News Releases

Judge Jennifer Clifford, Chairperson of the 17th Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council (FVCC), announces that October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The community is encouraged to support the multiple community awareness activities planned throughout the month. Community awareness activities seek to provide education and honor those who have been impacted by violence in Winnebago and Boone counties.

The FVCC has planned many awareness activities throughout the month of October including a youth art contest, a community yoga class at Real Beautiful You, a movie screening and panel discussion of the movie Waitress, and a book discussion. The annual Shining the Light on Domestic Violence ceremony will be held at Rockford City Hall on Thursday, October 27th at 5:30pm. Additional information about planned events can be found on the attached calendar or by visiting the 17th Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council Facebook page. Honorable Jennifer Clifford commented, “We have several opportunities throughout the month of October where those in our community can learn about the various forms of domestic violence and prevention efforts against domestic violence that exist here in the 17th Circuit. We are thankful for the multiple organizations that partner with us not only in October but throughout the entire year to address our community’s response to domestic violence.”

The 17th Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council is funded by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and serves Boone and Winnebago counties. The FVCC serves as a forum to coordinate community and professional efforts to address family violence, including domestic violence, teen dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and child abuse. For more information about the work of the FVCC, contact Nicole Ticknor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Calendar of Events

 

Chief Judge John S. Lowry is pleased to announce that Deputy Court Administrator Kimberly Ackmann attained certification as a Fellow of the Institute for Court Management (ICM) at the National Center for State Courts.

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Virginia is a nonprofit court organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.

Since 1970, the ICM has delivered training and education to judicial branch personnel in emerging areas of court leadership and management concepts, case management, human resources management, court performance standards, and other areas deemed critical to professional development.

ICM Fellows complete a rigorous four-step process that measures an individual’s aptitude in court management, research, and executive leadership through three levels of certification. Ms. Ackmann joins eight other recent program graduates and more than 1,300 alumni who represent 49 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and 12 foreign countries. She is the first ICM Fellow to be certified in Illinois since 2011.

“The 17th Circuit Court is tremendously proud of Kimberly Ackmann and the dedication she has shown to attain this advanced level of career proficiency,” said Chief Judge John S. Lowry. “The personal drive needed to attain this national certification parallels with the drive, competency and creativity that she brings to her work on a daily basis.   Our court system thrives and continually benefits from Ms. Ackmann’s contributions to modernize court functions and enhance access to justice. She truly is an invaluable member of our court administration staff.”

Ms. Ackmann stated, “I have witnessed so many working in the judicial system go above and beyond. That motivation is contagious, and I wanted to do my part. It is a great honor to have been accepted into this program and work with court leaders from all over the country. I look forward to continuing this great work.”

Kimberly Ackmann is a graduate of Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Marquette University Law School. She has served as a Deputy Court Administrator since 2015.   In her role, Ms. Ackmann aids in management of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court and oversees a number of special projects including the Court’s Residential Foreclosure Mediation Program, Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program, Judicial Speakers Bureau, and JusticeCorp Volunteer Program. She serves as the 17th Circuit Court’s Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator.

For more information about the ICM Fellows program, visit www.ncsc.org/education-and-careers/icm-fellows.

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Judges from Winnebago County and Boone County participated in a statewide initiative sponsored by the Illinois Conference of Chief Judges and the Illinois Judges Association to help local schools, students and community organizations prepare for success in the 2022-23 school year by collecting school supplies for the Boys and Girls Club of Fairgrounds.

Chief Judge John S. Lowry and Associate Judge Erin B. Buhl presented the donated items to the Boys and Girls Club of Fairgrounds and were able to tour the facility on Wednesday, August 3, 2022.  “It was an honor to donate backpacks and other needed school supplies on behalf of the 17th Circuit Judges,” said Judge Buhl.  “I am hopeful that our efforts will help these students get off to a great start for the upcoming school year.”

“The Illinois Judges Association and the Conference of Chief Judges are proud of the active judges in this state and their commitment to their communities,” said IJA President Justice Eileen O’Neill Burke. “We see firsthand what happens with students who are not supported in their schools. The approximately 1250 active and retired members of the Illinois Judges Association already provide many in-schools programs from reading to students through civics education. It was a logical extension to join with the Chief Judges for the entire state to help provide needed supplies for the school year.”

“The Conference of Chief Judges meets regularly to discuss policies and needs for the entire state,” said Chief Judge David Vancil, who is the Chair of the Conference of Chief Judges. “This collaboration with the Illinois Judges Association allowed our circuits to coordinate help many were already providing and to help the public know their local judges are truly here to help.”

For more information about this this event, please contact Trial Court Administrator Thomas Jakeway at the contact information above.  Additional information about the Illinois Judges Association is available at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Judge Janet R. Holmgren, Presiding Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court Therapeutic Intervention Program (TIP) Court is pleased to announce the program celebrated its 32nd graduation ceremony on Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom 478 at the Winnebago County Courthouse.

Four TIP Court participants have successfully completed all of the TIP Court Program requirements, bringing the total number of graduates to 189 since TIP Court began in 2005.

TIP Court is a specialized problem-solving court program that provides wrap-around therapeutic services and intensive court supervision to persons in the criminal justice system who have a serious and persistent mental illness. The program is voluntary and the average length of participation is two and a half years. The goals and purpose of TIP Court is to provide participants with the treatment and case management services they require to help them achieve stability and maintain recovery and in turn, dramatically reduce the likelihood that they will commit new offenses. A multi-disciplinary team of clinical and justice professionals closely supervise each participant’s compliance with treatment and probation supervision requirements. Participants are held accountable for complying and completing their treatment plan requirements through intensive probation supervision and frequent court appearances before Judge Holmgren.

Please contact Emily Behnke for more information about TIP Court and this event.  

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Marcia M. Meis, Director of the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, and John S. Lowry, Chief Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court, are pleased to announce that the 17th Circuit Judges have selected Attorney Tamika R. Walker as an Associate Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit.  This associate judge vacancy is based on the impending retirement of Associate Judge Mary Linn Green, effective July 5, 2022.   Ms. Walker will take her oath of office on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.

“Tamika Walker’s range of experience in criminal, family law and juvenile courtrooms and exceptional interpersonal skills will serve her well as an associate judge,” said Chief Judge John Lowry.  “Her contributions to the legal profession through organized bar activities reflect her genuine commitment to the law. Ms. Walker was selected from a group of outstanding candidates. We are confident she will do an excellent job and look forward to working with her.”

Ms. Walker received a Bachelor of Social Work from Indiana University in 2001, a Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University in 2002, and a Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 2005.  Ms. Walker served as an assistant public defender in the Winnebago County Public Defender’s Office between 2005 and 2010. In 2010, she joined the law firm of Sreenan & Cain, P.C. Sreenan & Cain, P.C. was reorganized as Schafer DeRango & Cain, LLP and again as DeRango & Cain, LLC, where Ms. Walker currently practices law representing clients in family law disputes and juvenile abuse, neglect and dependency proceedings.

Commenting on her selection, Ms. Walker stated, “I am honored to be selected as an associate judge. It is truly a privilege to serve in the 17th Judicial Circuit. I am looking forward to working with the judges, clerks, and other courthouse staff in an effort to continue to provide access to justice in our community.” 

Ms. Walker is a member of the Winnebago County Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association, where she currently serves on the Assembly and Board of Governors, and previously served as Chair of the Illinois State Bar Association Family Law Section Council. She is an Administer Justice volunteer attorney and serves on the boards of the Illinois Bar Foundation, The Lawyer’s Trust Fund of Illinois, and the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice’s Justice for All Advisory Committee. Her involvement with community and civic organizations includes associations with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., the YWCA of Rockford, and Careers Etc.

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The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts announced the following certified list of candidates who have applied for the associate judge vacancy in the 17th Circuit based on the impending retirement of Associate Judge Mary Linn Green:

David M. Gill 

Erik K. Jacobs

Scott R. Paccagnini

Paul R. Vella

Roger H. Gustafson

Maureen M. Lawson

Amy K. Peterman

Tamika R. Walker

Erin C. Hannigan

Matthew R. Leisten

Andrew T. Smith

Jeffrey J. Zucchi

 

The Circuit Judges of the 17th Circuit are inviting written comment regarding these candidates from all interested individuals and organizations.   Comments must be in writing and received by the Chief Judge no later than 5:00 p.m. on May 18, 2022. Anonymous letters will not be accepted. Letters will be placed in each of the candidate’s files. There shall be no other direct or indirect contact with any Circuit or Associate Judge regarding an individual’s candidacy.

Anyone wishing to comment should direct their correspondence by U.S. mail to Chief Judge John S. Lowry, Winnebago County Courthouse, 400 West State Street, Suite 215, Rockford, IL 61101 or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month. Judge Jennifer Clifford, Chairperson of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court Family Violence Coordinating Council (FVCC), announces the return of “Hands Around the Courthouse” on April 21, 2022 at 12:00pm at the front entrance of the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center located at 650 W. State St. in Rockford.

The community is encouraged to join the FVCC and their community partners, including Winnebago County CASA, Children’s Home and Aid, Children’s Safe Harbor and The Carrie Lynn Children’s Center at the annual event, returning following a two year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This brief ceremony will bring the community together to remember survivors and celebrate the work that has been done to improve the response to victims of child abuse and neglect.  

Chief Judge John S. Lowry will lead the event which will feature a survivor testimonial. At the end of the event, participants will surround the courthouse with blue ribbon and plant a blue pinwheel garden to honor survivors of child abuse and neglect and increase awareness around prevention efforts. This event is open to the community.

According to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, over 200,000 calls to the Illinois Child Abuse Hotline are made each year. In 2021, over 1,400 minors were involved in the Juvenile Abuse and Neglect court system in the 17th Judicial Circuit.

Judge Clifford, Chair of the Family Violence Coordinating Council; John Papiernik, Executive Director of Winnebago County CASA; and Jillisa Bondurant, Executive Director of Children’s Safe Harbor will be available for media interviews following the event.

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The Illinois Supreme Court has authorized the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court to post a notice of vacancy for the office of Associate Judge. This vacancy is based on the impending retirement of Associate Circuit Judge Mary Linn Green, effective July 5, 2022. The application period for this vacancy will remain open until May 2, 2022.   Please see the attached Vacancy Notice and additional information available on the Illinois Supreme Court Website.

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Associate Circuit Judge Mary Linn Green has announced that she will retire from her position on July 5, 2022. Judge Green was appointed as an associate circuit judge on March 6, 2009. Since November 1, 2010, she has presided over juvenile abuse and neglect court in Winnebago County.

John S. Lowry, Chief Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit, commented, “Judge Green has served the 17th Circuit with distinction. For over a decade, she has played a central role in protecting the rights of our community’s most vulnerable children and all parties involved in legal proceedings.”    

Judge Green is a graduate of the College of St. Teresa (B.S.N. 1974), Loyola University (1978 M.S.N. 1978) and Northern Illinois University College of Law (J.D. 1992). She received a Legum Doctoris, honorary Doctoral Degree, from Saint Anthony College of Nursing in 2010, for her professional contributions to the College. Judge Green received an award in 2013 from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, in recognition of outstanding service to the schools for her work in truancy prevention.

Judge Green is an organizer of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court’s annual National Adoption Day Celebration and helped to establish the 17th Judicial Circuit Volunteer Therapy Dog Program. She has worked closely with the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA) by teaching new volunteers about the court process and presiding over their swearing-in ceremonies. She is a member of the Illinois Judges Association, Illinois State Bar Association, and the Winnebago County Bar Association.

“It has been my honor and privilege to have served the 17th Judicial Circuit, and the citizens of Winnebago and Boone Counties,” said Judge Green. “I have loved this work, as it has allowed me to have a positive influence on the lives and circumstances of the children of our community. I have also been given the privilege of working closely with many committed and talented persons in the Court and Social Services Systems.”

During her time on the bench, Judge Green established a special program for all of the children who come into her courtroom. Through generous contributions from local citizens and organizations, especially the Rockford Ice Hogs, the conference room adjacent to her courtroom is filled with hundreds of new and gently used stuffed animals.   Each child is encouraged to pick out a stuffed animal to hold during court and then take home. She plans to leave this program in place for her successor in order to continue to bring joy and comfort into the lives of children.

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Based on authority granted by the Illinois Supreme Court, the 17th Judicial Circuit amended its requirements regarding masks in Boone and Winnebago Counties. Specifically, starting February 28, 2022, the wearing of a face covering or mask within any court facility is permitted, but not required. Persons choosing to wear a face covering or mask may be directed by a judge to remove their face covering or mask if deemed necessary for court purposes, such as when addressing the court or testifying. Please refer to the attached local court orders for additional details and other pandemic related information.

“This change in practice is consistent with the recent order of the Illinois Supreme Court and current community covid-19 metrics,” said John S. Lowry, Chief Judge of the 17th Circuit Court. “The court will continue to monitor its operations and further amendments could be necessary if covid-19 metrics warrant change. I note that individuals may attend court virtually unless they have been specifically directed to appear in person.”

 Additional information about virtual court appearances is available here.

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John S. Lowry, Chief Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court, is pleased to announce that the circuit judges of the 17th Circuit have selected Attorney Kathryn J. Cross as Public Defender for Boone County, Illinois.

Commenting on the selection, Presiding Boone County Circuit Judge Rob Tobin stated, “Ms. Cross is a skilled lawyer with a recognized presence in Boone County. She and her staff prove daily that the quality of legal services does not depend on the amount of money a client can afford. She is a star on the rise and I’m confident the office will continue to thrive under her leadership.”

“I am both honored and humbled to have been chosen as the Boone County Public Defender,” said Attorney Cross. “I look forward to leading an office that provides excellent representation to the indigent clients of Boone County.”

Ms. Cross completed her undergraduate studies at Monmouth College in 2008, and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law in 2011.   Her legal career has been primarily dedicated to service with the Boone County Public Defender’s Office, where she has been employed since 2012. Attorney Cross has served as the appointed Interim Boone County Public Defender since December 2021.

Kathryn Cross is a current member of the Boone County Bar Association and the Winnebago County Bar Association, and has served as the President of the Boone County Bar Association since 2018. Her involvement with community and civic organizations includes judging, mentoring, and sponsoring the Monmouth College Moot Court Program, and volunteer work with the Second Chances Summit for sealing and expunging criminal records and the League of Women Voters of Greater Rockford.

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ADMINISTRATION OFFICE OF
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