme Court. The other hosts of the event were the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Women's Bar Association of Illinois. Judges and attorneys alike came together to celebrate Garman's legendary career, which began as an assistant State's Attorney in a central Illinois county courthouse and culminated in her recent appointment as the state's most-senior jurist.

Chicago Bar Association president and past ALA president J. Timothy Eaton welcomed the guests, which included distinguished members from both the federal and state judiciary, and many of Chief Justice Garman's colleagues on the Illinois Supreme Court. Following lunch, Paula H. Holderman, president of the Illinois State Bar Association, Steven F. Pflaum, vice president of the ALA; Michelle M. Kohut, president of the Women's Bar Association of Illinois; and Eaton provided remarks. Vice President Pflaum discussed the unique role of the chief justice in the Illinois judiciary and remarked that, long after her tenure has ended, scholars will continue to study the initiatives put forth by the Garman court.

Thereafter, the Honorable Benjamin K. Miller, who served on the state's high court from 1984 to 2001, and as chief justice from 1991 to 1994, introduced Chief Justice Garman. Justice Miller discussed Garman's remarkable career, which included being the first women to serve as an assistant State's Attorney in Vermilion County; the first woman to serve as an associate and circuit court judge in the Fifth Judicial Circuit; the first woman to serve as a justice in the Fourth Appellate Court District; and the first woman to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court from downstate Illinois.

Chief Justice Garman opened her remarks by thanking the various bar associations and a number of guests in attendance, including her husband. The Chief Justice noted that, while she does not have a specific agenda, she has certain priorities that she will emphasize during her tenure. These priorities include promoting civility, ensuring that courts promptly resolve disputes, increasing legal education programs for practitioners and the public, incorporating new technology into the judicial process, and transparency. Chief Justice Garman noted that new technology - such as cameras in the courtroom - can help to increase transparency to the public, but that alone is not enough. Chief Justice Garman encouraged attorneys to be proactive in discussing the legal system within their communities by, for example, writing letters to the editor in local news publications.

The ALA congratulates Chief Justice Garman on her appointment and looks forward to helping to implement her vision for the Illinois courts.

DISCLAIMER: The Appellate Lawyers Association does not provide legal services or legal advice. Discussions of legal principles and authority, including, but not limited to, constitutional provisions, statutes, legislative enactments, court rules, case law, and common-law doctrines are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.