Judge Joseph P. Hettel sworn in as appellate justice

Hettel will serve on the Third District Appellate Court

A former La Salle County state’s attorney and circuit judge was sworn in Friday to the appeals court.

Joseph P. Hettel now will serve on the Third District Appellate Court, replacing retiring Justice Tom Lytton. Supreme Court Justice Robert L. Carter administered the oath of office Friday at the appellate courthouse in downtown Ottawa.

To keep his appointed seat, Hettel must run and win in 2024. The ballot will appear in seven counties including La Salle, Bureau and Grundy.

“I am honored and humbled by this appointment and I will do my best to serve the citizens of the 3rd District in the manner they are accustomed after 30 years of service by Justice Lytton,” Hettel said at the time of his appointment. “I want to thank Justice Carter and the members of the Illinois Supreme Court for their confidence in me.”

Hettel, 54, served as La Salle County state’s attorney from 2000 until his appointment to the bench in December 2006, replacing Carter after the latter’s appointment to the appeals court.

Hettel is an Ottawa native who graduated Marquette High School in 1985 and made the University of Iowa football team as a walk-on, traveling with the Hawkeyes to Pasadena for the 1986 Rose Bowl. He completed his undergraduate studies at Illinois State University and then earned his law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law.

After completing his legal studies he worked as an assistant state’s attorney in Cook County under Jack O’Malley and in La Salle County under Joe Navarro before entering private practice.