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NIU Law alumnus named chair of Conference of Chief Judges

October 28, 2014
Judge Joseph McGraw

Judge Joseph McGraw

The Illinois Supreme Court announced Tuesday that Chief Judge Joseph G. McGraw of the 17th Judicial Circuit has been named the new chairman of the Conference of Chief Judges, effective December 11, 2014. McGraw received his juris doctor degree from the Northern Illinois University College of Law in 1985.

Judge McGraw will take over leadership from current Conference Chairman Chief Judge Elizabeth Robb of the 11th Judicial Circuit, who is retiring from judicial service on December 31, 2014. Judge McGraw has served as the Conference’s vice-chairman since April 2014 and has served as a member of the Conference since January 2012.

The 17th Circuit consists of Boone and Winnebago counties in northern Illinois. A duly elected chief judge from each judicial circuit serves as a member of the Conference of Chief Judges.

The Conference of Chief Judges was established by, and operates under, the authority of the Supreme Court. The Conference meets regularly to discuss issues related to the administration of justice in the 24 circuit courts in Illinois, along with other matters referred to the Conference by the Supreme Court. The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts serves as secretary to the Conference.
“Judge McGraw has been very active and involved in the Conference of Chief Judges,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita B. Garman said. “He was one of the first to volunteer in initiating new policies and programs. He has provided a great support to the Conference and does so with energy.

“I expect he will bring the same energy and leadership to the conference of chief judges as its new chair.”
“Judge McGraw is a competent jurist and a man of integrity,” said Supreme Court Justice Robert R. Thomas, whose Second Judicial District includes the 17th Circuit. “In addition, he has consistently shown his administrative skills in leading the 17th Circuit to embrace several new programs over the years.

“He will be a fine leader for the chief judges of Illinois.”

Judge McGraw currently serves as chairman of the Conference of Chief Judges’ Committee on Extend-ed Media Coverage; he was also a presenter on the Supreme Court’s Extended Media Coverage project at the 2014 Educational Conference. Chief Judge McGraw has diligently worked in his circuit in im-plementing a pilot project that allows cameras and microphones in Illinois trial courtrooms.

A resident of Rockford, Chief Judge McGraw was born and raised in Kankakee, and graduated from Bishop McNamara High School in 1973, two years after Supreme Court Justice Thomas L. Kilbride graduated from the same Catholic high school. Justice Kilbride represents the Third Judicial District, which includes Kankakee.

“He’s an excellent choice to lead the chief judges of Illinois,” Justice Kilbride said. “Judge McGraw is a natural leader through efficiency and innovations in the 17th circuit, including leading the transition in implementing the Court’s project on cameras in the courtroom.
“I’m sure he will bring the same initiative and leadership to the Conference of Chief Judges.”

Judge McGraw was appointed as a Circuit Judge in 2002 and was elected in November of the same year. He had served as Presiding Judge in Boone County from 2002-2003, and has served as Presiding Judge of the Felony Division since 2004. Judge McGraw was elected to serve as Chief Judge of the 17th Judi-cial Circuit in January 2012 and has held that position since.
“I am honored to have been chosen by my fellow chief judges from around the state as chairman of the Conference of Chief Judges,” Chief Judge McGraw said. “I hope to continue the work of the Judicial Conference, with the Supreme Court, in advancing equal access to justice for all, and excellence and innovation in the circuit courts throughout the state.”

Chief Judge McGraw is a regular instructor for the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor’s Trial Advocacy Pro-gram, an active member of the Illinois Supreme Court Special Committees on Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) and Judicial Ethics, and a former faculty member of the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Capital Litigation.