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Judge Elizabeth M. Rochford and Justice Mary K. O’Brien join Illinois Supreme Court

12/2/2022

Nineteenth Circuit Associate Judge Elizabeth M. Rochford was sworn-in on Dec. 5 at 9:30 a.m. as the Justice representing the Second District and Third District Appellate Court Justice Mary K. O’Brien was sworn-in on Dec 5. at 3:30 p.m. as the Justice representing the Third District. Both Justices join the court following victories in the November 2022 elections. Videos from the swearing-in ceremonies are available here. 

Justice Rochford earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Loyola University of Chicago and her Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University School of Law in Chicago. She served as Assistant State’s Attorney (1986-1989), as a solo practitioner, trusts and estates, and real estate (1989-2012), as Commissioner of the Court of Claims (1990- 2012), and Administrative Law Hearing Officer for municipalities including Lincolnwood, Skokie, Morton Grove, and Glenview (2005-2012).

Justice Rochford was appointed as Associate Judge of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, Lake County (Waukegan) in December 2012, and was assigned to hear criminal matters, family law matters and in probate presiding over decedent’s estates and guardianships of minors and disabled adults. In response to the Supreme Court’s mandate on Access to Justice, Judge Rochford took the lead on developing and initially presiding over a courtroom dedicated to Self-Represented Litigants (SRLs) in family law. Justice Rochford was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court from the Second Judicial District in 2022.

Her Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) activities include serving on the Board of Governors (2013-2022), a member of numerous ISBA committees and section councils, including Women and the Law, Bench and Bar, Trusts and Estates, and Mental Health, and she also served on the Task Force on Lawyers Feeding Illinois and was Chair of the LFI kick-off at the 2012 Mid-Year Meeting. Her Lake County Bar Association leadership positions include President (2010-2011), chair of the Community Outreach Committee, chair of the Trusts and Estates Committee (2005- 2008), and chair of the Real Estate Committee (2005-2007). She also served as the President of the Illinois Judges Foundation from 2015-2016 and is currently the Secretary of the Illinois Judges Association.

Justice Rochford’s honors include the Joyce Fitzgerald Award from A Safe Place (2022), the Democratic Women of Lake County RBG Award (2021), the ISBA Woman of Influence Award (2020), the IJA Presidential Service Award (2020), the Lake County Bar Association “Access to Justice Award” (2019), the Lake County Women’s Coalition “Woman of Vision Award” (2019), the 19th Judicial Circuit Liberty Bell Award, on behalf of the LCBA Guardianship Help Desk (2012), the Outstanding Diversity Leader Award, Diversity Scholarship Foundation (2011), the Lake County Bar Association Leadership Service Award (2011), and the Extra Mile Award, NHS (2010).

Justice O’Brien was born in Kankakee and raised on the family farm in Reddick, Illinois. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Western Illinois University and earned her Juris Doctor the University of Illinois College of Law.

Justice O’Brien previously worked for former Attorney Generals Neil Hartigan and Roland Burris for four years where she focused on consumer advocacy. She also worked in the Grundy County State’s Attorney’s Office and in private practice covering family law, criminal law, real estate, banking, and municipal law.

She was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1996 and served until December 2003. While serving in the General Assembly, she chaired the Judiciary Committee on Criminal Law.

Justice O'Brien was appointed to the Third District Appellate Court on December 26, 2003, and was retained by voters in 2014. In her 18 years as an Appellate Justice, she heard more than 4,500 cases and served on numerous committees, including the Supreme Court Rules, Legislative, and Appellate Court Access to Justice Committees, the Illinois Courts Commission, and the Lawyers Assistance Program. Justice O’Brien was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court from the Third Judicial District in 2022.

Justice O'Brien and her husband Todd Gereaux have two children, Mason and Michael.