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Meet the Justices | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts


Meet the Illinois Supreme Court Justices

Mary Jane Theis, Chief Justice

Mary Jane Theis

Supreme Court Justice, First District

Mary Jane Theis was born in Chicago. She received her bachelor's degree from Loyola University Chicago in 1971 and her law degree from the University of San Francisco, School of Law in 1974. From 1974-83, she was an Assistant Public Defender in Cook County.

Chief Justice Theis has served at every level of the Judiciary in the State of Illinois. In 1983 she was appointed an Associate Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, where she served for five years. In 1988, Chief Justice Theis was elected to the Circuit Court, where she was assigned to both the Criminal and Chancery Divisions until 1993, when she was appointed to the Appellate Court, First District. She was elected to the Appellate Court in 1994. When Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald retired in 2010, the Supreme Court appointed Justice Theis to fill his vacancy on the Court.

In her 17 years on the Appellate Court, Chief Justice Theis served as a Presiding Judge. She was Committee Chair of both the Committee on Judicial Education and the Committee on Judicial Conduct of the Illinois Judicial Conference, and a member of the Supreme Court Rules Committee. Chief Justice Theis was President of the Appellate Lawyers Association and the Illinois Judges Association, as well as President and founding member of the Illinois Judges Foundation. She has been a member of the Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Board of Managers of the Chicago Bar Association and is a member of the Women's Bar Association of Illinois.

Chief Justice Theis’ honors include the American Constitution Society’s Legal Legend Award, the CBA’s Vanguard Award for recognizing persons who have made the law and legal profession more accessible to and reflective of the community at large, the IJA’s Celebrating the Achievement of a Judicial Icon, the CBA’s John Paul Stevens Award, the Juvenile Justice Initiative’s Champion of Children’s Rights Award, the WBAI’s Esther Rothstein Award for her vision, contributions and assistance to women in the legal profession, and the Illinois Bar Foundation’s Distinguished Service to Law and Society Award.

She is married to John T. Theis, and they have two children, Jack (Uma Amuluru) and Claire (Joshua) Merok, and seven grandchildren.

P. Scott Neville, Jr.

P. Scott Neville, Jr.

Supreme Court Justice, First District

Portrait of P. Scott Neville, Jr

Justice Neville, a graduate of Washington University's School of Law, has been actively practicing law in Illinois since 1974 when he became a law clerk for Justice Glenn T. Johnson of the Illinois Appellate Court. Thereafter, Justice Neville specialized in appellate, employment, civil rights and complex civil litigation.

Throughout his legal career, Justice Neville worked with public and private entities, including the Chicago Transit Authority. From 1977 until 1979, he was Of Counsel at Howard, Mann & Slaughter. In 1979, he became a principal with the law firm of Neville & Ward. In 1981, Neville established P. Scott Neville, Jr. & Associates, which merged with Howse, Howse, Neville & Gray in 1990. He has also been an instructor at the University of Chicago Law School in its Intensive Trial Practice Workshop.

During his career, Justice Neville used his legal skills to obtain justice for his clients. In 1992, he was a member of a team of attorneys (President Obama was one of the attorneys who worked on the case) that successfully prosecuted the 1992 Chicago Ward “ReMap”case, and a legal team that prosecuted a class action lawsuit on behalf of Black and Latino workers who were laid off by the City of Chicago.

An active member of many bar associations, Justice Neville is a life member of the National Bar Association and a member of the Cook County (CCBA) and Illinois State (ISBA) bar associations. Neville’s commitment to the Bar was most evident in 1997 when he became President of the CCBA and co-founded the Alliance of Bar Associations, a group dedicated to promoting diversity, equality and fairness in judicial evaluations. During his tenure as President of the CCBA, he also started the “In Court Referral Program,” and established the CCBA Hall of Fame.

Justice Neville has also been a member of several judicial organizations. He is a past chairperson and board member of the Illinois Judicial Council, a member of the National Bar Association’s Judicial Council, and a member of the Illinois Judges Association.

As a result of his dedication to fairness, justice and the rule of law, Justice Neville has received numerous awards and appointments. In 1999, the Chicago Bar Association presented him with the prestigious Vanguard Award, and he received a Presidential Award from the ISBA. In 2007, Washington University School of Law presented him with its Distinguished Alumni Award and in 2008 he received an award from Toastmasters International. Finally, in 2016 Justice Neville was selected as one of the Most Distinguished Men of Illinois by Continuing Academic Training Children and Youth Services and in 2017 he received the Stradford Award from Attorney Kimberly Foxx, the State’s Attorney of Cook County.

Justice Neville was appointed to the Circuit Court of Cook County in 1999 and elected in 2000. On June 11, 2004, Justice Neville was appointed to the Appellate Court. Justice Neville was elected to the Appellate Court in 2012. Justice Neville served as Chairman of the Executive Committee for the Illinois Appellate Court, First District from September 1, 2013 until August 31, 2014, is a former member of the Appellate Court's Executive Committee and has been the Presiding Justice of the Second, Third and Fourth Divisions.

Justice Neville is married to Sharon J. Neville and has two adult stepdaughters.

David K. Overstreet

David K. Overstreet

Supreme Court Justice, Fifth District

Portrait of Justice David K. Overstreet

David K. Overstreet was born on January 14, 1966, in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Lipscomb University and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Tennessee. He practiced law with Miller, Tracy, Braun & Wilson, Ltd of Monticello, Illinois, from 1991 to 1992, with the Law Office of Peter G. Angelos of Knoxville, Tennessee, from 1992 to 1995, and with Mitchell, Neubauer, Shaw & Hanson, P.C., Neubauer, Hanson & Overstreet, P.C., and Neubauer & Overstreet, P.C. of Mt. Vernon, Illinois, from 1995 until his appointment to the Second Judicial Circuit Court in 2007. After being appointed to the bench, Judge Overstreet successfully ran for election in 2008 and was retained in 2014. After being assigned to the Fifth District Appellate Court in 2017, he was elected to serve on that court in 2018.

Judge Overstreet currently serves on the Illinois Judicial Conference, the Illinois Judicial College Committee on Judicial Education, and the Supreme Court Judicial Mentoring Committee, and is co-chair of the Family Law Track at the upcoming Judicial Education Conference in 2020. He was formerly a faculty member of the Illinois Judicial Education Conference, as well as chair of the Second Judicial Circuit’s professionalism committee and program administrator for its lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring program. Judge Overstreet is the Secretary of the Illinois Judges Association for the 2019-20 term and previously served on the Board of Directors and as an Executive Committee member of the Illinois Judges Association. Judge Overstreet also previously served on the Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Justice and as President of the Jefferson County Bar Association. Judge Overstreet and his wife Suzanne have three children.

Lisa Holder White

Lisa Holder White

Supreme Court Justice Fourth District

Justice Holder White graduated magna cum laude from Lewis University in 1990 with a B.A. degree in Political Science. In 1993, she earned her J.D. from the University Of Illinois College of Law, in Champaign-Urbana.

Justice Holder White began her career as an Assistant State’s Attorney for Macon County before going into private practice. In 2001, Justice Holder White was sworn in as an Associate Judge in the Sixth Judicial Circuit. In 2008, she became a Circuit Judge, having been appointed to the position by the Illinois Supreme Court to fill a retirement vacancy, and in 2010, was elected to the position. On January 14, 2013, Justice Holder White was sworn in as an Appellate Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District.

Justice Holder White serves on the Illinois Supreme Court Judicial Conference Committee on Education, which is charged with planning and providing continuing judicial education for Illinois judges. She serves as an instructor for “New Judge School” and teaches at the bi-annual Education Conference, which all Illinois state court judges are required to attend. Justice Holder White is a member of the Decatur Bar Association, the Illinois Judges Association and currently serves on the boards of the Community Foundation of Macon County and Millikin University.

She and her husband, James, have two children.

Joy V. Cunningham

Joy V. Cunningham

 Supreme Court Justice, First District

Portrait Justice Joy V. Cunningham

Joy Virginia Cunningham attended the City University of New York where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree. She later attended John Marshall Law School in Chicago where she earned a law degree in 1982. Before joining the Illinois Appellate Court, she served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for the Northwestern Memorial System, which includes Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern Memorial Foundation. Prior to joining Northwestern Memorial in 2000, she served as a Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, where she had a diverse assignment, including jury trials. She is admitted to practice law before the Illinois, New York, Federal and the Federal Trial Bars.

Over the course of her legal career, she served as Associate General Counsel for Loyola University of Chicago and Loyola University Health System, and as a litigator with the law firm of French, Rogers, Kezelis & Kominiarek. She also served as an Assistant Illinois Attorney General and as a Judicial Clerk to Illinois Appellate Justice Glenn Johnson. Ms. Cunningham was elected President ofthe Chicago Bar Association (2004-05), where she became the first African American Woman to lead the nation's largest municipal Bar Association. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Bar Foundation, the Center for Conflict Resolution and the Center for Disability and Elder Law, and the Chicago Legal Clinic.

She has authored professional publications and is a member of a number of professional and civic associations, including the American Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association, Cook County Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association and Women's Bar Association of Illinois. She has been recognized for her volunteer service to several community and civic organizations including the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, Chicago Association for the Education of Young Children and the March of Dimes. She is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Chicago Network. In December of 2006, she became a Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court. She and her family live in Chicago.

Elizabeth M. Rochford

Elizabeth M. Rochford

Supreme Court Justice, Second District

Elizabeth M. 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 is a former co-editor of, and regular contributor to, the IJA’s publication, “The Gavel” and serves as co-chair of the “Paging It Forward” literacy initiative. Her volunteer activities include: the United Way reading program, the IJF Literacy Initiative, the LCBA Guardianship Help Desk, Volunteer Mediator, the Loan Modification Assistance Program, Habitat for Humanity, Volunteer Estate Planners, The People’s Law School, Lawyers in the Classroom, 100 Club Board of Directors, Leader Council for Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, and the Spirit of 67 Board of Directors. She also served as an Adjunct Professor of English for the City Colleges of Chicago.

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).

Mary K. O'Brien

Mary K. O'Brien

Supreme Court Justice, Third District

Portrait of Mary K. O'Brien

Justice Mary Kay O'Brien was born in Kankakee, Illinois and raised on her family’s farm in Reddick, Illinois. She is a graduate of Western Illinois University and received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois. Justice O’Brien began her legal career at the Grundy County State’s Attorney’s Office before going into private practice.

Justice O’Brien was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1996 and served until December 2003. Justice O’Brien spent her legislative career chairing the Judiciary II Criminal Law Committee and advocating for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Her legislative victories include expanding the statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault of a minor and requiring psychological evaluations for individuals accused of torturing animals.

Justice O'Brien was appointed to the Appellate Court on December 26, 2003. She was subsequently elected to the Appellate Court in 2004 and retained in 2014. During her tenure on the Appellate Court, Justice O’Brien served as a Commissioner on the Illinois Courts Commission, an Alternate Commissioner on the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission, a member of the Appellate Court Administrative Committee, Vice-Chair of the Supreme Court Legislative Committee, the Appellate Court Access to Justice Committee and the Board of Directors of the Illinois Lawyers Assistance Program Courts Commission. Justice O’Brien has also been recognized with awards from numerous community and legal organizations including the Star Award from the Kankakee Society of Women in the Law, the Zonta Club International Woman of the Year Award (Kankakee Chapter) as well as being the recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award from Western Illinois University.

Justice O’Brien was elected to the Supreme Court on November 8, 2022. Justice O’Brien lives within the Third Appellate District with her husband and her three sons.


History of Illinois Supreme Court Justices

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