First District Appellate Court Justice Joy V. Cunningham was sworn-in on Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. as the newest member of the Illinois Supreme Court. She fills the seat of Justice Anne M. Burke, who retired on Nov. 30 after 16 years on the state’s highest court. The swearing-in video is now available here.
Justice Cunningham has served as a First District Appellate Court Justice since 2006 and currently serves as Chair of the Executive Committee. She has served on and chaired the Settlement Committee and serves on the Orientation Committee for new justices. She spent a decade on the Education Committee and chaired the court’s Judicial Performance Committee. She currently co-chairs the First District’s Diversity Committee.
Justice Cunningham received her Bachelor of Science from the City University of New York and earned her Juris Doctorate from the John Marshall Law School. She began her career in 1982 as an Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. She went on to be a law clerk to First District Appellate Court Justice Glenn T. Johnson. For 10 years she was the Associate General Counsel and Chief Counsel for HealthCare at Loyola University where she established, directed, and managed Loyola University’s in-house healthcare legal division.
In 1996, Justice Cunningham was sworn in as an Associate Judge in Cook County Circuit Court where she was assigned to the civil trial division. She left the bench in 2000 to serve as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Northwestern Memorial Healthcare where she reported and provided counsel to the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer. She returned to the bench in December 2006 as an elected First District Appellate Court Justice and was retained by voters in 2016.
Her professional associations include the Chicago Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Cook County Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, the Black Women Lawyers Association, the Illinois Judicial Council, the Illinois Judges Association, the Economic Club of Chicago, the Chicago Network, the CBA Past Presidents’ Council, the American Law Institute, and the American Bar Foundation.
Justice Cunningham was the first African American woman elected President of the Chicago Bar Association, the nation’s largest municipal bar association. Her awards include the John Paul Stevens Award, the Earl Burrus Dickerson Award, the Mary Heftel Hooten Award, and the Torchbearer Award.
She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Loyola University Health System, the Chicago Bar Association’s Strategic Planning Committee, the Governor’s Commission for Eradicating Poverty, the Board of Directors of the James R. Jordan Foundation, the Board of Directors of the Chicago Bar Association Media Organization, and is the Chair of the Associate Commissioners of the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission since 2010.