News Releases

Following the announcement of the planned retirement of Winnebago County Public Defender David J. Doll, Chief Judge Eugene G. Doherty announced the following list of candidates who have applied to fill the position:

Erin C. Hannigan

Bradford K. Morrison

Amy K. Peterman

Daniel T. Wilkins

Nick E. Zimmerman

The Circuit Judges of the 17th Circuit are inviting written comments regarding these candidates from any interested individuals or organizations.   Comments must be in writing and received no later than 5:00 p.m. on March 5, 2021. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

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

PDF of Press Release

Eugene G. Doherty, Chief Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit, has officially posted a notice of vacancy for the position of Winnebago County Public Defender.   This vacancy is based on the planned retirement of Public Defender David J. Doll on April 23, 2021.

Employment responsibilities, qualifications, and instructions on how to apply are provided in the attached Notice of Vacancy. The Notice of Vacancy and required application form are available from this linkApplications must be received by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. The vacancy will be filled by vote of the Circuit Judges in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit.

                                                                                                           

On April 23, 2021, Attorney David J. Doll will retire after serving four years as Winnebago County Public Defender. 

Mr. Doll’s legal career has been dedicated to service in the Winnebago County Public Defender’s Office. He has been employed in the office since 1993, and held the position of First Deputy Public Defender from 2004, until his appointment as the Public Defender in December 2016.  Mr. Doll completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois and received his Juris Doctor from Southern Illinois University Law School in 1992.

In addition to his administrative responsibilities as Public Defender, Mr. Doll kept an active caseload. He primarily works with individuals connected to sexually violent offenses, and supported those clients as they worked towards rehabilitation. He is a member of the PATH Court, and represented individuals with a history or connection to being trafficked.

During his time in the Public Defender’s Office, Mr. Doll was instrumental in the planning, implementation, and ongoing support of Winnebago County’s consolidated case management system. He is an active member of the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and the Illinois Public Defender Association.

“This County has been extremely fortunate to have the benefit of Dave Doll’s service,” said Chief Judge Eugene Doherty. “He has ensured that competent and faithful representation was provided by his office as required by our Constitutional guarantees. More than that, though, he has been a creative and cooperative partner in creating efficiencies in our system. He has really made his mark.”

Announcements as to a retirement reception for Mr. Doll and the posting for the position of Winnebago County Public Defender will be made at a later date.

PDF of Press Release

Jury trials have been paused in Winnebago and Boone Counties since last fall due to COVID-19, and the Court today set the following targets for resumption of jury service:

  • Grand jury:  new panels will be sworn in at the beginning of February.
  • Criminal jury trials:  will resume in March 2021.
  • Civil jury trials:  will resume in May 2021.

“We were able to pause some of the Court’s essential work to help mitigate the community spread of the virus, but we must make plans to bring back these vital functions,” said Chief Judge Eugene Doherty.  “When jurors are asked to report, they will see the extensive preparations undertaken with their safety in mind.”

Those with cases in the courthouse should be aware that many proceedings have been moved to a virtual platform.  Litigants with questions about attending court remotely should go to https://tinyurl.com/virtualcourt17.

PDF of Press Release

The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Debbie Jarvis, Director of Court Services for the 17th Judicial Circuit, to sit as a member of the Illinois Supreme Court Probation Policy Advisory Board. This Board discusses and provides insight and input to the Court on topics associated with the policies and operations of probation and court services for the State of Illinois. Her term is set to begin on December 1, 2020, and extend through November 2023.

Jarvis began her professional career in the Boone County Probation Department in 1998, where she was named Deputy Director in 2014.   In June 2019, Jarvis was selected to serve as the 17th Circuit’s Director of Court Services; in that capacity, she oversees all pretrial services and probation officers for the circuit. She has been a leader in the implementation of evidence-based initiatives including the use of cognitive based counseling programming, risk assessment tools, and the creation of the Boone County Drug Court.

Deb Jarvis received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology/Criminology from Northern Illinois University.   She is member of the Boone County Behavioral Health Task Force and serves as Co-Chair of the Boone County Drug Prevention Coalition.

Commenting on this appointment, Chief Judge Eugene Doherty said, “it is no surprise that the Supreme Court recognized Deb Jarvis’ talent. She will be a great addition to the Board.”

PDF of Press Release

Due to the growth of COVID in our area, the 17th Judicial Circuit announced that it is implementing a pause in jury trials effective November 23, 2020, through the end of January 2021.  Chief Judge Eugene Doherty advises that, although the Court has already made extensive use of remote virtual hearings in 2020, it will be increasing its reliance on them to minimize the number of persons who must enter courthouse buildings.  All court facilities remain open.

“This is a step taken out of caution,” Chief Judge Doherty said.  “We have been very successful in minimizing the spread of virus in our facilities, but we know that the situation in the community is changing.  We must all be mindful of the risk.” 

Judge Doherty noted that litigants should be aware of the following:

 •         Litigants should be given instructions on how to attend court remotely, but if they have questions they should refer to https://tinyurl.com/IL17thVC.

 •         Some court locations may be moved or case times rescheduled.  Litigants should make sure that the Circuit Clerk has their current contact information, including email address, to ensure proper notification.

•         Any litigants who must appear in person are strongly discouraged from bringing other persons to court with them.

“We aren’t operating as we did a year ago, but we won’t be shut down to the degree we were in the spring,” Judge Doherty said.  “The continued good work and cooperation of  attorneys, staff, and the public have gotten us through this so far, and we are optimistic that the end is in sight.”

PDF of Press Release and Adminisrtrative Order 2020-28

ROCKFORD, IL – August 27, 2019 – Marcia M. Meis, Director of the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, and Eugene G. Doherty, Chief Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court, are pleased to announce that the 17th Circuit Judges have selected Attorney Ryan A. Swift as an Associate Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit. This associate judge vacancy is based on the retirement of Associate Judge K. Patrick Yarbrough, effective August 31, 2019. Mr. Swift will take his oath of office on Monday, September 9, 2019.

ROCKFORD, IL – Associate Circuit Judge K. Patrick Yarbrough has announced that he will retire from his position on August 31, 2019. Judge Yarbrough was appointed as an associate judge on January 26, 2007. During his tenure, he presided over criminal, juvenile and mental health cases in Winnebago County. Since December 2009, Judge Yarbrough has been assigned to hear juvenile delinquency cases, an assignment charged with tremendous responsibility to balance core fundamentals of accountability and rehabilitation under the Illinois Juvenile Court Act. Since September 2014, he has served as the Supervising Judge of the Winnebago County Juvenile Courts Division.

ROCKFORD, IL – February 11, 2019 – Marcia M. Meis, Director of the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, and Eugene G. Doherty, Chief Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court, are pleased to announce that the 17th Circuit Judges have selected Attorney John T. Gibbons as an Associate Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit. This associate judge vacancy followed from the most recent general election in which Associate Judge John S. Lowry was elected to fill the vacancy of retired Circuit Judge J. Edward Prochaska. Mr. Gibbons will take his oath of office on Friday, February 22, 2019.

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