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A Fond Farewell, a Warm Welcome, and A Continued Resolve to Affirming Our Vision for 2021

11/24/2020

A Fond Farewell, a Warm Welcome, and A Continued Resolve to Affirming Our Vision for 2021

By: Marcia M. Meis, Director, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts

November 24, 2020

The coming weeks will bring big changes to the Illinois Supreme Court as we bid farewell to two longstanding members of the Court - Justice Thomas L. Kilbride and Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier - and we welcome two new Justices who will join the Court in early December.

Justice Thomas L. Kilbride (3rd Appellate District) joined the Illinois Supreme Court in December 2000 and served as Chief Justice from October 2010 through October 2013. His achievements are too numerous to mention here, but perhaps his most enduring legacy as a member of the Court will be his strong support and work dedicated to ensuring that all Illinoisans have access to our justice system. Under his leadership as Chief Justice, the Court created the Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice which is dedicated to making the Illinois court system available to everyone, regardless of financial ability, language barriers, or other access challenges. We wish Justice Kilbride well in his next chapter.

Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier (5th Appellate District) joined the Illinois Supreme Court in December 2004 and served as Chief Justice from October 2016 to October 2019. His achievements are also too numerous to mention here, but among his many successful initiatives as a member of the Court and as Chief Justice was the reconstitution of the Illinois Judicial Conference into a strategic planning body that created the Illinois Judicial Branch’s first-ever statewide Strategic Agenda, unveiled in 2019. This document serves as a blueprint for the future, outlining the courts’ mission statement, vision and core values. We wish Justice Karmeier well in his retirement.

And it is with pleasure that we will welcome two new Justices to the Illinois Supreme Court. Justice David K. Overstreet, who currently serves on the Illinois Appellate Court, 5th District, won election to the Illinois Supreme Court earlier this month. Justice Overstreet, who officially joins the Court on December 7, 2020, brings to the Court a wealth of experience, including service on the newly reconstituted Illinois Judicial Conference and the Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Justice. Justice Robert L. Carter, who currently serves on the Illinois Appellate Court, 3rd District, will join the Illinois Supreme Court on December 8, 2020. Justice Carter also brings a rich history to the Court, including decades of judicial education leadership and training, service on numerous Supreme Court committees, and leadership as past-president of the Illinois Judges Association.    

These changes will bring new perspectives and dynamics to the Court in a time of enormous challenges for our state - an ongoing public health crisis, significant financial difficulties for many Illinoisans, and political divisiveness both statewide and nationally. The Court will, no doubt, continue to confront these challenges with collegiality and grace, focused on its role of dispensing justice and providing strong leadership for all Illinois courts with a steady hand, whatever the crisis that unfolds.

Indeed, the events of this year have underscored the resiliency of judges, justice partners, leadership and staff of the Illinois Judicial Branch. One need only look to the nimbleness of our 24 circuits, 5 appellate districts and the Supreme Court throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to see that adherence to common goals, sound reason, transparency, leadership and innovation arced our responsiveness and inspired changes to meet the most persistent needs of our branch of government.

Over 200 years ago, the state of Illinois developed an organized system of governance and a resilient, independent judiciary guided by justice, jurisprudence, knowledge, and precedence, committed to Audi Alteram Partem – to hear the other side. As 2020 nears its end, it is this mindfulness – paying attention to our varied lived experiences - that will continue to inform our responsiveness to the vast public we serve and the justice partners with whom we collaborate in the administration of justice. The initiatives and recommendations adopted by the Supreme Court throughout 2020 are evidence of this responsiveness and reflect a commitment to meet and overcome whatever challenges await our courts in 2021.

And for that, I am thankful. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.