Joseph E. Birkett was born in Chicago on February 13, 1955. He attended Aurora Central Catholic High School and North Central College (B.A., Magna Cum Laude, 1977) and The John Marshall Law School (J.D., Moot Court Champion, 1981). He was an Assistant State’s Attorney from 1981- 1996, trying more than 100 felony cases to verdict and serving as Chief of the Criminal Division from 1991- 1996. On October 1, 1996, he was appointed DuPage County State’s Attorney. In November 1996, he was elected to State’s Attorney for the first of four terms. On November 3, 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously appointed him to the Second District Appellate Court. He took the oath of office on December 13, 2010.
During his career as DuPage County State’s Attorney, Justice Birkett was elected President of the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Office of the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor. He served on the Governor’s Commission to Re-Write the Criminal Code; the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council; Criminal Law Edit, Alignment and Reform Commission; and the Interstate Gun Trafficking Task Force. Justice Birkett is a member of the Board of Trustees for the John Marshall Law School and on the Board of Directors for the West Suburban Foundation for Disabled Veterans.
Justice Birkett is the author of more than 100 laws that were enacted by the Illinois General Assembly. He is also the author of numerous publications and has been a frequent speaker at national forums, including the National District Attorneys Association and the Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation. He has received several awards, including the 2002 Public Official of the Year by the Illinois Chiefs of Police Association; 1996 and 2010 Awards for Excellence in Trial Advocacy from the Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation; 2006 National Association of Counties Achievement Award; and The John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award, 2007. He is a member of the Illinois Judges Association.
Justice Birkett and his wife Patti live in Wheaton with their children Nicholas and Jacqueline. They are members of St. Daniel the Prophet parish.